Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    363

    Default Hive space vs occupied space for winter

    I just inspected a hive I have been feeding since mid-Sep (had no stores at that time). They have capped at least 60-70lbs of honey since then in the three mediums and the brood nest has shrank from a full 8 frame medium to about 3.5 medium frames. The hive was a 3 medium lang set up w/ 4 frames of capped honey and two empty frames in the top box (other two half drawn & uncapped)--all w/ foundation. The middle box had 3.5 frames of brood on the entrance side (been reduced for two months or so) w/ the rest of the frames capped honey--six of these frames were foundationless. The bottom box had about four frames w/ capped honey (each frame 0.5 to 0.75 drawn w/ capped honey), a fifth frame they were working on and three empty half drawn frames (all foundationless).

    The empty frames on top and on bottom were un-occupied. I have read that you should have three mediums for the winter cluster but is this still the case if they don't occupy the full three boxes? I removed the empty bottom frames and added the capped top frames in the bottom box and put this on top of the brood box and removed a box. Now they are a 2 medium hive and can occupy all the space--no empty voids. Is this the correct thing to do and just add candy/sugar should they run out of stores before winter's end?

    My gut tells me this is the correct course of action rather than having capped honey under and above the cluster and a large amount of un-patrolled pre-cluster space. Do folks usually have a box of space (cumulative) that is more or less un-occupied as the nights cool off or do you reduce the hive volume to the point where they fit snugly inside? I realize there will still be some un-occupied space once they cluster up but think having it now may not be optimal.

    Opinions much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,899

    Default Re: Hive space vs occupied space for winter

    First of all, I don't think it is a good idea to start rearranging the broodnest this late in the season, you have been feeding them and they have been putting the food where they want it getting ready for winter, so you could be doing more harm than good, trust in the bees to set things up the way they want, decide early on how many boxes they will winter in and stick with it. I winter in 3-10 frame mediums, and currently the bees are occupying all three boxes if I take a peek on a cold morning (35-40 degrees). They are not jam packed in, but bees are on 8 of the 10 frames in each box fairly well. As the temperature falls, the cluster will shrink, so I would think that at some point the bees will only occupy 2 boxes at most. John

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: Hive space vs occupied space for winter

    I didn't touch the brood nest per se--only removed the box below and consolidated the capped honey on top. This was a swarm from my original hive and I suspect they would be filling all three boxes at this time had I fed during the August dearth. Sounds like my volume/bee ratio may be the same as yours now that I removed a box--though they probably occupy every frame.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Boundary Creek NB Canada
    Posts
    59

    Default Re: Hive space vs occupied space for winter

    You are doing fine.best to clean out the foundation and keep drown cone in hive.bees don't draw cone this late it's a waste of honey.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Asheville, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    552

    Default Re: Hive space vs occupied space for winter

    I think you did fine as well. I like for the bees to have a clear decision. Either all stores on top, or all on the bottom. I don't think it's good for the broodnest to seperate honey stores over winter.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Slinger, WI
    Posts
    207

    Default Re: Hive space vs occupied space for winter

    you have to wonder how bee's survived for millions of years without humans showing them what is best. I believe in letting the bee's do what they do, I have faith that they can manage their own affairs as long as I provide them a place to do it.
    Steve Wenger
    Gentleman farmer/9 year Bee Keeper

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: Hive space vs occupied space for winter

    The thing w/ nature is that, the majority of the time, things are not done or made optimally--the whole bell shaped curve thing. It's that rare instance where something is done better and that trait can get past on that drives the pushing of the survival curve. But the whole process necessitates a myriad of sub-optimal attempts.

    The way I see it is that I am striving to provide and optimal environment where they can more efficiently use resources than they otherwise could. Less energy expended over the winter should lead to a larger workforce in the spring and more honey production (barring inevitable uncertainties). While they would manage on their own a little guidance to make their task easier now may pay off in the spring--not the word "may".

    That being said, helping and hurting is a fine line and I don't profess to know where that line is.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,336

    Default Re: Hive space vs occupied space for winter

    Arranging resources in a colony is not a haphazard thing. The bees follow a "blueprint" and they expect to find it where they left it...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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