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KevinWI
03-15-2019, 08:28 PM
Been trying to find a pattern to hives making it through winter and slowly a pattern is starting to emerge.
This is for me and my small hobby apiary in WI. I'm not saying it's what works or doesn't work for you.

10 things that I'm hoping will help me in the future:
This should be #1 of the pattern, but starting with a good local winter hardy queen stock will start the process on the right track

1. Effective mite control before winter bee brood are even capped. Start in August after honey flow. Leads to healthy winter bees emerging and lasting the winter.
2. Does not seem to matter the size of the colony, double 10 frame deeps full of honey have a low % of survival regardless of size of the winter cluster. Bees will not move off of brood to get to honey and will starve, so smaller space is more effective to keep the cluster in contact with food. I found a single or single and medium super work much better than a double deep 10 frame hive.
3. Nucs have a better chance of survival as long as you have enough food over them. 3 boxes seem to work best. Smaller box seems to keep cluster able to always stay in contact with food stores.
4. Colony size matters. If you have a weak or small colony, don't even bother wasting your time and resources trying to get them through winter....when it gets a long cold snap end of Jan/Feb, you will lose them. Combine with another smaller colony early to get at least one thru the winter.
5. Weigh hives in fall to target their honey heading into winter and feed as needed.
6. Keep a sugar brick above the colony. (for me a candy board) When the colony reaches the top they will always have food above them and if there is brood, they can still cluster under and will be in contact with food.
7. Good venting is needed, but too much is not good. Top and bottom small vents/exits are good. guard for mice!!
8. Adequate (IMO at least 1 1/2") of foam board insulation covering the ENTIRE top of the hive under the lid is needed to keep thermal shock from causing condensation over the bees.
9. Wrap with your choice of tar paper/reflectix/board insulation or at minimum tape box seams.
10. Check on bees monthly to make adjustments as needed.

My-smokepole
03-16-2019, 06:13 AM
Some of the things I do. I can agree with all that you said.

crofter
03-16-2019, 06:56 AM
If you are in an area with heavy snowfall, a bottom plus a top entrance or at least a screened vent is a good idea. Very often a snowed in colony will melt some breathing space around itself and survive but a well insulated hive in drifted snow may not melt much around itself. They can suffocate if that happens when there is no upper venting.

Areas with very long winters can accumulate a lot of dead bees on bottom board, that along with dripped condensation ice, can quite effectively block a bottom entrance. I have seen reference to using a 3" spacer box or an empty medium with an entrance hole, underneath the brood box (boxes) as a place the dropped bees can accumulate.

Marcin
03-16-2019, 07:26 AM
Solid list. Although I prefer to overwinter in 3 boxes whenever possible.

cyber
03-16-2019, 07:57 AM
Great list Kevin. Thank you. 3 of my 4 hives survived so far, All in double 10 frame deeps. BUT they are all now out of honey. I have been feeding commercial winter patties. My question is can I switch to just commercial pollen patties? I am in zone 5 and still have at least 4 weeks of cold weather. Too cold for syrup. Thank you. I also wrap hives in Bee Cozy's and use slatted racks.

squarepeg
03-16-2019, 08:22 AM
kevin, i moved your thread to this new subforum. many thanks for the suggestion!

Mike Gillmore
03-16-2019, 08:47 AM
Nice list Kevin.

What seemed to help me the most with overwintering success was the addition of insulation on the cover. You can do everything else right and have a strong colony in place, but if moisture condenses on the cover or inner cover and drips down on the bees they are toast.

Insulated covers are best, but I simply place a 2" foam board on top of the cover and anchor it down with a block. Under that is a feeder rim and sugar blocks. It's enough to insulate the cover from outside temperatures and keeps the underside of the cover above the bees warmer than the box walls. It's enough of a temperature difference where I might see condensation form on the inside wall of the boxes and run down, but moisture never condenses on the cover.

I never wrap the hives, but I'm not as far north as you are. If the bees stay dry they can handle quite a bit and come out strong in the spring.

KevinWI
03-16-2019, 11:51 AM
kevin, i moved your thread to this new subforum. many thanks for the suggestion!

Thanks for pursuing my suggestion and pushing it up the ladder. Appreciated.

KevinWI
03-16-2019, 03:46 PM
Nice list Kevin.

What seemed to help me the most with overwintering success was the addition of insulation on the cover. You can do everything else right and have a strong colony in place, but if moisture condenses on the cover or inner cover and drips down on the bees they are toast.

