Small winter cluster - Page 2
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  1. #21
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Small winter cluster

    Quote Originally Posted by andrewj54 View Post
    I have done a sugar test after my last OAV treatment a 2-3 weeks ago and saw no mites, I didn't feel as if using an alcohol test with the hive in the shape it is in was the best option. I was using an external feeder with a jar in it to feed however I do still ahev an internal feeder that could be cleaned up and put to use if that would be better? If not what would you suggest?
    Yes good thoughts Andrew, I wouldn't waste any of them on an alcohol wash either.

    Re the sugar feeding, such a small hive won't take sugar from an external feeder right now it's all just to cold for them to do that. It may also be too cold for them to venture into an internal feeder, probably best not to do that. The other ways people have suggested have merit, my own prefence is a jar with some holes punched in the lid placed upside down over the top bars, and the reason I like that is because regardless how cold it is, if the bee cluster is in contact with the jar, they will take the syrup. For a small hive like yours, to keep them warm I would recomend putting an inner cover over the top bars with a hole in the centre which the jar can sit on, and an empty super over that and then the lid. Just ensure the bee cluster is where the jar is so they can take feed without breaking cluster. Such a setup will easily keep your hive alive and prospering all winter. It does not have to be a proper inner cover, any piece of board cut to size will do.

    Having said all that i am not against any of the other methods people have suggested, in beekeeping there are often several different ways to skin a cat.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

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  3. #22
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Stockholm, NJ, USA
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    326

    Default Re: Small winter cluster

    Quote Originally Posted by andrewj54 View Post
    Hello I had a question about how I should prepare to overwinter my small hive and what are the odds of them making it through winter. Due to poor mite management throughout the summer months the hive was left in a very weak state leaving a handful of bees and almost no brood, after mite treatment and careful watch their numbers have began to rebound but now it is winter time and I'm concerned about them surviving the winter months. Below attached are a few pictures of the current state of the hive, I was starting to see signs of wax moth or small hive beetle damage on the frames that weren't being defended by bees so I decided to remove and freeze them. So my real question is what can I do to best prepare and help these bees survive the winter? They are currently in a 10 frame deep box with only 6 frames inside, 2 brood 3 honey/polled and one drawn out empty frame. I am from California and temperatures should stay in the low 40's during the night and mid to high 50's during the day time. Any advice would be must appreciated, if any additional information is needed I shall provide it.Attachment 52669Attachment 52671Attachment 52673Attachment 52675Attachment 52677
    In my opinion, with those daily temperatures during the winter, I would not worry about the small cluster. If they are brooding up, it is because the climate is favorable for that. Not too cold!! Just keep them in a sunny spot, put 3 or 4 layers of Newspaper on top of the bars, give them some granulated sugar, put an empty super or brood box on top, then a homasote board as the inner cover, and finally the telescopic cover. The newspaper, sugar and homasote board will absorb moisture.

  4. #23
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    Northern Lower Michigan, USA
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    764

    Default Re: Small winter cluster

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    OK my questions;
    They look like they are working off stores, not seeing any wet cells. (that may be just photos) When would you feed from beginnings of natural flow?

    Looking again, I would put the empty drawn frame inside and the frame being drawn outside until there is a flow. Looking for votes.

    Follower or nuc; use what you got, nuc if on hand
    Saltybee, if you are suggesting placing an empty comb in the middle of the cluster, I whole heartily disagree, I am a believer of brood nest integrity, and in the fall this forced split of the nest is likely a death sentence.

    Andrew, IF you happen to have a couple frames of honey, I would center the cluster, in the box they are in, flank it on each side with a frame of stores, if room remains, fill it with follower board and foam or a old pillow case stuffed with straw or dry grass, or shredded paper, etc I.E. insulation. Perhaps a shim and sugar block on top., with well insulated lid. In CA. check it every month, add space if needed, by adding another frame of comb to the outside and shrinking the insulation. Also add more sugar if they consume it. If they do not have much stored pollen consider a pollen patty of some sort. good luck
    GG

  5. #24
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    Feb 2012
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    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    Default Re: Small winter cluster

    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Goose View Post
    Saltybee, if you are suggesting placing an empty comb in the middle of the cluster, I whole heartily disagree, I am a believer of brood nest integrity, and in the fall this forced split of the nest is likely a death sentence. GG
    whole heartily not suggesting that
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  6. #25
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    Sep 2018
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    Northern Lower Michigan, USA
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    764

    Default Re: Small winter cluster

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    whole heartily not suggesting that
    "I would put the empty drawn frame inside and the frame being drawn outside until there is a flow"

    Sorry I read the line several times and could not quite be 100% on your meaning and how it may be interpreted.
    I was only seeking to clarify, Thanks for the clearing it up comment, we are on the same page then
    GG

  7. #26
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    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    Default Re: Small winter cluster

    No offense taken. If I was not clear then you should clarify and I should appreciate your efforts to clarify.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  8. #27
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
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    Sacramento, California, USA
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    Default

    Well I thank everyone for their input, however it doesn’t look as if the hive is going to make it through the winter. When I opened the hive up to install the follower boards I noticed a discoloration on some frames of honey and also what I’m guessing is mold along the bottom of the box. But as if to add insult to injury also I rolled the queen, effectively killing her. I surprisingly was still able to order a queen and will have her delivered tomorrow but it’s not looking good as of now. Thank you all for your insight and advice, better luck next year hopefully! Also attached a picture of what most frames look like.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  9. #28
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    3,474

    Default Re: Small winter cluster

    Quote Originally Posted by andrewj54 View Post
    Well I thank everyone for their input, however it doesnít look as if the hive is going to make it through the winter. When I opened the hive up to install the follower boards I noticed a discoloration on some frames of honey and also what Iím guessing is mold along the bottom of the box. But as if to add insult to injury also I rolled the queen, effectively killing her. I surprisingly was still able to order a queen and will have her delivered tomorrow but itís not looking good as of now. Thank you all for your insight and advice, better luck next year hopefully! Also attached a picture of what most frames look like.
    That "discoloration of honey" and " mold along the bottom of the box" are a non-issue.
    Normal.
    None of these will damage your bees.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  10. #29
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Small winter cluster

    Agreed. The comb is normal colour.

