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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    191

    Default How many frames of bees ... ?

    Generally speaking how many frames of bees = a strong colony heading into winter for a 5-frame deep nuc, a 10-frame single deep and a 10-frame double deep? How many of those would equal medium strength, and how many would equal you need to combine with another hive?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    roswell, georgia, USA
    Posts
    720

    Default Re: How many frames of bees ... ?

    If there was a formula, we wouldn't need experience. Too many factors play into winter survival. It ends up being a guessing/feeling game that totally changes next year. There is a lot of info here that provides guidence or previous experience based on a lot of different factors. I like my brood in 1 box with stores immediately beside and above them. The movie 'march of the penquins' taught me a lot about how creatures survive in extreme temps.
    EAS Georgia Certified. "Tradition - Even if you have done it the same way for years doesn't mean that it is not stupid."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,349

    Default Re: How many frames of bees ... ?

    Tom,
    It sounds like your bees are on course to get it right. With a small amount of brood and still some fall forage in the field, they should get the broodnest backfilled for winter.

    Background: In the fall, the colony is scaling the population to be in proportion to cavity size and stores. Extra bees to allow for early winter loss of older bees and reaching the brood rearing period with a viable cluster size. They raise a couple of larger brood cycles in Sept/Oct to have an abundance of young bees that can tolerate the winter stress.

    How many bees are present in the fall depends on your timing reference, and temperature at the time. Drones take up a lot of space and are evicted in Oct. and the end of Oct. should be when your worker population is peaking. Up to first frost, the bees are loosly clustered and can appear concentrated when they are not really that dense. For a double deep, they can seem to be wall to wall bees at the top, but when clustered on a cold morning later, there are no bees in sight. Deceptive for the peeker-in.

    There are many factors that can influence the colony getting it right. Field forage, weather, pests, disease, and other. A late supersedure can cause them to have substantial brood into Nov. (Trying to reach that proportional balance of pop. to stores)

    If you open your single deep and see wall to wall bees at the top, and very little brood, you can have some confidence that they are OK. The same is true for the double deep, but in that case you need to go below and confirm that the lower deep is also full of bees and stores with minimal brood. This assuming a mild period in late Oct.

    Your question was definition of the "combine" threshold. Tough call. I would be suspicous of any colony that was as little as half of optimum. Whatever caused them to be at half strength will only be amplified by the rigors of winter. The exception would be a starter colony that did not expand to the sidewalls in the first season. If they have proportional overhead honey, they have a chance at wintering with a smaller cluster.

    I have no experience with wintering nucs, but would expect the proportional concepts would apply.
    Walt

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    191

    Default Re: How many frames of bees ... ?

    Thanks, Walt. After reading your post I've more faith in my colonies' chances. Even my smallest nuc recently spun new comb on a deep frame and filled it with aster nectar overhead, and seeing lots of orientation flights going on, too.

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