Insulated covers are best, but I simply place a 2" foam board on top of the cover and anchor it down with a block. Under that is a feeder rim and sugar blocks. It's enough to insulate the cover from outside temperatures and keeps the underside of the cover above the bees warmer than the box walls. It's enough of a temperature difference where I might see condensation form on the inside wall of the boxes and run down, but moisture never condenses on the cover.

I never wrap the hives, but I'm not as far north as you are. If the bees stay dry they can handle quite a bit and come out strong in the spring.

Thanks.

Foam board is susceptible to deterioration from UV rays from the sun, which is why I prefer to put the foam board UNDER the lid. Under that is the inner cover with the holes blocked off (bees seem to love to burrow insulation so duct tape the holes or cover with 1/4" plywood is recommended. Foil backed foam board is ok to be in the sun.
Under the inner cover is whatever feeder shim you choose to use.

alf1960
03-19-2019, 08:20 AM
I`m going through my first winter with bees.( 2 colonies) I treated with Apivar starting in late July. 1 1/2 inch of stryrafoam under telescoping cover, wrapped in tar paper, upper entrance, bottom entrance wide open with 1/2 hardware cloth for a mouse guard. I didn`t put any emergency feed on top. Last Thursday I opened them up for the first time. 1st one was packed full of bees. I gave them a pollen patty and a winter patty and closed them back up. 2nd one just had a cluster the size of my fist and I couldn`t find the queen. I went through the frames and cleaned them up. No sign of any disease, no brood at all. Lots of honey. I think I found another advantage to the tar paper. When I snowshoed out to shovel out the bottom entrance a few weeks ago , the snow was melted about 6 inches around the bottom of both hives. I have them on a 2 way pallet , side by side. I probably won`t change anything next year except I want to put up a 6 foot high wood privacy fence around the west , north and east sides for a wind break. The hive that didn`t make it was on the west side and probably caught the brunt of that west wind. I was disappointed that one didn`t make it, but I guess it could have been worse. I`m a hour west of you Kevin.

KevinWI
03-19-2019, 08:28 AM
I think I found another advantage to the tar paper. When I snowshoed out to shovel out the bottom entrance a few weeks ago , the snow was melted about 6 inches around the bottom of both hives. I have them on a 2 way pallet , side by side. I probably won`t change anything next year except I want to put up a 6 foot high wood privacy fence around the west , north and east sides for a wind break. The hive that didn`t make it was on the west side and probably caught the brunt of that west wind. I was disappointed that one didn`t make it, but I guess it could have been worse. I`m a hour west of you Kevin.

Snow was melted around my hives as well...I don't use tarpaper, I use reflectix....but if you notice trees absorb heat and it melts around trees also....bees radiate heat which melts snow.

Sorry to hear about your queen....pretty early to be pulling frames though....cold I mean...

What is your winter configuration? two deeps? deep/super? double nuc box? Singles?

alf1960
03-19-2019, 08:36 AM
It was 55 that Thursday, but I only pulled the frames in the hive that was obviously not going to make it. Barely a fist full of bees. I had a medium and a deep for a brood box and had 3 supers of honey on top for stores. Overkill I know, but it was given to me.

BigBlackBirds
03-19-2019, 02:44 PM
This should be #1 of the pattern, but starting with a good local winter hardy queen stock will start the process on the right track

Does not seem to matter the size of the colony, double 10 frame deeps full of honey have a low % of survival regardless of size of the winter cluster. Bees will not move off of brood to get to honey and will starve, so smaller space is more effective to keep the cluster in contact with food. I found a single or single and medium super work much better than a double deep 10 frame hive.




I think these two items you have listed are intertwined. I can winter with essentially the same success in a double deep, deep/medium or single deep assuming I have at least an adequate cluster size to begin with and that there are ample stores for that cluster. IF you really want to get to the problem with number of boxes you are wintering in and how the cluster moves/responds, that goes to genetics and your first statement regarding local stock. There's a lot to be said for a stock that environmentally regulates and isn't producing brood when there are not resources coming in--needs less overall stores to begin with, won't start to brood up and then get caught in a weather reversal and be forced to eat and remove brood, will normally not require large or prolonged feeding. The downside is that such colonies will be slower out of the gate in the spring but once they do take off you'll be pressed to keep up with them. Its a balance to find what works for you. Personally, if the winter doesnt end a colony that is trying to raise substantial amounts of brood when nothing is coming in, then I cull them out myself as soon as the weather breaks.

KevinWI
03-19-2019, 03:47 PM
Personally, if the winter doesnt end a colony that is trying to raise substantial amounts of brood when nothing is coming in, then I cull them out myself as soon as the weather breaks.

