winter configuration
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Red Wing, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    49

    Default winter configuration

    This always stumps me around this time of year, mostly because the bees dont follow my logic of how they should be settled by now. I run mostly 3 deeps (or medium equivalent of) all summer, 4 of them actually have 3 1/2 deeps as they are have all been booming hives. After removing honey supers I rarely find the top brood chamber with any winter stores. I dont feed syrup, so I have to leave at least one full honey super, maybe 2 on the heavily populated hives on top of the deeps for winter which is fine with me, but now I have 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 deeps for wintering. I was hoping to remove the bottom deep brood box to condense them, but they are all full of brood/bees as of yet. (Sept 17th here in Minnesota). As weather gets colder, will they leave the bottom box and cluster somewhere in the middle. If so, I would like to go back in later in Oct. and remove the bottom box, but then it would seem the colder weather would make this a bad idea to tear apart everything. I also will be treating with OAV and with all that space, figuring out the amount to put in the vaporizer is not clear, or if all that extra space would make it ineffective. Love to hear some thoughts on this. Thanks. Sara

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Lumpkin County, GA
    Posts
    851

    Default Re: winter configuration

    The last thing I would do with winter being so close, is to remove or rearrange the boxes. Bees know what they need to survive a winter. You just need to make sure the hive is heavy and if they are not, you better start feeding now while the temperatures are still mild.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Red Wing, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    49

    Default Re: winter configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by ericweller View Post
    The last thing I would do with winter being so close, is to remove or rearrange the boxes. Bees know what they need to survive a winter. You just need to make sure the hive is heavy and if they are not, you better start feeding now while the temperatures are still mild.
    Thanks. I wont be feeding syrup, but can easily add another full medium super if needed It just that it adds more boxes to the tall stack and I worry about wintering and treating OAV in all that space. The reasoning for removing just the bottom super is that they are frequently empty with just pollen this time of year, not the case as of yet. Sara

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,534

    Default Re: winter configuration

    Next year, it might be work to get your honey supers off earlier so they have no choice but to store the late summer and fall honey in the top brood box.

    I winter on a medium (used as a pollen box, and more less only what the bees want to do with it) in the bottom position and three deeps above that. I make sure the top deep is straight across honey, with some pollen on a frame or two. The middle deep is honey on the outside with a frame or two of late brood or light stores in the middle. The lowest deep is honey on the outside frames with the brood frames in the middle. By this time of year, I have been nudging the frames into this general arrangement for about a month. The only things I am really rigid about is the top box being all stores and that there is at least a frame of honey in the outside position of each side of every box.

    My work may be a little easier since I use deeps as supers so all my frames are one size, except the lowest box which I don't really manage at all. This year the pollen box was pressed into service as an emergency super when i ran out of deeps, so it will have more honey than normal in it, but it will still be at the bottom of the stack. I hate the management hassles of having a medium box on top of deeps as they come out of winter. It makes me nuts to have two sizes of frames with brood in them.

    I use OAV, too, and I use a full teaspoon ( 4 X 1/4 tsp/box) per treatment because I have four, 10-frame boxes on the stacks. My Varrox easily cooks that off - in a pinch I can do 1.25 tsps for a five box stack but I don't always get a perfect burn under those conditions.

    I think leaving the pollen on the stack over the winter is crucial to good build-up and health in the spring. They will need tons of pollen long before there is any available naturally, because they start their brood at the end of January. Pollen scarcity in late spring is considered to also be a pre-disposing condition for EFB if the bacteria is lurking in your equipment. The bees will go down and fetch it from the bottom box in all but the coldest weather.

    Why are you averse to feeding syrup, if needed? What is your target total hive weight, or honey weight? I prefer to winter on all-honey, too, but if my hives aren't at their goal I will feed to get them there. I want at least 12-14 full, deep capped frames of honey on the stack. Extra honey tucked in and around the late brood doesn't count when I am assessing winter stores.

    Nancy

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
    Posts
    5,232

    Default Re: winter configuration

    listen to Nancy, she is correct on all points.
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Red Wing, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    49

    Default Re: winter configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by wildbranch2007 View Post
    listen to Nancy, she is correct on all points.
    Thanks Nancy for the very carefully thought out comments. So what I am getting from this is it is ok to winter in overly tall stacks if supplies are sufficient.? Leaving the bottom deep with pollen reserves is way better than condensing? (the classes I took when I began beekeeping always suggested I remove them if I have too many boxes). I am not at all adverse to feeding syrup, but I have the resources to add full capped supers this year which is so much easier and just feels better than mixing syrup. ( I had a huge crop of honey last year and am using this year to build hives, I increased X 2 with splits this year. So making bees, not honey this year). Also, with the great fall goldenrod flow this year, the top 2 supers will not be capped until about the end of Sept. so I wait longer than most to remove them. Lastly, yes, having 2 sizes of boxes/frames is maddening. My initial investment was stocking both mediums and deeps, now I just should bite the bullet and restock with just one size). I will have the first OAV treatment this weekend as the morning temps will be in the 40's, will vaporize your suggested amount. Sara

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