Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    1,693

    Default Winter Clusters - how small is too small?

    What is the critical mass, in pounds of bees, or number of frames covered, that will survive a northern winter? What is the smallest cluster you have successfully wintered, and where? Thanks in advance for your input.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Fairfield, Connecticut
    Posts
    597

    Default Re: Winter Clusters - how small is too small?

    If the winter cluster gets to the size of your fist , and it drops to 20 for more than one night, they will be to small to generate the heat they need to live. This is what I have learned in Connecticut. A handful won't make it.
    If it isn't broken, don't try to fix it. If you build it, they will fill it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    980

    Default Re: Winter Clusters - how small is too small?

    It depends.
    It depends on the size of the hive.
    It depends on if it is insulated.
    It depends on whether they're exposed to steady high freezing winds or buried in an insulating snow bank.
    And it depends on the bees, I think.

    I've had feral bees from a cut out winter in a cluster the size of my fist, and in sub zero (-15 or 20) weather in a 10 frame hive where the boxes were unwrapped and the only insulation was a few inches of shredded leaves in a quilt box on top.

    In March the hive was so populous I started worrying about early swarming.

    I had a friend with a normal cluster of carnies in a Beemax hive lose the colony the same winter even though there was plenty of food and mites levels were not significant.

    How long is a ball of string, and if I leave it out in the North, will stay on my picnic table?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    S Hadley, Massachusetts USA
    Posts
    712

    Default Re: Winter Clusters - how small is too small?

    In my experience with Italians in a typical northern winter the smallest is about the size of canteloupe melon. Any smaller and they have a hard time covering brood in Feburary.

    Russians I have seen the size of my first and do just fine. With such small clusters they sure are slow to build up in the spring but when they do.....massive populations in a a couple weeks.
    Pearl City Apiary Michael and Loucil Bach

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,901

    Default Re: Winter Clusters - how small is too small?

    I'll let you know in the spring, I have quite a few nucs with small clusters out there right now trying to make it, I did insulate them on all sides, bottom, and top with 2" foam board though. John

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
    Posts
    1,701

    Default Re: Winter Clusters - how small is too small?

    I have had similar experiences. One was a mite case I thought for sure would perish from mites. In late January,(last year) I peeked in and they were in a corner on three frames. Thought they would die then. Started bringing n pollen and next thing I knew, they swarmed on me
    I have read some discussion about winter bees being fat bees from lipids due to low and no royal jelly production. I'm not sure if that has been threaded here and don't mean to hijack. Could be a trait factor ??? A curiosity.

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