2019 Winter solstice [Archive] - Beesource Beekeeping Forums

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JWPalmer
12-20-2019, 07:04 PM
Winter solstice will be here tomorrow. If you have not given your bees their final OAV treatment for 2019, this next week is the time to do it, while they are still broodless. Even though our coldest weather is yet to come, it won't be long before the queens start laying and the opportunity to treat while broodless will have passed. It is also time to think about providing pollen sub. Feeding early helps assure a large foraging force when the flow starts, BUT, be prepared to provide agressive swarm managment. A hive bursting with bees at the begininig of April is a swarm waiting to happen, but is also necessary to take advantage of a short flow.

laketrout
12-21-2019, 08:19 AM
I wouldn't think beekeepers in cold climates should add pollen substitute at this time if warm periods aren't in the near future and bee's can't get out for cleansing flights

Vance G
12-21-2019, 08:30 AM
I wouldn't think beekeepers in cold climates should add pollen substitute at this time if warm periods aren't in the near future and bee's can't get out for cleansing flights

I think along your lines, but I see people advocating putting on pollen patties at the beginning of non flying winter! Since I am in the chinook zone where we get wildly windy warm days thruout the winter, My bees get flying opportunities sporadically in cold weather. My normal process is to put pollen patties the middle of February and never let the bees run out until natural pollen is stored by the half frame next to the brood nest.

JWPalmer
12-21-2019, 09:05 AM
I would not advocate feeding pollen yet in the deep freeze of the north. But here in the southeast, to which this sub forum is dedicated, we get plenty of warm days during the winter for cleansing flights. Vance's admonition to keep pollen on them once you start is important. Until red maples start, there is a chance of the bees starving on brood if they run out of pollen. Syrup/honey consumption will increase dramatically as well. Something to watch for.

What are those of y'all in Dixie doing for your bees right now?

Lastfling
12-21-2019, 09:18 AM
My girls were flying yesterday as the temps rose to near 60. They were also bringing in a bright yellow pollen. From where, I haven't a clue.

ifixoldhouses
12-21-2019, 10:23 AM
What are those of y'all in Dixie doing for your bees right now?

I'm building pollen feeders:) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tw96FEDkG7s

laketrout
12-21-2019, 12:43 PM
I just wanted to make sure people didnt take your suggestion the wrong way if there in a cold climate

JWPalmer
01-12-2020, 03:22 PM
With the warmer than normal weather we have been having in the SE, there is no doubt that the queens went straight to work around winter's soltice this year. As of Jan. 11th, my hives have large sections of capped brood and other beekeepers with different breeds of bees are reporting orientation flights already. This means that is more important than ever to put dry pollen out for the bees, or pollen patties inside the hives. If you use a patty, make sure you put in a beetle trap or Swiffer sheet to control SHB. Several of my hives still had a fair number of beetles running around that the cold, or lack of it, did not kill. I do not know what February will bring, but the hives are expanding now and maples are close. Holding off pollen feeding will only hurt the bees if you are in the SE.

Attached is a link to a short video I shot yesterday of my bees at the feeding station. Commentary is off the cuff so not well scripted.

https://youtu.be/UCKk3VSdgQc

beemandan
01-12-2020, 05:07 PM
I did some quick inspections during a warm afternoon last week. I saw a number of frames of capped brood with new workers emerging. Evidently some of mine started brood rearing in earnest before the solstice.

althea
01-12-2020, 05:50 PM
Bees were bringing in bright yellow and brick red pollen today like it was mid spring. Every other bee was loaded down with pollen. All 5 hives had orientation flights. Very busy day at the hives today.

JWPalmer
01-12-2020, 07:38 PM
For anyone that wants some insight on weather in the South, here is a fun little video. These guys and gals are a real hoot.
https://youtu.be/SCA7DO5EcBQ

GregV
01-12-2020, 08:48 PM
Bees were bringing in bright yellow and brick red pollen today like it was mid spring. Every other bee was loaded down with pollen. All 5 hives had orientation flights. Very busy day at the hives today.

This really tells South from the North.
Winter finally restarted here with two day snow and ice precipitation.
Two months away from any possibility of a pollen.
:)

JWPalmer
01-14-2020, 04:21 PM
In this video, Richard Noel, recently returned from Holiday in Hawaii, talks about the problems beekeepers face when winters are milder than normal. As you might expect, feed becomes a major concern as the bees are active and flying but not bringing in the stores.

