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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,742

    Post

    This winter I ended up with a lot of very small clusters coming into the spring. Not sure how much was the really harsh long cold snap at the end of the winter and how much is the genetics of the bees. I ended up with far more stores than any of the hives could use.

    I know a lot of us have tried unlimited brood managment. It appleals to me partly because I tend to avoid queen excluders where I can and that way I don't end up with as much brood in the supers. But back to the overwintering aspects, I wonder if the bees wouldn't have an easier time keeping the hive warm if it was a smaller area.

    Many people use one Dadant Deep (12-11 1/4" frames) for the winter. This the equivelant comb area of about 2 mediums (20-6 1/2" frames)(2 mediums is slightly more than one Dadant deep) or 1 1/2 deeps. Many overwinter in two deeps (the equivilant of three mediums). This is what I have done most often. I have heard of some northern beekeepers overwintering their hives in one 10 fame Dadant deep or 0ne 10 frame standard deep.

    What have you other Northern beekeepers used as the size of your overwintering hive? Why? How much of an effect do you think the following have on why you choose the size hive you do?

    climate
    genetics
    space to heat
    stores for winter
    stores for rasing brood in late winter/early spring
    other?

    Do you have any other observations to share?

    I am considering trying overwintering a strong hive in two mediums to see how they do compared to larger hives. This is about 100 pounds of honey if the frames are all full.

    Also, while on the subject of overwintering. How many have tried various ventilation methods and what are your thoughts? My guess is dry climates won't have as much problem, but still when it's 10 below F and the bees are giving off moisture there is bound to be some condensation.

    It seemed like my hives with top ventilation of some kind did better than the ones without, in general. But a good portion of my beekeeping was in Western Nebraska and Eastern Wyoming where there wasn't much humidity and it didn't seem to matter as much.

    I have never tried wrapping, but there are a lot of people who firmly beleive in it. How much of a difference do you wrappers think it makes?

  2. #2
    jfischer Guest

    Post

    > I have never tried wrapping, but there are
    > a lot of people who firmly beleive in it.
    > How much of a difference do you wrappers
    > think it makes?

    I've been to Omaha in February. The wind
    cut right through everything I was wearing,
    and I thought I was "prepared".

    If your winds are anything like what I
    felt, you might want to consider wrapping
    your hives. Does anyone else out there
    do it?

    ...and by the way "SAC" in my book stands
    for "Significant Atrocious Cold". Guys posted to Omaha would likely consider a
    transfer to a post in Greenland a cause
    for celebration.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Bridgewater VT. USA
    Posts
    238

    Post

    I have tried wintering both wrapped and not and found that the hives not wrapped frequently late winter starve because thay can't move to the stores as easily as the wrapped hive. I use blue board (styrofoan ) on three sides and black building paper all around. I have found the black paper on the front in direct contact with the hive warms the hive somewhat on a sunny day allowing the bees a quick cleansing flight during those extended cold snaps. I also place styrofoam over inner cover with a vent cut to the front to allow moisture to escape. The front entrance is reduced to 2" x 3/4" with mouse guard over opening. On any sunny day above 40 deg F the bees are scrambling over each other to get in and out. This time of year I remove a narrow strip of the black paper from the front to allow the bees to use the upper entrance drilled in the deeps. all are in three deeps or equivalent and have not used any sugar syrup placed over inner cover, apparently they have plenty of stores. It is still too cold to reverse or take a good look inside.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,742

    Post

    >I've been to Omaha in February. The wind
    cut right through everything I was wearing,
    and I thought I was "prepared".

    Yes, but you are from Virginia? You probably didn't know what cold was. You should try Minnesota or Montana or Wyoming. When I lived in Laramie it was sometimes more than 20 below F for weeks. It would warm up to 10 below and the students at the college would be wearing shorts, tee shirts and a light jacket. When it got to 35 above the college girls would be in their bikinis in the park getting a tan.

    Most winters we have a few days of below zero. Usually about 10 below. Sometimes 20 below. This year was typical in that respect, but the last several winters it hasn't. This year there was a sudden longer than normal (not colder than normal) cold spell that lasted several weeks. A few 20 below F nights and mostly 10 below F days. I had 8 nucs that were looking pretty good before, that didn't make it through that.

    >If your winds are anything like what I
    felt, you might want to consider wrapping
    your hives. Does anyone else out there
    do it?

    Some here wrap, some don't. I had always done fine without wrapping and my theory had always been that the bees would get too warm and fly into the cold and die. They do enough of that as it is. Now that I've had an observation hive, where the bees are actually inside, I'd say they don't appear to do it anymore than the other hives.

