Water source in winter
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Inver Grove Heights, MN, USA
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    33

    Default Water source in winter

    Hi all,
    It's my first year with bees, and I live in an area that gets pretty cold (zone 4). Do I need to provide an unfrozen water source all winter long? It seems to me that if the water is frozen, it would be too cold for the bees to fly to it anyway.
    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Karol Wojtyla

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Fargo, North Dakota
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    276

    Default Re: Water source in winter

    After you winterize your Minnesota hive in October or early November, forget about it until next spring when the temperature approaches 55F. They do not need an unfrozen water source, nor would they likely survive any attempt to access it outside their clustered area. Their stored honey has sufficient water — about 18.6% or less, some of which escapes into the air (requiring proper ventilation to avoid dead bees from too much condensation). Minnesota winters (and North Dakota winters) are for dreaming about working your bees next spring; no real work, except making more boxes or frames (and maybe take another nap).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Inver Grove Heights, MN, USA
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    Default Re: Water source in winter

    Ok, that's a relief! I'm not sure how I would have done it anyway.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Water source in winter

    Quote Originally Posted by karol wojtyla View Post
    Hi all,
    It's my first year with bees, and I live in an area that gets pretty cold (zone 4). Do I need to provide an unfrozen water source all winter long? It seems to me that if the water is frozen, it would be too cold for the bees to fly to it anyway.
    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Karol Wojtyla
    If anything, there is too much water during cold climate winter.
    In the hive, that is.
    Least concern (more of the concern is how to rid of the excess water).

    26.9 pounds of water are generated from our 40 pounds of honey
    Source: Bee Culture Magazine, January 1, 2015, Wait, How Much Water? by Frank Linton
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    5,255

    Default Re: Water source in winter

    That figure of ~70% moisture produced per pound of honey consumed is well established. Enough moisture condenses on hive walls to provide the bees with all the water they need to make the honey useable. Very often too much water condenses on cold surfaces and drips on the cluster. Keep the top warm and allow the walls to be a bit cooler around a small top front entrance/vent.

    That said, I have heard that canola honey crystallizes solid and is a bit on the hard side for bees to handle easily. I dont remember seeing hard data to support the need for any external water source until hive cooling is needed for summer hive internal temperature control.
    Frank

  6. #6

    Default Re: Water source in winter

    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post
    Enough moisture condenses on hive walls to provide the bees with all the water they need to make the honey useable.
    Bees donīt use condensated demineralised water. Its a myth. I learned it this year. Always thought they did and was happy about condensation. Not anymore.
    And I donīt believe it goes through the wax cappings to change the honey or does it? Never saw this, if I had condensation it dropped down and did not weaken the cappings.

    Torben Schiffer spoke about this:
    http://beenature-project.com/Aktuell...eckel-D-Deckel

    Karol Wojtyla ( nice name in Rome ) try to have not so much open nectar going on winter. If you feed feed early so itīs capped in september. If you have crystallized honey feed a little surplus sugar syrup now and then in summer so the honey mixes on the combs. After harvesting, for sure.
    Cold overwintering needs not much food and gives a good brood brake. Consider not to insulate too much or not at all.

    First cleansing flight they do, place a water source if the ground is frozen. A heater with solar cells is good for that or a pond heater with solar cell.
    I have a feeder box in the feeder which is my lid so I can give them a little water from the top if they are active. It canīt drop down.
    Pict shows the climate lid with integrated box ( closed with coco mat but used for food and water)

    Deckelsystem 2.jpg
    Last edited by 1102009; 09-06-2018 at 10:05 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Water source in winter

    Quote Originally Posted by SiWolKe View Post
    Bees donīt use condensated demineralised water. Its a myth. I learned it this year.
    First cleansing flight they do, place a water source if the ground is frozen. A heater with solar cells is good for that or a pond heater with solar cell.
    Expect to see a big demand for those solar cell water heaters; best get your orders in right smartly before they all sell out!
    Frank

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    5,536

    Default Re: Water source in winter

    I try all kinds of weird stuff with my bees, so this winter I am actually going to be offering shallows pans of water on the top frames in my hives. I am curious to see if they use it.

    No, my hive will not be damper because of it.

    No, it will not contribute to condensation problems, because I use quilt boxes on them.

    No, the water won't freeze to ice in my hyper-insulated stacks. If I thought there was going to be unexpected risk of that (extremely cold weather) I will suck it all back out of the little dishes using a hypodermic needle down through the shavings and fabric of the QB. (Which is also how I plan to refill the little dishes, when needed.)

    My bees frequently leave their hive to search for water in winter - I just want to save them the trip and the risks undertaken to meet their needs on cold weather. I don't know if they will use it, though I have the surveillance capacity inside some of the colonies, within the 2" hive feeding rim, to watch for this (lights, camera. etc.) We'll see.

