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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Plantsville, Ct.
    Posts
    176

    Default Wintering in Connecticut

    Hello all, Newbie here with a lot of questions. I've been doing a lot of reading and felt pretty good going into winter but I'm not seeing what I expected to see.
    Since it is my first winter, and having only 1 hive i want to be sure I help them out as much as possible.
    My setup right now is 2 deeps with an inner cover, notch down, an 1 1/2" spacer on top of that with 1" foam insulation in the top section and then a telescoping cover. I put pennies under the front corners of the inner cover for added circulation.
    I'm wondering though why the girls are partying up on top of the inner cover every time i look?? Checked them again last night, cold and dark, with 18* weather and still partying up there!!!
    I know it's warm up there but shouldn't they be clustered down lower?? They were loaded with honey in the fall. Is it possible they are running out already??
    I layed some fondant across to frames for them just in case.
    I'm also curious if I should not have created the little attic space with the spacer?!
    Any thoughts out there??

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,664

    Default Re: Wintering in Connecticut

    [How's the weight of the hive?

    I wouldn't change anything.

    I place fondant on the inner cover with an additional box. I then put my piece of Homasote on the empty... insulating the "attic".

    Your bees are alive, don't change anything.
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    East Hampton, CT, USA
    Posts
    124

    Default Re: Wintering in Connecticut

    I have 3 hives of Italians that are doing the same thing, and a hive of Carniolans that cluster low. Checked them the other day and gave them a bit of dry sugar (the hive weights seem fine though). Just the way these critters do it I guess.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Granby, CT
    Posts
    547

    Default Re: Wintering in Connecticut

    Hi Jonnybeegood,
    If your bees are constantly on top of the inner cover (even on low temps) most likely they are running out of honey or the cluster may have lost contact with the side frames with honey. In a good day open the hive and take slowly the inner cover and try to see the top of the frames and the position of the cluster. Tip the hive on the side a bit ad with some experience you will tell the weight. If your are feeding fondant make sure that it is covered somehow because it will dry. Keep feeding fondant till you really know the reserves of honey.
    This is part of learning experience. Try to have them both (learn from your experience).

    Good luck (we all need it this time of the year)

    Gilman

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Southbury, CT
    Posts
    84

    Default Re: Wintering in Connecticut

    Lets talk about your bottom board. Is it solid or screened? If it is a screened bottom they are clustered up high to stay away from the colder draft at the bottom of the hive. This is not a bad thing, just what bees in hives with screened bottoms do.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Plantsville, Ct.
    Posts
    176

    Default Re: Wintering in Connecticut

    Thanks for the input everyone, I really appreciate it.
    To answer some of your questions: I do not have a screened bottom board. Solid bottom and I have the entrance reducer to the larger opening with the mouse guard over that.
    As far as the weight of the hive goes, I will have to see about that. I'll try the tipping method to get a feel for it.
    I am curios About the thought that they "lost contact with the side frames with honey" as Gilman stated. Next decent day I'm going to check.
    Also what should I partially cover the fondant with? I was thinking the condensation in the hive would keep it moist?!

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

    Default Re: Wintering in Connecticut

    The cluster in the winter can move horizontally and vertically. Smaller cluster (colonies that have been reduces small to mostly to Varroa), following the honey reserves, can get stuck and not reach the other side (because the cold weather).
    You can put the fondandt in a plastic 1 gallon bag and make a small 2 inch hole on the side that is on top of the cluster.
    We are going to have some serius snow today and tomorrow which may not be bad for the bees (snow insulates). I wish we had this snow in mid January when temps were in single digits. That what the snow is good for, insulation again those low temperatures.

    Gilman

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Plantsville, Ct.
    Posts
    176

    Default Re: Wintering in Connecticut

    Gilman,
    Thanks! I'll put the fondant in baggies. When do you start feeding for spring buildup? Also, my hive became a monster last year but I was able to keep them from swarming, I believe, by continuously adding supers, manipulating frames, and not feeding them to long. Should I plan to split them in the spring? What are your thoughts on swarm traps / bait hives around the bee yard to try and snag them if they decide to go for it? What is the local swarm season around here? Ever caught any?
    I appreciate your thoughts on these things?
    Jon

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    East Hampton, CT, USA
    Posts
    124

    Default Re: Wintering in Connecticut

    Nemo brought us more snow than I've seen in a while, about 36" basically overnight. Spent the weekend clearing it out. Here's a photo of my hives - http://artisticbee.blogspot.com/

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Granby, CT
    Posts
    547

    Default Re: Wintering in Connecticut

    We had 27 inch here in Granby. The bees are under snow. I do not feed them in the spring to stimulate the build up, just give them a pollen substitute. My goal is to have them heavy by fall time. I do achieve this not by feeding but by keeping them in out yards proven to have a very good fall flow. In years that the bees fail to have proper reserves in the fall (due to a lot of reasons) we do see higher mortality in the winter.
    It is too early to talk about spiting. Make that decision when time comes and if the colonies are strong. The swarming time here start some time in mid May. I don't use swarm traps, try to split before the swarm.

    Good luck

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