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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default My first winter....Care questions.

    Hello to all...

    For mothers day last year I got my wife a hive. (It's actually mine since I maintain it.) we got about 47 lbs of honey!

    Anyway, we just came out of some brutally cold weather, and I was told I should put my top section feeder on in case they went through the full super I left on for them. I mixed 5lbs of sugar to 2 pitchers water on each side of the feeder.

    Lots of bees. On warmer days, they clean house and carry out dead.

    Anything I can do besides keep the feeder full? When do you swap the first super and the brooder? When do you put your first honey super on? I do not use an excluder.

    When should I check in there deeper and what's the first thing to check on? They sure seem healthy. We had a strong hive last year. Good numbers.

    Thanks, Tim

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,034

    Default Re: My first winter....Care questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Timco View Post
    Anyway, we just came out of some brutally cold weather, and I was told I should put my top section feeder on in case they went through the full super I left on for them. I mixed 5lbs of sugar to 2 pitchers water on each side of the feeder. Anything I can do besides keep the feeder full?
    If it's still cold, they aren't likely to take much syrup. For emergency winter feed most beekeepers use dry sugar, fondant or bee candy.

    When do you swap the first super and the brooder?
    If you swap boxes at all, it should be later in spring when nighttime temps aren't cold. And don't reverse them if it means breaking up the broodnest.

    When do you put your first honey super on?
    Depends on your local climate. I like to have mine on by the time dandelions bloom.

    When should I check in there deeper and what's the first thing to check on?
    I like doing a thorough inspection once we get a warm spring day (not a warm winter day when there's likely to be more lengthy periods of cold weather). I want to see signs that queen is laying - brood in all stages. I want to see what kind of stores they have remaining. I'm looking if there are any drones or drone brood because I'm planning on some spring splits.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Flowery branch, georgia
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: My first winter....Care questions.

    Pollen patties doesn't hurt

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,764

    Default Re: My first winter....Care questions.

    i just checked the weather for salt lake city and it's way to cold to have syrup in the hive.

    the bees can't take the syrup when it's much below 55 degrees. having the syrup in the hive will make it colder in there, and it could add unwanted humidty as well.

    i would take the feeder off, and try to figure out how much honey is still in the hive. it is better not to feed them unless they are going to run out of food.

    one way to check stores without pulling frames is to look at the top of the frames in the top box, and see if you can see any capped honey.

    another way is to see how much your hive weighs at this point, and compare that to how much the boxes and frames would weigh empty.

    welcome to the forum timco.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: My first winter....Care questions.

    So today the hive was in direct sun and the bees were out. When I looked under the lid they were lined up along the sugar water line. The hive gets sun in afternoon so I'm sure it got fairly warm. Should I still remove that feeder and use something else if it looks like the frames are sparse? Any real harm in leaving it since we are past the single digit weather?

    How do I know if I want to swap the brooder and first super this spring? What dictates that?

    Where would I find the recipie for the pollen patty or bee candy?

    Thank you all for great replies. Anything else I should be doing please feel free to speak up!

    Tim

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,764

    Default Re: My first winter....Care questions.

    it depends on how hard it is for them to process the syrup once they take it into the hive, and to what degree that processing will raise the humidity in the hive. also, it is better that they eat real honey right now for their health and the health of the brood. if they have enough real honey i think it's better not to have the syrup on there. (it's not going to be as stressful to feed syrup when the temps get a little warmer) you mostly don't want them to starve right now, but if you left enough honey last fall they should be alright.

    how many and what size boxes are they in? and about how much does the whole thing weigh? knowing this will help you know if you have much honey in there or not. or, if you get a chance just look inside and see.


    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Granby, CT
    Posts
    547

    Default Re: My first winter....Care questions.

    Great advice, Squarepeg,

    Gilman

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OKC, OK USA
    Posts
    2,870

    Default Re: My first winter....Care questions.

    As far as reversing. what dictates that is your personal beekeeping philosophy. Some folks reverse some don't, she will make her way down there eventually. I would echo Indy and refrain if it breaks up the brood nest.
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: My first winter....Care questions.

    I'll have to look in this weekend when the sun is out and I pull that feeder off. I'll smoke them out of the feeder.

    These are 10 frame deep supers. I have 2 mediums but I use those late summer or fall. If I pull a frame from the honey super we left them for winter store, there is no brood in it. I did not weigh them.

    We have no desire to split the hive unless we need to in regular management. We would rather have one larger hive. We hardly noticed the bees unless we stood in their flight path, then they fly into your head!!

    Thanks again, Tim


    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    it depends on how hard it is for them to process the syrup once they take it into the hive, and to what degree that processing will raise the humidity in the hive. also, it is better that they eat real honey right now for their health and the health of the brood. if they have enough real honey i think it's better not to have the syrup on there. (it's not going to be as stressful to feed syrup when the temps get a little warmer) you mostly don't want them to starve right now, but if you left enough honey last fall they should be alright.

    how many and what size boxes are they in? and about how much does the whole thing weigh? knowing this will help you know if you have much honey in there or not. or, if you get a chance just look inside and see.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: My first winter....Care questions.

    There is no brood in the winter store super, only in the bottom super. Seems reversing would make them have to move any remaining honey up and rearrange the new brooder. If its OK I would rather leave it how it is.

    Tim

    Quote Originally Posted by NasalSponge View Post
    As far as reversing. what dictates that is your personal beekeeping philosophy. Some folks reverse some don't, she will make her way down there eventually. I would echo Indy and refrain if it breaks up the brood nest.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,764

    Default Re: My first winter....Care questions.

    sounds good tim. if that top winter store super is still heavy with honey, no need for the feeder. some who use two deeps reverse them to help with swarm prevention, (i don't have two deeps), but i have read that the timing is important and that it takes some experience to know when to reverse.

    it is likely that this hive will swarm in the spring unless you split them. there are different ways to do that, depending on what you want to end up with. or, you can just let them swarm if there is no risk that they will end up in a neighbor's house.

    here is some good advice about splitting:

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm

    actually, there is a lot of good advice in gereral on mr. bush's website.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,540

    Default Re: My first winter....Care questions.

