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  1. #21


    Could someone tell me some hints to estimate probability of surviving a winter in TBH.
    without inspecting all combs by comb.
    I am in Chicago vicinity environment. It is getting cold and temperature is dropping progressively to above 60 during a day. Bees are still flying and bringing some pollen but this will stop when temperature drops below 60 soon.
    My hives are “V” shaped, TB is 22” , about 10” deep.
    How many combs should I expect at this time a year to estimate probability of surviving an average winter without internal feeder. (first year)
    I know that it depends on a few things, but TBH beekeepers have to have some experience to generalize their opinion, I think.
    My bees are Italian. There are 13 to 16 combs in 3 hives. The last 3 combs are partial and almost empty, and not covered by bees. I did not feed them, but several days ago I gave them syrup ( about 2 quarts) and they drink it like crazy, but I didn’t notice any build up of combs. What did they do with it? Probably just has got fat.
    I will be glad to hear and appreciate yours opinion.

    Also, what is large cluster, small cluster, strong or weak hive? I have a window so I can see how many combs are covered with bees to have some idea of this terminology.


  2. #22
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Raleigh, North Carolina



    I would think the obvious "back of the napkin" calculation you'd make would be figure how many square inches of comb you have
    (rough guess at sq. in. of comb/bar) x (number of bars)
    then figure out how many langstroth frames that equal
    then how does that compare to what people typically overwinter with in your area

    (See, they told you you'd need that algeabra stuff) [img]smile.gif[/img]


  3. #23
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA


    What I would call a large cluster, on a cold day, would be bigger than a basketball. What I would call a small cluster, on a cold day, would be smaller than a soccer ball. The smaller than a soccer ball cluster might make it. In fact with the ferals that seems to be a typical winter cluster. With the Italians that's a pitiful cluster, but it might survive.

    With a typical hive, since there are gaps between the top bars, I can just peek in the top on a cold day and if the bees aren't in that box, keep pulling boxes until I see the cluster. If it spans the whole box it's a strong hive. If it spans six or seven frames it's a medium hive. If it only spans about five frames or less it's a weak hive.

    With practice you can judge the cluster better in different temperatures. On warmer days it expands and colder days it contracts. You need, in the long run, to learn to judge, not just the size of the cluster but the density of the cluster to have a better estimate.

    But with a Top Bar Hive you have an added problem in judging the size. You'll probably need to start at each end and go until you find some bees and then count the frames between the two ends of the cluster.
    Michael Bush "Everything works if you let it." 42y 40h 39yTF

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Berkey, OH, USA



    The syrup you fed them went straight into the brood nest. That is good. Keep feeding them. You will be ok i think. They won't build any more comb but rather store the open nectar in existing comb where they can get to it.

    Biggest thing IMO is to protect them from the wind. So if you are on the prairie try to find a way to break the wind.

    The other thing to do is to try to pick up the hive and estimate how much it weighs. Same as for a lang. I wouldn't worry about a detailed inspection this time of year, they are either going to make it or they aren't. All you can do is feed and break the wind. If you think it weighs 100 pounds plus you will be ok, if less keep feeding.

    good luck and keep us posted.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    May 2005



    <All you can do is feed and break the wind.>

    Sometimes I feel that way too.


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