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  1. #41
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    Mar 2017
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    86

    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    Inspection 11 - I'm not going into the hive as often as I did in the summer, now. They have completely stopped drawing out new comb and are backfilling used brood comb. I also saw the results of my earlier mismanagement. In the back of the brood nest I had inserted an empty top bar during inspection 9. The temperatures dropped from aroun 21-25C to barely 15-17C during daytime and around 7-10C in the night. So when I inspected the last comb of brood nest, it had about 1-2% of dead bees in the cells. Most of them had started chewing at the caps, few had their heads almost out and few were still capped but seemed fully developed. I'm gu ssing the nurse bees stopped keeping the brood warm after most f them had emerged and moved on to more important business. These unfortunate ones were left behind as collateral damage.

    I removed the empty bar and rearranged all the drawn and half drawn combs at th back of the hive so that the smallest combs are at the very end.

    As for the sensors, I've been trying to come up with a way to use the load cells with my existing hive but does not look like its happening. Looks like the best bet is to build the next hive with load cells in mind. Right now I'm thinking of having about 10mm of vertical play between the hive body and legs for my new hive. So the load cells get pinched between the bottom board and a support attatched to the legs.

    For the time being I'm going to settle with 4 temp sensors and one temp/humidity sensors inside the hive. In addition I'm going to have one temp sensor above the top bars, below the roof and one compleptely outside the hive for ambient readings.

    I have the code part done and tested, currently working on fitting everything in a suitable enclosure.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

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  3. #42
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    Mar 2017
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    I took a quick peek in at the end of the hive yesterday and saw that in the past cold week they had either used up or relocated all the honey they had stored or had started storing in the last 3 unfinished combs. So they have no solid honeycombs at this time. So today I dropped a baggie feeder with 3kg of 3:1 syrup in there and while I was at it I installed the sensors. Getting more sugar tomorrow and starting to feed more. 10kg of sugar seems to be the required norm among the conventional beeks. I was wondering if they bees know to leave themselves some empty comb for clustering or will they backfill everything if being fed too much?

    This is a screenshot from my smart home system
    Screenshot.jpg

    And I'm also pushing the data to ThingSpeak for more flexible analysis
    https://thingspeak.com/channels/325282
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  4. #43
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    Mar 2017
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    86

    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    The weather here is acting up. We should be in the late autumn, with winter knocking on the door. And it’s currently 14C outside, the bees are flying.

    Anyhow, I have the girls all prepped for winter. Fed 7 kg of sugar in form of 2:1 syrup. So about 10kg of syrup. They are now on 13 bars. I moved 3 empty honey combs to the other side of the follower board before I started feeding.
    I installed 10cm of insulation wool in the “attic.” The insulation was the kind with aluminium foil on one side. I left that side down, against the top bars.

    I also created a more convenient chart to share my data with the local beeks here: http://static.raitwebs.com/chart.html
    Speaking of - it seems the “proper” beeks over here ae starting to warm up a bit. There is an actual discussion going on on our local forum, instead of the usual flame war.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  5. #44
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    Jun 2017
    Location
    St. Lawrence County, N.Y.
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    57

    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    I think you are making a huge mistake with the aluminum foil on the back of the insulation, no matter which way you place it: UP or DOWN. The top insulation of a hive MUST breath moisture out of it according to all I have read. I am using burlap sewn into a bag with dry sawdust in it to let moisture through the insulation. Hoping for the best for you and for me.

  6. #45
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    So, a long overdue update on my bees. I wish it was with better news.

    As you might know I had the hive fitted with temperature sensors. I had been monitoring the readings throughout the winter and had been happy to see the bees keep a nice steady temperature wherever the cluster was at any given time. They had moved down to the last quarter of the hive, but it seemed as if they had not reached the very last bars just yet.

    We have been having very low temperatures for couple weeks now. With the night temperatures reaching to -25C or -13F.
    Yesterday we had another record low just below -25 and I woke up to the temperature above the cluster being -3C or 26.6F I had seen all the sensors in the hive being in the negative before, so I contained my anxiety at first. But when the temperature outside started picking up but the readings inside the hive kept falling, I grabbed a plastic tube and went out to the hive to do some listening. The hive was dead silent. I cut the straps and removed the roof and top insulation and took a peek inside from the follower side. All I saw was unmoving bees on the combs and lots of bees on the bottom of the hive.

    After consulting with some local beekeepers, I concluded that the only hope I had, was to move the hive to someplace warm. My garage would be that place. I had to wait for my neighbor to get off work and lend me a hand tho, so that meant waiting for another 8 hours. I bottled 3 litres of hot, almost boiling water in plastic bottles and placed them inside the hive. It was still -20C outside.