I wont. Bees are bees. They work...so if I have a colony of bees that made it thru winter, but were too active all winter, then I'll utilize these colonies as resource bees to boost populations in other hives or bees to use in my mating nucs to raise the queens I am grafting. Resource bees are good to have around to use in a breeding apiary as long as you monitor that they are not raising drone brood.

msl
03-19-2019, 05:22 PM
I don't. Bees are bees. They work...so if I have a colony of bees that made it thru winter, but were too active all winter, then I utilize these colonies as resource bees to boost populations in other hives or bees to use in my mating nucs to raise the queens I am grafting.

that stament of past actions would seem to be a fabrication.
on youtube you say
started in 2017 and you have yet to have a colony of bees make it till spring... This year is looking to be your 1st https://youtu.be/7uhWHINUxUc?t=562
You have never successfully grafted https://youtu.be/7uhWHINUxUc?t=1449

Edit- sense you have now removed that video from your channel , I will reference a different one of yours

2018 was your second year as a beekeeper https://youtu.be/OAdPa4BRxgg?t=138
You have yet to overwinter a hive, took 100% losses winter of 17/18 a https://youtu.be/OAdPa4BRxgg?t=181
you have never successfully grafted a cell https://youtu.be/OAdPa4BRxgg?t=1173

GregV
03-19-2019, 05:45 PM
.... Personally, if the winter doesnt end a colony that is trying to raise substantial amounts of brood when nothing is coming in, then I cull them out myself as soon as the weather breaks.

As for me - ti depends.
If I have a mite-hardy bee, I will give them all the chances possible to carry through the mite-hardiness (at the expense of poor winter-hardiness, if comes to it).

Got at least one such case this year.
They pooped all over due to presumed low winter-hardiness - but they survived and this counts as a success.

I am keeping this mite-hardy "poopers" and breading off of them as wide as I can this summer.
Hoping for mite-hardy AND winter-hardy crosses - there will be some drones of the Russian and my own origins to mate with.

So, it depends on your priorities and the context - to cull or not to cull.

KevinWI
03-19-2019, 06:41 PM
As for me - ti depends.
If I have a mite-hardy bee, I will give them all the chances possible to carry through the mite-hardiness (at the expense of poor winter-hardiness, if comes to it).

Got at least one such case this year.
They pooped all over due to presumed low winter-hardiness - but they survived and this counts as a success.

I am keeping this mite-hardy "poopers" and breading off of them as wide as I can this summer.
Hoping for mite-hardy AND winter-hardy crosses - there will be some drones of the Russian and my own origins to mate with.

So, it depends on your priorities and the context - to cull or not to cull.

Can I inquire on a question? from my understanding only pure Russians are what you want to breed from as people have not been having good luck with hybrids...so although folks love the winter hardiness of the russians, you need pure stock to achieve. Sort of like the buckfast...makes a great bee in its purest form, but not so much in any cross breeding. What do you think?

Sort of getting off topic, so I apologize.

KevinWI
03-19-2019, 07:03 PM
.

I never wrap the hives, but I'm not as far north as you are. If the bees stay dry they can handle quite a bit and come out strong in the spring.

Do you tape off the box joints at all?

GregV
03-19-2019, 07:09 PM
Can I inquire on a question? from my understanding only pure Russians are what you want to breed from as people have not been having good luck with hybrids...so although folks love the winter hardiness of the russians, you need pure stock to achieve. Sort of like the buckfast...makes a great bee in its purest form, but not so much in any cross breeding. What do you think?

Sort of getting off topic, so I apologize.

As long as talk of winter-hardiness, we are on-topic (in my book). :)

I think for all practical purposes for regular folk - "pure" bee of any origin is a non-sense.
Pure bee idea only works for those who sell them - the "pure bees".
Marketing.
Obviously.

Pure bees only make sense as on-time genetic infusion into your local population in hopes of it taking some foot hold.
If you exactly after this - sure.
Otherwise - your bees are hybrids as we speak and my bees are hybrids as we speak.
There are no other bees.

Unless you are a large breeder with resources (isolation, artificial mating facility and expertise, etc), talking of pure breed of bees makes no practical sense.
Your most pure bees acquired from the most reputable source will cross-breed the very first summer you got them.
The product of that breeding will be crosses with the input (significance will vary) from your surrounding bee population.

Now, whatever the resulting crosses will be - they will be of a very wide ranging random pheno-types (in a wider sense of expression, not just the bee exterior).
Chances are high enough, some of the pheno-types produced by the crossing will still be of desired nature (e.g. winter-hardy or mite-hardy or both).

