what sort of numbers should i be looking at for a wintering hive of Italians? and for Russians?
seems as tho my hives are on the small side right now? then again i'm just not sure what i am looking for in a good colony.
not much you can do about it now anyway, just close them up, hold your breath and hope for a good winter
Russians winter with much smaller clusters than Italians. We usually see Italians clustered on five or six frames if the cluster is tight. Russians may only occupy three or four. There is a lot of variability in this, however.
i've had carniolan's survive the winter with ridiculously small numbers(about a handful!).
I'm guessing your climate is mild because of the ocean there? As I always say, it all depends.
Well if I told you mine had 8 frames and yours only had 4. Or mine had three and your colonies covered nine combs you'd wonder who was doing something wrong! But it doesn't work like that. One climate doesn't = another. One race or strain doesn't equal another either. The way we manage our bees can also make a differece too. With that said, black races of bee "usually" will have smaller clusters. Also a cluster will contract and expand yet have the same number of bees depending on temps. We then could go even farther and add the size of the bees which could cluster even tighter making it apear even smaller, yet there may actually be as many bees or more.
That all said, thank you all. I'll just have to wait until spring and see what's what.
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Here is a "textbook" answer, from two different editions of The Hive and the Honey Bee.
FALL CONDITION at close of brood rearing:
Bees covering 20 or more frames[1963 Ed, p361].
Workers that cover 10-15 frames[1992 Ed, p848]
A NewBEE with 1 hive.
First package installed