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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Redwood City, CA
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    71

    Default Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    I searched but didn't find a definitive answer regarding stack/super height. Why do some beeks stack and stack to what seems to be no end? Beyond the "wow" factor, does it serve a purpose? Maybe acting as a storage facility (for beek) for honey until it's time to extract? Does stacking really tall offer anything beneficial to bees or beekeeper? Maybe it helps cull swarm behavior if you put on a bunch of supers once the flow starts? Would love to hear ideas and experience.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,803

    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    I stack high because I have a real job to pay the bills and don't have time to extract earlier. This year I had to extract early because I ran out of supers.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Redwood City, CA
    Posts
    71

    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    So does that mean you put on all your supers when - in the next few weeks? I am visiting my yards tomorrow. I was a bit shocked at opening up a few of my colonies this past Saturday and finding surpluses of honey in the 30lbs /colony range for this winter. Obviously a good shock, but I need to open up the hives big time. The idea of stack lots of drawn comb + new frames had me wondering about doing it all at once and going tall. As an aside, does anyone think this method helps prevent swarms?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
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    4,803

    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    In Redwood City you should remove all full combs of honey in the brood chamber and replace them with comb or foundation. If they are single brood chambers you could add a second. I stack on honey supers only one or two at a time and ad more when the top one is maybe 60-80% full. The mid penninsula has a eucalyptus flow starting at Halloween and strong hives should have a honey super on all winter.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,887

    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    Most do it for shock factor. Every time you see one of these pictures it includes the beekeeper posing with it.... It is beekeeper mine is bigger then yours posturing.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Columbia, SC, USA
    Posts
    78

    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    Most do it for shock factor. Every time you see one of these pictures it includes the beekeeper posing with it.... It is beekeeper mine is bigger then yours posturing.
    I have wondered about that, too. Now I understand. It's like hunting and the beekeeper is showing his trophy...Ahhh...
    "I mess with bees not for the honey, but in order not to have played golf."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
    Posts
    4,317

    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    bluegrass:

    That's part of it. But, I think that there are some good reasons to use a tower hive configuration that have been explained in terms of Honeybee biology/behavior. Taking advantage of the hoarding instinct and depleting wax workers are possible reasons. Convenience is another. From what I understand of it, 3 deeps and 7 supers is about as tall as you should go.

    I left supers on late into December, and they backfilled the 3 deeps nicely. With the hard winter we've had so far, it has provided some piece of mind.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,208

    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    If the boxes aren't on the hives bees won't put honey in them.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,408

    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    >If the boxes aren't on the hives bees won't put honey in them.

    Seems like someone, I think Michael Palmer, had a cute way of saying that... but it's true, bees never put honey in the supers that are still in the shed...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    3,911

    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    I had some stacked pretty high last year - full of honey - very little of it was ready to extract, because it wasn't cured and capped.

    And the flip side of "those guys are just showIng off" is I bet you wish you could take a picture like that too.
    since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,782

    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    Most do it for shock factor...
    thats a lot of work to show off....

    When bees bring in 25 - 50 lbs of honey per week, we do all we can to stay ahead of the production in the honey house. ALL boxes on hand get sent out and stacked until we can get around to pulling them.
    Last edited by Ian; 03-04-2014 at 10:01 AM.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,782

    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    http://s1277.photobucket.com/user/Ia...tml?sort=3&o=8

    The flows will hit and within days the hives will start filling. We will send everything we have out and start pulling the honey in order to turn the boxes over.

    http://s1277.photobucket.com/user/Ia...e7a3c.jpg.html

    This is a yard after the first round honey had been collected. As you can see these boxes are full of bees and they happen to be plugged with honey not one week after pulling the first round honey off. At this particular point of time we did not have any extra equipment but these hives needed another two boxes each. Instead we came back the following week and pulled off these supers giving them more empty space. When we manage our hives tight in space like these ones are we tend to find an increase in late season swarming.
    In this business we are limited to "all we can do"

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    And the flip side of "those guys are just showIng off" is I bet you wish you could take a picture like that too.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
    Posts
    703

    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    I agree with ODFrank. In coastal Ca, one has a Euc flow starting in midwinter, and you should super for that excellent honey.

    Additionally, keep the hives somewhat short -- there is no heat to ripen the honey by evaporating the water, and a big empty super stack just makes a damp, cold hive.

    In my coastal location, summertime is often in the mid-60's and the heat bee's love is not present. Redwood City might be slightly warmer, but "June Gloom" fog is going to cut drone flights and leave unfinished honey languishing in the hive.

