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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    543

    Default Ideal configuration within wintering hives in a very cold climate

    This isn't a question of how many boxes or deeps v mediums, but more about what's the best arrangement within the hive of the various components: capped honey frames, frames mostly of pollen, open nectar, late or final brood rounds etc.

    I think the bees will adapt, with more or less success, to all kinds and sizes of cavities. I had feral honey bees living in the uninsulated walls of a timberframe barn where the max cavity depth was perhaps 6 inches deep in stud bays 12 feet tall. When we did the cut-out there was solid comb from sill to girt. Those colonies survived for two decades, though undoubtedly they sometimes were replaced by new swarms if the previous colony perished.

    What I'm trying to get a fix on is what would be the best order of frames within a wintering hive.

    Something like: capped honey/ capped honey/ honey & pollen/ brood space, perhaps backfilled with open nectar at the tail end)/ honey & pollen/ capped Honey/ capped Honey

    And should this pattern be in the lower box(es) with solid capped honey in boxes above that? I noticed that last year all my bees started their earliest brood in the second from the top box, no matter what size it was, and no matter how tall the hive was, and no matter where they still had capped honey and pollen stores. (I fed Lauri's sugar bricks on the top bars of the uppermost box.)

    I am interested to hear what people think is the ideal, and what they do to get that, and especially what, if any, research has been done on different systems.

    Thanks.

    Enj.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Bozeman Montana
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: Ideal configuration within wintering hives in a very cold climate

    Bump-good question

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Bellflower, Montgomery,Mo,USA
    Posts
    116

    Default Re: Ideal configuration within wintering hives in a very cold climate

    enj

    Since no one has replied yet I'll say what I was thinking. The order you described is what we see during the spring and summer. I was under the impression that the bees would move the honey around after they started to get the hive ready for winter. That's only an assumption and you know what they say about those. Hopefully someone else will respond that has more definitive info.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,698

    Default Re: Ideal configuration within wintering hives in a very cold climate

    I do not think they care too much. One deep, with them fed until full, is good. They will put the pollen where they want.

    Crazy Roland

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,951

    Default Re: Ideal configuration within wintering hives in a very cold climate

    ideally you want the cluster centered, with pollen surrounding the outer edges, and back fill that single late in the season. Wintering in doubles, the same except for more food overtop.

    The biggest factor in successfully wintering is good bees. And give those good bees lots of food for winter. If you cover those two basics, your hive will survive guaranteed
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,384

    Default Re: Ideal configuration within wintering hives in a very cold climate

    I like to use the drawing in the HHB to illustrate how the bees set up their winter broodnest.

    For my bees, here in Vermont, I would want a medium super of honey on top.




  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    459

    Default Re: Ideal configuration within wintering hives in a very cold climate

    The only case I can think of where you need to do something is in a horizontal hive like a top bar or long lang. Then I think you want to position the cluster at one end so they eat their way towards the other. If the start in the center, there's a chance of them going in one direction and starving when it is too cold to break cluster. They are almost always going to start to raise brood in the top in the spring because it's easiest to keep that area warm. You'll often find the queen on the inner cover that time of year.
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    543

    Default Re: Ideal configuration within wintering hives in a very cold climate

    Thanks to all who have replied, this exactly what I was hoping to learn.

    I will have to study that HHB diagram on a bigger screen!

    Any more thoughts?

    Thanks,
    Enj.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Ideal configuration within wintering hives in a very cold climate

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    I do not think they care too much. One deep, with them fed until full, is good. They will put the pollen where they want.

    Crazy Roland
    Roland...when you look at a 1 deep hive that is ready for winter, do you have any frames in the middle that are empty or partially empty for the bees to cluster on?
    Or is that box clear full of feed?
    Thanks!
    Mike
    Bee a blessing to God and others.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,698

    Default Re: Ideal configuration within wintering hives in a very cold climate

    Don't know. When the feed pails go on, we are done looking. We might "tip" a few, but try to leave them alone until spring.
    Would you like me to look?

    Crazy Roland

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Auburn, New Hampshire
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Ideal configuration within wintering hives in a very cold climate

    I also use this diagram from HHB that Michael Palmer posted. It is the best for teaching at bee schools and for anyone reading this forum. Here in New Hampshire I also keep a medium of honey over a double deep going into winter. Without it, the bees are under the inner cover by Feb.

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