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  1. #1
    dtwilliamson Guest

    Post

    When do I need to close up the SBB for winter?

    Lately in the Chicago/NW Indiana area it has been getting pretty cool at night (low 50's). Is it ok to leave the bottom completely open when it is that cool? As fall approaches I was starting wonder at what point do I need to start putting trays back in so that the brood doesn't get chilled.

    Thanks,

    Dan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Central Square, NY, Oswego County
    Posts
    814

    Post

    I live in the Tug Hill area of New York. We get down to -25 to -30 F in winter, with 7 feet of snow. My hives are up on stands 18 inches high for skunk protection. I leave the SBB on all year. I have had no problems with the bees. Moisture is the killer not the cold. I have discussed that with many people like Mr James Tew, just to name one person. Many bee keepers will tell you the same thing, moisture is the killer. The bees on the outside of the cluster are almost the same temp as the surrounding air and inside of the cluster the temp is close to brood temp (90 or so).
    Dan

  3. #3
    dtwilliamson Guest

    Post

    I planned on leaving the SBB on all winter. My hives are also 18" off the ground. I do not leave the bottom tray in most of the time (unless I'm fogging or doing a mite count). The mites and debris just fall out onto the ground below. I imagine in the winter that a good wind would blow pretty hard up into the hive not to mention snow. When do I put the tray back in so that the bottom of the hive is not completely exposed to the environment??

    I have the SB hive stand from Kelley's.

    [This message has been edited by dtwilliamson (edited August 17, 2004).]

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Central Square, NY, Oswego County
    Posts
    814

    Post

    I have not found that to be a problem. The snow just piles up and starts to cover the hives. We do get windy days but the hives beeing next to my woods do not seem affected at all. I do have some bushes about 20 feet away from the hives in the westerly direction (this is where the winds come from). That might help my hives.
    Dan

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Kiel WI, USA
    Posts
    2,369

    Post

    Mine stay open all year, too.

  6. #6
    dtwilliamson Guest

    Post

    Wow! I'm surprised that with all that open area at the bottom exposed that it doesn't cause problems. Maybe I'll leave some of the bottom trays in and some off over winter and see which do better.

    Thanks,

    Dan

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,408

    Post

    I close mine once the bees start clustering and not flying. I just don't want it open on one of those -10 F days with the wind howling and no snow to block the wind.

    Some people do leave them open all winter.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    Posts
    5,159

    Post

    We don't get enough snow to naturally cover up the bottom and keep the wind out. I close mine up when I see the bees start propolizing the hive cracks shut, usually in late September / October.

    Our bees here do not live in exposed colonies, there may be a good reason for that. If the bees feel a need to seal up their hive, I am not going to force them to live with an open bottom.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Fredericksburg, Va
    Posts
    793

    Post

    Here in Virginia we do not get enough snow to provide any insulating effect. I always put trays back in about the time of hard frost and leave them until mid spring.

    I figure they also help prevent chilling of brood in early spring. I would guess that an open SBB could hamper the spring build up.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Central Square, NY, Oswego County
    Posts
    814

    Post

    Well Dan is sure getting diffrent info. As you can see, Dan, there are diffrent management tec used in diffrent areas. All we can say to you is see what works for you. I find the snow helps and don't need to remove the sbb, others are right, if there is not enough snow then you need to cover up. This is a management thing you have to try out for yourself. Good luck.
    Dan

  11. #11
    dtwilliamson Guest

    Post

    Thanks for the replies. Now I'm not sure what I'll do! I am just a little nervous about leaving them open all year. We can get a decent amount of snow.... Not Tug Hill area kind of snow by any means. Though we can get extremely cold temps with no snow on the ground. Maybe I'm better off closing them. I only have 3 hives and want to build up my apiary, so I would hate to gamble and lose.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,408

    Post

    I find they will not build up well in the early spring unless I close them up. They have too much trouble keeping the brood warm. But the winter issues are probably realted to how cold it gets, and how much of the time the snow blocks the bottom anyway.

    Since people raised bees for more than a century with solid bottom boards, closing them seems the safest to me. I leave them closed until the cold nights seem to be over and ventilating for the heat seems to be a problem for the bees. Then I open them up. Same in the winter. I wait until the bees are clustering up from the cold (less than 50 F during the days) and then I close them up.

    Ask the bees. They'll tell you what to do.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Round Top, New York - Northern Catskill Mtns.
    Posts
    1,895

    Post

    I found the same problem this spring when I put open screened bottom boards on for the first time.

    The weaker / smaller colonies did not build up as well or at all.

    I wound up blocking up the bottoms till they were able to build strength.

    Our nights even during the summer can dip in to the low 40's. So the colony needs numbers to keep the brood warm.

    I plan on blocking up the bottoms when the nights are consitantly dropping into the low 40's / upper 30's.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Central Square, NY, Oswego County
    Posts
    814

    Arrow

    Reading your inputs I might try to block the screen this spring and see if it makes a difference in their building up in strength. I'll pick out a couple of hives and see how they do. Guess the old dog can still learn a few things.
    Dan

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Bowdoinham, Maine, USA
    Posts
    78

    Big Grin

    I got lucky last year. I put SBB on four of my hives and promptly forgot about them. Hunting and remodeling caused me to abandon those four hives altogether. In March of this year I decided to go out to that yard and "pull in the dead hives". To my amazement all four hives were very much alive. Our past few winters have been the hardest I can remember and these hives actually survived!!

    I would not advise leaving SBB open all winter in every situation but I am going to try my luck again with a few hives in another yard this winter.

    One advantage, in my opinion is it helps keep condensation to a minimum.

    Good luck and good experimenting.

    David

    ------------------
    Maine-ly Bees
    David Wallace and Family
    Bowdoinham, ME
    mainelybees@aol.com

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