Stacking hives for Winter - questions
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Germantown, MD
    Posts
    107

    Default Stacking hives for Winter - questions

    Hello all wise Beeks,

    I have 3 hives that I think need stacking if they are going to make it through winter. They are all single deep brood, with 4 or 5 frames of bees, some stores. I added 2 frames of honey to each, but just thought I would stack them for good measure.

    I plan to put a feeding shim on the bottom hive for fondant, then the inner cover followed by a screened bottom board and the weak hive on top.

    Question: can I have the upper hive entrance face the same direction? All 3 weak hives are directly next to the hive I am using for the stacking. They all back up to a hedgerow of thick brambles. Also thought it would be an easier transition for stacking and then replacing in the Spring.

    Any other Do's and Don'ts will be appreciated.

    New (but not so young) Bee Lady, Maryland

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
    Posts
    5,088

    Default Re: Stacking hives for Winter - questions

    you will get a lot more moisture doing this, so you have to vent somewhat more aggressively, you may also want to insulate so they use less honey, good luck
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Jackson, Ohio (SE Ohio) USA
    Posts
    817

    Default Re: Stacking hives for Winter - questions

    I'm confused by your post, initially thought you were stacking "separate" hives for heat retention, then you mention adding fondant only to the bottom hive and the weak hive on top? "I plan to put a feeding shim on the bottom hive for fondant, then the inner cover followed by a screened bottom board and the weak hive on top." Are the SBB openings large enough for the weak hive to access the fondant? Are you eliminating queen(s) and doing a three hive combine? If so, perhaps use newspaper and let them sort it out.

    I'd consider just leaving the three small hives as is, make sure they have plenty of resources, mites are under control, spread the fondant among them and let nature take it's course. I've been surprised that small colonies that I didn't think would make it through the winter did fine.

    Good luck,

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Grand Rapids MI USA
    Posts
    1,331

    Default Re: Stacking hives for Winter - questions

    You can use snelgrove boards for that purpose. The entrances can be set at right angles of the bottom hive then. The only drawback, you have to break down the stack if you need to put more feed on the bottom hive.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,470

    Default Re: Stacking hives for Winter - questions

    Stacking the hives like you propose will create a stress-causing chimney effect and do the opposite of what I think you are hoping for.

    Particularly if you use a screen BB between the units. This will create a completely open ceiling for the two lower ones. This will not provide any transferred warmth, while at the same time greatly increase temperature, draft ,and moisture stress on all the three colonies.

    The idea of doubling up hives is often mentioned here, but it rarely works, even when a weak colony is placed over a very strong colony that might be able withstand the considerable added stress.

    If your hives are are too small, I would consider installing follower boards on each side of the active frames (covered with bees and filled with stores) and the removing any unused frames and replacing them with panels of foam insulation to take up the empty space. In effect you would be creating nuc-sized interiors to match the strength of each colony. This way you could access each one to provide supplemental chow during the winter.

    You could also (though I would not be likely do so, myself), pinch two of the three queens and combine the remaining one with all the bees and stores into a single colony.

    In addition to interior space-occupying insulation panels, I would insulate the exteriors, as well as putting insulation up inside the telecovers and another piece on top of the hive.

    I often frequently use follower boards in the way i have described, so I know it works quite well. If you're considering doing it, I can provide a more detailed explanation.

    Another, though still pertinent, question: what is the history of these three small colonies and why are they so undersized?Knowing the answer to that question may lead you to fixing a larger problem. It's possible that without a solution to that problem, that no hive configuration scheme will be successful.

    Nancy

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
    Posts
    5,088

    Default Re: Stacking hives for Winter - questions

    here is a post by Sam Hall, he is doing one weak hive on top of a strong hive

    > My number 10 colony is a very strong colony. It?s configuration is two
    > 8 frame deeps on the bottom and one medium honey super on top with a
    > bit of honey in it. On top of the medium I put on a double screen
    > board with the entrance facing the opposite way from the main colony?s
    > entrance. Then I put on an 8 frame deep and put the five frames from
    > the nuc into that deep with 3 additional frames with drawn comb. On
    > top of that I put one of Ben?s top feeders and filled both sides of
    > the feeder about 3/4 full. On top of the feeder I put the inner cover
    > on upside down, to prevent drowning if they used the upper entrance
    > also put a cover over the hole in the inner cover. I was surprised but
    > should not have been when I checked the feeder three days later and
    > they had consumed all of the syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water). I
    > will continue to feed as long as they continue to take it which I?m
    > hoping will be right up to February or beyond. The heat from #10 is
    > and should be enough to keep them warm so they can feed.
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    7,708

    Default Re: Stacking hives for Winter - questions

    Putting one colony over a strong colony works well for me. I put a solid plywood 16 1/4 X 19 7/8 over the feeder rim and mountain camp sugar contained. My winter entrances/ventilation come from a 1" hole bored in the front of the box right below the handhold. Both colonies have that hole. I have MC sugar on top of the weak one as well. At least wrap them in tar paper and cut out matching holes for ventilation/egress.
    Put a plastic sheet over the mc sugar that floats on its surface. This prevents the bees from clustering above the sugar. That shortens their lives which is the last thing you want. If you lack three strong hives to set the weak ones on, At least this method stacked up would share resources and help heat the higher ones. But the hole bored under the handhold and feeder rims are key. It allows a warm bubble above the hole that aids survival. Good luck whatever you decide to do.

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