    Moreover, Coastal Ca has no "flow" in the summer -- and the unripe honey will be quickly consumed in the dearth. Redwood City is *not* North Dakota with thousands of acres of Canola and Sunflowers surrounding every hive. You will have some Poison Ivy, Toyon, Coffeeberry and late Ceanothus in the open space. Toyon is a main summer flow, but only occurs on wet years when plants are vigourous - not going to see that this year. The suburban yard's roses are more than likely to be doused in pesticide, and will kill the visiting bees.

    We simply don't have the summer super-abundance to create the Tim Ives-style towers. We have mild and continuing flow 11 months a year -- its a trade-off.

    Swarming is not prevented by excess space, per se. Swarming is a negative control of Queen Mandibular Hormone -- if it is diluted below a set concentration, the queen's hive control breaks down, and swarm cells are constructed by panic-striken nurse bees. Building up a big empty hive with a queen wandering about will create swarm cells -- typically on the lower story while the queen is off exploring the penthouse. The key to swarm prevention is an open, but compact brood oval. Keep it compact, but always with an open frame nearby. Do this by pulling the 2nd and 9th frames (usually with honey-pollen-drone) and replacing the 3rd and 8th with open, drawn comb-- spreading the brood oval to the edges of the same box. It's so much easier to do that management when you do not have to dig through 5 supers to get to the brood, or when the brood is a long, thin column traveling up through 4 or 5 boxes.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Redwood City, CA
    Posts
    71

    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    In Redwood City you should remove all full combs of honey in the brood chamber and replace them with comb or foundation. If they are single brood chambers you could add a second. I stack on honey supers only one or two at a time and ad more when the top one is maybe 60-80% full. The mid penninsula has a eucalyptus flow starting at Halloween and strong hives should have a honey super on all winter.
    My MO is to super when I've got 6 to 7 full frames of honey. I bottom super and sometimes pull a few frames of empty honey into the new super. Depends on how tired I am With 30 colonies + a full time job and a 1 year old, time is a precious thing for sure. Loving the Eucalyptus honey. Didn't think we would have much this year - most of the trees I saw were brown and leaves were brown. I've never seen them do that. That being said, I've only been keeping bees for 4 years, and flora sort of went unnoticed (well, big old trees anyway)

    JWChesnut, Redwood City definitely has nicer summers than Morro Bay. I lived on my boat in the harbor for a few years, and I know about fog all too well. Wish I could have lived in the valley that runs along HW 41. Just where the fog licks the avocado orchards. Now that's some nice weather. Cool, but warm, if that makes sense. But yes, I am a fan of not having too many hive bodies to dig through. I run all mediums, so at least I save a few pounds of stress on my back when it's time for an inspection versus lugging deeps.

    In regards to looking cool or whatever with towers, I could care less. I think having a beehive has a wow factor all it's own

    Cheers!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
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    703

    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    OD Frank has made a couple of references to the Halloween start to the Euc flow. We don't have that in SLO County. Blue Gum starts in late-December to January. The fall Eucs in this area are the small ornamental street trees like the red gum and silver gum which are welcome but are restricted to built up areas.

    Perhaps the peninsula has a greater number of ornamental Euc plantings of the red gum, rather than the old ranch specimen Blue Gums in our less congested county. Or alternatively the earlier start to the wet season in Nor Cal means the Tasmanian Blue Gum starts earlier there.

    The Blue Gum Euc flowers were opening this year first-second week of January. They had no nectar in the cups until the rains came. Flowers, but no flow -- I hadn't seen that before, plenty of pollen in the cloud of stamens though, so the hives built brood.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    pulling the 2nd and 9th frames (usually with honey-pollen-drone) and replacing the 3rd and 8th with open, drawn comb-
    When, how often, and how effective is this? And yes I know - it all depends. but in relative terms?
    since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gainesboro, Tennessee, USA.
    Posts
    398

    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    [QUOTE=Ian;1068271]thats a lot of work to show off....

    ya what he said. If I had flows like they do in Northern states I think I would break in half. Here in Tennessee My hives can (on the ground) hit 6-7 feet no problem.

    I could go higher but I am 5 foot 6. Depends on the individuals management.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    26,208

    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >If the boxes aren't on the hives bees won't put honey in them.

    Seems like someone, I think Michael Palmer, had a cute way of saying that... but it's true, bees never put honey in the supers that are still in the shed...
    Yeah, you two Mikes get all the credit.

    That's either a variation on a Busterism or a MacDonaldism. "Bees won't fill supers if the supers are still in the barn."
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,887

    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    Credit is a funny thing... That "Mountaincamp" fella gets all the credit for something beekeepers were doing for 50 years before he even laid his hands on a hive.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
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    Default Re: Too Tall? - Stacking Supers to Silly Heights

    But nobody ever gave it a catchy name before. Or if they did it failed to stick.
    since '09-25H-T-Z6b

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