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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Garland County, AR
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    Default Too early to add a hive body?

    Somebody asked me this the other night at our club meeting and I didn't know the answer, here mid-winter. He has a single hive body that he believes is getting rather full. He wondered if it was okay on a warm day to add another hive body. My sense is that it would be okay with drawn comb but not if it was foundation only, based on heating the cluster only, not the hive. Would you advise adding or not? Obviously, he is concerned about swarming.
    Zone 7b ~ Central Arkansas
    8fr medium equipment

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    LaGrange; Oldham County; Kentucky
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    158

    Default Re: Too early to add a hive body?

    I, too, am in this situation and wondered what some seasoned beeks would do. Last yr was my first yr, thus this is my first overwintering experience. My gut tells me to add a box of drawn, well before the dandelions. My gut may be stupid though.
    Last edited by honeyman46408; 02-03-2013 at 12:31 PM. Reason: UNQuote

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
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    2,224

    Default Re: Too early to add a hive body?

    If you have pollen and nectar coming in and the hive is "filling up", sure add a box. If there is no pollen coming in, the bees are probably at the top of the frames and are in danger of starving to death.

    Heft the box -- if it's heavy, leave it alone, if it's light, time to feed a candy board or sugar on the top of the frames, not an empty box.

    Absolutely no undrawn foundation -- they are not going to make wax and you don't want them clustering on empty frames, they will starve.

    Peter

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    4,957

    Default Re: Too early to add a hive body?

    I *think* the situation with a single hive body would depend on what else has occurred with that hive. If the hive made it thru the winter (so far) on its own stores, then I would guess that there is now empty comb that was formerly occupied by honey. But if the hive has been fed, then the situation may be different.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    LaGrange; Oldham County; Kentucky
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    158

    Default Re: Too early to add a hive body?

    We've had crazy weather, as usual, in Ky. Within one weeks time, we have had 70 degree weather, tornadoes, thundersnow, -5 degree windchill, and right now it is snowing, we have a few inches. So obviously right now no pollen coming in. My thoughts were to wait until the temps were consistently warmer and add. Does this sound reasonable?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    LaGrange; Oldham County; Kentucky
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    158

    Default Re: Too early to add a hive body?

    Racer, my hive has been fed, it's a single deep and I was concerned re enough stores. Sugar via mountain camp

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Default Re: Too early to add a hive body?

    Quote Originally Posted by psfred View Post
    If you have pollen and nectar coming in and the hive is "filling up", sure add a box. If there is no pollen coming in, the bees are probably at the top of the frames and are in danger of starving to death.
    Thanks, Peter. I think he was saying there were lots of bees. He didn't know the status of the stores; was going to check on that first chance.
    Zone 7b ~ Central Arkansas
    8fr medium equipment

  8. #8
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    May 2009
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    Garland County, AR
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    Default Re: Too early to add a hive body?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rader Sidetrack View Post
    I *think* the situation with a single hive body would depend on what else has occurred with that hive. If the hive made it thru the winter (so far) on its own stores, then I would guess that there is now empty comb that was formerly occupied by honey. But if the hive has been fed, then the situation may be different.
    Graham, are you saying they are actually creating the room they may need by emptying the comb of its stores? That makes some sense, but it is a single hive body. That would concern me.
    Zone 7b ~ Central Arkansas
    8fr medium equipment

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Evansville, IN
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    Default Re: Too early to add a hive body?

    Well, depending on the type of bees and their stores consumption, a single may work just fine. My brother had a single overwinter last winter (if you want to call that winter, it hardly froze!) and they did great.

    The point here is whether the hive is indeed full of bees or they are just all on top of the frames -- I'm not familiar with the weather or plant blooms in that location, so I suggested checking on pollen coming in. If there is no pollen being carried in, there is no nectar coming in and if the bees are all in the top of the box spread out along the cover, they are starving.

    If they have been feed sugar and protein all winter, you may need another box, but they will also be heavy on stores if that is the case.

    And yes, as the bees eat the honey, they crawl into the cells inside the cluster. Raises the density of the bees quite a bit and thus retains more heat. They will start raising brood in the center of the cluster about now in this area, I think, although not much yet.

    Peter

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Garland County, AR
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    1,076

    Default Re: Too early to add a hive body?

    Ok, Peter, now I understand the difference - not a lot of bees on top of frames, maybe starving; vs LOTS of bees. Thanks for that clarification. Few bees, no new box. Even if on top. Yay - grasping one more winter concept!

    Ok, so Yes, lots of pollen coming in, but pollen doesn't equal nectar, necessarily. So I'm thinking the overall answer is Yes, add a box if lots of volume of bees and pollen coming in (cuz raising more brood, yes??) - regardless of nectar (if decent amount of stores). If lots of bees and light on stores, might not need a box just yet because they already have space - so hold off a while longer. Is that a correct summary? (Sorry to belabor, just want to be absolutely clear - in a hobby where there are no absolutes!

    Did not realize the girls climbed into the cells. Makes sense. Little igloos. I love it!

    Thanks for your time!
    Zone 7b ~ Central Arkansas
    8fr medium equipment

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