And so:
- let the external selective pressure (i.e. nature) to take care of this for you - your job is to create enough combinations and cross your fingers (in hopes of some of the combinations turn OK)
- if winter-hardiness is present in the inputs, the selective pressure will make sure that the winter-hardiness will persist and carry on (not guarantied, but the numbers game)

At present in the USA, the Russian blood and AMM blood and Carni blood (heck, even AHB blood) are all over the place due to cross-county sales and migration.
Like it or not, the bees with presence of these bloods are around and the most winter-hardy bees will bubble up for you and me (given enough time).

This last winter was an excellent chance to push the winter-hardy bees up.
As well as many non-winter-hardy bees got wiped out - a good thing for us (in a bigger, non-emotional picture).
To compare, winters of 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 did not really favor winter-hardy bees.
But the winter 2018/2019 was a big natural selection event for winter-hardiness (even after all the feeding, and treating, and wrapping and what have you).

KevinWI
03-19-2019, 07:27 PM
I understand about purebred and hybrids....what I was reading was saying that if you think you will get xyz traits by breeding russians into your local mutts, you may be in for a surprise and get more of the agressive aspects and less of the wanted "winter hardiness" aspects of that genetic.....
Honestly, I've never had Russians, so I have no frame of reference, but I've been staying away due to their more "staple your pant leg to your socks" personality that I've only read about.

Ravenseye
03-19-2019, 08:55 PM
A few years ago I bought 2 (very expensive) nucs of russians. They were great. Not really aggressive but I guess you would call them quite responsive to an inspection, especially in the fall. They overwintered very well. Not much honey the next year but overall I was reasonably happy. They shared that yard with italians and carni's. When they re-queened the colonies were just so-so and as I recall, I lost both the next winter. The value proposition for my mixed yard approach wasn't worth it although I wouldn't turn down a reasonably priced package or nuc. I just don't have the time to devote to the line. They showed promise though....

KevinWI
03-19-2019, 09:37 PM
A few years ago I bought 2 (very expensive) nucs of russians. They were great. Not really aggressive but I guess you would call them quite responsive to an inspection, especially in the fall. They overwintered very well. Not much honey the next year but overall I was reasonably happy. They shared that yard with italians and carni's. When they re-queened the colonies were just so-so and as I recall, I lost both the next winter. The value proposition for my mixed yard approach wasn't worth it although I wouldn't turn down a reasonably priced package or nuc. I just don't have the time to devote to the line. They showed promise though....
so from your perspective it doesn't sound great, but the jury is still out.

GregV
03-19-2019, 10:04 PM
I understand about purebred and hybrids....what I was reading was saying that if you think you will get xyz traits by breeding russians into your local mutts, you may be in for a surprise and get more of the agressive aspects and less of the wanted "winter hardiness" aspects of that genetic.....
Honestly, I've never had Russians, so I have no frame of reference, but I've been staying away due to their more "staple your pant leg to your socks" personality that I've only read about.

I don't care much for any signs of "aggression" - outside of liability issues. Those must be addressed, obviously.

For this case, I got remote yards, big hives, and hands-off management then.
If they don't like me - fine.
For as long as they stay alive - I still like them and want them around me.

Managing mean bees is not that hard:
- put them into a big horizontal hive full of frames (this way you do not need to break entire hive apart every time, pissing them off - TBH-style management is the best)
- put them far from innocent people and animals
- walk away and don't bother (they got a big hive full of frames to themselves)
- get your honey in late fall/early spring, kind of like this guy does - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAu5xmzDeL4
(you don't break into them in the middle of a dearth because it is convenient to you).
If they die - a good riddance.
If they stay on - you got yourself some great, winter-hardy and maybe mite-hardy bees.
Done.

Most all scary stories come from trying to manage Russians/AMMs (or various angry mutts with some Russian/AMM blood) in the equipment more suitable for Italian/Carni bees OR in a manner more suitable for forgiving Italian/Carni bees.

BigBlackBirds
03-20-2019, 07:25 AM
So, it depends on your priorities and the context - to cull or not to cull.

Yep, 100% agree and sometimes those priorities change. years ago I would have not culled as needed at least half the operation with large clusters coming out of winter to fulfill pollination commitments. thats no longer a priority and i've always got way more bees than need. current priority is for bees that take the least amount of effort on my part

BigBlackBirds
03-20-2019, 07:38 AM
Can I inquire on a question? from my understanding only pure Russians are what you want to breed from as people have not been having good luck with hybrids...so although folks love the winter hardiness of the russians, you need pure stock to achieve. Sort of like the buckfast...makes a great bee in its purest form, but not so much in any cross breeding. What do you think?



here's my perspective for whatever its worth. i used some of the first russian breeders that were available to the public probably around 2002-2003. at the time we were in pretty close association with a couple of the folks that were and still are part of the russian program; they really liked them and highly suggested them. i used inseminated breeders to produce drone mother colonies to flood parts of my mating areas hoping to cross those to my stock. it worked poorly in my case. they did not combine nicely and that's being kind. ended up with the worst end of the spectrum---extremely aggressive bees (and I already have fairly mean bees so when they are too aggressive for me thats saying something), nasty chimney habit effect, swarmy, etc.

