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Thread: Starting Year 2

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Door County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    12

    Default Starting Year 2

    In northern Wisconsin, we have about 1 1/2 ' of snow on the ground..temps down to low teens at night. My one hive (wrapped in tar paper) with ventilation holes in the side and small screened entrance in front(entrance reducer) seems to have done OK thus far. I have a single deep brood chamber, a single deep honer super which was full at the start of winter, and a small tray with what is left of a 5lb sugar cake left on top of the hive in the fall.

    After the weather warms up later this month or in April, do you simply uncover your hive, open up the entrance reducer, and let the hive start to rebuild what is left of the full honey super? I haven't opened the hive this winter, but I can hear them buzzing by placing my ear next to the tar paper. Any thoughts on when to open up the bottom of the hive for ventilation..when temperatures rise to above 40-50's during the day or should I wait for even warmer weather?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Litchfield, CT, USA
    Posts
    430

    Default Re: Starting Year 2

    While listening to the side have you rapped your knuckles on the hive body? Sometimes you need to rile em up a bit. Is there an opening in the bottom at all?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Door County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Starting Year 2

    The bottom is open at the entrance reducer (small opening) and yes, I have rapped on the hive and that is how I heard them buzzing.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Litchfield, CT, USA
    Posts
    430

    Default Re: Starting Year 2

    Oops sorry I thought it read can't hear them buzzing. I would leave the entrance reducer on until your first bloom. You can remove tar paper prior to that. I actually don't wrap my hives and they have done well. I am always concerned with moisture build up. If I suspect a crack or an opening between hive boxes I wrap joint with duct tape to reduce draft.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Green,Wisconsin,USA
    Posts
    107

    Default Re: Starting Year 2

    I don't worry about the opening size that much, but I also have top entrances. The big worry is whether the bees can get outside. Do you have a top entrance? What I would recommend is that some day when it's in the 40s and sunny, take out the entrance reducer and go in with a clothes hanger or equivalent and pull out the dead wet bees on the bottom board. There may even bee some ice build up there as well. Make sure they can actually get out of the lower opening. If you have a top entrance this isn't so much a problem. But either way, by cleaning the bottom board off you reduce a big part of the moisture problem.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Door County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Starting Year 2

    This time of the year its rarely 40 up here. My entrance reducer is turned so that the opening (the smaller one) is turned so that it is on the top 1/2 of the reducer to allow the bees to crawl over the dead and still get out. In fact, I noticed that yesterday I had around 30 dead bees scattered around the 5 - 6 feet in front of the entrance in the snow..all motionless and presumably dead..curious. I like the idea about using a coat hangar to clean out the bottom board and will try that today if it warms up.

    I have a small square mesh covered top on the hive with what is left of a 5 lb sugar cake which I placed on the hive in December 2012 to provide additional sustenance should the honey in the deep super on top of the brood chamber run out. The top cover with the hole in the middle and the hive top is over the small mesh square which has the hole bored in it to provide (1) additional ventilation AND (20 another exit for the bees..they use it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,969

    Default Re: Starting Year 2

    My take is that is still to early to be messing with hives in northern climes. As long as you did your job in the fall and the hive has plenty of stores there is not much to do until the first pollen and nectar start coming in. If you are in an area without much in the way of fall pollen, your hive might benefit from the addition of some pollen substitute. I've tried using it here, and at least in 50% of the cases it has been ignored. But the colonies that took it wolfed it down!

    For what it is worth - my tops are still strapped down and my entrances are still reduced. Last summer I kept some new hives with reduced entrances all summer and I did not note any ill effects.

    Winter still has a ways to go here, and I suspect at your location too.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Door County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Starting Year 2

    Thanks for your input. We had a very mild winter last year..60's in march and an early bloom then a frost which was a killer to many of the apple blossums. Its very cold this year thus far and tremendous amounts of snow..still 1 -2 ft of snow still on the ground.

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