Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Brewster Massachusetts USA
    Posts
    73

    Default Removing Supers for Winter

    I've got a couple of hives with honey supers (with capped honey) that we don't need to extract and I'd rather
    leave it for the hive for winter. Question is do we leave that super on the hive during the winter? Will the bees
    take it down to the hive bodies at a point when it starts to get cold (we are in the North East). Do we just remove
    the supers and honey frames and store them and put on the hive next season? Any suggestions? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
    Posts
    4,335

    Default Re: Removing Supers for Winter

    If you have a queen excluder on, remove that the bees will move up into the super when thy need to.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    3,228

    Default Re: Removing Supers for Winter

    They don't carry stuff around much in the winter, or even in late fall. They move the cluster to get to fresh food, so you must be sure to remove the queen excluder. Leaving it in risks queen, or colony, loss.

    But this will likely mean you have brood in your upper-most box (or boxes depending on when you get into your hives in the spring.) If your uppermost boxes during the winter are your supers, then there will be brood in those boxes. In the spring you can move one of the brood boxes and place it on top of the uppermost box and they will expand their brood nest are upwards into that one. When you can, then place the other brood box on top of the first one. This will put your supers on the bottom (assuming you have only two brood boxes), and they will be soon be cleared of brood (or you can hasten it by putting the queen excluder over them and under the brood boxes) thus freeing them back up for super-duty before your first flow.

    Enj.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Robeson County, North Carolina
    Posts
    603

    Default Re: Removing Supers for Winter

    Quote Originally Posted by Tenbears View Post
    If you have a queen excluder on, remove that the bees will move up into the super when thy need to.
    Think that will work for shallow supers as well? I had a hive last winter that all but died, and I had to combine them this spring. They had a full shallow super just over their head, but they wouldn't leave the brood area and some starved. We had a very mild winter, with brood basically the entire winter.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Brewster Massachusetts USA
    Posts
    73

    Default Re: Removing Supers for Winter

    Thanks for the replies. There is no excluder on now nor do I use them.
    I don't see the cluster (in winter) moving around to go up into the super (if I left it on)to get
    any stores there....so I'd rather not leave the super on. Just wondering how I can get
    the honey that's on those frames down into the hive bodies where the bees will be this winter.
    Not having much luck "thinking like a bee" :-)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    3,228

    Default Re: Removing Supers for Winter

    What makes you think the cluster won't move up into the super (absent a misplaced queen excluder) and produce brood in the top box whatever size and other use it may have at other seasons?

    Mine move from their lowest box (a medium box that usually has some late brood in it - most of my queens are laying in them now) all the way up through to the top of three 10-frame deeps. I have two 10-frame deeps with no brood in them on top right now, just straight across honey with some frames of pollen on the outside. The third one, which is actually the lowest deep in the stack, is 3/4s full of stores, with some late brood and open cells that they are busy backfilling. They need some free cluster space at the start of their winter journey. By late February they will be high up in the warmest part of the hive surrounded with lots of honey to eat and pollen to feed their babies. Fat city for bees, I think.

    Sometimes I wind up with the medium on top because that's just how things work out when I am equalizing stores at closeout. And then the first brood is in the medium (and sometimes if the first warm days are late it will have expanded down into the uppermost deep, as well) which I think is less desirable because it limits my early spring anti-swarm tactical options.

    I find this same upward movement over the course of winter to be constant, whether my cavity widths are 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 10- frames wide. The smaller ones are later nucs. The middle range, 7 or 8 frames, are earlier nucs. Every stack has three deeps and a medium on it, with the only difference beiing the position of the medium, either top or (preferably) bottom.

    They just munch their way upward the whole winter long, leaving just a frame or so untouched on the periphery of the widest (8- or 10- frame) stacks.

    This is "thinking like a bee" because bees naturally backfill from top to bottom as the season comes to a close. I bet the bees see your honey in the super as exactly that, the top layer all set and prepared for winter. And once it's capped, they see it as preserved for when - and where -they will need it with no intention of moving it.They are probably working on backfilling the upper brood box, now, and gradually pushing the brood area downward and inward as they get towards brood closeout. My bees do the same thing - I just offer them a bit more real estate because my colonies are very strong.