I know people that currently maintain fairly pure russian stock with great success. I also know people that have it mixed to some stocks and also have very good luck. but as always happens when you start crossing things you can get some good outcomes and some poor ones. didnt work good for the predominate stock i use. think everyone would need to try it for themselves but trying to cross stock is a gamble unless you have the numbers and location where you can get good mating control

crofter
03-20-2019, 07:40 AM
Yep, 100% agree and sometimes those priorities change. years ago I would have not culled as needed at least half the operation with large clusters coming out of winter to fulfill pollination commitments. thats no longer a priority and i've always got way more bees than need. current priority is for bees that take the least amount of effort on my part

I spoke to Tibor Szabo who was the source of my bees. He says that his criteria is not to graft from any queen that shows any sign of aggressive bees. He says that he also does not graft from any that did not survive the winter!;)

That results in a bee that fits my priorities to a tee!

BigBlackBirds
03-20-2019, 07:46 AM
I spoke to Tibor Szabo who was the source of my bees. He says that his criteria is not to graft from any queen that shows any sign of aggressive bees. He says that he also does not graft from any that did not survive the winter!;)

That results in a bee that fits my priorities to a tee!

His breeders were without a doubt the best I've ever used; there's not even a close second in comparison

Storm
03-20-2019, 07:49 AM
I think the list is good, but item 2 and item 4 seem to be in conflict with one another and might be reworded to make more sense.

crofter
03-20-2019, 08:17 AM
I think the list is good, but item 2 and item 4 seem to be in conflict with one another and might be reworded to make more sense.

Yes there does seem to be a conflict there. Perhaps based on too small a sample to be conclusive. Lots of "all depends" factors could have played into those observations. Painted with too broad a brush.

A large colony in the fall that also had a high mite load is more susceptible to varroa collapse. How much surplus honey was available could skew the survival of a large vs small cluster. Location of stores in the hive also affects outcome.

A small healthy population consisting of young bees (winter bees) with low mite count can winter well if it is put into a reduced space and ensure adequate stores above the cluster. It is correct that a mangy bunch of worn out foragers will not survive and probably should not be combined to drag down a health hive.

KevinWI
03-20-2019, 08:19 AM
here's my perspective for whatever its worth. i used some of the first russian breeders that were available to the public probably around 2002-2003. at the time we were in pretty close association with a couple of the folks that were and still are part of the russian program; they really liked them and highly suggested them. i used inseminated breeders to produce drone mother colonies to flood parts of my mating areas hoping to cross those to my stock. it worked poorly in my case. they did not combine nicely and that's being kind. ended up with the worst end of the spectrum---extremely aggressive bees (and I already have fairly mean bees so when they are too aggressive for me thats saying something), nasty chimney habit effect, swarmy, etc.

I know people that currently maintain fairly pure russian stock with great success. I also know people that have it mixed to some stocks and also have very good luck. but as always happens when you start crossing things you can get some good outcomes and some poor ones. didnt work good for the predominate stock i use. think everyone would need to try it for themselves but trying to cross stock is a gamble unless you have the numbers and location where you can get good mating control

Sounds a lot similar to what other stories I've read. Thanks for the perspective.

Mike Gillmore
03-20-2019, 05:34 PM
Do you tape off the box joints at all?

No, don't wrap or tape off joints. Just insulation on the cover. I've been using the same foam boards since 2012 and they are still in pretty good shape. They are aging more gracefully than me. ;)

BigBlackBirds
03-21-2019, 07:41 AM
No, don't wrap or tape off joints. Just insulation on the cover. I've been using the same foam boards since 2012 and they are still in pretty good shape. They are aging more gracefully than me. ;)

I've been debating trying some foam insulation over the top in the upcoming winter. I primarily winter with a simple migratory cover---5/8" plywood. Seems that it has less insulating qualities than a traditional inner cover and telescoping cover setup as I see plenty of condensation inside the migratory setups compared to the others this time of year. I'm primarily wanting to stop the moisture as it seems to make a soggy mess on frames in some instances. I've never noticed any harm to the bees but realize that many folks consider it detrimental. This winter I experimented with a few of the ceiling tile boards under the cover to see how they would absorb moisture. They did absorb moisture but they are now somewhat a mess to take out and I suspect they don't hold up to long term use but could be wrong. So thinking trying some foam over the top to see if that slows the heat loss and moisture build up.

