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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Randolph County, Indiana
    Posts
    693

    Default Overwintering success

    My last two winters I have had more than 50% die off. When half of almost 40 hives die, it hurts the pocketbook. So this year I've tried to identify what caused the problems, and solve it. The problems as I see them are:

    1. Wind seems to be a big factor. We have had some hard winters here in the last couple of years. This caused the clusters to get stuck in one spot and not be able to get to their stores, then they starved.

    2. Mice, they have chewed through my wooden reducers.

    3. Mites, not getting the treatents on in time, and only getting one round of Api Guard before winter.

    I have two different types of hives. I have many hives that are 2 deeps, and many that are five frame nucs in a single deep, but with enough bees to cover about 8 frames.

    So my plan is:

    1. Feed the nucs to get them up to a full deep of drawn frames covered with bees. Like I said, the population is already there, they just need to draw the remaining frames.

    2. Universal metal entrance reducers on all hives

    3. Feed the full sized hives in late Sept, early Oct before winter sets in.

    4. Repaint all hives

    5. Wrap all hives in tarpaper.

    6. Put a candyboard on all one deep hives in Oct.

    7. A pollen patty on all one deep hives in late winter.

    8. If I can afford it this year, I'll put a candy board on all the hives.

    The main problem that I need to overcome is the wind issues. I'm hoping the tar paper will do this. Unfortunately, building a windbreak is not an option unless I just put a tarp on the back side of the hives. If the tar paper would reduce the wind enough, I'd like to just do that. Oh ya, the mite treatments start in one week.

    Any other suggestions, or anything that I missed?

    Thanks,
    Gary

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Windham County, Vermont
    Posts
    246

    Default

    Gary,
    I've had good success using Mountaincamp's methods of wintering. I had no losses last winter here in southern.Vt. You're ideas are much similar with Mountaincamp's, but I might suggest using an empty feeding chamber that will hold some feeding jars instead of the candy board.
    I think the tarpaper will greatly reduce your wind problem, and the metal entrance reducers work great in keeping mice out.

    Check this thread out for details about Mountaincamp's methods...
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=213667

    Good luck !

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Sawyer, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,115

    Default

    Try this for wrapping, http://www.uline.com/ProductDetail.a...670BL&ref=5352 It's easy to use and cheap. And makes a nice tight wrap.

    I used tar paper but it’s cumbersome to work with, in the winter of 06-07 I lost 13 out of 20 hives I went into winter with. In the winter of 07-08 which was harder I lost 3 out of 22 hives.
    What was the deference? In the winter of 06-07 I did not wrap my hives, in the summer of 06 we had a drought. And then a cool wet fall that turned cold in early October. The biological effect was late season nectar sources was curtailed, and pollen sources was limited and of poorer quality. I tried to supplement my hives in fall but the weather was so cold and damp that they went into cluster and wouldn’t take feed.
    The summer of 07 we had adequate rainfall and a nice warm fall the bees could forage well into late October. And I wrapped my hives. This year things are looking very good, and I will wrap my hives this winter!
    Last edited by Brent Bean; 08-17-2008 at 06:21 PM.
    The Busy Bee teaches two lessons: One is not to be idle and the other is not to get stung.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Cooperstown,N.Y.
    Posts
    474

    Default

    hi indy'
    been thinking about winter myself lately...and hoping for a dry fall cause my summer nucs have barely been able to bring home enough to cover their groceries what with all the rain.

    some of my experiences/thoughts are,

    I'm not into having to feed bees, at least not as part of my s.o.p... it is cheaper for me just to leave them enough to begin with...when I add up the sugar, +fuel, +labor I just can't make those numbers work, even when I sell all my honey for 3.50-4.00/lb.
    I feel that if I need to resort to extensive feeding I have already screwed up.

    I won't ever feed syrup if it's too cold to fly...

    I did however start to feed the nucs bjorn's pollen sub mixed straight up with raw honey and they have really turned around these last couple of weeks.

    but you nailed the wind thing...can you move them to a more sheltered yard for wintering? might be cheaper to manage that way too, with these high fuel cost.

    My one exposed yard has a couple sections of snow fence, covered with 4' wide burlap.
    I think the burlap cost about 1.25 lin/yard so 60 ft. came to about 28-30 bucks.I think it made a big difference.

    I'm done wrapping full colonies too, I think. they get too hot on a 20 deg. sunny day and then fly out... never too return.
    Last year without wrapping I lost 10% of my full (3 deep)colonies.

    I'm wrapping nucs. last year I wrapped half my nucs. I had 50% loss on the nucs. ALL the dead outs were not wrapped.