    It must work because I have never lost a colony in winter. (Though tall, well-filled stacks are only part of my winter strategy - it wouldn't yield the same results without good mite control.)


    Enj.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    38

    Default Re: Removing Supers for Winter

    Is it common to remove empty brood boxes going into winter?

    I live in the North East and one of my hives ended this season with 2 deep hive bodies and 2 medium supers. My queen laid in all 4 boxes on the right side and stores were primarily kept on the left side.

    My bottom deep hive body was completely empty of brood and stores while the 2nd deep hive body was only partially full with a considerable amount of empty comb. The remaining brood and stores ended up in the 2 top medium supers.

    I removed the empty bottom brood box and rearranged the remaining boxes by centering the brood flanked with honey stores on the sides and top.

    My intention was to remove unused space that could be vulnerable to pests. Is this a common practice or was it a mistake to remove the bottom brood box?
    Last edited by rainperimeter; 09-17-2016 at 07:28 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    3,228

    Default Re: Removing Supers for Winter

    I would have left the bottom, empty box since I think it makes no difference whether it's there or not, or empty or not. My bees desert the lower box as soon as winter sets in and it's warmer above, even with my upper entrance. And the cold of my NY winter keeps the pests in check, too.

    Are your boxes now full from side to side? What does your hive weigh and do you know what a good winter weight for your area is?

    I think it's still early days and there is certainly a chance to get more weight on the hive with an aggressive feeding program. But you won't get it added if all the cells left in the boxes are now essentially filled. It's relatively easy to get them to take syrup and put it in already-drawn frames, but much harder to get them geared up for major wax-making on undrawn foundation just to have a place to stow the syrup. You can even force them to swarm at this late date.

    I confess that I probably would have nudged the brood frames more towards the center if they were truly lopsided despite believing that the bees know best how to prepare their space for winter. Chances are, however, there is a good bee-reason for that lopsidedness which mere re-arrangement won't cure. Perhaps one side is significantly warmer, drier, better ventilated, less drafty, etc., in some way that makes curing honey or raising brood easier than on the other. But, still, they could be clueless bees who just haven't figured things out.

    If the colony is small for its space you might consider removing some space by adding follower boards, with foam insulation panels outboard of that to convert your regular sized equipment into nuc-width spaces for the winter. I think bees do better working upwards in narrower columns than the same number of frames spread horizontally. So if one of my late nucs has, say, 14 drawn and good working frames, some with brood, I will find another frame of honey from my stash, and set the bees up in a three story, 5-frame wide space. The top box would be all capped honey with one frame also having a good-sized whack of pollen. The middle box might have one (possibly two) frame of brood in the center, surrounded by capped honey or open nectar. The bottom box would have the brood and at least some honey or nectar on either side. From the outside it would look like a regular three deep set-up, but inside it would shaped like three frame nuc boxes in a stack. I hate having fiddly different box widths, so I really like tailoring the regular spaces to the number of bees. I have successfully wintered all widths from 4-frames to 10-frames and everything in between, except 9-frames, arrangements this way. Makes life really easy in the spring to as you can just take out some foam panels to immediately widen the space when they need to expand the brood area horizontally. And the bonus is that these small colonies are surrounded by insulation which lowers the metabolic cost over the winter.

    But I don't do this in mid-September because I am still expecting them to continue to fill out more cells/frames, and then to accept even more by syrup feeding over the next few weeks.

    Enj.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    38

    Default Re: Removing Supers for Winter

    The brood box I left on is pretty empty as well. The minimal brood in the remaining deep hive body I centered and flanked it by empty frames and honey stores on the outside. Most (85%) of the brood and stores are in the 2 medium supers. We had a horrible fall flow with the drought we're experiencing.

    I plan on feeding through the remainder of the fall and adding a candy board to ensure there's enough food for the winter.

    What kind of problems could I run into from removing one of the empty brood boxes? Now that the sun is down there's definitely a tighter cluster at the front entrance but they're by no means overflowing. I feel like the hive size is more appropriate to the size of the cluster and there is still plenty of open space in the brood box I left on.

    Thanks a lot for your advice!

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads