Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers
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  1. #1
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    Default Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    Hello,

    I am a relatively new beekeeper with 2 hives that I started in July from nuc-s.
    My current hives are identical (SBB, 2 deeps, feeding rim, quilt box, telescopic cover.) There are about 10lb of sugar bricks in feeding rim.

    I am not sure what did I do right and/or wrong till now, but looking for suggestion for how to go over winter and what to prepare for spring.

    All suggestion appreciated.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    Grand Blanc, MI
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    Sounds like you've done a good job getting them ready for winter. Just make sure they have an upper entrance for ventilation and for exiting the hive when the snow clogs up the bottom entrance.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
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    Tampere, Finland
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    *shrug* All I'm going to do is glue and paint some more boxes and put together some frames...

    Not big believer in sugar bricks over just feeding them enough syrup in autumn for them to make it over the winter (and likely spring, checkup when it gets to spring on whether they need some more, that might be in bricky form though)..

    But that one might be location thingy, I guess it must work somewhere. Just seemed like extra work to me.

    (Not all that much older beekeeper)
    Contrasting opinions from northern Europe.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    Have extra equipment ready to go for next spring - more than you think you might need. It's never enough.
    To everything there is a season....

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Gillmore View Post
    Have extra equipment ready to go for next spring - more than you think you might need. It's never enough.
    Like what?
    I have extra 10 frames already waxed, but don't know if I need them in spring.

    Thanks!

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    For starters I would have at least one more deep ready for each hive, or a couple mediums each. With frames ready in each box. You will need enough additional equipment to allow for expansion and honey storage.

    You may want to have a couple more bottom boards and covers ready to go as well. Those swarms seem to show up when least expected and you'll kick yourself if you don't have the equipment ready to go.
    To everything there is a season....

  8. #7
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    Nov 2016
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    I plan for mere ~triple the amount of mediums, bottoms and covers that I currently have, bit less on the mediums maybe (I don't use deeps). I was really running out of bottoms and covers this year so getting spare stock of those definitely, boxes I can probably get later on (heavy splitting, if succesful, might use them all, and need more for honey supers, but... I don't know how many I can pack in the pick up + cart really, there must be some limit...).
    + Bunch of nucs for queen mating and startup splits.

    But this is just the insane optimism on my part.
    Contrasting opinions from northern Europe.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Gillmore View Post
    For starters I would have at least one more deep ready for each hive, or a couple mediums each. With frames ready in each box. You will need enough additional equipment to allow for expansion and honey storage.

    You may want to have a couple more bottom boards and covers ready to go as well. Those swarms seem to show up when least expected and you'll kick yourself if you don't have the equipment ready to go.

    Thank you, Mike!

    Unfortunately I can't expand in case of swarming and/or split - neighbor is complaining about my 2 hives and my yard is not to big.
    Although I would like to make the hives bigger by putting another deep or medium on the top.

    Price wise the equipment costs about the same, but I am not sure what would be the best way to go since I can't predict the nectar flow in spring.

    Besides that I am planning to start active inspections since march or whenever weather gets higher then 40F. Maybe my first OAD in mid March.

    Thanks,
    Artur

  10. #9
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    Sep 2009
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    O'Fallon, Missouri
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    I try and keep myself busy, just finished 10 boxes, working on a bottom board and made a couple of inner covers. Gonna change to all 10 frame mediums, but only put in 9 frames to see how they do. I have four hives going into the winter so hope at least 2 make it.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    artur
    You could make a split with a double board on top of your current hive and then sell it later.

    Arlo
    I went the other way and made the frames closer to 1.25 inches wide and am putting 11 in the ten frame hive brood nest at least untill I get some good drawn comb and then I might go back to 10.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    gww,

    2 hives is not exactly a business idea. I started beekeeping as a hobby and hopping to get some "pure" honey.

    I had non-comercialy produced honey from beekeepers and at some point it was used as a medication, since it was too good and nutritious.
    It can be my own impression, but I found non-processed honey very nutritious and healthy (lots of good things about which I don't know), that's why I started beekeeping.

    About equipment: there is a local Mann Lake supplier, whose prices I found are not too much versus making it yourself. Only material cost comes closer to what the equipment cost + time and energy.
    The only thing with the supplier is sometime he might have a shipment on hand, but to have a deep that he doesn't have assembled, it might take a week so he has it ready.

  13. #12
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    Feb 2015
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    artur
    I don't want another job either and am not much of a sales man to boot. However, if your question is what comes next and your goal is your own honey, then the third choice "might" be (I am very new) how to get some honey and losing bees because they swarm might not be the best way for that. Some guys, (not me yet) Make an early split and put it on top of the hive and then syphen bees back down to the production part of the hive. And then after swarm season, combine the hive back and that gives them a new queen for next year or they sell the top split after the flow. They may both swarm anyway. I am just trying to keep you and me thinking of options.
    Most people on this site know more then me.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    artur,
    It looks like you have a lot of good advice. You need to be ready with boxes when the flow starts. You want to stop any swarming. That's honey flying out off your hives. When you put the new super on, put a couple frames with brood in them, so the bees have to move up to take care of the brood.
    As far as your neighbor, have you given them any honey? It might sweeten them up. Also be sure your bees have easy access to water in your yard. The only other thing I can think off is to make sure you pick bees that are gentle.
    I hope your bees make it through the winter and your neighbor "sees the light."

