Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Medford, MA, USA
    Posts
    7

    Question New beekeeper here! Help overwintering a weak hive in Boston?

    Hi everyone! I just started a hive in May, with a nucleus, and I think the queen died at some point. I was a somewhat neglectful beekeeper, as the person who was meant to help me disappeared and I was skittish. We have a queen now, but I think she's new. As a result, the bees haven't built out very much, and are really only filling a single hive body / deep. They don't have nearly enough honey to survive the winter.

    I've been advised to keep feeding them 2:1 sugar syrup through the winter with our hive top feeder; it's the type they can climb up into without leaving the hive at all. It's also been suggested that we shelter the hive in a small shed rather than leaving them to the elements. But I also recently read that they won't eat from a hive top feeder in the winter once they've clustered.

    Does anyone have suggestions for helping my small, nascent hive survive the harsh Northeastern winter?

    Thanks!
    Kamela, in Medford, MA

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,361

    Default Re: New beekeeper here! Help overwintering a weak hive in Boston?

    Kamela,
    You can feed 2:1 syrup as long as the temperatures remain above 50 deg, at 50 and below the bees start to cluster and will not take syrup. For a future reference fall feeding if needed should start in September in your neck of the woods, however at this point in time if you can see some good weather ahead on the long range forecast then keep the syrup on the hive and let them take as much as they can. If your weather is starting to turn off cold it would be best to remove the feeder and place granulated sugar on the hive, this is done by placing a couple of pieces of newspaper on the top of the frames then pouring a bag of granulated sugar on the newspaper, if you have an inner cover place it back on the hive with the deep side down to provide a little more room for the sugar and you will need to check on them from time to time during the winter when the weather permits and add sugar as needed. This sugar provides an added benefit of absorbing moisture in the hive.
    The suggestion of moving them to a shed is a good idea but I would wait till the temperatures drop into the twenty range and stays there for a number of days or your forage bees will return to the original location where the hive used to be. Bees have about a three day memory so if the cold keeps them in for at least that long of a time they will reorient to the new location. There are methods of placing tree branches and so forth in front of the entrance to force them to reorient to the new location but I would suggest to just wait till it gets colder.
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio Zone 6A

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Harsens Island , Mi , USA
    Posts
    241

    Default Re: New beekeeper here! Help overwintering a weak hive in Boston?

    Hi .. I wintered some weak hives last yr that turned out very well this season . Some where nucs and some 10 frames deeps and meds. I took a piece of foundation paper and layed it on top of the frames , poured cane sugar on the paper. I added another level with undrawn foundation, one frame feeder with sugar in that. The hives were wrapped with foam board insulation. The extra box lets me check the sugar on nice days with out disturbing the bees too much. Here's a link from my bud down the street . http://stewartfarm.org/bees.php . A couple of points , the insulation he used was left from his remodel, priced out its expensive if you have a lot of hives. I use a smaller thickness (keep it clean) due to costs. When we did the math on the r value it wasn't that great on the smaller sizes but a wind block and a well sealed wall goes along way . GL

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
    Posts
    7,106

    Default Re: New beekeeper here! Help overwintering a weak hive in Boston?

    Welcome Kamela!
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Medford, MA, USA
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: New beekeeper here! Help overwintering a weak hive in Boston?

    Thanks! This all sounds highly doable. Just a couple of followups:

    -Are you talking about like a five-pound bag of sugar?

    -As far as moving them: any strategies you suggest for that? I was thinking of doing it in the evening when they're asleep.

    -Also, do they not return to the hive based on the smell of the queen? I didn't know they'd need to reorient like that.

    -Will they need to have a way out of the shed at all during the cold, like for cleansing flights if the temperature gets warm enough?

    Thanks again!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,361

    Default Re: New beekeeper here! Help overwintering a weak hive in Boston?

    Kamela,
    We have 4 pound bags here where I live, however just pour in the amount that it takes to fill the space, it also helps to spray the sugar with just a little bit of water to help it solidify somewhat as you are pouring it in, it stays put better this way, otherwise when the bees chew a hole through the paper some of the sugar will end up on the bottom board.

    Please keep in mind that bees do not sleep, if a hive is disturbed after dark the bees will still attack even when the temperature is in the thirty's. In any move whether during the day or at night you must block the entrance during the move.

    The bees orient to the hive with both queen pheromone and hive location, as field bees return to the location of the hive and land at the entrance you will often see the guard bees come charging up to check out their smell, but the field bees found their way back through remembrance of location.

    Yes the bees will definitely need to have a way out of the shed because on warm days they not only go on cleansing flights but gather water as needed, and in late winter and on warm days you will see them bringing in some pollen as well.

    I hope this helps you, If you moved the hive when the temperatures are in the twenty's or even the thirty's you should have little trouble but do close the entrance during the move .
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio Zone 6A

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Medford, MA, USA
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: New beekeeper here! Help overwintering a weak hive in Boston?

    Thanks so much for all the info!

    One last thing...might it be just as good to tar-paper the hive, maybe put a bit more of a windblock around it, and leave it outside?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,361

    Default Re: New beekeeper here! Help overwintering a weak hive in Boston?

    It might be just as well if they are wrapped and left outside, especially if they are wrapped in felt tar paper and are in a place where the sun will shine on the hive, I just figured that you needed them inside for some reason. A wind block would be a good idea as well.
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio Zone 6A

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