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  1. #1

    Default What defines "winter" when preparing your hives?

    I hear all the time you need to prepare your hives for winter. However, winter starts at different times around the country. My wife and I are taking a beginning beekeeper class and the instructor says when the daytime temperatures start staying in the 50-60 degree range, that's when your hives should be in their wintertime configuration. Does that pretty much jive with the general consensus? Now, remember, I'm in central Alabama and our first frost doesn't happen until mid-November, maybe, and our temps don't stay down in the 50's until November or December.
    Started beekeeping in 2013 and having a blast with my 9 small cell hives!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Belgrade, MT
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: What defines "winter" when preparing your hives?

    Winter comes early in the high country. Winter prep is done. Jack Frost has come and gone. White today with winter storm warning. But a great honey year none the less. Hives are to heavy to move by hand. The girls say "bring it on" cuz we are tough in the mountains.
    Peter W., Belgrade, MT, Elv. 4420 Zone 4a
    Sheepshank Honey, 4 yrs & 27 hives

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,316

    Default Re: What defines "winter" when preparing your hives?

    One thing that may be close to universal is the temperature of liquid feed (syrup, HFCS, even plain water) that is cold enough that bees cannot take it. I've seen several references that suggest once liquids are below 50 degrees, bees are no longer interested. Liquid temperatures are not necessarily the same as air temperatures, and in most cases are likely to lag air temperature.
    Graham
    -- The real problem is not precise language, it's clear language. - Richard Feynman

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Sandy Ridge,NC
    Posts
    110

    Default Re: What defines "winter" when preparing your hives?

    Quote Originally Posted by barberberryfarm View Post
    I hear all the time you need to prepare your hives for winter. However, winter starts at different times around the country. My wife and I are taking a beginning beekeeper class and the instructor says when the daytime temperatures start staying in the 50-60 degree range, that's when your hives should be in their wintertime configuration. Does that pretty much jive with the general consensus? Now, remember, I'm in central Alabama and our first frost doesn't happen until mid-November, maybe, and our temps don't stay down in the 50's until November or December.
    In nc some winters I can feed a lot some winters in gets cold. A few winters ago my bees never stop brining in pollen and I fed my nucs all winter. The problem in the south is we can have a week of 60s and a week of 20s. I lose hives to this every year they will have huge amounts of brood then a cold snap will hit.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    660

    Default Re: What defines "winter" when preparing your hives?

    Once daytime highs are under 13C / 55F the bees are unlikely to leave the cluster unless there is full sun on the hive. It is too cold for feeding syrup at this temperature as the bees won't go to it and it also causes issues with condensation in the hive. So you should have finished any feeding by the time temperatures are regularly below that.

  6. #6

    Default Re: What defines "winter" when preparing your hives?

    My plan is to have enough honey, at least one full medium super, over the one deep/one medium brood box to feed them through the winter. My main curiousity is we have a tremendous goldenrod bloom going on right now and I'm trying to figure out when to downsize (winterize). I want to wait until it's pretty much over before I do so they will have plenty of honey, but I didn't want to wait too long. My thinking is that the instructor is telling the class, which for the most part live in town, they should start downsizing now whereas I live in the country along the river and there is still massive amounts of goldenrod, verbena and iron weed blooming.
    Started beekeeping in 2013 and having a blast with my 9 small cell hives!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Birmingham Alabama
    Posts
    82

    Default Re: What defines "winter" when preparing your hives?

    I wish I could give you an answer, but I'm greener than spring grass. I'm in Birmingham and we've got a strong goldenrod bloom going on too. I've had honey supers on hoping the bees might build out the foundation. No luck yet. Haven't touched them. Watching the hives, the bees are loaded down with pollen right now. My plan is to wait until the flow is ver, then start any winter feed I need. Good luck

  8. #8

    Default Re: What defines "winter" when preparing your hives?

    Thanks. I've got four hives, each with one deep and two with one medium super with my other two stronger hives having two mediums each. I'm seeing a lot of GR pollen coming in and some nectar too, but probably not enough to pull new foundation. My guess they are just trying to load up for the winter in any pulled frames they have as the nights are starting to get cooler.

    I was talking with one of my master beekeeping friends and he said he's going to reduce his hives down to their winter configuration in another two weeks or so. He suggested I reduce all my hives down to one deep with one full medium of honey on top. This will allow me to balance my 4 hives by taking the full frames of honey out of my "second" mediums on my stronger hives and then swap them with partial frames on my weaker hives, so that all 4 hives will have a full medium of honey going into winter to go along with what they have stored in the deep. Of course, our winters are not all that bad compared to what folks have to deal with in other locations. But, my friend said tightening up the hives will also allow the ladies to have a better chance of battling SHBs in the winter months. Less places for the little rascals to hide in the "second" mediums. Anyway, that's my plan right now.
    Started beekeeping in 2013 and having a blast with my 9 small cell hives!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    carney, maryland, USA
    Posts
    593

    Default Re: What defines "winter" when preparing your hives?

    Quote Originally Posted by barberberryfarm View Post
    ....., my friend said tightening up the hives will also allow the ladies to have a better chance of battling SHBs in the winter months. Less places for the little rascals to hide in the "second" mediums. Anyway, that's my plan right now.
    I totally agree with your friend. Last year I spent a lot of time putting SHB traps in place after a slime incident in one of the hives. This year I have placed NO traps, but have made sure that there are no frames with stores or brood but few bees. As Michael Bush (?) preaches keep the bee "crowded".

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