crofter
03-21-2019, 08:12 AM
The insulation on the top will reduce the condensation but i think it takes a quite thick amount to ensure it will not occur to some extent if it gets extremely cold. Keep the fiber board wick in there too for backup. My experience from this past winter is that some upper ventilation is a must if blockage of bottom entrance by dead bees or snow is even remotely possible. It seems the bees can suffocate if that happens.:rolleyes:

Shavings or quilt boxes work well but is a fairly involved setup for someone with a lot of hives. Storage is an issue. Enjambres and I had 4 or more winters with zero losses with that system. The quilt box shavings we used represent a high insulation R value plus they slowly wick moisture out with quite low air exchange. It does seem to cast off a lot of bees in suicide missions into the snow. Some conjecture is that they are in search of water; too effective at moisture control; Dunno:scratch:

My mind keeps coming back to the system that VanceG uses which is a thick foam slab on top of a tightly wrapped stack with an upper entrance/ventilation 1" hole drilled below the handhold on the upper box. A warm bubble at the top of the hive results. Warm enough that condensation does not occur over the cluster. That is on my agenda for next winter.

alf1960
03-21-2019, 08:48 AM
Only my first winter with bees so I`m not claiming to know a lot.:D I wintered two hives here in Wisconsin. We had an extremely rough winter here this year. I pretty much followed Michael palmers wintering method ( not claiming I did very thing the way he does it). 1 1/2 inch stryrafoam on the top of inner cover. I duct taped the feed hole on the inner cover shut and made sure that the stryrafoam laid down flat against the inner cover . The inner cover had a 1 1/2 inch entrance notch in it and I had a 1 inch entrance whole in the front of the top box below the hand hold. The bottom was wide open with 1/2 inch hardware cloth for a mouse guard. The hives where then wrapped with 30 lb tar paper with the the wrap coming up past the inner cover and tucked under the telescoping cover. When I checked them the 14th, the first hive was packed full of bees and looked really good. The second one had a very tiny cluster with no queen and isn`t going to make it. They were both nice and dry though. I checked all the frames in the the second hive and found no obvious sign of disease and no brood. I do not believe the loss of the second hive had anything to do with how I winter prepped them. I suspect queen failure but who knows.:s

BigBlackBirds
03-21-2019, 08:55 AM
I run a 3/4" hole in all my brood boxes. Pretty sure that is important if you arent using some other specialized system---if you look at my colonies on a really cold morning those holes will be full of ice crystals and ice will even form up the side of the box from the moisture that vents. I struggle with enough space for my general equipment that quilt boxes simply wouldnt be workable without investment in buildings. Probably should run experiment using just top insulation for one group and another with top insulation and fiber board. Guessing the latter leads to less moisture dripping down but maybe just top insulation would be enough for my purposes.

KevinWI
03-21-2019, 10:01 AM
The insulation on the top will reduce the condensation but i think it takes a quite thick amount to ensure it will not occur to some extent if it gets extremely cold. Keep the fiber board wick in there too for backup. My experience from this past winter is that some upper ventilation is a must if blockage of bottom entrance by dead bees or snow is even remotely possible. It seems the bees can suffocate if that happens.:rolleyes:

Shavings or quilt boxes work well but is a fairly involved setup for someone with a lot of hives. Storage is an issue. Enjambres and I had 4 or more winters with zero losses with that system. The quilt box shavings we used represent a high insulation R value plus they slowly wick moisture out with quite low air exchange. It does seem to cast off a lot of bees in suicide missions into the snow. Some conjecture is that they are in search of water; too effective at moisture control; Dunno:scratch:

My mind keeps coming back to the system that VanceG uses which is a thick foam slab on top of a tightly wrapped stack with an upper entrance/ventilation 1" hole drilled below the handhold on the upper box. A warm bubble at the top of the hive results. Warm enough that condensation does not occur over the cluster. That is on my agenda for next winter.

I cannot disagree with a thing here.

I made the mistake on a nuc this year.....I had upper and lower entrances...foam board on top...wrapped colony...but this was a 5 frame box and the holes were drilled in the center....can you see the problem?
The hole was behind a frame end...in the summer, this wasn't an issue...but in the winter, with dead bee buildup on the bottom, it quickly blocked up the lower entrance and moisture built up...then bees died between frames early spring and clogged up the upper entrance ....lost 3/4 of the colony before I discovered it was an issue and intervened.....all my nuc boxes are in process of having new hole locations for odd numbered frame boxes. Center isn't always better!!! other colonies I had were dry as a bone...but on occasion you find one where vents got blocked off by dead bees....my German hive bottoms I built this winter will help solve that issue.

mgolden
03-21-2019, 11:18 AM
Crofter, I checked with my neighbors and they wintered a double deep with a 1/2 inch round hole in top part the entrance reducer and a quilt box and a bee cozy wrap. I would find it on the risky side as dead bees may block the only entrance and suffocation could cause the hive to die out.

