View Full Version : Northern vs Southern beekeeping

09-16-2002, 06:24 PM
I have read in several sources that Southern beekeepers normally use a hive body plus one super for wintering, but that Northern beekeepers use 2 hive bodies. Is there a reason for this, or is it just a myth? It seems to me that our warmer winters which allow more flying time with expenditure of extra energy on the part of the bees would create a need for more honey stores, since there does not appear to be many blooming nectar sources during the winter months here. Anyone have any reliable info on this? Thanks all.

09-16-2002, 08:37 PM
I am in a temperate climate south of San Francisco, California. We have a Eucalyptus flow that starts in November and becomes a spring flow as the weather warms up. I used to use a double brood chamber, but it just ends up as honey clogged brood combs. I now have some single super 12 frame hives with Dadant deep frames, and some Langstroth dimension also with deep frames. The strongest ones need a super on for the winter honey. Somehow I must figure out how to give more brood room in spring, and not have to sort out and extract honey bound brood combs.

Michael Bush
09-17-2002, 05:17 AM
I have often wondered about whether or not a warmer milder winter causes them to use more or less honey. I think they use more when trying to stay warm in a cold winter than when being what appears to be more active.

Either way, if you are in the north and winter sets in, its seldom if ever you get to even peek inside to see how the bees are doing, let alone feed them. Even if you put a hive top feeder on, during the winter, it's doubtful they would use it much at all because it's too cold. Pretty much when you put them away for the winter you don't get any second chances. In the south, I would guess you could check on them and feed them if the need arose.

Here, sometimes the first real freeze is in October and it may not warm up until May. Sometimes it's pretty nice all winter with a few cold days mixed in. You really can't guess if you'll get another chance to feed or look in on the bees.

Anyway, if I send a strong hive through the winter on two deeps, the bottom box will be empty and they will be in the top box with it at least half empty by spring.

09-18-2002, 06:37 PM
I lived in the north and now in the south.
like it better here.
I can bring five frame nucs thru the winter here and soon as the red maple blooms I start to split for more production.
some times have feed thru the cold months.
I have had queens for sale in early march here 2yrs ago but not this yr till middle of april; bad weather this yr and summer was too dry to make much honey

John Russell
03-28-2004, 10:15 AM
I live in Canada, and this year we had temperatures dip below -45 celcius for 4-5 day periods. I winter indoors, in a non heated, well ventilated dark room. The temperature has dipped at its coldest to -20 celcius. But it recovers quick. I use only sugar syrup for late fall feeding to cut down on dysentr. Right now, I'm anxious to get them out. We have sub zero temps with fluctuations up to +7-8 celcius. I've learned from experiance that getting them out as early as possible ensures better survival, as they start to fail indoors more rapidly,as march- april progresses.

The only problem is that it all boils down to timing. And the stakes are high.

Two deeps are a must in this climate.


[This message has been edited by John Russell (edited March 28, 2004).]

03-28-2004, 12:28 PM
I think that one of the reasons that Northern hives are 2 deeps plus and Southern hives are 1 deep plus is the length of time between nectar flows.
My last nectar flow can be anywhere from end of September / early October till the end of March / beginning of April. You need to have enough stores to cover that time period.
This year the Red Maples are just blooming and the temps are now getting to the 50's for foraging.
So, the differnce is the time frame with respect to the lack of a nectar flow.
From what I have read, at an air temp of 45F the colony is at it's most efficent. Above that point movement increases honey consumption. Below that point honey consuption increases to keep the cluster warm.

[This message has been edited by MountainCamp (edited March 28, 2004).]

03-28-2004, 06:28 PM
hey John

Have you set your hives out yet? I'm planning for monday night. Weather forcast has changed to cooler for the start of the week, but warming nicely as the week goes on. Yard are full of snow, but after this drenching rain, most of it has disapeared. Winter most outside, and seem to be pulling through okay. Most of my yards were under snow, but the packs are fully exposed now


[This message has been edited by Ian (edited March 28, 2004).]

03-28-2004, 07:15 PM
From what I've seen, the "southern" method of a deep with a shallow on top doesn't work too good when it stays cold for extended periods. It seems to me that a cluster can't be comfortable in a shallow super. Am I right in this assumption? I wonder if it would work if you put the shallow on the bottom? I also think that trying to feed on warm days just keeps the bees from organizing the stores that they already have to be used more readily in a cluster.

03-28-2004, 10:18 PM
Dad kept bees in IL. I am in TN. Shorter winters help alot and so does breed of bee. The people around here that run Italians use 2 deeps. The people that use Carnies use a deep and a medium. The carnies eat less and build up faster. The Italians raise some brood nearly year round. When this happens they come out of winter starving even though they start winter heavier. In the north dad never had a problem with Italians raising in the winter as it got much colder. We had 75 F days in Jan. Then 3 days later our high was 21 F.