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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    156

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    This is my first year keeping bees and I now have 3 hives (started with 2, but then one swarmed and I caught it). I had planned that they would each have 1 deep box & 2 western boxes as brood chambers and then add shallow honey supers, but for some reason, they didn't follow the plan ! So, now I'm not clear what to do in terms of balancing them with enough brood & honey for the winter. Here is what I have:
    Hive #1: 1 deep & 1 western with mostly brood
    and 1 shallow 75% full of nectar.
    Hive #2: 1 deep half full of brood
    2 westerns full of capped honey!
    and 1 shallow with nectar/honey
    Hive #3: 1 deep with brood & 1 western with half brood, half capped honey.
    Can I harvest any honey or should I just move it around?
    Thanks, Louise

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

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    >This is my first year keeping bees and I now have 3 hives (started with 2, but then one swarmed and I caught it). I had planned that they would each have 1 deep box & 2 western boxes as brood chambers and then add shallow honey supers, but for some reason, they didn't follow the plan ! So, now I'm not clear what to do in terms of balancing them with enough brood & honey for the winter. Here is what I have:
    Hive #1: 1 deep & 1 western with mostly brood
    and 1 shallow 75% full of nectar.
    Hive #2: 1 deep half full of brood
    2 westerns full of capped honey!
    and 1 shallow with nectar/honey
    Hive #3: 1 deep with brood & 1 western with half brood, half capped honey.
    Can I harvest any honey or should I just move it around?

    Hind sight is always 20/20. About now you should be able to see how much easier this all is if they were all one size frames.

    Maybe I'm missing something but they don't sound that lopsided. Why not just leave them alone? The only problem I forsee, I don't see a solution for. You already have brood in Deeps and Mediums, which I would have tried to avoid. In spring you may have brood in Deeps, Mediums and Shallows.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    156

    Post

    Can't I take off the shallows? Or will they need that too to overwinter?

    I used Westerns because I thought it would be easier to lift. It has definately been a bit of a problem when I've wanted to switch frames. I just can't imagine lifting a deep full of honey which means I will need to have at least 2 sizes.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

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    I have switched over to all mediums (probably what you are calling Western). They are 6 5/8" boxes. I cut all my deeps down and built all my shallows up. I can barely lift a deep full of honey from a comfortable height and certainly can't do it from really high or really low.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

    Post

    As to what to leave, it's a combination of how many bees and how much food. If I have a booming hive I try to leave them three deeps or four mediums to overwinter. If I have a mediocre hive (in population) I try to leave them two deeps or three mediums to overwinter. Three Mediums = two deeps. If you have a deep, two mediums and a shallow, this is about the same as 2 and 3/4 deeps. If you have a deep, a medium and a shallow this is the same as two deeps. These are in the range of what I usually overwinter with.

    Winters are always unpredictable. It's always better to have a full box left over at the end of winter than to have them starve. If there is pollen and honey left over in the spring, they might start raising brood as early as March (around here). But if there isn't any stores they can't or if they do decide to raise brood and run out of stores, they starve.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

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    It's also a factor of climate. We can get a very long cold winter sometimes. Maybe you don't and maybe you don't need that much stores in Portland. Perhaps someone from your area could give you a good idea of what you need there.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    156

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    Thanks. All mediums would certainly make my life a lot simpler. So it seems like my third hive, with only 1 deep and one medium might not be enough. How can I tell in the middle of winter if I need to feed them? Will they always go up, so that if I open the top box and there is no food I'll know?
    Winters here are not so cold, just long and wet.
    Louise

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

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    Depending on the climate, if you have warm days where the bees are flying you can smoke them and open it up and check on them. Also if it often gets that warm you can feed them when it's warm. When I feed in cool weather I try to give them warm syrup (like if you stick you finger in it doesn't burn you warm) They take it up 10 times faster that way when it's chilly out.

    If the smaller hive (1 deep and 1 medium) only has a moderate amount of bees, it may be enough stores for them. If there are alot of bees it may not. Also, I don't know how much it takes in your climate to get through the winter.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
    Posts
    2,303

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    I winter all my hives in a deep and a medium.The medium needs to be full of honey.There will also be a couple of combs of honey in the bottom deep.My bees winter where it never gets too cold.The queens will start laying right after Christmas,and by Feb.there will be several frames of brood.They wont eat much until they are raising brood,thats when you have to watch out and be ready to feed if neccessary.I usually feed a gallon of syrup around the middle of Jan.not because they need it but to get the queen to lay more eggs ahead of almond bloom in mid-Feb.There are quite a few beekeepers around Portland and I am sure they will help you with information about specific local requirements.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    156

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    Thanks. I've just contacted the Portland Association, I'm sure that will help.

    This is probably a ridiculous question, but how do you tell if you have a strong hive? I've been reading other posted questions (I'm becoming a junkie) and the topic of feeding weaker hives came up. One of my hives (#1) was a swarm caught at the end of June. Both of the other 2 hives were queenless for periods and although they all have queens and are laying now, hive #2 only has brood on a few frames. So, should I be helping them along?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

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    When we talk about strength, we're talking about the number of bees mostly, but also stores etc. If the hive is really crowded and full of bees this is strong. If it's kind of sparse and just few bees in the supers and only a lot in the middle of the brood nest, this is weak. It's a bit of a subjective thing to get where you can judge this. Basically if you open a strong hive you're looking at a lot of bees on top of the super and even spilling out the inner cover. Also lots of traffic at the entrance to a strong hive. Looks like Chicogo O'Hare airport. And you estimate how many boxes you have that full of bees. One box filled to the corners isn't as strong as three deeps filled to the corners, or three deeps and five medium supers filled to the corners. You need to get a feel for how many bees are in a hive. When I estimate a hive, I'm not thinking in numbers of bees, but in numbers of boxes that are filled with bees. Not supers that have a bee here and there, but boxes that are real full of bees. Of course, mine are all mediums so it's just a number. If I was running deeps for brood then I would convert that number to deeps. (3 mediums= 2 deeps)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    156

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    Alright. I'm going right out and reassess. So it sounds like I need to have at least 1 deep and 1 medium, although preferably 3 mediums full of bees to go into winter, right?

    But doesn't the size of the brood also determine this? I mean my middle hive is full of bees, but has only a few frames of brood (with a very new queen). Won't the populaton change drastically soon?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

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    Possibly but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
    Posts
    2,303

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    By Nov.1 I want my hives to be pretty heavy and full of bees.They have to start the winter in that condition to be reliable for early spring pollination.By Feb 20 a good hive will have 6 to 14 deep frames of bees in California.To get to that point each hive must have a good young queen and lots of honey and pollen right now .And since the winter bees are being raised right now,they must be protected from mite damage.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
    Posts
    2,303

    Post

    Try this site for some Oregon advice. http://members.aol.com/beetools/

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