    So at the end of the day last night, we moved the hive into the garage. I took another look inside and realized the were all out of stores. Completely out. I had prepared my ver first batch of fondant (or well, a slab of hopefully inverted sugar in my case) a week before (had been waiting for a warmer weather to check up on the girls and add the fondant) which I now placed i the middle of the cluster, hangin from a top bar.

    This morning, when I went to check on the girls, I still saw no movement or any sign of life. I started to bring myself into terms that I had lost them. I conducted a “post mortem” by going over each comb, looking for signs of problems. I found nothing. No mold, no smelly bees, no parasites. So it was just hunger that had got them. I scooped about hundred of them on into my sugar roll jar and brought them into the house.

    I was shocked to see movement in the jar about 10-15 minutes later! About 20 minutes later around 80% or more of them were walking around on the walls of the jar. I took them back to rhe garage, opened the hive and carefully dumped the bees on the fondant in the middle of the unmoving cluster. I then took a kitchen chair and placed an electric cook top on it and slid underneath the hive, about 10cm below the hive bottom board and set it to low heat.

    They have been “cooking” like that for most of the day now and the activity is slowly picking up. The bees who were piled on the hive floow, are crawling onto the combs. The bees on top of the combs are still mostly notmoving, especially the ones who are inside the cells.

    I’m about to nod off here, and the heater is on absolutely minmum heat, the hive floor is warm to the touch, but not hot. I’m both excited and worried going to check them in the morning. It would be amazing, finding them mostly alive and active and eating but at the same time I’m worried how the hell do I check and continue to feed them indoors like that? Oh, I have screen mesh on the entrance.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  7. #46
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    St. Lawrence County, N.Y.
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    57

    Default Wow Thucar

    Quote Originally Posted by Thucar View Post
    So, a long overdue update on my bees. I wish it was with better news.

    As you might know I had the hive fitted with temperature sensors. I had been monitoring the readings throughout the winter and had been happy to see the bees keep a nice steady temperature wherever the cluster was at any given time. They had moved down to the last quarter of the hive, but it seemed as if they had not reached the very last bars just yet.

    We have been having very low temperatures for couple weeks now. With the night temperatures reaching to -25C or -13F.
    Yesterday we had another record low just below -25 and I woke up to the temperature above the cluster being -3C or 26.6F I had seen all the sensors in the hive being in the negative before, so I contained my anxiety at first. But when the temperature outside started picking up but the readings inside the hive kept falling, I grabbed a plastic tube and went out to the hive to do some listening. The hive was dead silent. I cut the straps and removed the roof and top insulation and took a peek inside from the follower side. All I saw was unmoving bees on the combs and lots of bees on the bottom of the hive.

    After consulting with some local beekeepers, I concluded that the only hope I had, was to move the hive to someplace warm. My garage would be that place. I had to wait for my neighbor to get off work and lend me a hand tho, so that meant waiting for another 8 hours. I bottled 3 litres of hot, almost boiling water in plastic bottles and placed them inside the hive. It was still -20C outside.

    So at the end of the day last night, we moved the hive into the garage. I took another look inside and realized the were all out of stores. Completely out. I had prepared my ver first batch of fondant (or well, a slab of hopefully inverted sugar in my case) a week before (had been waiting for a warmer weather to check up on the girls and add the fondant) which I now placed i the middle of the cluster, hangin from a top bar.

    This morning, when I went to check on the girls, I still saw no movement or any sign of life. I started to bring myself into terms that I had lost them. I conducted a “post mortem” by going over each comb, looking for signs of problems. I found nothing. No mold, no smelly bees, no parasites. So it was just hunger that had got them. I scooped about hundred of them on into my sugar roll jar and brought them into the house.

    I was shocked to see movement in the jar about 10-15 minutes later! About 20 minutes later around 80% or more of them were walking around on the walls of the jar. I took them back to rhe garage, opened the hive and carefully dumped the bees on the fondant in the middle of the unmoving cluster. I then took a kitchen chair and placed an electric cook top on it and slid underneath the hive, about 10cm below the hive bottom board and set it to low heat.

    They have been “cooking” like that for most of the day now and the activity is slowly picking up. The bees who were piled on the hive floow, are crawling onto the combs. The bees on top of the combs are still mostly notmoving, especially the ones who are inside the cells.

    I’m about to nod off here, and the heater is on absolutely minmum heat, the hive floor is warm to the touch, but not hot. I’m both excited and worried going to check them in the morning. It would be amazing, finding them mostly alive and active and eating but at the same time I’m worried how the hell do I check and continue to feed them indoors like that? Oh, I have screen mesh on the entrance.
    Wow Thucar, You have gone way further than I have so far. I got 2 bartops and insulated them for the winter and left. I won't be back home until April 10 or so and I am very very anxious since this is my first year with hives. Newbee keeper. Wishing you luck with that crazy salvage experiment of heating them back up. Keep us all posted that is really really interesting.

