I was just wondering how many full combs you guys overwinter with. Last year I went into the winter with at least 20 combs per hive (16" wide, 11" deep to 6" bottoms). All hives had russian hybrid queens. In the spring there were untouched combs in all the hives. This year I have left only around 15 per hive, I will feed if I have to but was hoping this would be enough and would leave enough room for spring manipulations. Last spring my strongest hive swarmed almost as soon as the flow started, and had brood through the whole hive. It swarmed a couple of more times, and I caught one to start a new TBH. I am hoping that by leaving less comb in I can put empty bars/ or brand new comb into the center of the brood area and keep the honey harvest area brood free.
What are you doing?
There are two problems with trying to cut things close on stores. First, some hives will go through three times as much stores as another similarly sized hive. The reason is simply that they reared a lot of brood early. When these hives starve it really hurts your production because they would have peaked out with a nice population. I'm afraid to do it right you need to leave too much.
>Last spring my strongest hive swarmed almost as soon as the flow started, and had brood through the whole hive.
And these are the ones that NEED those stores to build all those bees. You just didn't catch it soon enough.
I only harvest a couple of bars from my TBH at the end of the spring flow. Like MB I believe strongly in leaving too much rather than too little.
This year I was able to avoid swarming from my TBH by doing an early split. Here's how we did it:
Cut out some good looking brood comb and tied it in to two frames with strips of burlap.
Brushed all the bees into the new hive.
Turned out we had inadverently brushed the queen into the new hive. The old hive then started a new queen. Our intent was to find the queen and keep her in the old hive but as it turned out it really didn't matter too much.
Although production would have been better if the queen could have had the old hive in which to lay, it prevented any swarming in the top bar hive. And the new hive built up real nice.
We will see if they make it through the winter. We have already had some harsh cold, very strong winds and 6 inches of snow... Too late now to worry about adequate stores! Well, I guess you can worry, but you can't do anything about it! ;)
I think that maybe I will play it safe and feed a bit through the winter, I have some warm weather on the way supposed to be 60 today [img]smile.gif[/img] .
You are right about not catching it early enough , I was travelling a lot last spring and that hive just took off about 10 times as fast as the others (I now have three hives with queens from her). I will be able to stay on top of them this coming spring, I hope the locust bloom is good [img]smile.gif[/img] .