However, I found this minimal ventilation quite interesting and liked the entrance lower on the hive as it may prevent some of the false flights on sunny, cold days.

crofter
03-21-2019, 11:43 AM
I wish there was something more scientific on the water availability and false flights issue. Is it affected by light shining in, condensation availability inside, temperature, horizon inversion, etc. I noticed nearly zero bees flying out when I have no upper entrance. The bees that might have issued forth are most likely amongst the dead on the floor so maybe a wash as far as colony survival. Dunno. My son has experimented a bit with kind of a snorkel of poly pipe and seems to see fewer fly outs. Enjambres baffles upper exit for draft control but could affect sunlight shining in.

An entrance part way up the hive seems to have something to offer in the way of light shining in yet providing an exit for moisture, but low enough to still keep a large area of warm upper air captive by cutting down convection above entrance level.

I think Kevin has a point about the restriction of the handhold area hole being quite baffled by the frames sidebars. Dead bees could get hung up there and create a plug up. I would have to measure to see if that level is at the full width section of the sidebars or down on the reduced lower section. It would not be hard to bell mouth or scallop the inside of the hole but it would have to be done with the frames out.

KevinWI
03-21-2019, 02:21 PM
I wish there was something more scientific on the water availability and false flights issue. Is it affected by light shining in, condensation availability inside, temperature, horizon inversion, etc. I noticed nearly zero bees flying out when I have no upper entrance. The bees that might have issued forth are most likely amongst the dead on the floor so maybe a wash as far as colony survival. Dunno. My son has experimented a bit with kind of a snorkel of poly pipe and seems to see fewer fly outs. Enjambres baffles upper exit for draft control but could affect sunlight shining in.

An entrance part way up the hive seems to have something to offer in the way of light shining in yet providing an exit for moisture, but low enough to still keep a large area of warm upper air captive by cutting down convection above entrance level.

I think Kevin has a point about the restriction of the handhold area hole being quite baffled by the frames sidebars. Dead bees could get hung up there and create a plug up. I would have to measure to see if that level is at the full width section of the sidebars or down on the reduced lower section. It would not be hard to bell mouth or scallop the inside of the hole but it would have to be done with the frames out.

I had side by side hives....one was a california italian which swarmed and I caught, the other a Carniolan mutt bred locally from the parent hive behind it. Every day in the winter...even -10 below the Italian hive would be out at the front top entrance and many took suicide missions...this went on all winter. The Carniolan local mutt next door I never saw except on those +40F days they'd come out for cleansing....
The Italians mowed through their stores....the Carniolan mutts ate up 5 frames to date..... I don't think sunlight has anything to do with it...nor upper entrances.....hard to pin down what it is, but it's annoying.....I'm leaning to local stock vs stock not suited to this weather.

crofter
03-21-2019, 03:07 PM
I think perhaps for the north anyways, is that locally adapted means that the ones having much of the italian bee habits have eliminated themselves from the gene pool:rolleyes:

As you may have guessed I am just the tiniest bit biased on this:rolleyes:: I know that Itallians can do very well and be very productive but some of their habits affect how they need to be managed.

BigBlackBirds
03-21-2019, 03:25 PM
I think perhaps for the north anyways, is that locally adapted means that the ones having much of the italian bee habits have eliminated themselves from the gene pool:rolleyes:

As you may have guessed I am just the tiniest bit biased on this:rolleyes:: I know that Itallians can do very well and be very productive but some of their habits affect how they need to be managed.

I'm not an italian fan. However, i try to caution on saying that as I really hate to speak in terms of italian or carniolan stock as it is much more accurate for us to speak in terms of traits given the great melting pot of bees we have in north america. However, I do tell people that you can winter italian style bees in this locale it just takes more effort and managing carni style bees is easy in the winter and a pain in the butt in the late spring. Give me three deeps and italian bees will make it thru most any of my winters. The problems become how they environmentally regulate. A typical carni trait is to remain calm on the comb when there is nothing happening, italian style bees are prone wander around. That can be an issue but the scary part is the spring--bees that decide to brood up when there are little to no resources coming in are sometimes praised. that can be especially true if you need bees in spring for pollination, etc. when everything works out those bees seem great. but when things dont work out, its a mess. get yourself a bunch of early brood rearing bees and watch them fill frames and then have the weather turn 180 degrees. they will be eating brood and running on zero stores in a couple of days. then you will have to decide if you want to feed them or let them figure it out on their own. on the other hand, the tightly clustered colony that hardly makes a peep all winter will slowly start to lay. they wont get hurt in those big weather springs. but at some point, here its when the dandelions break, they will explode and go from nothing to swarming in three days. its all about what traits really matter to you

