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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
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    Hiram, Northeast Ohio
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    731

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    I know this sounds odd, but has anyone ever tried deliberately REDUCING population going into winter? Highly anecdotal, but last year I had a hive left with an open gap about .75" between deeps (don't ask why) for the first few freezes. I fixed that and insulated I guess early Jan., by which point there had been a ton of die off and I thought it was a goner. But in fact, that was my biggest producer this year as it seemed to get a jump on the others in the spring--it had good supply of stores left. (I don't feed any of my hives.) In the end, it seemed as if maybe the total die-off among hives had been the same but that this one had more earlier in the winter, preserving stores.

    Made me wonder if this might be a strategery that could be usefully employed. I know it sounds slightly nuts.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Perkasie, PA
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    1,998

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    Its not nuts. I practice late summer brood cycle interruption, which probably reduces the population. If you try, let me know what happens. I'd really like to know.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >>>I'm not recommending this.<<< But >>IF<< I were going to try to reduce the size, I'd do something to sort the bees so I get the younger bees. In other words, put some boxes at the old locations and move all the hives Keep the bees that stayed at the new locations and get rid of the bees that went back to the old locations.

    I think it's easier to just raise Carniolans or Ferals who will do it for you. [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Volga, SD
    Posts
    2,790

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    I wonder if any difference would exist between colonies with populations deliberately reduced before winter and colonies that either have extra stores left on the hives or receive supplemental feeding in the spring? It seems to me like the fast build-up and subsequent production might be directly tied to the ratio of honey-to-bees, something commerical beekeepers manipulate by spring feeding to increase honey production.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    New York City
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    3,401

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    > I know this sounds odd, but has anyone ever
    > tried deliberately REDUCING population going
    > into winter?

    Through breeding, yes. NWCs and "Russians"
    are good examples of bees that are inherently
    more reactive to conditions, and "slow down"
    or "shut down" brood rearing during dearths
    and in the later season.

    Through caging the queen in fall to prevent the
    raising of excessive brood, with generic types
    of bees, such as "Italians", the only bee about
    which the sole positive comment seems to be
    "they are pretty". [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Through fall splits, another way to make
    a smaller cluster. This works well when
    one overwinters the splits atop full-sized
    hives, and lets the waste heat from the
    full-sized hive into the split (or a pair
    of splits) through double screens. At
    least it works well when one has a mild
    winter. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Manipulating fall populations "against the
    bees' will" is an exercise in risk-taking.
    The advantage is that one can keep the bees
    from raising brood in fall on what is intended
    to be winter stores. The downside is that
    each breed of bees requires a different
    "minimum critical mass" for overwintering
    to be possible, and smaller than "minimum"
    populations will be unable to maintain
    an adequate temperature within the cluster.

    ...and of course, no one has nailed down any
    hard numbers on this issue.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,752

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    >each breed of bees requires a different
    "minimum critical mass" for overwintering
    to be possible, and smaller than "minimum"
    populations will be unable to maintain
    an adequate temperature within the cluster.

    That would be my observation. An Italian cluster the size of one of my typical hives of ferals would not make it through the winter, but the ferals do. The same was true of the Carniolans. The Buckfasts were somewhere in between the Italians and the Carnis for a viable cluster size. So the "minimum critical mass" does seem to be different for different races of bees, and I'm sure, different climates.

    > the only bee about
    which the sole positive comment seems to be
    "they are pretty".

    It does seem like you hear that comment a lot. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    I think the pollenators would also say the larger clusters make them more useful for early pollenation (like February). I personally don't think they make any more honey for me and they eat more of it in the winter and in dearths than the Carnis or the ferals.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Cooperstown,N.Y.
    Posts
    474

    Post

    I was thinking about something along this line too,mostly because of what(I believe) I read in the book "starting right with bee's".
    I loaned that book to my neighbor friend who started 2 hives so I can't quote exactly,but the author lays out the typical seasonal manipulations/treatments in a sort of review section,and mentions(without going into any more detail),that by moving your hive in the fall you will leave the old bee's (and the implication being)and most of the mites in the field.
    Never quite liked the sound of that(too cruel,IMHO),but have thoght about it several times,and would like to know if this is actually true.