    I might try using a 10-12" wide piece just in the middle to see if it encourages them to set up their winter nest in the middle box but I dunno.

    let's hope for a ez winter
    Mark

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Randolph County, Indiana
    Posts
    693

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    Anyone else having a problem with wrapped hives dying because bees are flying out on cold days and not returning?


    As for feeding. I have lots of nucs that will be going into winter. That is where my main concern is. Those I'm sure will need to be wrapped just to keep them warm enough.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,793

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    I thought I saw it in here, but can't find it at the moment...
    Someone has sheet metal pieces that interlock, for puting around hives as windblocks in the winter. One piece will go around one hive, 4 pieces will go around 4 hives stacked together in a square, such as on a 4 hive pallet. It's just a thought for the wind problem in winter.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Sawyer, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,115

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    When I didn’t wrap I lost more hives. I think the advantage of wrapping is three fold. One is serves as a wind break and two it allows for solar gain on sunny days and allows the bees to break or loosen their cluster and relocate in contact with stored food. And last it allows for more cleansing flights and reduces nosema problem.
    I know that the debate over wrapping has valid points on both views. But bees flying out of the hive and not returning sounds more like CCD. I have watched many times in 20 something temperatures bees flying out for cleansing flights or taking out the dead and they make a quick turn around and fly right back in. Without the solar gain that dark color wrap makes this would happen less often. And prolonged confinement periods are a challenge for the bees.
    Perhaps the winters in California are not as prolonged or hard as they are in Indiana or Michigan and wrapping isn’t worth the effort.
    The Busy Bee teaches two lessons: One is not to be idle and the other is not to get stung.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,973

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    brent bean writes:
    But bees flying out of the hive and not returning sounds more like CCD.

    tecumseh: I would think that or perhaps a hive has captured too much solar gain on too cold a day.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Ulster County, New York, USA
    Posts
    49

    Default Overwintering

    I thought about wrapping with black plastic garbage bags thinking that the sun would heat them up a bit in the winter... or putting the hives inside an upside down bag - open on the bottom to allow air in...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,341

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    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Randolph County, Indiana
    Posts
    693

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    I know that MB is usually right, but with all due respect, I have to disagree with SOME of the statements on his site. I can't say that I disagree with his statement to stop wrapping because I have never tried it. My disagreement is with the statement that we should only feed natural food to the bees. If I do need to feed, its much cheaper to buy sugar than to feed honey. I know, the honey was produced and is free to me. But I can sell a pound of that honey and buy three pounds of sugar. From what I have read, bees can digest sugar easier than honey anyway.

    MB, if there is a reason that we should not feed syrup (besides those who overfeed and end up with syrup in their supers) please let us know. My practice has been to feed maybe two quarts of light syrup in the early spring to stimulate brood rearing, or save a hive, and then to feed a hive in the fall if needed. My mistakes in feeding has been that I did not feed my nucs a little to get them started, and by giving frames of honey to a hive without freezing the frames before giving them to the hive. The result was two weeks later I had wax worm damage that I had to fix, or a dead hive.

    Edit: Just wanted to add this. It seems to me that the hives that went into winter without full stores survived in greater numbers. I can't explain why this happened.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,973

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    brent bean writes: When I didn’t wrap I lost more hives. I think the advantage of wrapping is three fold. One is serves as a wind break

    tecumseh replies: this could actually do for reason 1, 2, and 3. bees can withstand a great deal of cold... they don't tolerate drafts or accumulation of ice inside the hive so well.

    whatever happened to common building paper and leaves as a hive wrap?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Sparta, Tennessee
    Posts
    2,139

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mwjohnson View Post
    "hi indy' been thinking about winter myself lately...and hoping for a dry fall cause my summer nucs have barely been able to bring home enough to cover their groceries what with all the rain...let's hope for a ez winter
    Mark"
    Mark, you're not far from me (an hour or so) and I agree, the bees are light on stores and "rain" again today. Japanese bamboo and goldenrod are on the verge of blooming here. Seems to me the bamboo is ahead of the taller goldenrod this year which is odd. It's usually the other way around.

    I am still undecided how I am going to set up for winter. I had good success in the yards that I used sugar on newspaper and wrapped with tar paper. The only thing is; I don't like the mess in the spring from the sugar. I ended up swapping out bottom boards and dragging way to many home to power wash them which is an added unwelcomed task.

    I think I'll sugar the hives which go into fall light and probably wrap only those. The others, I'll make sure I have in good woodenware, swapping out the supers that provide unique air-conditioning. Then I will let them propolize the hives and I'll leave them alone until early spring.

    NUC's, I'll move them together and wrap them with tar paper and either add honey if need be, and/or sugar. I just didn't like the amount of moisture in the NUC's last year (the ones with sugar on top), with them all closed up. The sugar definately soaked up the moisture, but in my opinion, there was still way too much moisture. I'm thinking of venting those NUC's with the sugar on top as a way to cut down the moisture.