  8. #47
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    Dec 2017
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    Quote Originally Posted by blk View Post
    ........ The top insulation of a hive MUST breath moisture out of it according to all I have read. ....
    Not a requirement at all.
    You may ventilate sideways or downwards even with proper designs.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  9. #48
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    Mar 2017
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    86

    Default Morning update

    I'm just back from checking up on the hive. The bees are active. In addition to the candy board I have hanging in the middle of the cluster, I dropped some pieces on the hive floor at the back of the hive. Those pieces were mostly covered by bees. There was a comforting steady humming buzz coming from within the hive. I guess the biggest question right now is - is the queen ok?

    I turned off the heater and left the bees to manage their own temperature now. The room temperature in the garage is about +5C or +41F. Temperatures inside the hive are +10C and +12C. I'll be monitoring those closely.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  10. #49
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    Mar 2017
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    86

    Default Re: Morning update

    So, I'm having a bit of a dilemma. I have a hive of bees in my garage. A lot of them seem to be dead but a fair bunch of them is still alive. They have perked up enough to a point where I can no longer open the hive to check up on them, as they will start getting out of the hive. I have covered up the windows in the garage to keep sunlight out. It's not completely dark, but barely enough for me not to bump into things. I used some model airplane covering film to make a dim red flashlight.

    So my question is - what's next? They have about a kilo of candy in the hive right now which they seem to be munching on. There is an even buzz coming from the hive and the bees seem to be sticking into one place and not wandering around the whole hive - with the exception of a few patrols. I should probably get them water in the hive as well? The temperatures inside the hive are around +14C or 57F right now. The heater is off, and the roof with insulation is on. They are responsible for generating their own heat at this point. I opened up one of the entrance holes just in case they decide they want to start moving the dead bees out of the hive.

    Usually at this time of the year we should be having a fair number of days with above freezing temperatures and sunlight, meaning chances for cleansing flights. However the current forecast is saying there is no hope for a +C weather for the next week or two still. Should I just keep them in the garage until it gets warm enough outside, or would it be better to move them back outside now that they have food?

    I really appreciate any advice at this point.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  11. #50
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    Mar 2017
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    Default Re: Morning update

    An update on my bees.

    I've confined them to as small of a space as possible using two followers. One of the followers has a 3/4 inch hole in it as an entrance/exit. They currently have 7 bars at their disposal and the cluster is on 5 bars. While restricting their space, I cleaned out the front section of the hive that is not being used to reduce the chance of some sort of disease settling in. I scooped out all the dead bees from the hive floor as well as from the combs. I also removed the combs, as I saw signs of mold on couple of them. I'll try to preserve the combs until the weather warms up and see if I can reuse them. If not, I'll have to melt them down.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  12. #51
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    Dec 2017
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Morning update

    Quote Originally Posted by Thucar View Post
    So my question is - what's next? They have about a kilo of candy in the hive right now which they seem to be munching on. .................However the current forecast is saying there is no hope for a +C weather for the next week or two still. Should I just keep them in the garage until it gets warm enough outside, or would it be better to move them back outside now that they have food?

    I really appreciate any advice at this point.
    So,
    #1 - you know the forecast is bad - good (that you know this)
    #2 - garage is able to hold steady, cool temperature - good
    #3 - bees have food - good (if you can add more - add more; nothing wrong with having too much sugar; not good to NOT have enough)

    My conclusion is - do not touch them anymore for the next 1-3 weeks for as long as you can keep them cool and dark.
    Nothing good in trying to move them outside and then back inside and then outside again (trying to play with the weather).....
    Minimize stress and keep then cool and dark for as long as possible and as steady as possible.

    When you can no longer keep them cool (+5C) and dark anymore (meaning the weather is steadily above +10C) - just set them outside and keep them there.
    Being close to the Baltic Sea probably means cold and long spring due to winds from the sea. So I would not rush.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  13. #52
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    Default Re: Morning update

    Thank you, Greg. I will do just that. In the mean time, I went over the combs that I had removed earlier and removed all dead bees from the cells with tweezers. I took the chance to do some mite counting - too bad I thought of that only when I had only one side of the last comb to go. I found 4 mites on that side. The patch of bees on that side was about one and a half to two hands.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  14. #53
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    Default Re: Morning update

    Quote Originally Posted by Thucar View Post
    Thank you, Greg. I will do just that. In the mean time, I went over the combs that I had removed earlier and removed all dead bees from the cells with tweezers. I took the chance to do some mite counting - too bad I thought of that only when I had only one side of the last comb to go. I found 4 mites on that side. The patch of bees on that side was about one and a half to two hands.
    Good luck!
    I myself have no time or desire to remove dead bees with tweezers or count mites.