Turn the volume up so you can hear the commentary.
https://youtu.be/xBLBFqPVHZI

Cloverdale
01-15-2020, 02:39 PM
Good video. Interesting how he uses the foam with feeding; I see many beekeepers with peel away “inner cover” I know it’s good to inspect with these types (I bring a cloth with me) This is where I see the gaps in my learning. Upper entrances are needed aren’t they or is it a preference of the beekeeper? What do you think?

JWPalmer
01-15-2020, 03:33 PM
Deb, I can't say for certain whether upper entrances are good or bad and there are a lot of opinions for and against here on Beesource. I can say that when I put the feeding shims with upper entrances on the hives, the bees start using them right away. I am going to try upper entrances above the QE's when I super up this spring. It is a different shim. The feeding shims are 1-1/2" thick with a 3/4" opening, the regular ones are only 3/4" thick. I need to modify them for a 3/8" × 4" entrance, same as the wide opening on an entrance reducer. So many pieces of equipment!

Cloverdale
01-16-2020, 10:10 AM
Deb, I can't say for certain whether upper entrances are good or bad and there are a lot of opinions for and against here on Beesource. I can say that when I put the feeding shims with upper entrances on the hives, the bees start using them right away. I am going to try upper entrances above the QE's when I super up this spring. It is a different shim. The feeding shims are 1-1/2" thick with a 3/4" opening, the regular ones are only 3/4" thick. I need to modify them for a 3/8" × 4" entrance, same as the wide opening on an entrance reducer. So many pieces of equipment!

So much controversy in beekeeping! I don’t like when I second guess myself in spite of them working for me or I should say the bees. During the season we have entrances drilled into supers, some with little landing boards. Always have that upper entrance no matter what season, so to me when I see experienced beekeepers use the flexible inner covers I wonder why (except for ease of inspecting). The video you posted that guy had them.
It’s not just a location thing, because Mike Palmer does the same thing.

GregV
01-16-2020, 10:35 AM
So much controversy in beekeeping! I don’t like when I second guess myself in spite of them working for me or I should say the bees. During the season we have entrances drilled into supers, some with little landing boards. Always have that upper entrance no matter what season, so to me when I see experienced beekeepers use the flexible inner covers I wonder why (except for ease of inspecting). The video you posted that guy had them.
It’s not just a location thing, because Mike Palmer does the same thing.



In conditions like this, the upper entrance in winter is required - no IFs or BUTs (ask crofter :)........

53207

Flexible inner cover has many benefits:
- better bee control with defensive bees (no need to expose entire face of the box at once - and get a bee cloud in your face)
- better micro-climate in both summer and winter (no additional volume above the frames to be conditioned; especially important for smaller colonies)
- easier inspection for both bees and the human (when see-through plastic cover is used; especially in winter)
- warmer (Reflectix and similar materials can be used - in combinations or without)
- too lazy to continue....

I don't even know a single reason to use hard inner covers.

AR Beekeeper
01-16-2020, 11:44 AM
A hard inner cover allows the winter cluster to move over the top bars from comb to comb, the flexible cover does not. The hard cover gives better support to foam insulation board when used for top insulation. Both types of covers work, flexible is less expensive. I use both types and notice no management differences between them other than in windy conditions.

I doubt flexible has a measurable effect on micro-climates, those are created in the cells and at the comb's surface and would not extend for any distance.

Cloverdale
01-16-2020, 11:44 AM
removed

Cloverdale
01-16-2020, 11:47 AM
deleted

GregV
01-16-2020, 12:21 PM
A hard inner cover allows the winter cluster to move over the top bars from comb to comb, the flexible cover does not....

All you do is - put 2-3 pencils between the frames and the cover, cross-ways, if really care.
Perfect warm passages.
:)


The hard cover gives better support to foam insulation board when used for top insulation.
Again, the 2-3 pencils as stated above do the trick.


micro-climates, those are created in the cells and at the comb's surface and would not extend for any distance.
The total volume above the frames created by the hard cover is considerable and may amount to 1-2-? litres of air that effects wintering.
Bees continuously loose energy to that air space - it adds up - they are, essentially, heating the attic.
The soft cover prevents that (and reduces the energy (i.e. honey) needs).

53221

Typical honey needs for the winter in E. Euro - 20kilos (50 pounds).
Partially due to common use of soft inner covers.

Cloverdale
01-17-2020, 07:49 AM
[QUOTE=GregV;1775817]All you do is - put 2-3 pencils between the frames and the cover, cross-ways, if really care.
Perfect warm passages.
:)


Again, the 2-3 pencils as stated above do the trick.


