Hi all, been a few years since I ran my TBH’s. Black bears took them out when I was having bear issues. They wintered great for me up here in northern NY. I use the Mangum type TBH. Question: How big for winter broodnest config? Thinking I used 12-15 combs. Sound right?
I base on the colony size. I've overwintered 8 bars total before. I've also overwintered a full 4' tbh with nearly all combs in place. Like any hive, a lot of it is based on regional decisions, type of bees (frugal behavior or lack thereof) and colony strength.
AvatarDad that is exactly how I approach TBH beekeeping. I have had many years of langstroth beekeeping (~35 yrs). Just a hand full of years with tbh’s. Just needed confirmation on adequate broodnest size. My wife and I are considering moving west to southern Montana. Possibly to an off grid location. If that happens I’ll move to TBH’s and not look back.
Next question I’m thinking of side by side tbh nucs. Single tbh divided in half with a piece of insulation board. Entrance on each end. 6-8 combs seem ok for tbh nuc’s? These could also double as mating nucs during summer. Also the insulation divider could be pulled out if queen on one side is harvested for sale or requeening. I’m working on a model for management for both honey/ wax production. Queen rearing, and replacement nucs for covering winter loss.
I've thought about them that small but have never had the courage to try it. I can overwinter in a 24 inch hive (about 16-17 bars, with the last 3 empty), but the hive is full of bees by March down here. I've considered a 3 foot "duplex" with about 13 per side; I might do that later in summer.
Of course, again, geography: down here overwintering is not about sharing heat in the brood nest, but in figuring out what they will eat when it is 75 degrees in December. Creative January feeding..... luckily last year we had a great Fall flow, so I didn't have to feed in October... or January.
I think it would be interesting to try. One reason I like the Palmer style stacking nucs is that it is so easy to grow the nest from 4 to 8 to 12. One reason to like Langs. Try it and tell us how it goes!
Actually, Clayton, my design is Crowder and yours is Magnum, meaning your combs are significantly deeper than mine (I've built both). So, your 8 would be my "10 or 11", so I think "yes" go ahead and give it a shot.
I run TBH that have comb the size of a Lang deep. The bees regularly (3 winters now) overwinter on about 7 combs, with 5-7 combs of honey beyond that. I figure they should have a proportional amount of honey stored for their size - if they are 8 bars strong in late October, they should have more honey beyond that.
Having said that, I find that the bees do NOT move horizontally, like a typewriter, through their stores. They must send out bees from the cluster, or extend the cluster temporarily, to fill up on honey they warmed, and then they come back? I have had a couple hives where I could see the cluster - all winter - from the entrance hole.
Also they seem to use the majority of their stores AFTER broodrearing starts, and they do not start much before pollen begins coming into the hive. I've checked, is why I am saying this. So.... you can get a sense at the opening of the season, when pollen starts coming in, to be sure they will have enough stores.
So... you can keep a couple bars back from harvesting and don't crush/strain until you know they can bring in enough nectar, or you could feed....
I'm doing 1 3/8 and 1 5/8, but the idea is the same. All of the 13 to 15 I leave in winter are the small size; there are zero big ones. I don't see significant widening of the comb until about bar 20 or so and that's generally harvested (or empty). I don't start inserting the bigger bars until the bees sort of demand it, and that's always away from the main brood nest.
Thanks AvatarDad. Thanks for responding to an old thread. Very helpful info. I was going that direction, but really needed a conformational push! My primary goal is for pollination purposes, so I want them to be 'happy' and I'll settle for any honey they absolutely won't need.