    And since you got the queen coming you may as well continue to give this your best shot, because if nothing else, the longer you can keep this hive alive, the more you will learn.

    And my personal opinion is there is a very good chance you will get it through to next season.

    About the new queen, it is surprising how fast bees can make a new one once their original queen is killed, they can have a new one out in as little as 10 days, once that happens they will not accept the queen you give them. So you must thoroughly check the hive for queen cells and destroy them before introducing your bought one.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  11. #30
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    Nov 2018
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    Sacramento, California, USA
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    Default

    Well that’s slightly better news, now all there’s left to do is install the new queen tomorrow and hope they accept her.

  12. #31
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    Nov 2018
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    Sacramento, California, USA
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    Default Re: Small winter cluster

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Agreed. The comb is normal colour.

    And since you got the queen coming you may as well continue to give this your best shot, because if nothing else, the longer you can keep this hive alive, the more you will learn.

    And my personal opinion is there is a very good chance you will get it through to next season.

    About the new queen, it is surprising how fast bees can make a new one once their original queen is killed, they can have a new one out in as little as 10 days, once that happens they will not accept the queen you give them. So you must thoroughly check the hive for queen cells and destroy them before introducing your bought one.
    They have "queen cells" that are all empty, I have kept an eye on them for a while. When I get the new queen I will destroy all these "queen cells", also I have an idea of ow re queening should work but how long should I leave her in the cage before allowing them to free her?

  13. #32
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    Default Re: Small winter cluster

    The procedure is after any queen cells are killed, put the introduction cage in between brood combs with the tab or whatever is covering the candy removed, so the hive bees have access to the candy. The hive bees will take around 2 days to chew out the candy so the queen can get out, by which time the bees should have accepted her. Things can be a little tense when she is first released, so best not to disturb the hive for at least a week after the cage was put in.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  14. #33
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    Sacramento, California, USA
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    Default

    Okay queen arrived, candy plug was exposed, placed between the two brood frames and all “queen cells” were destroyed. Only time will tell, should I check back inside the hive after 10 days or so? Or just operate under the assumption they accepted her?

  15. #34
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    Dec 2017
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Small winter cluster

    Quote Originally Posted by andrewj54 View Post
    Okay queen arrived, candy plug was exposed, placed between the two brood frames and all “queen cells” were destroyed. Only time will tell, should I check back inside the hive after 10 days or so? Or just operate under the assumption they accepted her?
    Do check in a day or so to see the un-plugging progress.
    In fact, if they like her, could just open the cage and let her out.
    If they are trying to kill her (if not already) - different project then (though less likely the case).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  16. #35
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    Default Re: Small winter cluster

    I would have to disagree with that, because as an ex queen breeder, I had so many cases where the person interfered and caused the queen to be lost. When if he had just left things alone it would have been fine.

    There may be advantage in a very experienced beekeeper having a look before the introduction process is complete, he may discover some issue that he can fix.

    But with new beekeepers, the general rule is the less they interfere, the better the result.

    I nearly got to the point of putting in the instructions that if people lost the queen because they interfered inside of a week of putting the cage in, I would not be supplying a free replacement.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  17. #36
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    Dec 2017
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    Default Re: Small winter cluster

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    I would have to disagree with that, ........
    Well, if one is unable to determine whether bees like or dislike the introduced queen - sure - the best bet is to just let it go as-is (chances are greater they DO like her - so this is a fine plan).

    IF, however, you observe a clear dislike for the queen (a possibility) - you have options still if act timely (they will surely kill her in 10 days if you wait for that long).

    The like/dislike is really observable within minutes; no need to wait even a day.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  18. #37
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    Nov 2018
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    Sacramento, California, USA
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    So I did observe for the first few minutes after placing the queen in the hive. From my knowledge if they ball the cage and refuse to move it’s dislike, if they are on the cage but can brush them off they are more likely to accept her. Is this case or is there more to it than this?

  19. #38
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    Default Re: Small winter cluster

    Quote Originally Posted by andrewj54 View Post
    So I did observe for the first few minutes after placing the queen in the hive. From my knowledge if they ball the cage and refuse to move it’s dislike, if they are on the cage but can brush them off they are more likely to accept her. Is this case or is there more to it than this?
    If no obvious aggression is demonstrated (as in they are trying to break inside so to kill her) - I would just close in and walk away.
    They should release her in 2-3-4 days.
    No real rush.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  20. #39
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    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    Default Re: Small winter cluster

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Well, if one is unable to determine whether bees like or dislike the introduced queen -

    IF, however, you observe a clear dislike for the queen (a possibility) -
    IF you would use a push-in cage, none of this like-dislike matters.

  21. #40
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    Nov 2018
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    Sacramento, California, USA
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    Default Re: Small winter cluster

    So far so good, I checked today just to get an update on the status before more rain and I leave town for a week. They chewed through the wax and I actually saw her on the frame the cage was placed into, no signs of aggression that I was able to witness. I think they must have just got her out because they were still surrounding and following her, but not balling or exerting any signs of aggression. Therefore the hive is shut and will remain shut till probably the end of December, I will check back on them around this time and hope to update you all!

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