The total volume above the frames created by the hard cover is considerable and may amount to 1-2-? litres of air that effects wintering.
Bees continuously loose energy to that air space - it adds up - they are, essentially, heating the attic.
The soft cover prevents that (and reduces the energy (i.e. honey) needs).

Typical honey needs for the winter in E. Euro - 20kilos (50 pounds).
Partially due to common use of soft inner covers.[/QUOTE

Greg, this makes no sense. The bees heat the cluster, not the hive and certainly not the “attic” since there is or should be insulation up top. I have pretty good successful overwintering with wood inner covers and/or shims for food if needed.

GregV
01-17-2020, 08:58 AM
Greg, this makes no sense. The bees heat the cluster, not the hive and certainly not the “attic” since there is or should be insulation up top. I have pretty good successful overwintering with wood inner covers and/or shims for food if needed.

Bees do NOT heat the hive - NOT by their intent.

However, the cluster continiously looses the heat - by the laws of physics (just like I loose heat or you loose heat in cool/cold room).
Thereby the bee cluster still heats the air around itself (unintentionally) - predominantly via the updraft of warm air exhausted by the cluster.

Depending on the specifics (soft cover vs. hard cover - one example) - the cluster is loosing more or less heat.
Since the cluster must maintain its own core temperature so to stay alive - the bees are forced to exert more effort or less effort in response to the external environment status.

Discussed to the death, Cloverdale.

The hard covers will NOT kill your bees.
The hard covers may simply cost more energy to your bees (in terms of honey and exertion spent).
As long as they and you can afford it - you are still fine.

seapro220
01-17-2020, 09:51 AM
Starting to feed again in SC and about a month earlier than normal.
5 days of 70 degree weather and the cabinets are down about 1/2 of its capacity and now a couple more weeks of 30 degree temps.
Not what I was hoping for, but that's beekeeping.

Be proactive as much as possible -

Cloverdale
01-17-2020, 10:37 AM
Bees do NOT heat the hive - NOT by their intent.

However, the cluster continiously looses the heat - by the laws of physics (just like I loose heat or you loose heat in cool/cold room).
Thereby the bee cluster still heats the air around itself (unintentionally) - predominantly via the updraft of warm air exhausted by the cluster.

Depending on the specifics (soft cover vs. hard cover - one example) - the cluster is loosing more or less heat.
Since the cluster must maintain its own core temperature so to stay alive - the bees are forced to exert more effort or less effort in response to the external environment status.

Discussed to the death, Cloverdale.

The hard covers will NOT kill your bees.
The hard covers may simply cost more energy to your bees (in terms of honey and exertion spent).
As long as they and you can afford it - you are still fine.

Yes it has been discussed to death Greg which is WHY the heck I am wondering WHY you keep bringing it up. I over winter GREAT with wood inner covers, and I harvested over a TON of honey this past year with wood inner covers!!
Take a look at the original question! :waiting:

mgolden
01-17-2020, 11:59 AM
In cold winters such as we are having, old beekeepers say space above the frames is most important. The space provided by a shim on the underside of the inner cover allows the cluster to move over the top of the frames to stores.

There is less chance cluster does not get stranded when temp is low.

I like to think that sugar on top of the frames, in the top brood, provides a bridge to allow the cluster to stay on stores as it moves about.

JWPalmer
01-17-2020, 02:40 PM
The space on top does not have to be large. I simply turn my inner covers over so the 3/8" inch space is to the inside. Lets me stick a piece of pollen patty in there too.

GregV
01-18-2020, 08:07 AM
Yes it has been discussed to death Greg which is WHY the heck I am wondering WHY you keep bringing it up. I over winter GREAT with wood inner covers, and I harvested over a TON of honey this past year with wood inner covers!!
Take a look at the original question! :waiting:

Just because you brought it up.

....so to me when I see experienced beekeepers use the flexible inner covers I wonder why......
:)

Robert Holcombe
01-18-2020, 08:38 AM
GregV - quoting you "However, the cluster continiously looses the heat - by the laws of physics (just like I loose heat or you loose heat in cool/cold room).
Thereby the bee cluster still heats the air around itself (unintentionally) - predominantly via the updraft of warm air exhausted by the cluster."

This statement needs improving, using the "(unintentionally)" is simply wrong, IMO. Cluster heat is generated in the central area and "flows" out via multiple paths. Cluster ventilation is one basic method, surface heat transfer by conduction/convection is another big player. Bees make decisions (somehow) and regulate their internal cluster environment within certain parameters. This concept is well supported.

