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Too much space?


#1

Hi folks I need some advice - here’s what I wrote after my inspection two weeks ago:

  • STILL one empty frame in the medium, and not completely built on the rest. All the combs in the medium were either dry or filled with pollen.

I looked into the hive yesterday - 85F here :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: - to put a beetle trap in and to see if the last two weeks of 2:1 syrup feeding had resulted in hoped-for increase of comb and/or storage in that medium box. Nope! Looked pretty much the same as it did two weeks ago. Combs were partially filling frames, some cells filled with pollen & many cells just empty. Also, even though numbers are reducing & foragers would have been out, there were so few bees on these combs I can’t help but wonder about space management for winter.

Should I:

  1. Switch the medium box to the top of the nice full deep box so it becomes a more convenient syrup storage place for the bees

  2. Remove the medium box altogether and devise a way of letting them keep the decent amount of stored pollen, leaving them with one nice full deep for what seems like a small but healthy colony for winter

  3. Leave the setup as it is, keep feeding & assume the bees will handle the space

Thanks for your input- my bee mentor is MIA :confused:


#2

Hoping to get straightened out on this soon as the weather is changing (again) & is mostly likely going to get cold & stay cold, too cold for hive disruptions…
@Dawn_SD @Dee @Michael_Bush @JeffH @Valli @Rodderick & anyone I missed with experience who might see this - :heart_eyes:Thanks!!


#3

How many Medium and Brood frames have you got - are you 8 frame or 10?

For my Flow boxes - 8 Frames will need 6 Frames of stores for winter = Brood Depth
For the 10 Frame I try for 7 Frames = Brood Depth. My girls are bringing in loads of pollen - the pollen is for the start of the Jan /Feb when the girls start getting in to Laying again in winter they just need the honey.

I consolidated my hives beginning of October until last week it was mild but now is getting quite cold.

I saw my Hives from the kitchen today and activity is right down. I’m away working until Tuesday and only pop in to collect post etc. so will check on 2:1 syrup when I get back. I want a good 6 frames of stores going into winter. If it gets too cold for Syrup switch to Fondant - it needs less evaporating - Many beeks say heft but I’m not so good at that - I find the arthritis in my hands means I’m less sensitive to feeling the weights the way I used to - I can in Summer but winter my hands are too painful. I’m thinking of getting one of those Luggage scales.

Ideally a Frame of Honey will weigh approx 6lbs so you are looking for about 42lb of food and the weight of the kit - If you weigh empty kit and add 42 (the answer to life, the universe and everything)

It is 24 weeks until Spring so less 2lb a week until April and Bob should be you Uncle - this also allows for some forage (about 6 lbs) before spring fully kicks in.

This is how I guestimate the amount of Stores - It works for me last year so I’m aiming for that again.

When I say consolidate - I mean took off all the supers and extra brood boxes - I will checkerboard my brood area end of March to fill out the numbers again


#4

So Valli, what you’re really saying is ~Don’t panic~ :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
lol, couldn’t resist! Anyway, sounds like I should maybe consolidate & remove that medium box…what do you suggest to do with the nice pollen in those combs?

The deep is loaded almost exclusively with honey (and bees)

It’s an 8 frame, so we definitely have our 42!


#5

If you have a crown Board and can stop the bees getting into the top - they only have to keep the brood box warm - then just seal it off from them - it wont go off just put the stores back on in the spring Feb-ish when they are building up the hive again - if you checkerboard it will be perfect to interlace between the fames of brood.

Have to get up early night


#6

Thanks Val, nighty night


#7

Sorry @Eva, I found it very difficult to visualize what you were writing about, and my life is full of problems at the moment. I don’t have a good picture of your hive. One deep? Two deeps? One deep and this patchy medium? I am really not clear - must be the Alzheimer’s hitting me again. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

If you are feeding, and they are not drawing comb, either it is too cold, or they need the food. I would stop trying to force them to draw comb, because they won’t. Take the medium box off the hive. But maybe I misunderstood… Sorry, family health problems have my mind on other things! :blush:


#8

I have a similar question.

