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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So we made the mistake of using the wrong divider between the bottom section and the next section up. This is our first year with bee keeping. The bottom section is full of honey but the next section has been almost completely unused.

Beehive Apiary Pollinator Insect Wood

This shows the major doh! we made putting the wrong divider in between the bottom box and next box up:
Tableware Plant Wood Rectangle Dishware

And this is a foundation in the next box up almost looking like new:
Rectangle Textile Wood Flooring Stairs

At this point we could open up the divider that was mostly prohibiting access or just remove the second box altogether. Since this hive is in Montana the bees will need to get through a long winter. There's probably not much time for them to do much with the second box. What does everyone recommend at this point?
 

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That is a top cover. Unless using a queen excluder, hive bodies stack on top of each other.

Off topic a bit. Where in Montana? I love riding through on my bikepacking rig.
Montana will get much colder than here where I live.
Questions that will be asked.
What are the flowers doing? Fall ones still blooming?
Are all of the frames completely full? Capped brood, capped honey, larva not yet capped?

I added a second deep hive body on my hive right before we went into a late summer dearth. Even though they were packed in the bottom deep like sardines, they wouldn't use the upper deep hive body. I ended up swapping 2 frames from the center of the bottom deep to the upper and they still had little interest in using it much. Still in a dearth though. I started giving gallon cans of 2:1 syrup on top and they started building comb and storing it.

It is amazing what bees can do in a few weeks with a decent nectar and pollen flow. People more knowledgeable about Montana might be able to provide better guidance. Myself, I would leave the hive body in place and possibly put a gallon can of syrup on top to encourage them to travel to the top and also give them what they need to build comb.
 

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My advice is similar except I would put the undrawn box underneath the populated one. Bees are naturally inclined to build down from established honey stores and progress the brood down into lower regions. It is desireable to have stores above the cluster going into winter. Whatever areas the bees dont manage to build out will be below them as they progress upwards in the course of the winter. You do not want them moving into empty spaces.

Bees can winter in a single deep hive body if it is chock full going into winter but it is easier to fill that up if they have space to hang out and cluster in a lower box. You dont want the bees to attempt to cluster on uncapped sugar syrup.

Getting boxes drawn in spring would naturally happen better if they are above; this time of year that is not their normal inclination.
 

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Didn't anyone notice that this colony is in trouble as it is?
I am looking at the calendar - September 19.
Somwhere in Montana.

Look at the picture.
How many sims of bees are in this 8 frame box?
4-5?
There are issues on hand and I am not going to try to guess what they are - but I don't like the picture.
OK, most likely this hive lost some swarms to begin with.

Best I can say feed them and see if they can be wintered in a garage (IF there is a laying queen).
But the chances are not that good.
 

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Can you explain what a sim is?
That crack between two frames is "a sim".
This 8-frame box right now must have 7-9 sims of bees poking their heads out.
Then we can start talking of saving the colony in pre-winter.

What do we see?
About nothing.
Zero entrance activity on the picture too.
But we do see that notorious outside feeder (pretty full too).

My take is that the box lost multiple swarms and not much left there inside.
 

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I agree with Greg on the number of seams of bees. Unless they have been shaken off or smoked down ( I only counted 8 bees in the pic.) the population looks below critical mass to go into winter.
 

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So pretty much this was a good swarm generator.
Mostly constricted to a single 8-frame box and most likely well fed with syrup through the summer.
You observe what happened.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you everyone for the advice. I'll open it up better tomorrow to see how the population is doing.

Greg I saw you described the feed as notorious - should we have not been feeding through the summer? They didn't use the feeder as much in summer as flowers were abundant but in the last few weeks the pace has picked up and now they go through a quart every day.
 

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Every occupation has it's own words specific to it's usage. My wife is a quilter and in her world a seam is when two pieces of fabric are joined. In bee keeping when two frames touch each other it's referred to as a seam same as sewing. It's easy to misinterpret words if we only hear them and don't see them written.
 

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Greg I saw you described the feed as notorious - should we have not been feeding through the summer?
Non-stop feeding while having them constrained in space - a good swarming simulator.
I discern this is the situation you created.

No, you should not we have been feeding through the summer.
 

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Yep, you made a couple of mistakes. It may be doomed but there are options if you want to try to save the hive, but members will need to know if you have a queen and a feel for overall population.
Were you inspecting throughout the season and just realized your mistake? During the long, cold Montana winter there are many good bee books to get you up to speed for spring. Good luck. J
 
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