BTW, I use 12oz duck cloth with a reason and great success - love using it. I have to investigate "why" I and the bees love it. Now the question is do they control their inner hive environment if given the chance, meaning enclosure design and food access. I think and think I "see" they are quite capable.

Cloverdale
01-18-2020, 08:53 AM
Just because you brought it up.

:)

Sigh... Candace Owens had this problem of people only quoting a “partial statement” on a subject she spoke about the “media” referred it to something else. :)

bwilson
01-19-2020, 01:00 PM
I run single deeps and I use treated migratory tops from mann lake. I staple a 3/8 shim on the inside of the lid as to allow a roughly ~1/2" gap above the frames. I also have a 1 1/8" hole drilled in the center to allow for feeding with pails and when not feeding, i put #6 rubber corks in it. I tried using the duck canvas inner cover one year. It made it nice and easy to remove the top, but it also didnt allow the bees to propolize any gaps in the lid, so every time i pulled the top, there would be water on top of the canvas cover from all the rain. My winters dont get cold often here so the temperature isn't to blame for poor hives come spring. I Think the most critical thing here is to make sure there are adequate pollen reserves end of fall. i can feed 2:1 syrup all winter. They take it when they can and don't when they can't.

One thing I do that I think really help their numbers in the spring is to ensure they backfill the broodnest with syrup after the last pollen. NOT so they can consume it all during the winter, but as to limit the queens ability to lay eggs during the winter. Around here, the queen lays all throughout winter and if she has enough room, she'll give you 5-6 frames of brood in december-january (I checked hives 3 days ago, 50% of them have 4-6 frames of brood and massive amounts of bees). I'f that happens, the resources in the hives get consumed at a massive rate and your "explosive" hives in january will starve before first pollen. So it means I have to get out there and actually feed them for a month or 2 to keep them alive.

I think the bees can handle the cold SO much better than most people think. I believe in the south most peoples winter deaths are a product of excessive resource use due to higher temperatures causing starvation early spring.

I'm curious what everyone else does during the winter. I'm always open to new ideas.

JWPalmer
01-19-2020, 02:09 PM
I make no bones about it, I feed, feed, feed. Syrup stays on the hives all winter unless there is a deep or medium full of capped stores on the hive. Dry pollen sub is always available, the girls will take it when they want it, and patties just went into the hives last week. Just took a cursory look at the apiary. 52° and shady, but the pollen foragers were busy. Probably 50-60 bees in the feeder but very little activity otherwise. That tells me something. Noticed some mildew on the tele top of one hive. They are getting a shim with an upper entrance. Those bees are in the bottom box with a full and an empty super above them.
My take on feeding here in the South is that the bees are going to brood based on weather and having adequate stores in the hive. The bees they are producing now will be my foragers when the flow starts. If they run low on protein due to a sudden cold snap or weeks of rain, the new brood will not get the proper nutrition to be good foragers later and my honey crop will suffer. It is my job as a beekeeper to manage for potential swarming so that is NOT an excuse to not feed.

bwilson
01-19-2020, 02:25 PM
JWPalmer, I think you are absolutely correct in saying the bees are going to brood based on weather. However, based on Randy Oliver's article 'Understanding colony build up and decline', brood rearing is also affected by the amount of pollen coming in.

I guess the question is, what is the effect of feeding pollen during winter? Does it affect brood rearing? If so, is it a substantial amount as to cause over consumption of resources? I wonder if you were to not feed pollen to a few hives and keep the syrup to them, would they be more efficient with the pollen reserves they already have stored? Or would they end up being dinks (or worse) come spring?

JWPalmer
01-19-2020, 03:16 PM
My main concern is whether or not I have a sufficiently large enough foraging force to take advantage of the extremely short flow we have here in VA. While hives in other parts of the country are still building, our nectar flow is done for the year. I believe what Randy says is true. So I use it to my advantage; I want my hives to build up, and do it early. As beekeepers, not beehavers, we need to know what provisions the hives have available to them. A normal healthy hive in an area that has a fall flow typically will have several frames of pollen stored. In that case, additional pollen sub is not necessary. The bees will start raising brood and using that pollen before new pollen is available. Of course they really pick up the pace as the flow starts. Contrast that to areas of the South that do not have a fall flow. No, or very little, pollen gets stored for overwintering. Come spring there is nothing available so the bees wait until there is. Hence a delay in brood rearing and a less than spectacular honey crop. Virginia honey yields are not that spectaular to begin with. We average in the 32-36# per hive range.

bwilson
01-19-2020, 03:31 PM
Ah ha! Hence the reason why beekeeping is always local. I completely understand your reasoning now. Your bees are brooding with a purpose. My bees are brooding to lighten my wallet.

