Downsizing hives for winter preperation
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  1. #1
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    Default Downsizing hives for winter preperation

    Is it common to remove empty brood boxes going into winter?

    I live in the North East and one of my hives ended this season with 2 deep hive bodies and 2 medium supers. My queen laid in all 4 boxes on the right side and stores were primarily kept on the left side.

    My bottom deep hive body was completely empty of brood and stores while the 2nd deep hive body was only partially full. The remaining brood and stores ended up in the 2 top medium supers.

    I removed the empty bottom brood box and rearranged the remaining boxes by centering the brood flanked with honey stores on the sides and top.

    My intention was to remove unused space that could be vulnerable to pests. Is this a common practice or was it a mistake to remove the bottom brood box?

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Downsizing hives for winter preperation

    Condensing for the winter is good. Do you have bees covering drawn frames in all three boxes? If not, you may need to consider further downsizing. Do you think they have enough stores for the winter? If not, you may need to considering feeding them.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Downsizing hives for winter preperation

    You did the right thing by consolidating the hive and removing the extra deep. If the space is empty there is no need to take it into winter. You do not mention how many frames of bees, brood or capped honey you have. At this point, if you do not have most of the deep and the 2 mediums filled primarily with at least nectar with a bit of space for the queen to still lay, you should start feeding immediately. During the fall, I feed 2;1 or very close to it. Others prefer to continue to feed 1:1. Your decision but you need to make sure to have at least 2 full mediums on the hive going into winter. I prefer 3.
    11 yrs, TF 6 yrs, moved to OAV in 2014, MAQS 2016. 6 hives and 5 nucs Zone 4B
    www.nhbees.wordpress.com

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Downsizing hives for winter preperation

    There is definitely a tighter cluster at the front entrance now than before removing the bottom empty brood box but they are by no means overflowing. It seems to me as if the size of the hive is more appropriate to the size of the colony. There are definitely bees occupying all three of the boxes I left whereas before there were minimal bees clustered in the bottom box I removed.

    The brood box I left on is considerably empty as well. There is minimal brood flanked by empty frames and capped honey. The majority of the brood (85%)and food stores are in the top two supers. There is still plenty of open space in the brood box I left and still some empty space in the supers anticipating a pending fall flow.

    I live in central MA and with the drought we've been experiencing I can't imagine we're going to get another considerable nectar flow. I spend all day outside and one thing I've noticed this year is that there are no flowers right now. Nothing seems to be blooming anywhere. I feel like adding feeders sooner rather than later would be in my best interest if I want to have any chance at filling any remaining space in my supers with winter stores.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Downsizing hives for winter preperation

    The bottom brood box I left on has minimal brood. It is mostly wide open with plenty of room left to lay and is flanked by honey stores on the outer edge.

    The top medium supers there's 7 or 8 frames of capped honey, 5 or 6 of uncapped honey and the remainder is filled with a solid, healthy brood pattern.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Downsizing hives for winter preperation

    Ideally you don't want any Undrawn frames going into winter if you can help it. Hopefully your empty frames are empty drawn frames. They are probably not going to draw any more comb this year. Sounds to me like you are light on stores. Does the hive feel light when you lift up on the back of it? If so, I would start feeding 2:1 syrup immediately and wouldnt stop until the two mediums are packed full or it gets too cold for them to take the syrup.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Downsizing hives for winter preperation

    All of the remaining empty space is completely drawn. Between the 2 brood boxes that I condensed to one there was only a couple of partially drawn frames and I removed those. All of the empty space in brood box and the two supers remaining is drawn comb with absolutely no undrawn or partially undrawn frames.

    I added feeders this evening and plan on keeping them filled until the cold rolls in. I don't see much of a nectar flow from here on out because there are virtually no flowers anywhere. We had one heck of hot and dry summer here in central MA.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Downsizing hives for winter preperation

    Doesnt sound like your too bad off. 12 to 16 frames of stores with time to feed them before winter. Ideally, with a steady supply of syrup, they will backfill the space in the top supers when the brood hatches forcing the queen to move down into that open deep.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Downsizing hives for winter preperation

    Thanks! Just the kind of feedback I wanted to hear.

    Ideally that is what I was hoping for. There is still plenty of open space for brood rearing and I don't feel like I have to worry about the queen running out of room in the remaining brood box. Likewise, there uppermost supers aren't 100% full either so there is room to keep filling empty and uncapped cells with nectar/syrup. I'm anticipating the queen making her way down but didn't quite see her needing the amount of empty space that existed before I removed the bottom box.

    Thanks again and to everyone for their advice and opinions.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Downsizing hives for winter preperation

    Just keep feeding them. Regardless of how much more room they have, I try to make sure I have the feeders off no later than mid October, preferably earlier, so they have a chance remove the moisture from the syrup. If you are still light in stores, add a 1 - 1 1/2" shim and put sugar blocks on top so they have emergency stores already in place. A quick check in Jan and Feb will let you know if you need to make or add more.

    Here is Lauri's recipe for sugar blocks: https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...urie%27s+sugar

    Good luck,
    John
    Last edited by Eyeshooter; 09-18-2016 at 09:27 AM. Reason: added recipe info
    11 yrs, TF 6 yrs, moved to OAV in 2014, MAQS 2016. 6 hives and 5 nucs Zone 4B
    www.nhbees.wordpress.com

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Downsizing hives for winter preperation

    I threw on some feeders last night and by this am they have been blowing through the stuff!

    Thanks for the tip about removing them with time for the bees to remove the excess moisture. I hadn't even considered that at all! I already planned on adding candy boards to all my hives as a precaution. The late season flow here has been virtually not existent so I feel like stores are nowhere near where they need to be.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Downsizing hives for winter preperation

    Quote Originally Posted by Eyeshooter View Post

    Here is Lauri's recipe for sugar blocks: https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...urie%27s+sugar
    What a great post!

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