I have 2 deeps on with the too mostly filled and filled with stores, the bottom is almost completedly emtpy. Just a little brood and a little pollen but 80% empty. Is it best to remove all empty frames and pack them into one deep for winter? I am feeding as well hoping to fill up some of the bottom deep before it gets too cold.


#9

Yes, but you will have to feed, feed, feed your top box, and even then, they may not make it. However, they will be less likely to make it if they have to heat and defend 2 boxes. Difficult choices, but best for the bees is cozy space with plenty of food. Sounds simple, but it is hard for humans to help them organize it. :worried:


#10

Pollen, if it is not in the hive, needs to go in the freezer.


#11

Pollen in freezer, check. And I would do that by freezing the whole frames, right? Putting them back in Feb-ish as Valli said - assuming I get a mild enough day then.

To clarify what I have - it’s one deep and one medium, with the medium on the bottom having lots of empty space & dry combs, some pollen. I’ve been feeding for last two weeks & they are eating it & not drawing comb & not apparently storing it.

I re-read about winterizing on Michael Bush’s site and noted the bit about bees needing empty comb to cluster in, which of course makes sense. There really isn’t much empty comb in the deep brood box, it’s almost totally filled with honey & the tiniest bit of brood in the center. So I then feared removing those frames in the medium - are they deliberately leaving them empty?? I realize they would eventually empty out cells by eating their way through the honey in the deep all winter, but I wasn’t sure if they have to have some to start with.

I really appreciate any advice & I apologize if I came off pesty by @ing you all! As I mentioned my local bee mentor is not responding & local bee friends are just as inexperienced as I am!


#12

You have to remember that the winter cluster is much smaller than a full sized summer hive. There is plenty of room for the bees even between full stores combs. Don’t worry about giving them empty combs for the winter. One thing though. I winter my hives on a 14x12 box with a super under. Very much like you have. The bees move the stores up into the brood box before winter sets in and the box is empty. I leave it there. The hive is insulated, well insulated, at the top and the top box is the warmest part so the bees stay there. The bottom box is not in any equation.


#13

Bees use empty comb to cluster so make sure they have some.


#14

So when you are wintering bees you make sure there is empty comb in the brood box?
I never have.


#15

Yes, but take that with a grain of salt, I only follow what the experienced guys do…
“Another issue, while on the subject of feeding with no real purpose in mind, is that people will feed incessantly in the fall until there is no where left for the bees to cluster and the humidity in the hive is high from all that syrup that needs to be dried. Then they don’t understand why they lose hives in winter.
Bees need to cluster in empty comb where the bees can climb in the cells to compact the cluster. The cluster is often compared to a “ball of bees” but people forget that there is comb between those bees and to be a dense cluster they climb into the cells, which they cannot do if they are filled with syrup.” Michael Bush


#16

Thanks all, I really appreciate this discussion. Based on all the input & other research I’ve done, it sounds like as long as i insulate well perhaps I could & should leave the medium box on, so they can cluster & move gradually up as they consume their stores in the deep box above.

I’m also going to use a “hive quilt” that I made last weekend out of a shallow super & a tea towel stretched across as a bottom, to be filled with aspen chips & placed on the deep, under the crown board & insulated outer cover. There’s room to put either a baggie feeder or damp sugar on newspaper on top of the deep frames, just under the tea towel bottom. I’ll post pics.


#17

Michael probably has solid floors.
My hives have been buzzing like air con units with all the ivy nectar coming in and you can smell the hive from metres away.Looking at the crown boards there isn’t a drop of condensation on them.
If I feed my hives they get it all quickly in a week so it’s stored. If I drip feed they start brooding.


#18

Out of interest what are your winter temps?


#19

Me?
-5 to +5 usually
Occasional winters have dipped to -15 centigrade.
If you mean OP then just ignore my post


#20

Thanks. I’m curious for everyone’s answer. For me, winters are about 3-5degC to 12-15degC…and at times up to 20degC. Thus when I read about prep for winter I’m often reading for interest and not direct relevance