Typical size of winter cluster??
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Lilburn, GA, USA
    Posts
    744

    Question Typical size of winter cluster??

    Hey, everyone,

    I was wondering what people have to say about the typical size of a winter cluster? Like across how many combs, how deep?

    Regards,
    Thomas
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Grand Rapids MI USA
    Posts
    1,548

    Default Re: Typical size of winter cluster??

    My mentor always said 7 seams of bees going into winter. I’ve seen 5 make it thru a Michigan winter just fine.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    3,049

    Default Re: Typical size of winter cluster??

    This varies depending on genetics with average winter cluster size of a colony of Italian bees covering between 5 and 9 Langstroth deep frames. Carniolans will cover about 5 frames. Pure Mellifera winters with very small clusters typically covering 3 or 4 frames. Non-clustering races such as the Egyptian bee may only have a few hundred bees in an active colony under some conditions.
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    3,454

    Default Re: Typical size of winter cluster??

    And then you have random mutts of random phenotype.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Lake Forest Park, WA
    Posts
    607

    Default Re: Typical size of winter cluster??

    IMG_9040.jpg
    This is my Carniolan nuc January 2019 (3 seams, depth unknown, but not beyond the top deep). My 8-frame Carniolan hives had 5-6 seams of bees. They all overwintered fine (our winter is very mild).
    Zone 8, elevation 70 ft, North Seattle area.
    Bee plants and their pollen. https://chabol.wixsite.com/mysite

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,922

    Default Re: Typical size of winter cluster??

    It's very related to both race and how built up the colony is. If they had time to build up completely, then it's mostly race. Darker bees have smaller clusters.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Shawnee, OK
    Posts
    97

    Default Re: Typical size of winter cluster??

    Quote Originally Posted by Yunzow View Post
    Hey, everyone,

    I was wondering what people have to say about the typical size of a winter cluster? Like across how many combs, how deep?

    Regards,
    Thomas
    To say the obvious, "It all depends." For example, here is one I have rescued only a few days ago in December (12/7/2019):

    https://www.facebook.com/YSKHoney/

    They have saved more than enough honey to make through this winter although they looked like an early spring swarm.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Lilburn, GA, USA
    Posts
    744

    Default Re: Typical size of winter cluster??

    I have a snake cam picture of the cluster of what has been my strongest hive. They are carniolan.

    20191210SCH-edit.jpg

    So this is a bit of a Frankenstein hive, on more ways than one. I placed a nuc into a double deep hive body, so the girls built comb on the underside of the nuc frames! Far as I can tell, the cluster is at least 13 inches deep (original frame depth + about seven inches of "free" comb on the bottom, the cluster is a few inches from the very bottom of the "free" comb).

    From what folks are saying it seems like these girls are looking pretty good for the winter.
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Lilburn, GA, USA
    Posts
    744

    Default Re: Typical size of winter cluster??

    Nice pictures!

    I was wondering, how deep are the combs? For example, are those 2x6" boards they are next to?

    Quote Originally Posted by Earthboy View Post
    To say the obvious, "It all depends." For example, here is one I have rescued only a few days ago in December (12/7/2019):

    https://www.facebook.com/YSKHoney/

    They have saved more than enough honey to make through this winter although they looked like an early spring swarm.
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

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