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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Hudson, WI USA
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    2,211

    Default This may be crazy but....

    As Monty Python would say "and now for something completely different".
    I have been experimenting with Roland's methods, he has been gracious to share them. I ran some of my hives Roland style last summer and I was happy with the results, and so when I learned how he overwinters I thought it was worthy of a trial. Roland told me he overwinters in a single deep with an empty box below it - sometimes with combs, but sometimes empty.

    I ran the hives #11, and #6 over the summer in a single deep raising 2-3 brood frames above the excluder and then, when emerged, placing those 2-3 frames below and replacing 2-3 more, and so on. These were Koehnen packages with MH queens. I harvested 3 1/2 mediums and 1 1/2 deeps from hive #11, and 2 mediums and 80% of a deep from hive #6.
    Hive #4 was a combine that I cut down into one deep with a queen cell, from this hive I harvested 3 1/2 mediums.

    On september 10th I added an empty deep below each of these 3 singles. Then I started to feed them, and we also had a decent Goldenrod flow going. I fed hive #11 3 gallons, hive #6 5 gallons, and hive #4 4 gallons. The hives were wrapped with tar paper, and 2 inches of insulation was added to the top. I run upper entrances via the "All season" covers and then a telescopic cover on top.
    Roland told me that the empty deep provides the bees somewhere to cluster, and when you consider how many bees are left after summer and are all trying to cram into a single deep it makes sense to me to give them more space when the supers go away. All my drawn brood comb was in use, I had heard that bees don't like to sit on undrawn plastic frames.

    I opened up these three hives on Sunday 11th March after not having been in them since the fall. I am on a photobucket kick, and took some photos.

    http://s1110.photobucket.com/albums/...20empty%20box/

    I expect some beeks will go aaaahhhhh crazy comb. True it is crazy comb, but it served a function - it gave the bees a space of their own making to hang out in before they needed to go up into the packed-out conventional 10 frame single. It also kept them off the ground. It took me less than 10 minutes to cut it off, and now we are back to movable frames; I plan to use some of the comb for a swarm trap and cut-cell queen rearing. There was barely any honey left in the comb I cut off, but there is about 3-4 combs worth left in each hive. The comb itself is clean. The hive floor was clean in all three hives, and the bottoms of the deep combs are in great shape.

    I am satisfied with this experiment, and wonder whether the bees are better off in some part of the winter in the convoluted comb that they drew out; I would think that hives #11 and #6 in particular must have been less drafty due to the curvy comb.
    If all goes well I will try this again next winter, and see how it compares in a more normal cold wisconsin winter. My wintering strategy last winter was to have colonies in a variety of configurations from two-storey nucs all the way to three deeps. I figured some would survive, I hadn't expected them all to! Who knew how easy this winter would be?
    I am posting this because I haven't heard of anyone but Roland doing it, and Beesource is for sharing. I wasn't freaked out by the free comb as the first hive I had was a top bar hive. If natural comb scares bothers you then don't try it. In warmer climates where you want to access the combs all the time it wouldn't work as well, where I live we don't get in the hives for 5 months in a row as it is too cold.
    I think Rolands methods are an interesting combination of a highly intensive summer method, and a low intensity winter method.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Roy, Wa
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    1,674

    Default Re: This may be crazy but....

    WHOA! LOL
    Very interesting, but I would have personally put in foundationless frames for them to draw on, LOL a shame to lose all that new, clean beautiful comb!
    Last edited by Lauri; 03-15-2012 at 09:26 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    2,729

    Default Re: This may be crazy but....

    The side benefit is that you do not put more combs at risk to winter mouse damage than is absolutely necessary. Comb you say is wasted is a good source of clean uncontaminated wax, and can be exchanged for foundation. Don/t worry, they will make more.

    The real question is: Do the bees find it easier to move the cluster over the new comb rather than the human made bottom bars?

    Crazy Roland

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    4,063

    Default Re: This may be crazy but....

    But that is no longer an empty deep on the bottom. That is wintering a warre~!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
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    Default Re: This may be crazy but....

    I am against war, but I have nothing against Warre. I think what is important is that as Mike Palmer says on his Vimeo's "Aren't they clever (the bees), they know exactly what to do. They are much better beekeepers than we are". I trust that they will know what to do with the resources they have, or are given. I don't know if they will always build that much comb, but I have read on Michael Bush's website that they build comb faster in a void, or in open frames than they will on foundation. I suspect that the energy they used to build that comb was worth the investment of stores used or they wouldn't have built it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
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    1,778

    Default Re: This may be crazy but....

    Very interesting. And beautiful
    Time to be a gypsy again, 2014 will be my prep year, my bees want a better area with actual rainfall.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Morgan, Utah, USA
    Posts
    253

    Default Re: This may be crazy but....

    I wonder if there was some architectural intent to reduce drafts from winter winds, or to funnel heat to a specific area.

    Or maybe they're all artists and finally had an empty canvas.

    Gorgeous comb either way.
    If I'm neither sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, nor melancholy, does that mean I'm out of humour?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Peace River, AB Canada
    Posts
    456

    Default Re: This may be crazy but....

    Is that how Roland winters or does the hive get fed first then placed over an empty? Seems as though it would waste feed and be no different than wintering in a double. (just curious not judging)
    That is crazy comb though, might make more money selling it as modern art! Anyway it worked and the hives look good, congrats.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
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    3,060

    Default Re: This may be crazy but....

    It's interesting to see what the bees will do when given the space to do it. Makes you wonder if it is even possible to get correct air movement through a man made hive with frames etc. Not to mention movement for the bees.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Roy, Wa
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    1,674

    Default Re: This may be crazy but....

    Looking more closley at one of your photos, I see something that looks like top bars??
    Those photos are really amazing!
    good thoughts about the air flow aspect.
    Thanks for sharing!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Outagamie County, Wisconsin USA
    Posts
    924

    Default Re: This may be crazy but....

    They will build similar comb (wild and beautiful) attached to the inner cover, too......... don't ask how I know this! LOL It was a fun cut out!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Wright City, MO 63390
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: This may be crazy but....

    As a mechanical engineer I have seen (and designed) some very cool and crazy things... That "wild" comb is by far the coolest thing I have ever seen!

    After the initial "WOW" factor and reading some of the other replies my wheels started spinning .

    Could it be that they build this comb in direct correlation to the airflow in the hive? Could it be that if the comb is not separated by our bars and frames that the queen can more easily lay in configurations like this? My mind is always racing a mile a minute trying to think of why these amazing creatures do some of the things they do.

    I am definitely going to try this in one of my hives next winter! Wish there was a way to watch them build it to see what factors might be affecting the way it is drawn!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Roy, Wa
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    Default Re: This may be crazy but....

    Check this out! There is a a way to watch them.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=821uVRAcZ1I

    Except they said the swarmed at the end which makes no sense. Why abandon that new fresh comb?? A mystery there.

    Neighbor probably sprayed the landscaping

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Clackamas Oregon
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    755

    Default Re: This may be crazy but....

    AQW, You had said that you had overwintered in different configurations. Do you do them all at the same time (if so could we get all the results in one thread) or even if each of the experiments was on different years could you give us your opinion of which worked best and why.
    “Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up” Alfred Pennyworth Batman Begins (2005)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,753

    Default Re: This may be crazy but....

    The shapes make stronger comb when they are unsupported. Is the ground soft? With just two cement blocks under the hives they might rock in the wind.
    I liked the video.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

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