    Seems like a lot of work and expense, but maybe it's worth it.

    I was also considering using the styrofoam nucs from Betterbee to see if the nucs winter better in those. I wintered them over a strong hive over an inner cover with double screen on the hole and the notch for the entrance. I think the condensation from the moisture from the hive below didn't help them much.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    6,617

    Post

    >>I know a lot of us have tried unlimited brood managment. It appleals to me
    >>Many people use one Dadant Deep (12-11 1/4" frames) for the winter.
    >>I have heard of some northern beekeepers overwintering their hives in one 10 frame standard deep.
    >>What have you other Northern beekeepers used as the size of your overwintering hive? Why? How much of an effect do you think the following have on why you choose the size hive you do?

    I never seen the need for unlimited brood nest. I have heard time and again that a unlimited brood nest will allow expansion needed for the queen to lay in. Not true. After doing the math, you will see that a queen will have more than enough room to lay in one standard super. But management in one chamber can be finicky. Up here single hive operators winter inside, in a climate controled room, so the bees require less to winter on. That gives them an advantage over me, for they are able to harvest one full super of honey more than I can per hive.
    I use two deep broodchambers for raising my hives mainly becasue I winter outdoors, in manitoba Canada winters. I need 180lbs of hive weight to make the hive to spring. I find that the queen can manage the brood nest more efficiently with two chambers over one. The brood nest expands between the two chambers leaving more than enough resources to maintain the colony thoughout the year. I feel three chambers is a waste of resources(honey) that can be used by the beekeeper. And for the amount of surip I feed to bulk up hte hives for the winter, is negligable to the amount of wasted honey left on the three chamber hives.

    >>Also, while on the subject of overwintering. How many have tried various ventilation methods and what are your thoughts?
    >>bees are giving off moisture there is bound to be some condensation.
    >>It seemed like my hives with top ventilation of some kind did better than the ones without, in general.

    Condensatin kill hives up here. You need a way to vent your hivesof moisture and CO2. I think upperenterences are the way to go about it. Warm air rises, and with it moisture and CO2. Allow that warm air to escape, slowly, and you solve your problem. There are some people who beleive that upperenterences are harmful to the hive, due to heat loss and the stress placed on the hive to hold a humidity level as the outside environment sucks the moisture from the hive. They beleive only in bottom enterences. BOGUS!! Perhaps in dry climates, but not in humid climates. Especially in areas where snow can cover entire beeyards. By only leaving the bottom enterence, the hive will be sealed when the bottom enterence is covered or iced over. How is that hive to breath? where does the moisture go? How does the CO2 exchange with O2? It doesent. Top enterences clear themselves, and still ventalate the hive under snow. Hot air rises, will melt any snow or ice blocking the enterecne and will continue to ventalate even under a snow bank. It is the upper enterence that provides me with the needed insurance to winter my hives in this climate, and allows me to sleep better at night...

    >>I have never tried wrapping, but there are a lot of people who firmly beleive in it. How much of a difference do you wrappers think it makes?

    Micheal, being in your climate, I dont see the need to wrap as I do. I wrap in groups of four, with 4" fiberglass insulation on the sides and 6"on top, wrapped with tarpaper. I leave the innercover vent hole open through out the winter.
    I have herd of beekeepers only wrapping with tar paper in your area. It probably would be worth it, even though you usuall dont need it. Its that one winter in ten that will get you. I see its benifet from eliminating all cold drafts into the hive, allowing the upper enterence to ventilate, insead of circulating air in the hive. I also feel solar radiation is also a benefit when wintering here. Maybe it would warm your hive too much, but that should not worry you , for you should have over 100lbs per hive anyway and your climate never see the harsh cold unpreictable extreems that kills early brooding hives,. There is alot of investment in wrapping hives, and if you dont see a direct influence in heavey wrapping, you probably dont need it. Lightly wrapping would be what you are looking for, getting the best of both worlds. And maybe help the bees endure the winter a bit better,..

    Micheal, harvest that honey in that third this next season,...

    Ian

    >>When it got to 35 above the college girls would be in their bikinis in the park getting a tan.

    and you moved from there???


    [This message has been edited by Ian (edited March 19, 2004).]

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    6,617

    Post

    >>done fine without wrapping and my theory had always been that the bees would get too warm and fly into the cold and die

    That is another arguement against wrapping that I dont agree on. I winter bees indoors, some of them. And The room is totally dark to prevent flight. I sweep dead bees off the floor every month,. Now, I think that the bees leave the hive for a reason. That is becasue they dont like dieing inside the hive, which would cause a disease promoting mess. The reason you only see bee fly out of the hive on nice days , is becasue it is the only time the bees can break cluster to do it. Otherwise they will just fall and die. After cold harsh winters, with little mild breaks, I usually find more bees on the bottom boards than after winters that are full of mild breaks. I never have any dead bees on the bottom boards in my indoor hives.
    Try saving some bees that fly out of the hive during a mild break. You cant, they all die.

