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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Apple Valley, MN
    Posts
    375

    Default Bees in top box, not normal?

    I was just reading the "natures nectar" blog about what our bees should being doing right now (we are also in Minnesota). Their blog says that our bees should either be in the bottom box or the middle but not in the top. Our bees are in the top box, at least I can see them in there through the top entrance hole and they are buzzing loudly. Is this a bad sign? I was certain they had enough honey to get them through this very cold and very early winter. My hubby, who is much stronger than I, attempted to tip the hive (all 3 bodies) in October, and he could barely get it to tip it was so heavy but now I guess I need to be reassured that just because they are in the top box it doesn't mean they are doomed... or maybe it does? They aren't in the top box for entrance and exit only, I can see quite a few hanging out just inside the entrance.

    You can see them here:http://lh4.ggpht.com/_UFaBrNBjB0k/TP...w/IMAG0111.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    omaha nebr. USA
    Posts
    509

    Default Re: Bees in top box, not normal?

    Can become a bad deal if the cluster eats it's stores up & you get a pro longed cold snap were as the bees can not move to there stored food supply.
    Yes they can starve with a 60 to 70 pound surplus still on!
    Candy Board Time!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    North Liberty, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    107

    Default Re: Bees in top box, not normal?

    You'll still see some bees in the top box, at least early in the winter season. Remember how many bees you saw in the hive late summer/early fall? All those bees cannot fit in just one medium super. As time goes by, and bees die off, they eventually will cluster lower in the hive. As heavy as your hive was there should be plenty of available food for the bees. Just avoid the temptation of popping the top to take a peek. Much precious heat can be lost that way, though there are some who periodically lift the lid off even with snow around the hives and claim no harm done. I don't take that risk. Just put your ear up to the hive and listen for that pleasant, reassuring hum.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,436

    Default Re: Bees in top box, not normal?

    I used to worry about this. But almost all of mine spend almost all winter at the top and after checking with others, I think theirs do too.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Brady, washington
    Posts
    710

    Default Re: Bees in top box, not normal?

    Soup can is right. I made the mistake this year not having a candy board on. I lost one hive during the cold snap we had I lost a hive honey on the other sides of the frames were the dead cluster was. Just could not break and move sad. But it happens.
    99.99% of questions can be answered by Just reading books.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Poweshiek, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    42

    Default Re: Bees in top box, not normal?

    I had a hive last year where I could see bees at the top entrance all winter. Made it just fine.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Apple Valley, MN
    Posts
    375

    Default Re: Bees in top box, not normal?

    THANK YOU!! for the reassurance. I wondered about bee numbers. All three boxes were jammed full in October and I wondered how all of them could fit in one box, then to read that they should not be present in the top was unnerving

    Should I hold off on the candy board for now? We are in the single digits to low double digits... very cold. The bees are humming, especially when I clean the snow away from the hive and accidently bump it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Baltimore, OH
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Bees in top box, not normal?

    Here in central Ohio I open when it is above about 45 degrees. I use candy and candy boards and add them quickly so as not to chill the hive even at 45. I have single and double deeps and don't have major issues (I hope this does not jinx me). Michael Bush has the same experience as me. Many of my double deeps keep bees in the upper box and I feed.

    You are doing what is right by reading. Unfortunately the bees don't read the same books and don't act as they are supposed to. Good luck, Pife

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Bergen, Norway
    Posts
    249

    Default Re: Bees in top box, not normal?

    You should not remove the snow unless it hinders airflow or if it is very wet.

    Dry and fluffy snow is an excellent insulator.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Columbia county, New York, USA
    Posts
    1,540

    Default Re: Bees in top box, not normal?

    Soap,
    My bees are in the top box as well. When it's sunny they hang around near the upper entrance and peek out. I'm assuming they know what they're doing. They should still have plenty of honey to work on.
    Don't open your hive when it below 45F! You will break their propolis seals and let bitter cold drafts in right in the middle parts of the hive where the cluster might be hanging out. Remember, they slow down when they are cold and don't eat as much. As Pife says, don't open at all under 45F, and then do whatever very quickly and close back up quickly!
    Me, I'm not opening my hives at all til Spring.
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    omaha nebr. USA
    Posts
    509

    Default Re: Bees in top box, not normal?

    Ok so let's do the math.
    A 20# candy board will cost you less than $20 bucks.
    A 3# package of bees in the spring ( if you can get them ) is well over $75 I hear.
    Queens are over $20 for spring splits.
    I learned a good many years ago in this business that being pro active is a much better thing than being reactive.
    Sometimes one must spend the .90 cents to insure that there will be a dollar to put in your pocket so to speak at the end of the season.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Apple Valley, MN
    Posts
    375

    Default Re: Bees in top box, not normal?

    Thanks for the advice and notes of experience on this! It is pretty cold here today (30) so I will just let them be for now as I wouldn't want to freeze them out and I think I'll have the hubster go out and tip the hive a bit and see if there is some weight to it still (hopefully the girls don't come out in angry swarms, they get testy when we touch the hive now).

    Re snow: Shouldn't the snow be removed from around the lower entrance for ventilation? (we don't have a screened bottom board). I also thought that if too much snow gathered up against the lower entrance that when the bees were clustering and warming that moisture would develop? Is that incorrect?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    omaha nebr. USA
    Posts
    509

    Default Re: Bees in top box, not normal?

    We many years put candy boards on in temps below 30 degrees.
    Pop the lid & have the candy board in the other hand ready to install.
    The little bit of chill the bees catch with the lid off this short peroid of time is little or nothing to them.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,436

    Default Re: Bees in top box, not normal?

    >Ok so let's do the math.
    >A 20# candy board will cost you less than $20 bucks.

    And an empty box and some dry sugar will only cost you the price of the sugar...

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm#drysugar
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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