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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Brookline Massachusetts USA
    Posts
    88

    Default Winter beekeeping

    Im a first year beekeeper and was wondering about some winter keeping. I have two questions:

    Is it normal to have the front entrance blocked with dead bees?

    How big would a cluster be on a hive that is making throught the winter about this time of the year?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    4,087

    Default Re: Winter beekeeping

    It may be fairly normal for the entrance to get blocked but a beekeeper with a coat hanger or some such device can quickly clear that out without disturbing the cluster too much. It needs done so the bees can make it outside on warm days and to allow some ventilation. The size of the cluster can and does vary wildly depending on the population entering winter, their health, state of nutrition and genetic predisposition.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Winter beekeeping

    I use the stainless steel mouse excluder to rake out bees from the bottom board, if for nothing else so they don't get moldy and funky sitting in the cold hive bottom. Though I haven't had the whole entrance blocked before. It makes a nice square scoop that almost reaches the rear of the hive.

    My hives in Mass don't seem to be hunkering down to a tight cluster. I'm feeding them sugar with a 3" spacer (I tape the seems with painters tape since they can't propylize) and every time I lift the outer cover they are all over the inside (between inner and outer - [2" rigid insulation under outer cover]) over the sugar blocks. I even had a couple of drones drop in fresh snow last week (?!?!?) along with a few dozen workers. So, your bees may not be hunkered down in a tight cluster yet either. This weekend might be a good time to confirm with temps in the 50's. I don't know if I'm the only genius (or idiot) that tapes seams between boxes if I need to move/crack boxes late - I also wrap (well, 5 of 8) my hives.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Peace River, AB Canada
    Posts
    456

    Default Re: Winter beekeeping

    I don't clean the bottom boards until I unwrap in May. They can use the top entrance if lower is blocked.
    As stated already, cluster sizes will vary.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Columbia, Maryland. U.S.A.
    Posts
    252

    Default Re: Winter beekeeping

    not abnormal, honeydew @ least I'd guess, good luck
    Drew

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,384

    Default Re: Winter beekeeping

    >Is it normal to have the front entrance blocked with dead bees?

    Normal, sometimes. Bad? Yes. I would fish them out as other's have said, with a coat hanger etc.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    693

    Default Re: Winter beekeeping

    Probably for another year, use the bottom board with the 3/4 lip up. This creates a 3/4 high bottom entrance.

    Then invert the bottom entrance reducer so 3/8 vertical opening is to the top. This allows a 3/8 thickness of dead bees and not block bottom entrance. Entrance reducer can also be periodically removed to fish out dead bees.

    I build my winter entrance reducer out of two 3/8 thickness of plywood. The top piece is 1 inch shorter than the bottom piece. I then nail them together to create a 1/2 opening on either end. I suspect some will say it does not matter, however the incoming air than enters at the sidewalls and not the center where the cluster is more typically.
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

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