alf1960
03-21-2019, 05:59 PM
My two hives were total opposites. The hive that made it and looked real good last week was real quiet all winter. When I would go out and check on them I wouldn`t even see a bee. I would have to put my ear up to the hole and listen. The other one that didn`t make it was always hanging out the upper entrances and making suicide flights even on cold days.

Vance G
03-22-2019, 09:04 AM
I have one colony that I thought was cold stone dead in our warm February when I had checked it last. Last week I got a ride over two plus feet of snow to some of my hives and was going to do a show and tell for my curious benefactor and tried to pry a frame out of the deadout. Bees came boiling up out of both sides of the upper brood box! These bees are still living down in the bottom brood box five months after the last flower! They indeed are supposed to be Italian. I think I now have a new contender for breeder of the year.

Chef Tom
11-16-2019, 10:28 PM
Kevin, I'm at the very front end of possibly getting involved in beekeeping. I am part of a small group working on the acquisition of an existing conference center with 80 acres of tilled farmland. Our plan is to establish (2-5 year plan) about 15 acres of grape vines, 1500 apple trees and dozens of large 1200 sq foot raised grow bed for floral, berries & herbs with mixed cover crops for additional forage and erosion control. We are planning on starting small with bees but if we can do this successfully, grow our hive count to several dozen in a couple years. The intention is to try to make some money on our bees as well as have them for optimum pollination. It is our goal to be able to market our floral and food harvest as certified organic at some point. As such, we would like to winter our bees at home in Northern Minnesota. We will also be building a shed for our off season composting worms to survive our frigid 5 months. Is it possible for us to move all of the hives into a storage building that will never see below 50 degree temps? This would be new construction with slab heat so we can eliminate rodents. What would be have to do for the bees? Although I'm very excited to know more, I know so little about bees that I'm not sure if this post is foolish or not but thanks in advance for any input you may be willing to offer!

Saltybee
11-17-2019, 06:33 AM
Ian is a name you need to learn. Cooling is the problem not heat. poke around his blog and Beesource threads for indoor wintering

Clear descriptions are a total plus; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBa6Qgh-SkI

JWPalmer
11-17-2019, 06:38 AM
Ian winters his entire commercial operation indoors, but optimal temperature is 40F, 50 is too warm. You may eventually make money on the hive products, especially if you sell at super premium prices. The real value comes from the increased production of the fruits and berries.

LAlldredge
11-17-2019, 06:41 AM
Looks great. I do all these things except tape the seams. I found too much condensation pooling just in the seams when the bee cozy was on. So after I took the tape off it allowed the extra little bit of venting that it needed. My 2 inch foam boards are both under and over the top cover. Your most intriguing point is about colony size and not giving them too much space relative to their size. I'm wintering in a deep with a medium over. I may add a pollen super below in spring but quite like this config.

Finally it has a coroplast cut out awning over the top as a rain/snow guard (4 inch clearance all sides). (Like VinoFarm) I found the coroplast at HomeDepot and one 4 X 8 produced enough awnings for my 5 colonies. I will always use this over winter and maybe all year because I like it so much.

GregV
11-17-2019, 07:56 AM
.... We will also be building a shed for our off season composting worms to survive our frigid 5 months. Is it possible for us to move all of the hives into a storage building that will never see below 50 degree temps?

1. My own, store-bought composting worms live year around outside - they do fine in the composting bin just as-is (Southern WI is somewhat warmer than Northern MN - yes).
2. Granted this, I would reconfigure your "never below 50 degrees" to about "never below 35 degrees" just so to not deal with freezing water indoors (the cold composting process still generates enough heat, mind you, to overly worry of those worms).
3. If you keep the shed cool enough (35-40F), you can winter the bees inside (with all the particulars attached - the moisture ventilation away being #1).

Saltybee
11-17-2019, 08:23 AM
The bees will generate a surplus of heat and need to be cooled. There will be other buildings with a need for heat and sun. Greenhouse on the South side and bees on the North side of a common building is one possibility. Sound/ vibration control to keep the bees quiet is a concern with a direct connection. Can also see the bee locker as one loop of a ground source heat pump type setup.