Robert Holcombe
01-19-2020, 04:22 PM
JWPalmer: When does your flow start and stop typically? I am significantly North of you. I have a hive that nailed the Spring, Summer and Fall flow last year. This hive started significant brood rearing early, March, as evidenced by a dramatic temperature rise in the hive. Initially it scared me but then I saw the pollen and then the honey (April 1). I see internal hive temperatures, feed and rain patterns as the dominating indicators.

JWPalmer
01-25-2020, 08:50 AM
Here in Richmond it has warmed back up yet again. Only had about four nights in the low twenties. Rain today so I am making more pollen patties. There are as many recipes out there as there are beeks that make their own. Most share three things in common, protein, carbohydrates, and lipids. Everything else is discretionary.

This is the recipe I used today:

15# sugar
8 cups water
1 cup ACV
1cup lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoon citric acid
2 cups salad oil
14# Ultrabee pollen sub

I mix the sugar, water, ACV, and lemon juice in a large pot and heat just until the sugar disolves. Then I add the citrric acid and salad oil. Into this I add about 12# of the UltraBee. I use an electric mixer with beaters until it is well blended. Then I switched over to the dough hooks and added the remaining 2# of sub. Once mixed it is like a soft bread dough and only slightly sticky. Roll out between wax paper while still warm as it gets stiff once cool. This recipe made 35# of patty.

althea
01-25-2020, 10:52 AM
Confirmation things are way to warm, was inspecting all my fruit trees around the farm and noticed my early plum is trying to bloom. Not good she’s completely swollen and some of the higher buds are starting to open. Maple and rest of fruit trees have not. This plum is always 1-2 weeks ahead of all other fruit trees, but this is ridiculous. I hardly ever get fruit from her (late frost gets her blooms), but the bees are on her every late feb early March. You can hear the tree humming from 50 ft away in the earliest parts of spring.

Cloverdale
01-25-2020, 12:29 PM
Here in Richmond it has warmed back up yet again. Only had about four nights in the low twenties. Rain today so I am making more pollen patties. There are as many recipes out there as there are beeks that make their own. Most share three things in common, protein, carbohydrates, and lipids. Everything else is discretionary.

This is the recipe I used today:

15# sugar
8 cups water
1 cup ACV
1cup lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoon citric acid
2 cups salad oil
14# Ultrabee pollen sub

I mix the sugar, water, ACV, and lemon juice in a large pot and heat just until the sugar disolves. Then I add the citrric acid and salad oil. Into this I add about 12# of the UltraBee. I use an electric mixer with beaters until it is well blended. Then I switched over to the dough hooks and added the remaining 2# of sub. Once mixed it is like a soft bread dough and only slightly sticky. Roll out between wax paper while still warm as it gets stiff once cool. This recipe made 35# of patty.

J.w, I guess ACV is apple cider vinegar; any particular brand? And have you any recommendations for over the counter pollen patties or just make them yourself because they are lacking? I think I have Lauri Miller’s recipe somewhere. Thanks

JWPalmer
01-25-2020, 01:02 PM
I make them because I am cheap. I have purchased the Ultrabee pre-made patties before, but they can be pricey compared to just mixing them up yourself. Since I am using Ultrabee powder, I think nutritionally they are about the same with the homemade patties having a higher % crude protein by weight. I use a store brand apple cider vinagar, but make sure it is made from real apple cider. The addition of the vinigar, lemon juice, and citric acid is all supposed to help invert the sugar. Whether this works or is even necessary, I don't know. Half of today's batch will be on the hives tomorrow so I get a chance to see how the bees like this version.

Cloverdale
01-25-2020, 02:02 PM
I use Ultra Bee also open feed. I’m trying to upload a video; compresses it but won’t post it. I’ll try a shorter one

JWPalmer
01-25-2020, 03:10 PM
I also open feed Ultrabee powder. When the bees are hitting it hard below 50°, I figure it is time to put the patties inside the hives. Similar to the idea posited in the water droplets thread, if the bees did not need it, they would not be out in sub-optimal temps to get it.

althea
01-29-2020, 08:58 PM
Inspected all 5 hives mon/tues. was about 55 here. All five hives had at least 2 frames of brood. Have had 2 solid orientation flights from all but 1 hive this year already. Solid amount of pollen coming in every day it seems to get above 50ish with sun. With the 10 day forecast having all but 1 day above 50 and multiple days in the 60’s, I see a fast and early build this year, moving up my time table on having everything rdy.