    I'd like to insulate my NUC migratory covers, but have to figure out a good way. I was going to put blue board below the covers, but one of my beekeep friends discouraged me stating the bees just chew up the insulating board and ruin it.

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffzhear View Post
    I was going to put blue board below the covers, but one of my beekeep friends discouraged me stating the bees just chew up the insulating board and ruin it.
    I've been thinking foil-faced for just that reason.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Posts
    975

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    Check out Mel's windshield style wind break idea in lieu of wrapping. Might work well especially for nucs.

    http://www.mdasplitter.com/article.htm

    Glenn

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Wheatfield, IN
    Posts
    2,068

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    I wrapped for two years. I no longer wrap. I have seen no difference in colony losses since I stopped wrapping. I have upper entrances on all colonies. All colonies are also painted or treated darker colors. Maybe this is what helps me I don't know.

    I do not use candy boards, or dry sugar. If you leave enough stores on your colonies and try to locate them in places with natural windbreaks you save yourself alot of the trouble of doing all these "extra" and IMHO unecessary things.

    Single story colonies I can't speak to. I haven't done anything with those but might this year. Wrapping may benefit these types of colonies I don't know.

    For colonies started later in the year that haven't had as much time to build pollen reserves I will add pollen patties to these.
    Last edited by Dan Williamson; 08-19-2008 at 07:01 AM.
    Dan Williamson
    B&C Honey Farm http://www.flickr.com/photos/9848229@N05/

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Sparta, Tennessee
    Posts
    2,139

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    Quote Originally Posted by dcross View Post
    I've been thinking foil-faced for just that reason.
    Dcross, sometimes the obvious stares us right in the face, and we miss it! Thanks for your suggestion. I'll walk around Lowes this morning and see what they have. Wondering if anyone else has experience with foil-faced insulator board under migratory covers?

    Going to wait till the post office opens and kill two birds with one stone (figuratively speaking). The post office is a stones throw from Lowes.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Dane County, WI.
    Posts
    3,721

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    "Anyone else having a problem with wrapped hives dying because bees are flying out on cold days and not returning".-- IndianaHoney.

    My very first hive, [2004] I wrapped with B@B [Minnesota] type wrapping; I wrapped tightly. In Feb. of that year we had a warm spell and the bees were bearding [softball size] on the outside; the hive was a 'deadout' in the spring. I don't know for sure if this [tightly wrapping] was the reason for the hives' demise. NOW; I still wrap my hives. I tape it first to get it set around the hives and then tie medium rope around them at the top and bottom. I tie somewhat loosely to allow about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of space between the hive boxes and the insulation wrap. This has worked for me with 100% survival of 2-3 colonies; 2005-2008.

    I have been interested in this 'issue' of wrapping or not so I looked at the hardiness zones of the northern states. If you look at that you will see that for Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin, the 'cold fronts' that move down from Canada in a kind of loop that descends into those 'northern states. If you look at the HZ [hardiness zones] of those states farther east like Pennsylvania and New York [where Richard Taylor had his bees] you will see that there is a more moderate,...'winter climate'. Again; the northern 'fringes' of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois; many parts of the Northeast have a relatively,..'mild' winter until you get into northern NY, NH, Vermont and Maine.

    When looking at the climate of my nearby states, I remembered something about,...Michigan,.......Michigan,.peaches. Michigan has quite a few major peach orchards, while Minnesota and Wisconsin do NOT. Farther east, I noticed Pennsylvania and New York have peach orchards also. The peach tree [hardiness] is somewhat subject to cold winters. Even Nebraska has a somewhat 'milder' winter than Wisconsin; look at the maps.
    Last edited by Oldbee; 08-21-2008 at 08:06 AM.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,123

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    Wrapping didn't save 90 or so of my hives a couple
    years ago. Wind still got snow and consequent wet
    into the colony.

    I would continue wrapping if I wintered them here.
    But my point is.............. get them out of the
    wind, wrapped or not.

    And always allow for ventilation. I'll lost only a few
    due to starvation. Moisture, lots.

    If I wrap again I'd also wrap in white tyvek rather
    than the black felt I've used in the past. Better
    moisture control and I feel the black can trigger
    early brood production. Then a cold snap comes
    in and the cluster sits on the brood and starves
    with stores inches away.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
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    9,123

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    Quote Originally Posted by dcross View Post
    I've been thinking foil-faced for just that reason.
    I used pink closed cell and chewing wasn't a big issue. But
    I suppose a chunk of tin foil would discourage it.

    The foil insulations I have seen are all open cell unlike the
    closed pink/blue/yellow styrene based ones. Open cell will
    absorb moisture.

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