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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Commerce, Georgia USA
    Posts
    9

    Default First winter - getting nervous and have some questions

    So I go out to have a look at my hive - this was awhile back - and found no eggs anywhere and a few queen cells. I consulted with a guy that keeps bees around me and his advice was don't panic - let them do their thing and all will be fine. So I did that, and then when I went back some time after that to check on it again queen cells were gone and there was eggs again - yay!

    Now that brings me to today - went in to have a look and there might be 2 frames in the bottom brood box ( there are 2) that have any brood and even those are only about half full. The entire top box minus maybe half a frame is all honey and my god does that stuff weigh a ton!

    As I understand things the queen does slow down brood production for the winter - I didn't expect something so drastic though. Should I be worried that there is so little brood? I didn't see any eggs everything was capped. Or is this just another case of don't panic and go with it?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN USA
    Posts
    685

    Default Re: First winter - getting nervous and have some questions

    Yeah, don't panic. Its entirely possible that you just had the last batch hatch out and she's only now getting around to refilling. Or they could be slowing down for winter, or any number of other reasons.

    Regardless, the best thing you can do right now is just leave them be. They've got plenty of stores from the sound of it, and they know what to do better than we do. Since you know they've got plenty of stores, best advice at this point would probably be to close the hive up and just not look in it again until spring. Let them get everything ship shape for winter and get to surviving it.
    Beekeeper since 2013. Read my bee blog at:
    http://harrisonbayhoney.blogspot.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Commerce, Georgia USA
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: First winter - getting nervous and have some questions

    Ok, living in georiga - where winters are typically mild - is there anything that I need to be doing to the hive in order to winterize it?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN USA
    Posts
    685

    Default Re: First winter - getting nervous and have some questions

    The main thing to watch for will be ventilation. Make sure you have a top and bottom opening to allow air flow (which can be done as easily as putting a wooden shim under one side of the telescoping cover). Reason is the bees will be warming the inside of the hive and their little bee breaths will be moist. If that warm moist air goes up to the top of the hive and hits that cold cover, it'll condense back into ice water and drip down on them. That'll kill 'em. Long as you've got someplace for the air to go, it should keep it from condensing.

    Personally I made a candy board to put in my hive that will double as both emergency stores and as a form of moisture control, so that anything that does manage to drip will simply drip into a bed of sugar and be caught.

    You can also put up wind breaks if your hive is somewhere that you think will be out in a cold winter wind. I'm going to toss some hay bales around mine to help cut the wind. Probably going to stick something over it as well so any possible snow doesn't lay on top of the hive directly.
    Beekeeper since 2013. Read my bee blog at:
    http://harrisonbayhoney.blogspot.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    McClure, OH
    Posts
    1,017

    Default Re: First winter - getting nervous and have some questions

    Yes, they are getting ready for winter and this is normal.

    I agree with Edymnion's suggestions. In addition, I put a piece of foam board between the inner cover and the outer telescoping cover - that also helps reduce condensation on the top.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Dacula, GA, USA
    Posts
    38

    Default Re: First winter - getting nervous and have some questions

    this will be my first winter too, my bees are over by lake Lanier though... your hive sounds exactly like mine, only they don't have a full box yet, about 2 frames short right now... we've been feeding trying to build up their stores, but the brood situation sounds the same. I was about to post and ask if this was normal... glad to see that it is.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Commerce, Georgia USA
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: First winter - getting nervous and have some questions

    Thank you for the information - I really appreciate it

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,551

    Default Re: First winter - getting nervous and have some questions

    Devin, if you did something at this point I would suspect it would be wrong. You got everything you could ask for going into winter. Your next panic will be spring.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Cartersville, Gerogia, USA
    Posts
    59

    Default Re: First winter - getting nervous and have some questions

    Devin,
    Are you using an excluder? If so have you pulled it for the winter?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Commerce, Georgia USA
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: First winter - getting nervous and have some questions

    No I'm not using an excluder.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Searcy, AR in the Ozark Foothills
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: First winter - getting nervous and have some questions

    Just make sure they have enough food stores and be sure to have ventilation, that'll keep down moisture.
    You're in Georgia I take it, I'm in Central Arkansas Zone7.
    When the temperatures drop say in late October or early November stay out of the hive.
    It's hard to sit there and look at those hives in the winter.
    In February say around the 15th check the weight of the hives, just pickup on the back of the hive and see how heavy it is.
    Then on a sunny day, little wind and the temperature above 50 degrees F you can start feeding 1-1 sugar syrup and protein patties if you need to.
    About this time the bees will probably be in the top box.
    Around the 3 week in February you can reverse the boxes, top on bottom, and start checker boarding the frames.
    You should have drones crawling around at this time, the hive population will be getting ready to explode which is a good thing.
    But the hardest part is staying out of the hives during winter.
    The bees will forage and fill up what empty cells there are and not giving the queen any place to lay eggs.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    McClure, OH
    Posts
    1,017

    Default Re: First winter - getting nervous and have some questions

    capt44 has some good suggestions.

    If you really, really are wondering if the bees are still there, but it is too cold to peek inside, you can tap on the box. If you hear them, they are fine

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