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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Albuquerque, NM
    Posts
    6

    Default 3 deeps = successful overwintering?

    Greetings from Albuquerque, NM where we just survived one of our coldest winters on record.

    This year, instead of feeding or treating with chems, we opted to follow the University of Minnesota's advice and overwinter the girls in 3 deeps. It worked like a charm: In fact, our only hives to survive were those in 3 deeps.

    Has anyone else found similar success with this method?

    ------------
    www.mistressbeek.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
    Posts
    1,647

    Default Re: 3 deeps = successful overwintering?

    I use mostly 3 deep or two and a half deeps, but do have mayby 15 % in two deeps. most of my two deeps are getting light but the three deeps are heavy.

    a couple things to watch with 3 deeps, many times they will fill the bottom deep with pollen, so if you just evaluate the weight during the summer by just picking them up, you may think the queen has room to lay in the bottom deep, but it's really full of pollen. also if you remove the bottom deep in the spring to clean and paint etc, you are removing there pollen source. I usually rotate it to the top in the spring b/4 the queen lays eggs in it to give them more room.
    also the three deep will help avoid swarming, but you end up with alot more bees than in a two deep, and if you are not treating for mites, they will have a tendence to crash. when you do get a swarm out of one of these hive they are something to see.
    also don't bee suprised if the queen lays up the middle in a chimney effect and they fill the outside frames with honey, if you don't get a late flow it will sometims leave them higher in the hive with the honey on the outside below them.
    also if the hive is too heavy in the spring, yuo may have to remove honey and replace with empty comb.
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    608

    Default Re: 3 deeps = successful overwintering?

    I wintered all of my larger colonies in a deep with two shallows. All of my hives survived. Most of these hives have most of the honey left in one of the shallows. I also had 4 colonies that made it through in one deep (packed). Its not the size or quantity of the boxes, but more the genetics of the colony, along with adequate honey stores that works for me. Have never treated , little or no sugar, and never fed a supplement of any kind.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,241

    Default Re: 3 deeps = successful overwintering?

    You NM folks have made a case for two elements of my full-season management plan. Never would have expected that to come out of the desert southwest. Have a full day scheduled, but you can bet that I will have a few comments on the night shift.
    Walt

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Albuquerque, NM
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: 3 deeps = successful overwintering?

    Interesting feedback, everyone. Thanks also, wildbranch, for the cautionary notes. Congrats on a strong winter, riskybizz.

    It's our 3rd year beekeeping and this is the only winter we're seeing a consistent pattern. It's also the first year we've tried overwintering in 3 deeps.

    Our plan is to split 'em next week as they're quite strong already. Do you think it's too early to make a split?

    ---------------
    www.mistressbeek.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    608

    Default Re: 3 deeps = successful overwintering?

    Yes I think it might be a little early to make splits, even for the mild Albuquerque climate. If I were going to split up your deeps I would wait until late April weather permitting. I am planning on making mine up on May 15th when my queens will arrive. Last year we had 8" of snow here in Santa fe on April 18th. I had package bees that arrived the next week. My feelings are that the bees will only expand at their own rate, meaning that even an early split with a new queen will only expand as weather permits. It needs to be warm out with a lot of pollen (and nectar) available or the queen will just hang around until there is adequate supply to perform. You will not really gain anything by making splits too early, and often times it is a detriment to do so. I would also not start the splits in deeps, but would instead introduce them into 5 frame nucs, with honey/pollen and a young queen. Drawn comb if available. Feed sugar syrup (internally) if you don't have frames of honey. I like to keep the splits in a compact environment especially if you expect them to draw out foundation. Watch out for other bees robbing them out. Good luck.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    2,267

    Default Re: 3 deeps = successful overwintering?

    Making splits depends on your local circumstances.
    - What is the weather bound to be like between now and mid-April in your area?
    - Are you doing a walk-away split, letting them raise their own queen? If so, do you have drones yet?
    - Are you going to introduce a new queen to the split? If you're doing this, is the hive full of bees, pollen, honey?

    I have taken a two-story (deeps) colony full of bees, and divided the colony in half, set the existing queen deep on the original location, added an empty deep for growth. I introduced a laying queen to the split, moved it to a new stand, added an empty deep for growth. Bingo! Two strong colonies that built up fast and gave me a surplus that year.
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,021

    Default Re: 3 deeps = successful overwintering?

    I've been using three deeps in an unlimited broodnest configuration for eight years now. I don't harvest from anything below the fourth box. It is all left for brooding and stores for the bees. I leave an additional (two typically empty) deeps on over winter to avoid fumigating them for wax moths. Since I harvest in June only, sometimes if the summer is good, there will be some honey in the 4th and 5th box which is never used by the bees over winter and will be extracted the next June.

