Getting ready for winter - mostly empty lower boxes
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Humboldt Co., California
    Posts
    557

    Default Getting ready for winter - mostly empty lower boxes

    Most of my hives have pretty much empty lower boxes (except for some pollen) as the bees are in the two boxes above. I was wondering what most people are doing with that mostly empty lower box. I usually start feeding this month and as the bees store the syrup, they sometimes move down to occupy some of the upper portion of the frames in the empty bottom box - so I tend to leave the empty lower box in case they move down. Other times I have pulled it and just kept the more occupied upper boxes.

    What are your practices?

    Thanks.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Batavia, NY
    Posts
    35

    Default

    Do you have screened bottom boards by any chance? My bees didn't like the bottom box when I had SBB. Went to solid and they filled the bottom one right up.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    4,518

    Default Re: Getting ready for winter - mostly empty lower boxes

    I asked the president of our bee assn. the same question as on of my hive's bottom brood chamber is completely empty. The top was 9 frames brood until today when I made two splits. He said to feed heavy and force them down with stores. Not to flip boxes which my original thought. I have SBBs on all hives. Only this one had an issue and it was light on stores.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    7,861

    Default Re: Getting ready for winter - mostly empty lower boxes

    My overwintering practice is to crowd the bees in a compact hive space. I will not
    leave them much space inside so the wax moth can take over. Make sure that there are enough
    bees to cover all the frames during the winter time. If not then I have to put them away in safe storage. Remember that they still
    need to use the pollen to make the big fat winter bees too. So it is best to store the empty comb away since they are not using it. And
    make sure enough food is stored away for this winter.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Yuba County, California, USA
    Posts
    6,572

    Default Re: Getting ready for winter - mostly empty lower boxes

    It sounds like you are running 3 boxes, what size are they? I can't see you needing 3 deeps for winter in your location, but running that way may not hurt either. You've run both ways, as you've said, so what comparisons have you noticed? There are some on the forum that likes running an empty on the bottom, so I'd say it depends on your preference and the environment of your location.

    I have the best success over wintering in single deep boxes, and mine are 8 fames. I'm not up in Humbolt county though.
    Live real time bee chat, most evenings...
    https://www.rumbletalk.com/client/chat.php?4%40HY_hmJ

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Humboldt Co., California
    Posts
    557

    Default Re: Getting ready for winter - mostly empty lower boxes

    Thanks Ray. I run all medium, 8 frame boxes. In the past, I have mostly run 4 boxes over winter with the bottom pretty much empty. But also tried with only three. Solid bottom boards. Don't have a strong opinion yet but sometimes a lot of those frames in the empty bottom get moldy. I start feeding tomorrow and was also thinking that it may push them down. Maybe I'll wait and see around the first of October -- usually have pretty good weather until mid to late October.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Yuba County, California, USA
    Posts
    6,572

    Default Re: Getting ready for winter - mostly empty lower boxes

    With that addition info, I myself would keep the feed on them until they get pushed down into the bottom box. Good Luck!
    Live real time bee chat, most evenings...
    https://www.rumbletalk.com/client/chat.php?4%40HY_hmJ

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Spencer, MA, USA
    Posts
    2,862

    Default Re: Getting ready for winter - mostly empty lower boxes

    Many northern beekeepers put an empty under their hives as a matter of course. Believe it helps wintering.

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