    Mary

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    Thank Mary,

    I will have the boxes ready for spring, not sure how am I going to put a couple frames with brood in them (new beekeeper).
    I also don't know what bees that are gentle are? My bees were ok in the beginning, but started to be more and more defensive, and at the end I realize several of my mistakes, and many not all of them

    As a new colony, which is less than a year old, they are still building comb on a few side frames. How can I be sure that they might swarm?
    I know they need a space for expansion, I'll make sure to provide an extra box on the top. If the frames are empty, when should I worry to put the extra supper on the top?

    Thanks,
    Artur

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    Artur,
    When the queen starts laying, she will start to fill up your frames with brood.
    Even after the brood is capped the bees keep it at the right temperature. As she lays all of these fresh eggs, the bees look around and decide, "Hey, this isn't enough space. Let's build new queen cells and find a better place."
    Once they decide to swarm, you can't really change their minds. So you trick them into a "fake" swarm. This is when you take the queen, a couple of frames of brood, honey, and pollen and all the bees on the frames. Leave her with the above frames, and move the rest of the hive.
    The rest of the hive has already started queen cells, but just in case, put some freshly laid eggs so that they can build a queen cell.
    This new box you put some place away from the old hive. All of the field bees will return to the old hive. And the bees you move are busy making a queen.

    Now, you could put the box without the queen above the box with the queen and trick your anti-bee neighbor into thinking you only really have two hives. You need to separate the boxes with a double screened shim. And you need to have the entrances on opposite ends.
    The bees in the upper box can't smell the queen, and that means they need to raise a new queen. You have provided everything they need to do that.

    The odd thing is, (and a long way around to this) when you put on the new box with only foundation in it that sometimes the bees won't see it. They think they are running out of room and start to swarm.
    If you put a couple of frames with capped brood on them in the middle of the new box, they will follow the brood up into the new box to keep it warm. Then they see the new space and start to pull out new comb. They don't need to swarm. They have plenty of space. Or so it is in the small minds of beekeepers.
    Keep reading to learn about your bees and remember there are at least six ways to do something when it's beekeeping.

    Mary

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    Thanks, Mary

    Swarming bothers me too, but my colonies are less that 1 year old, should I still worry?
    Last season the queen worked on 3-4-5 frames only, the bees didn't draw comb on 1.5 frames from each side of each box (total there is still 6 frames to draw comb at this moment).

    I had to feed the colony in October, so they fill-up super to have food for winter.
    I am not sure how strong the colonies are to swarm.

    My hives are put on 16" high stands, so if I put another deep on top of the existing hive, I would need to put a ladder to get up for the inspection Unfortunately I am not that tall

    I hate to say that I don't want 3rd 4th colony, but I really don't have place to put another hive.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    I just read in one of the beekeeping books (I am learning being a new beekeeper) that it is recommended to switch top and bottom deeps together in early spring as it gets warmer, especially if the bottom deep is completely empty.

    It is explained as "you are opening new place for bees to expand".
    Has anyone done this? Does this make cense?

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    Artur,
    Switching boxes is okay. A lot of people do it. With only three frames of brood in two deep boxes, you shouldn't worry about swarming. If they weather the winter, you could begin feeding them 1:1 sugar water as soon as the start flying. You don't want to add any boxes until the bees have built out and filled seven frames of a box. Do both boxes have drawn comb? If yes, you could take the box that the bees are not in and put the drawn but empty frames in your freezer. Then put the box with bees in it on your bottom board, a new box with foundation in it on top. Feed them syrup and let them work on pulling out the top box.
    I have a hive that I started from a split on August 20th with a bought queen. They are in two eight frame medium boxes with 85% of the frames drawn out.
    Keep reading.

    Mary

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    Mary,

    I am thinking of feeding bees in march too. One of my mistakes in July-August was that that bees from nuc didn't know the area and they were stressed moving from 5-ftame nuc to 10-frame hive. Somehow I was thinking "if I feed the bees, they will not work well and become lazy" Then in October I feed them a lot so they got top super full of honey/syrup and recently I added 2 bricks of sugar (1st 3 weeks ago and 2nd 1 week ago, each about 5lb sugar) to each of my hives. Maybe I didn't have to do this much, but as a new beekeeper I was/am excited to make my own sugar brick and syrup and so on.

    The comb in both deeps is about the same 85-90% - 8/10 frames are fully drawn combs and 1+1 on each side only inside sides are combed a little. My frames are wooden frames with plastic foundation, except the original frames that came with nucs - they are frameless (I am thinking of changing them - maybe I don't have to).

    Originaly, I was thinking of switching deeps up-down (I don't know why), then I saw that in one of the youtube videos that someone did it after taking a hive a part for cleaning in spring and switched the boxes up-down (didn't explain why.)

    You don't want to add any boxes until the bees have built out and filled seven frames of a box. - Do you mean 7 frames of brood or overall?

    Thanks,
    Artur

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Winter - Spring : Suggestions to new beekeepers

    Quote Originally Posted by Artur_M View Post

    Originaly, I was thinking of switching deeps up-down (I don't know why), then I saw that in one of the youtube videos that someone did it after taking a hive a part for cleaning in spring and switched the boxes up-down (didn't explain why.)
    The beekeeping term is "reversing". You can do a search and find numerous threads discussing the pros and cons of reversing. Here's one I looked up that would be a good start.


    https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...ight=reversing
    To everything there is a season....

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