How many boxes as I prepare for winter
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    West Newbury, MA
    Posts
    4

    Default How many boxes as I prepare for winter

    HI All,

    New to the forums and looking for some opinions here.

    A few years ago I started beekeeping here in the NorthEast. Typically I configured my hives with 2 deeps and then a honey super if I thought the bees had done enough work in the deeps. My hives always wintered with 2 deeps, and they were never that successful.

    Well this year I have 2 first year hives that have been doing excellent! Both hives have 2 deeps and 2 supers. I took the top super off of one hive and found 8 frames of capped honey. I opened the second hive and its the same thing, plenty of capped honey.

    My question is this: I am thinking about removing the queen excluder and leaving one of the supers on so that the hives have 2 deeps and a super to try to make it through our very cold winters. Sorry if this is a silly question but I'd love to give the bees the best chance they can get, and would rather leave them with too much honey than too little.

    Any advice is welcome!
    thanks

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,148

    Default Re: How many boxes as I prepare for winter

    welcome aboard mwippern!

    one of our seasoned veterans, michael palmer, is located in vermont at a similar latitude as yours. he overwinters with 2 deeps and a medium. he also weighs his hives to make sure there is enough honey and if not he feeds syrup until the weight is right. i don't recall what that weight is, but maybe mp will chime in or you can search his posts for the info.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
    Posts
    2,138

    Default Re: How many boxes as I prepare for winter

    Hi Mwippern. You will do well with 2 deeps and a medium for overwintering which is the common configuration for the Northeast. Michael Palmer looks for a weight of 140lbs. You can probably extract your supers at the end of goldenrod (coming soon here) and start feeding immediately with 2:1 syrup.Keep in mid that they need warmish weather to take the syrup and dry it if you decide to extract any. I don't have a scale and only have a few hives so I judge weight by lifting (Oh Jesus that's heavy) or by inspection J

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    West Newbury, MA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: How many boxes as I prepare for winter

    Thanks for the advice guys! I will plan on wintering 2 deeps and a medium.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Crown Point, NY, USA
    Posts
    566

    Default Re: How many boxes as I prepare for winter

    Something to remember is even if you leave a super it doesn't necessarily mean you have enough honey to winter them on. I would make sure there is at least 6 frames of honey in your second deep along with the super. Weighing is a better method but for just a few hives comb counting can work too. If your lacking one gallon of 2:1 syrup will equal one deep frame of honey. Remember to keep varroa under control unless you have very resistant stock.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    West Newbury, MA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: How many boxes as I prepare for winter

    I know from inspection this weekend that the super is pretty full.
    When I crack open the hive to remove the queen excluder I'll check the deeps.

    Just as a follow on..... you don't rotate the deeps in preparation for winter, correct? Just leave the hive as is.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,148

    Default Re: How many boxes as I prepare for winter

    Quote Originally Posted by mwippern View Post
    you don't rotate the deeps in preparation for winter, correct? Just leave the hive as is.
    correct.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Northern Colorado, USA
    Posts
    550

    Default Re: How many boxes as I prepare for winter

    Quote Originally Posted by mwippern View Post
    you don't rotate the deeps in preparation for winter, correct? Just leave the hive as is.
    you want the brood nest at the bottom because the bees eat their way up thru the hive during the winter. They do not eat down so they will not consume anything below them.

    I try to go into winter with a brood nest in a deep and 2-3 filled mediums on each hive. I think I am going to take my big hive into winter with a deep and 4 mediums this year because they are still bearding a lot right now with 8 boxes (1 deep, 7 medium). I think my big hive will have problems with to many bees if I take them down to 4 boxes when I pull supers. I have had my hive with a data logger go thru 60ish lbs of stores one winter and 35ish lbs of stores one winter, so it can vary a lot based on the hive strength and the winter conditions. I would rather have my hives come out of winter with extra stores than run out.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    2,364

    Default Re: How many boxes as I prepare for winter

    I bet your bees do not take a brood break in July/Aug. either. Still have brood in Dec if it is a warm year.
    Unless you have changed your bee they will take what they take, not what MPs bees take.

    It is a good question, not always a good answer for it.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

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