    [size="1"][ December 16, 2005, 05:50 PM: Message edited by: mwjohnson ][/size]

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >but have thoght about it several times,and would like to know if this is actually true.

    Yes, it's actually true that you will leave the older bees behind.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Worthington, Pennsylvania USA
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    1,848

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    No old age home for the bees? I am at the age of where you would take my hive away and leave me to the elements-brrr. [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Has anyone ever tried the experiment of moving the young bees away and leaving the old bees at the original site with a new queen, I am intrigued as to what the results would be. Say six hives of each type, it may prove interesting!
    "Younz" have a great day, I will.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Casper, WY
    Posts
    526

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    Hi Guys,

    Dr. Basil Furgala, a University of Minnesota professor, developed a norther beekeeping system based on overwintering a new split. It was made during the spring. The parent hive, that season's honey producer, was not.

    Most pests, etc., died with the larger, parent hive. The nuc was allowed to build up to its optimum size and became the parent hive/producer for the following season.

    Studies were conducted in Europe concerning cluster size and hive. Overwintered hives were made extremely large, small, etc. and were insultate in various ways(a series of ABJ articles by Mobus starting in July 1998).

    The results are quite interesting. The super large and small colonies suffered extensive loses. It was found that an appropriate cluster size was very important to survival.

    But in addition, winter water was found to be a very important factor for overwintering. And that it was a driving mechanism for cluster behavior. Clusters that were too large, too insulated or too small were very susceptible to a water imbalance.

    A very interesting read for anyone wanting to understand cluster behavior in a Northern climate.

    I've confirmed these observations while overwintering bees inside. And in the plex hive in my backyard:
    www.bwrangler.com/bee/gwin.htm

    Regards
    Dennis
    Last edited by D. Murrell; 11-07-2007 at 08:57 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >Has anyone ever tried the experiment of moving the young bees away and leaving the old bees at the original site with a new queen

    I've done something like that with a hot hive in town. I moved all the boxes to their own bottom board with a lid, and put empty boxes on the old location, found the queen, requeened that box, removed all the old bees to a different location and gave them their own queen. The hive of young bees is very managable after that. The field bees were still just as hard to handle unitl some young bees started emerging.

    A cut down split has some of these things built it also. You're removing the brood, and the old field bees all go back to the old hive. So the young bees that were with the brood stay with the split.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, N.C.
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    5,080

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    Many keepers move their hives in the fall just to rid the hive of field bees. Why not? They are not going to bring anything else in because there is nothing out there to bring in. They will not make it through the winter, they are too old and are going to die anyway. If you don't do it, you are just going to lose what stores they eat before they die. Why not get them out now and save the stores for the young bees and larva that will be there in the spring when it is needed most?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    New York City
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    3,401

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    > Many keepers move their hives in the fall just
    > to rid the hive of field bees. Why not?

    Mainly because those bees will at least forage
    for water, and will bring in considerable fall
    pollen before they reach the end of their
    lifespan. The approach may work well in mild
    climates, but I've never seen it work anywhere
    where one gets snow in winter.

    Anyway, I'm a beeKEEPER, not a beeKILLER, so
    who am I to end the lives of several thousand
    of God's creatures per hive just because their
    lives may not suit my selfish purpose?

    Some may say, "what's one bee, more or less?",
    but others may say "what's one beekeeper,
    more or less?". Its all a matter of perspective.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Wetumpka, Alabama USA
    Posts
    87

    Post

    AMEN.......Jim Fischer. I agree with you.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, N.C.
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    Post

    Wasn't trying to justify it, just stating how it is.

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