    See if you can tilt the hive with one hand using the handhold in the bottom box. If you can, you should probably put some candy on. I would not use syrup, they won't even attempt to pick it up if it's below 50F, and that much water in the hive is a problem.

    If they do need to be fed (hive is too light) and the weather is good, you can fill empty comb on one side with 2:1 syrup and put the comb back in the hive. Easier for them to reach. Otherwise, dry sugar on top of a sheet of newspaper partially covering the top frames or a candy board.

    You can also take a quick look under the inner cover on a warm day. If they are clustered at the top of the hive up against the cover and there is no honey between the cluster and the top of the hive, time to feed pronto.

    Peter

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: My first winter....Care questions.

    So no matter how much room you give them (supers) they will still split or swarm? Any way to stop this without splitting, or should I secure a new hive location?

    What is candy board?

    Thanks to all for great advise. Bees are great!!

    Tim

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    sounds good tim. if that top winter store super is still heavy with honey, no need for the feeder. some who use two deeps reverse them to help with swarm prevention, (i don't have two deeps), but i have read that the timing is important and that it takes some experience to know when to reverse.

    it is likely that this hive will swarm in the spring unless you split them. there are different ways to do that, depending on what you want to end up with. or, you can just let them swarm if there is no risk that they will end up in a neighbor's house.

    here is some good advice about splitting:

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm

    actually, there is a lot of good advice in gereral on mr. bush's website.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    3,169

    Default Re: My first winter....Care questions.

    an alternative method and one I intend to use this year, to switching the boxes is to make a hole through the honey to more empty frames. that is to remove a couple of fraems from the top box and fill that space with a couple of fraems of empty comb. The empty comb thing is not always possible if you are just starting so I plan to put a couple of fraems of foundation at the very least. then place a super of empty comb or foundation above that. note the actually advice I read said not to do this with just foundation as the bees in early spring will not take to it or draw it out. I have no choice.

    The overall idea is when the bees have a solid area of honey over their head they tend to treat that as the top of the hive no matter how many boxes you place above that. Making a hole through that solid layer of honey tells the bees to keep going up to find the top of the hive. That is how I think of it anyway.

    To much space while it is still cold is a bad thing. so timing plays a big roll here. They must also have a flow or be fed to be able to draw comb. I will start feeding when I add the foundation only long enough for comb to get drawn. That requires frequent monitoring because they tend to fill each comb as it is being drawn. even cells only 1/4 drawn are full of clear liquid. I let the bees get the comb drawn about half way and then stop feeding they have to eat the rest of that stored sugar water to finish the job. They hate empty space within the area they consider theirs so use it against them.

    that is what I intend to do as soon as I see my bees bringing in pollen or appear to be otherwise foraging. What to do each day between now and then I am not so clear on. So I am making it up day to day. I went out and lifted my double deep 5 frames nucs and they are super light so I added 5 lbs of sugar to each. My double deep 10 frame lang I cannot even tip so it is good. No liquid feed this time of year. water and winter are not a good mix.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Rajshahi, Bangladesh
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: My first winter....Care questions.

    Actually bees are great and the source of greatness.
    Hi all..I am Emdad.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,764

    Default Re: My first winter....Care questions.

    >So no matter how much room you give them (supers) they will still split or swarm?

    like with all things beekeeping i think the answer is that it depends.

    it is the bee's nature to cast a reproductive swarm at the beginning of the main flow in the spring. (note that overcrowding swarms can happen almost anytime) we as beekeepers try to 'trick' the bees that they can't swarm, because they haven't filled up their existing cavitiy with sufficient stores to give the remaining bees a fighting chance.

    there are several established methods for tricking the bees in this way, but as daniel points out, just giving them supers of foundation is not one of them. i learned this for myself last year, when i had several overwintered nucs swarm even though they had plenty of 'room' (foundation).

    walt wright has suggested that when there is solid band of honey at the top of the hive in the spring, and when the nectar starts coming in, that the bees will typically just fill the space below that band of honey and proceed to swarm.

    most of swarm prevention involves adding space (empty comb or maybe foundationless frames) in such a way that they don't run out of room for brood and nectar storage until swarm season has passed.

    i would highly recommend sending a pm to 'wcubed' and ordering a copy of his manuscript on nectar management, as well as reading what mike bush has written about swarm prevention on his website.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,540

    Default Re: My first winter....Care questions.

    Swarming is normal behavior for bee hives, it's how they reproduce. It's not a good thing for large honey crops, as the bees that stay behind are not only lower in numbers, they won't increase for a least three weeks and maybe as much as five weeks -- the new queen has to get mated and start laying, then it takes three weeks for new bees to emerge. Result: Not much honey stored on the main spring flow.

    There are a number of ways to avoid them swarming, and the success of each method is variable depending on location, honey flow, and weather. All of them do what Walt suggests, open up the "cap" of honey above the brood nest.

    Weak hives do not produce reproductive swarms in the spring as a rule -- gotta have enough supplies for the old hive to survive.

    During inspections, watch to see that the brood nest is full of brood of all ages -- when they are getting ready to swarm, the queen will stop laying and the bees will start putting nectar in the brood cells, but you can still head them off if you catch them early enough. If the brood nest is completely full of brood, wall to wall, it's time to intervene and provide space for the queen to keep laying, be it by reversing boxes, adding drawn comb to the side of the brood nest, checkerboarding, etc.

    Peter

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