    Randy Oliver challenged me on my use of QBs as possibly removing too much moisture from the hive. Moisture which they needed, that in turn caused them to fly out in inappropriate weather to try to replace it. I had the equipment set up to do the experiment last year, but got sick before I could implement it. This summer I have had the dishes out, being used, so that they've acquired that bee-delectable funk. I plan to use pond water (stored frozen and thawed/warmed to temp inside feeding rim) to refill them in the winter. They drink from the pond all the time in warm weather, so I know they like it.

    Last winter, because I did get sick, I had QBs on only above half of my hives. I used conventional IC on the others. I did not observe any discernable increase in foraging for water from the QB'd hives vs the IC hives. But I want to push it a bit further and see if they will drink inside the feeding rim space.

    Also I have played around with the much-reviled Boardman style feeders this year. Not for syrup, but for water for cooling in really hot weather. My bees will suck it down like no tomorrow, presumably saving some of the energy-costs of gathering it. Fortunately nobody tries to rob water - which would be absurd since my site has a large pond less than 400 feet away.

    @Sibylle, I can't read the German, but those pictures are clearly an interesting variety of quilt boxes. If you have not used them before this year, I think you will very pleased with the results. I have had them on all my boxes, every winter since I started (last winter was the only exception). Bees do extremely well under them. At least mine do, in my very insulated, tall stacks.

    Nancy

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Water source in winter

    Quote Originally Posted by SiWolKe View Post
    Bees donīt use condensated demineralised water. Its a myth. .....
    And how do you suppose they consume dry sugar in winter?

    To make this point even more dramatic - cold Wisconsin winter AND no other significant stores but dry sugar chunks, placed on the top bars.
    They winter just fine, given this setting, for 4-5 months of no fly weather, to be sure.

    Think about it for a minute.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Water source in winter

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    And how do you suppose they consume dry sugar in winter?

    To make this point even more dramatic - cold Wisconsin winter AND no other significant stores but dry sugar chunks, placed on the top bars.
    They winter just fine, given this setting, for 4-5 months of no fly weather, to be sure.

    Think about it for a minute.
    If they break cluster they go out to take water.
    Camp feeding is an emergency for spring starving or warming up in winter time and no stores left.
    I canīt imagine a cluster sitting on the dry sugar with very low temperature.

    If you claim they do send a link. The link I posted above is research by scientifics. With their endoscopic cameras they never saw bees taking condensation water.

    Why are bees starving on crystallized honey as most beekeepers fear?
    They condensation water might wet the sugar. Then itīs not demineralised anymore. But not on honey cell caps.

    Think about it for a minute.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Water source in winter

    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by SiWolKe View Post
    Bees donīt use condensated demineralised water. Its a myth.

    Torben Schiffer spoke about this:
    http://beenature-project.com/Aktuell...eckel-D-Deckel
    Maybe I was wrong.
    Itīs getting more and more difficult whom to believe. Perhaps better to only see for yourself.

    http://www.beekeeping.isgood.ca/hive...n-condensation

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    5,255

    Default Re: Water source in winter

    Sibylle; It has always been difficult to know who to believe! The writer may have been mistaken for any of a number of reasons, including the influence of his own preconceptions. After a period of long acceptance by peers, some authors appear to have gotten sloppy about what constitutes proof and demand acceptance at face value. Resting on their laurels!

    Even if it is well devised and controlled research, it has to get through the next stage in transfer of knowledge -- our own personal filters which can create, misconceptions, preconceptions etc., created by our own unique experience.

    A good defense is a healthy skepticism. Look for any gaps or flaws in the story and stop as soon as any "leap of faith" is required of you.
    Frank

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Driggs, Idaho, USA
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    152

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SiWolKe View Post
    Bees donīt use condensated demineralised water. Its a myth. .....
    Do you have any data to support your claim?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Water source in winter

    Quote Originally Posted by yotebuster1200 View Post
    Do you have any data to support your claim?
    If there are any data in that claim, those data are not aware of "Mountain Camp" type bee feeding.
    OR hard candy, or sugar cakes, and the like types of winter bee feeding.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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    1,473

    Default Re: Water source in winter

    Bees winter better with a somewhat dry interior as opposed to a damp interior. Nosema is a far less problem in a "dry" hive. I personally have not used fumigillan for some 7 years and have had no nosema problems and few hive losses. I am sold on quilt boxes for the hobbiest. To my knowledge, fumigillan is no longer available in Alberta unless a source has been located.

    I use a feed shim and make sugar blocks available. The double deep 10 frame hives will use some 6 pounds of sugar, so water is available to some extent, in my hives on the dry side.
    Zone 3b. If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

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