    I do not recall any hives dying of starvation in this configuration, and feeding has never been necessary. Perhaps I'm overdoing it, but it works well.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Orange, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    393

    Default Re: 3 deeps = successful overwintering?

    Great!

    Something for people to try. I wanted to run 3 deeps last year but did not. I have 1 hive that ran 3 and its still heavy and full of bees, biggest brood nest and cluster of all my hives, really strong early in the season.

    I think I will run 3 next year for over wintering. I thought of running my nuc boxes on top of 2 deep with excluder between the different hives.

    Keep posting on this topic interesting info.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Albuquerque, NM
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: 3 deeps = successful overwintering?

    So for folks that have overwintered in 3-4 deeps before, how do you manage to prevent swarming?

    I live in an urban environment so try to prevent swarms as much as possible. I'd really like to split and let them raise their own queen but as someone suggested, I'm unsure if there are drones yet.

    The hives are STRONG already which bodes well if I can keep 'em from swarming.

    ---------
    www.mistressbeek.com

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,021

    Default Re: 3 deeps = successful overwintering?

    The larger the hive, more space available, less swarming.

    I also generally add one or two frames of foundation to the middle of the broodnest in each of the bottom three boxes, or in a particularly good hive, like last year, I added an entire box of foundation in the position second from the bottom. They drew the foundation, and filled up nearly three deeps with honey.

    Giving them as much space as possible (unlimited broodnest management) relieves the need to swarm. It doesn't eliminate it, but makes it less of an issue. I run five deeps per hive year round. I also run large upper entrances which helps with ventilation.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,241

    Default Re: 3 deeps = successful overwintering?

    There is good reason for better wintering in the triple deep. The colony scales the population in the fall to be proportional to cavity size and stores. A larger cluster eats more over winter and has more in-cluster empty cells to kick off a larger starting brood nest, for faster growth. Almost a necessity in the longer and colder areas of the north central US, but is overkill for more southerly areas. We can put more honey in the tanks and still winter well. With an unrestricted brood nest, we can get comparable populations for spring production.

    wildbranch:
    Am glad to read that I'm not the only person to see the tendency to store a pollen reserve below the broodnest. It's more prominent with the unrestricted broodnest. And it supports the late summer build up to generate young bees for wintering - pollen is scarce then. That gave rise to my helping that effort by incorporating the pollen box maneuver in the early season management.
    Walt

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,034

    Default Re: 3 deeps = successful overwintering?

    I've overwintered bees in 3 deeps and haven't noticed any survivability differences than colonies with 2 deeps. I don't like leaving boxes full of comb sitting empty, so if I have a summer dead-out or do a fall combine, I'll often add a 3rd deep to a colony.

    In talking with some of the older beeks, they all tell me that 25 years ago, they overwintered in single deeps here in Indiana, and the bees did just fine.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
    Posts
    1,647

    Default Re: 3 deeps = successful overwintering?

    Quote Originally Posted by wcubed View Post
    wildbranch:
    Am glad to read that I'm not the only person to see the tendency to store a pollen reserve below the broodnest. It's more prominent with the unrestricted broodnest. And it supports the late summer build up to generate young bees for wintering - pollen is scarce then.
    Walt
    they had a discussion on bee-l about this that I tried to post to but ever since they moved to a new site, I can't seem to post any more. I'm sure your name came up in the discussion. I very seldom saw pollen below the cluster b/4 going to three deeps. the discussion was saying its a new thing with bees, but I started putting on three deeps the second year I got varoa as when mediating I hated to let the hives get honey bound in the fall, might as well let them have the extra honey. they also said it was easy to breed for pollen hoarding, so maybe I did it without thinking, one of those unintended consequences but with the pollen and extra space, they explode in the spring, but my swarming is normally way down. Matter of fact I have 3 breeder queens that were three years old going into winter that were still producing fine but will be interested to see what they do this spring.
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Essex County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: 3 deeps = successful overwintering?

    I am exploring the Warre method this year. In this management system, for those not familiar, bees winter in two boxes. (Note that a Warre box is about the size of a 5 frame nuc.) Then two empty boxes are placed below in the spring. The top two are harvested each fall.

    I am thinking about using my existing Lang deeps is a similar way, but with just three boxes. I will put one empty deep on the bottom this spring and then harvest the top one in the fall. If they really get going , I can always add a super on top.

    Has anyone tried using 3 deeps in this way?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Chatham,MA USA
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: 3 deeps = successful overwintering?

    Bee Works in Ontario has expounded the practice of 3 deeps for a long time. See:
    http://www.beeworks.com/informationc...anagement.html
    Mike
    ...and hey, let's be careful out there !

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