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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    457

    Default Cluster at the very top

    I took advantage of a little sun and very still day to check on my hive this morning. The cluster is at the top of the top super right under the inner cover. The hive is still pretty heavy, but I put a couple of pounds of sugar in a la Mountain Camp. I am concerned that the cluster won't move down to use the resources below it. Any thoughts? Typically will a cluster move down to use honey reserves below it? Should I be checking on them again in a couple of weeks?

    The hive consists of 2 mediums and a deep with a top entrance.

    Thanks,
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,938

    Default Re: Cluster at the very top

    We have a lot of cold in the north country and the bees will not be able to use that bypassed honey until the interior of the hive warms up enough for them to warm that honey up and pull it into their location. You need to put a shallow super box on or a 2 1/2" feeder rim on, wet a news paper directly on the top bars and pour on most of a ten pound bag of sugar. You don't want to be repeatedly entering with little dabs of sugar and DO NOT put sugar on the top of an inner cover! Too far from the bees if it gets as cold as it probably will. The coldest part of the winter in just starting. Just get it done on a warm day and if a warm day isn't coming, a still day.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,860

    Default Re: Cluster at the very top

    This is just a guess, but I would think that if the bees were out of food at the top of the hive because they chimneyed straight up, and the outside temperature permitted it, they would move sideways or even down on a diagonal to get to new food, but maybe this is just hopeful thinking. John

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,069

    Default Re: Cluster at the very top

    In my location it seems as soon as it gets really cold they all move to the top, I assume because heat rises and it's warmer there. Mine spend the winter there.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    457

    Default Re: Cluster at the very top

    Thanks for the responses. I have a 2" rim on already and put as much sugar as I could fit on top of the newspaper. I was trying to disturb the cluster as little as possible and didn't want to put the paper over top of them. Unfortunately this limited how much sugar I could put in.
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,938

    Default Re: Cluster at the very top

    Quote Originally Posted by zhiv9 View Post
    Thanks for the responses. I have a 2" rim on already and put as much sugar as I could fit on top of the newspaper. I was trying to disturb the cluster as little as possible and didn't want to put the paper over top of them. Unfortunately this limited how much sugar I could put in.
    Just put the paper over them and wet it so when the bees chew thru, the dry sugar won't cascade to the bottom of the hive. Then slowly pour sugar so you give the bees a chance to move. I am wondering now too if the top or in my case upper entrance does indeed result in the bees at the top. Some clusters are still well down in the column the last time I looked.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Wisconsin rapids Wi USA
    Posts
    43

    Default Re: Cluster at the very top

    I have 2 deeps,in early dec I checked the top one and it was full of honey and pollen all but frames 1 & 10 so I added 2 frames of really old honey,and they have been working on those frames every since. the way I know is I have a sbb that I pull the tray and the outside is where most of the debris is.it's been cold here,below 0 some nights and highs from teens to 30
    I have a quilt on top with a1 1/2 by 1 1/2 inch opening that has a 5/8 in hole for top enterance and vent . the bees are up in the opening every day and if I put my hand over the hole they do fill the hole with bees right away and they are not happy!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Palermo, Maine, USA
    Posts
    731

    Default Re: Cluster at the very top

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Mine spend the winter there.
    Do they break cluster on warm days and bring honey up from below, or do they have to survive on the top medium of honey?
    Like us on facebook This is the place to bee!
    Ralph

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,406

    Default Re: Cluster at the very top

    It may be related to the top entrance too. Since I converted to top entrances a few years ago most of my colonies stay near the top over winter, heavy or light. Lighter ones have newspaper and sugar on the top bars.
    To everything there is a season....

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,974

    Default Re: Cluster at the very top

    I have been watching my bees with periodic checks through glass sides (in top bar hives) for three winters. In all cases, the bees cluster at the top - right away; as soon as it freezes - near the entrance end, and stay in one place all winter. The bees must move to get food and return to the cluster during warm spells.

    Last year, I had one hive that maintained two clusters - one smaller than the other, all winter.

    From what I've seen this year in my langstroth hives, it's the same. The bees went right to the top to cluster and have stayed there.

    Adam

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Lemont, Il U.S.A.
    Posts
    121

    Default Re: Cluster at the very top

    Well I had 29 live December 21st. I finished wrapping the hives on that date. Most of them were at the top but still heavy. I'm Slovenian by heritage first generation born in this country and since Slovenians have a highly respected history in beekeeping I read their sites. The Slovenes put supers
    of honey under the cluster during late winter inspections claiming that the bees stay at the top where the warmth is. They just put a piece of newspaper over the top frames to absorb moisture. I've fed dry sugar in the past just to find it packed in supers later. I think if they are at the top it's ok. I'm with Bush on this one.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,514

    Default Re: Cluster at the very top

    interesting. i have a single deep with a single medium on top. mine are mostly in the deeps, but going up to get honey in the medium above and moving it down.

    they have begun brooding recently. i am guessing they are needing to replace the aging and dying winter bees they made back in september, and getting ready for the first blooms due here in about a month.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Olmsted County, MN USA
    Posts
    72

    Default Re: Cluster at the very top

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    first blooms due here in about a month.
    Sigh

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,069

    Default Re: Cluster at the very top

    I worry about hives that are light, not about where they decided to cluster. Worry about things you can control. You can give sugar to a light hive. You can't really rearrange a hive in winter without causing more problems than you solve.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Rome NY USA
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: Cluster at the very top

    I live in central NY and just looked at a few of my hives they all are heavy with honey, some of the bees are at the top and some are at the bottom, I believe they move up and down the hives following there stores of honey.

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