Winter in Dixie 2018-2019
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    4,268

    Default Winter in Dixie 2018-2019

    Well, winter in the Southeast is pretty much over for this year. We will still get a few days with below freezing temps, but the days and nights are getting warmer fast. So, if you are south of the Mason Dixon and east of the Sabine River, it is time to chime in and tell everyone how your hives fared. If you did something that you feel gave your bees a leg up, please share. Remember, this is the South, we raise bees differently than our Yankee brethren who are still buried under several feet of snow.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
    Posts
    2,808

    Default Re: Winter in Dixie 2018-2019

    when did BS add a Winter Beekeeping forum? Obviously some time last year if JW made his post in March.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I just added my last sugar board to a medium 2 box setup of Caucasian bees. Last year, they overwintered in a 8 frame medium but really were too small come spring to do much, so they missed the nectar flow by the time they had built up enough. I don't normally put this much sugar on my bees here in coastal Virginia, but it was a 3" shim. I lined it with 1/4 in hardware cloth. I did not let that go to the edges as I didn't want extra gaps between the boxes. On top of the hardware cloth, that I stapled to the sides, I added a Swiffer like sheet that I cut the middle out of (to hold the sugar in).

    I mixed 20 cups of sugar to 1 2/3 cup of water and stirred until it was like damp sugar sand. Then I dumped it in the frame (that had a cookie sheet underneath for support) and pressed it down firmly. It probably filled about 1" of the form. I used the handle of the spatula to poke holes down through the sugar so that any moisture and bees can come up through them. I let this dry about 5 days in the house and just set it on my hive this morning, where it is 55 degrees outside. Those bees are already in the 2nd box, so they might actually need this much sugar this year.

    IMG_20191128_093823919.jpg

    IMG_20191128_093833687.jpg

    The bees in my topbar hives (which I have more of, and certainly prefer) only get a small sugar brick made with 4 cups of sugar.

    sugar brick.jpg

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    4,268

    Default Re: Winter in Dixie 2018-2019

    Hi Ruth. We started the sub-forum because so much of wintering hives is local. This thread is mainly for those in USDA zones 7, 8, and 9 that also have high humidity and numerous flying days throughout the winter.

    General info for everyone.
    I am still feeding 2:1 here in Richmond. Just mixed up another 100# of Wal-Mart's finest pure cane, still .32 per pound. The girls will get an OAV treatment , the syrup ,and a chunk of pollen patty over the weekend. Pretty breezy here right now. Winter planning includes another round of OAV at Christmas and getting sugar bricks on before January. At least two nucs succumbed last month to either robbing or starvation, so I will be watching their food supply closely. This is especially important for our area since the bees brood early if given pollen in February. Early brooding is beneficial because we need a large forage aged workforce by mid-April to catch our short but intense tulip poplar flow. Swarm prevention is critcal. Last year I was late with my splits and had most of my production hives swarm. Honey production from those hives was non existent. Since I captured four of those swarms, I did get a lot of new foundationless brood frames drawn.

    Would like to hear from other beeks in the SE about their overwintering plans and the steps they are taking to insure the survival of their hives.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    El Dorado, AR, USA
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Winter in Dixie 2018-2019

    Just noticed this thread. Awesome idea because I could always use ideas from others in the south. Im in south Arkansas. I'm wintering 7 hives in singles and I have one 6 frame Styrofoam nuc im trying out. I'm waiting to put out dry pollen until the end of January. Anyone had any luck overwintering nucs? specifically 5 frame singles. I'm wanting to make more splits next fall but I don't know how a 5 frame wood nuc single would hold up.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    4,268

    Default Re: Winter in Dixie 2018-2019

    BW, USAD zone 7a, I overwinter five frame single deeps just fine here. Only insulation is 1/2 green board from Lowe's inside the telescoping top. All nucs are on screened bottoms with an insert placed underneath. The nucs also have a medium over top with a mason jar feeder that stays on throughout the winter. You have to watch stores carefully as they will starve quickly once bood rearing begins. Most of mine started with three frames or less of bees.

    You should watch and subscribe to Kamon Reynold's Youtube channel. He is in TN and provides excellent advice for your climate.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    El Dorado, AR, USA
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Winter in Dixie 2018-2019

    awesome! I had the idea to slip a sheet metal divider between the frames in a single deep sometime in the fall and let them raise their own queen and go through winter with nucs. come spring i have 2 overwintered nucs. Move one into a new box and let the other expand in the original box. I want to get away from doing spring splits and do all mine in the summer and fall. It seems like the time frame for a spring split to build up in time to make a decent honey crop is too narrow. The flow here starts right around mid May and it strongest halfway through June and its done first week of July. I HAVE to split in July, otherwise those singles are soo packed full of bees they'll be in the trees if I don't move quick.

    The idea with the sheet metal was to minimize the extra equipment i would need to make up nucs. I'm working on a template right now, i'm going to use that template to have someone CNC cut a bunch of them.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    2,759

    Default Re: Winter in Dixie 2018-2019

    I am in north Arkansas and a 5 framer here will often starve in early February. A 5 over 5 makes the winter in good condition. Expect 30 to 40% losses of 5 frame nucs. A 5 over five or a triple 5 configuration loss will be 0 to 10%.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Decatur / Cullman, also. 35603
    Posts
    803

    Default Re: Winter in Dixie 2018-2019

    In my limited experience, 2x 5 framers do nice, but 3x5 framers do great. I think it's because they have ample brood , and food storage. Spring hits, and im ready to transfer both sizes to 1 10 frame med. , pr with 3x5 into 2x10 med frame boxes. Alao, adding a 3rd box within a few weeks or so for spring flow storage. Also, a good time to stagger in some undrawn frames for them to draw out. I open feed about 50 + yards from hives. No robbing in last 2 seasons, and going into 3rd this spring. Love my bees !!!!

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    4,268

    Default Re: Winter in Dixie 2018-2019

    Rich, if you are running all medium nucs, you definitely want to be at least 2x5. I am running mostly single deep nucs and they do pretty well. I did have one starve in March last year using mason jar feeders. This year I will move some capped comb from other hives to give them a boost and use larger feeders (Ceracell). I am thinking about doing the MP brood factory with one or two and stack them 3x5. Will need to make more boxes. Barely have enough to make 20 nucs now as singles.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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