    Ian

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    claremont,n.h.
    Posts
    45

    Wink

    I overwintered 10 styrofoam nucs here in New Hampshire. Same ones as better bees I stated earlier this fall i was going to try this. I
    just started to feed them pollen patties. I plan on doing this every year.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,742

    Post

    >I overwintered 10 styrofoam nucs here in New Hampshire. Same ones as better bees I stated earlier this fall i was going to try this. I
    just started to feed them pollen patties. I plan on doing this every year.

    So I take it they did well? I think I will buy a few and try them. Unfortunately they are for deeps and I'm running mediums. So I will have to make some adjustments.

    >That is another arguement against wrapping that I dont agree on. I winter bees indoors, some of them. And The room is totally dark to prevent flight. I sweep dead bees off the floor every month,. Now, I think that the bees leave the hive for a reason. That is becasue they dont like dieing inside the hive, which would cause a disease promoting mess. The reason you only see bee fly out of the hive on nice days , is becasue it is the only time the bees can break cluster to do it.

    Maybe someone else has put that theory forth, but I hadn't heard it before you said it. It seems reasonable that is the cause of them flying out and dying in the snow. Now that I've had my observation hive I can see that even with it 70 degrees outside the hive, they still won't fly out into the cold any more or less.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Springfield New Jersey
    Posts
    119

    Post

    I live in north New Jersey and have overwintered in two deeps one with a 3/8 ventilation/extra entrance hole directly under the handle on the top deep. Unwrapped with the entrance reducer on or mouse gaurd.I use granulated suger on the inner cover this helps with absorption of moisture as well as emergency feed. So far have had no major losses KNOCK ON WOOD!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Springfield New Jersey
    Posts
    119

    Post

    In my area of new jersey it doesn't get extremly cold maybe in the twenties for a couple of weeks. I use two deeps, Italian bees and my major concerns are food supply, ventilation and hive strength. Last fall the two deeps were filled with pollen and honey. I also believe that the drastic fluctuation in temps has an effect in our area. Some late winter temps fluctuate up to 30 degrees one day it's in the fifties and litarally a day later it snows 6"

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    CANADA
    Posts
    25

    Post

    Hi Michael,

    I have used straw inside an empty hive box atop 2 deep boxes ....... the top deep has a screen allowing moisture and air to flow up, the straw does a good job at sucking up moisture as well as providing some insulation.
    I wrap the outside with black tarpaper and put styrofoam on the north side, as well as protect the hive from the wind with sheets of plywood.
    I am just a very small scale hobbyist and got these ideas from someone who owns an apiary.
    I am in Ontario near Ottawa where winters are long and cold !


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
    Posts
    4,416

    Post

    I wintered three hives here. Two were 3 mediums well packed with stores. The third didn't fill the third box, so I removed it in late fall. They wintered on 2 mediums. All had solid bottom boards and a 1.5" x 3/4" top entrance. Bottom entrances were not reduced. All three hives did well coming into spring and all had stores left. We have much milder winters than most of you, but we did have some winter.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
    Posts
    930

    Post

    If one could use tightly bundled straw, they might actually be able to create heat with it. Bails of hay when stacked generate heat, and I speculate that small bundles the size of a deep super if VERY tightly packed like a bail and getting moist from the condensation might help with the cold. Something to think about anyway.

    Maybe a silly idea too, but hey worth a shot once anyway to see.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Kiel WI, USA
    Posts
    2,368

    Big Grin

    <<we did have some winter>>

    Yeah, sure

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Springfield New Jersey
    Posts
    119

    Post

    what is winter like in texas? cold rain? maybe you might need a windbreaker!....oh the horror...the horror lol ha ha ! psych! sike!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,742

    Post

    >If one could use tightly bundled straw, they might actually be able to create heat with it. Bails of hay when stacked generate heat, and I speculate that small bundles the size of a deep super if VERY tightly packed like a bail and getting moist from the condensation might help with the cold.

    When wet hay generates heat it is from bacteria eating the hay. I believe it gives off more water CO2 and methane. I don't think it would be helpful in a hive because of the other byproducts.

    It also occasionally catches on fire.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Winnipeg Manitoba
    Posts
    311

    Post

    To Ian :
    I need some feedback on indoor overwintering. Can you please send me an email? honeyb@mts.net

    thx

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