    You being in Estonia, maybe you want to research into how well the top bar hive meets your environmental requirements.
    Bees should not really run out of the stores.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  15. #54
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Geauga, Ohio
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    410

    Default Re: Morning update

    Neat! Indoor wintering - a tried and true way to minimize stores consumption. Wish I could do that!

    there are a lot of beekeeping issues and techniques in common between traditional hives (are those langstroth style boxes in Estonia?) and top bar hives. One of those issues is mite pressure on bees. If there are too many mites, or the viruses are too numerous, then garther forage for a shorter stretch each time they go out, are more likely to get lost, and just have a shorter life span - this means less honey. If too many foragers don't come back, that means a lot of nectar doesn't make it back too.

    There are bees that can survive with mites. You should see indications that the mite numbers are very low in spring. If you found more than 1 or 2 mites in a handful of bees (for me, that is 1/2 cup, or 300 bees), then that means a lot of mite pressure, given the time of year. You can do the math - if you had 150 bees in your hand (1/4 cup for me, or 60 mls in metric) and you saw more than 1 mite, then let's call it 2 %. A fully covered comb for a Kenyan is about 1200 bees, so on one comb that is 24 mites. On 5 combs it is 120. Once brood starts, then emerges, it could be 240 mites. 20 some odd days later, 480. Very quickly it can get to fatal levels, especially your second year. Other beekeepers around you have been through this, you can ask them what works (and what doesn't).

    If someone has bees that fight off the mite, they should be able to measure it. An experienced beekeeper (Randy Oliver) just told us in Ohio that the alcohol wash (or powdered sugar shake) is far more reliable than counting mites falling. he would see the mite drop go up and down with the amount of brood, while the alcohol wash count stayed the same.

    My second year, I had a booming hive coming out of winter. My third year, I had 1 hive left out of 4, and they were never as populous as my first year. That was when I started having hive deaths due to excessive numbers of mites, and I am still learning how to manage the number of mites to get the best from the bees.

    Know your enemy... that is the perspective I am taking.

  16. #55
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    Default Re: Morning update

    Could someone bottle up some spring and send it my way please? Another week of -10C and below. My bees have been without a clensing flight since October. They are drawing figure eights as they walk on the combs...
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  17. #56
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    Apr 2018
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    Yakima Co, WA, USA
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    Default Re: Morning update

    I read through this with great interest. How are things now?

  18. #57
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    Default Re: Morning update

    The hive has been outside for 3 days now. The weather has been playing nice for a change with 12C in the shade and up to 17C in the sunlight around noon. The bees got to take a cleansing flight on the first day - it was a very weak and careful one but there were still a lot of specs on the roof of the hive by the end of the day.

    Yesterday was cloudy, so they stayed indoors.

    Today they have been doing house cleaning. I'm seeing them move bits and pieces of the bee candy out the front door. I guess that is a good sign - means they have something better to eat. I saw some minimal flying, but this time they were flying with a purpose. When they got out, they took off somewhere and when they got back, they went straight in.

    The cleansing flight looked like this:
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  19. #58
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    Default Re: Morning update

    Got two days of good weather at last. +16C and +21C days. The first day I was around to take some pictures, second day I got back home late, when the temperatures had dropped again. So I only caught a glimpse of a lone arriving bee. However the arrival was of monumental importance to me - she had her pollen baskets filled tot he brim! So they are working on, or preparing for brood raising.

    Can't wait for the next +20C day to open up the hive. There is a top bar with a slab of bee candy hanging from it in the middle of their brood nest. I bet it's pretty much a wall for them at this point so it needs to go.

    P4081118_v1.jpgP4081121_v1.jpgP4081116_v1.jpgP4081124_v1.jpg
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  20. #59
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    Mar 2017
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    Default Re: Morning update

    A quick update. The amount of bees in the hive is extremely low - they are only filling the space between two combs. I've added a terrarium heater pad on top of the bars, below insulation to help them maintain high enough temps for brood raising. The heater is adjusted to 33C measured just below top bars. The good thing is, on sunny days I see them do serious house cleaning - they are constantly hauling out dead bees and debris.

    Waiting impatiently for the next warm day to be able to pop the lid and take a look at how things are going.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  21. #60
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Morning update

    Quote Originally Posted by Thucar View Post
    A quick update. The amount of bees in the hive is extremely low - they are only filling the space between two combs.
    Unsure of your "terrarium heater" methods.
    I believe you just keep sending your bees all the wrong signals and confuse them.
    But at this rate, not much left to loose.

    Do restrict them to the minimum so they only have combs that they are able to cover (which is - two; three is maximum).
    I would use insulated follower boards on both sides of the bees. You want them really, really tight at this point.
    The bees should be able to go under/around the follower boards - just outside the follower board place combs with honey if still have any.
    If none of those, full an empty comb with a sugar syrup and use that.
    Do have plenty of insulation above the bars.

    A small, but healthy colony still should rebound.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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