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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I live in the Metro Vancouver area and have a large number of hives. I am considering trying to winter some of them on single brood boxes this year; I am planning to create splits with 6 frames of brood and new local queens, and we also have about 25 July nucs that are filling out to 10 frames now.
For those of you who don't know the Fraser Valley/Metro Vancouver area, our winter/spring weather tends to be more rain and higher temperatures than elsewhere in Canada; we don't get a lot of snow but what we do have in spades is lots of moisture. We also have frequent variations in temperature, meaning bees will sometimes get out and fly earlier than elsewhere, as long as they wear their galoshes!
Any suggestions on how to successfully winter on singles here?
Cheers,
 

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Having lived in the northwest and frequented Seattle a lot, I was always surprised at how similar the weather was in Seattle to here in the south. I would assume that Vancouver is not that much different than Seattle?
With that said, I overwinter a vast majority of my 30+ hives in single deeps...as did my father for 40 years. The bottom line is that if they have plenty of stores and they are healthy mite-wise, they will overwinter fine. With all of my hives, I begin feeding old honey or dry sugar as early as possible in the spring...more for build up than survival. But there has been a time or two where it did help a hive make it.
So the key is....feed, feed, feed
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Having lived in the northwest and frequented Seattle a lot, I was always surprised at how similar the weather was in Seattle to here in the south. I would assume that Vancouver is not that much different than Seattle?
With that said, I overwinter a vast majority of my 30+ hives in single deeps...as did my father for 40 years. The bottom line is that if they have plenty of stores and they are healthy mite-wise, they will overwinter fine. With all of my hives, I begin feeding old honey or dry sugar as early as possible in the spring...more for build up than survival. But there has been a time or two where it did help a hive make it.
So the key is....feed, feed, feed
Thanks for that. I'm saving a fair amount of honey for spring feeding. I had an unfortunate experience last year, not provisioning some enough and they of course failed. So whatever configuration I do, the big lesson learned was make sure they are well-fed.
WE have a smsll covered second floor apiary in our garage - a 6' balcony at one end of the attic - and I am going to try and keep some nucs up there as well. The drawaback, of course, is getting them up there in the first place. But . . . worth a try.
 

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I am pretty sure mild winter is not the answer for bees otherwise Vancouver and the south would be overwhelmed with honey bees. If Vancouver doesn't have a good supply of nectar and pollen then you have to supplement.
 

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I am in metro Vancouver as well. just curious what part you are in as Vancouver has a 2 hives per lot bylaw.

I will likely be looking for mated Queens shortly. What/ who is the local source and could you share their contact number?

We are fortunate in having acreage and the hive restriction doesn't apply.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I am pretty sure mild winter is not the answer for bees otherwise Vancouver and the south would be overwhelmed with honey bees. If Vancouver doesn't have a good supply of nectar and pollen then you have to supplement.
Thanks, Acebird. We do supplement. What I am trying to figure out is whether, with the constant variable weather (sometimes mild, sometimes rainy, infrequently snowy, as opposed to the kind of Canadian winters other places can get) it is better to winter them on double deeps. Is there a danger in wintering on singles and discovering that we haven't really provisioned them enough?
If we do on singles, is there a way of taking the population down to a smaller cluster that will survive well and not eat the hive out of house and home?
 

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Off the top of my head I think a single would be better than a double but your best bet is getting answers from the beekeepers around you.
 

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Then there is always the option of breaking everything down to nucs and over wintering feeding through out. This has been done successfully in the valley. I once over wintered twenty hives in singles with low losses.There was however an empty Dadant on top of the inner cover with a twenty KG bag of sugar placed within. My best solution overall was to have a single deep colony with a dadant added at the beginning of the main flow, under supering with Dadants and taking the honey off leaving the original Dadant on top for their stores. This recommendation came from Richard Taylor my favourite plain English practical comb honey beekeeper.
 

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Also do whatever you can to keep that hive dry. Moisture here is a big problrm. I use a box that hold woid chips yo absorb moisture with a but of space underneath to add dry sugar Mountain Camp style. So far it has worked for me. Water doesnt drip down on the bees and I've even seen them licking the wood chips for water.
 

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Also do whatever you can to keep that hive dry. Moisture here is a big problrm. I use a box that hold woid chips yo absorb moisture with a but of space underneath to add dry sugar Mountain Camp style. So far it has worked for me. Water doesnt drip down on the bees and I've even seen them licking the wood chips for water.
What he/she said! I do exactly that and I've done it with double deeps, single deeps, and 5 frame NUCs and have never lost one to starvation or moisture in that configuration (did have to put a second application of Mountain Camp dry sugar on several mid winter). My climate would be similar to yours, relatively mild yet soggy wet.
 

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Then there is always the option of breaking everything down to nucs and over wintering feeding through out. This has been done successfully in the valley. I once over wintered twenty hives in singles with low losses.
How do they stay warm enough in just a single overwinter? Your climate may be warmer than mine - temps here get to 0 or sometimes dip below, wind chills can be brutal, and winters tend to be fairly long. Is a single enough room for a cluster to stay warm AND hold honey frames? Or do you depend solely on sugar at the top for feed?
 

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I did have sugar on top as in CC Millers 'Fifty Years Among the Bees' for my best results and still do. Insurance. The single deep going into winter must have a minimum 40 pounds of honey on board. For the most interesting read on this topic go to Pederson brothers, Cut Knife, Saskatchewan. The three Pederson brothers discovered accidently that bees can winter through in a singe deep and then went on to show an increase in production when the bees were kept with an excluder in the single deep brood chamber. It can go to 30 below and stay there for days in Sask. PS if you stay in one deep you must pull honey out or lose brood raising space.
 

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I did have sugar on top as in CC Millers 'Fifty Years Among the Bees' for my best results and still do. Insurance. The single deep going into winter must have a minimum 40 pounds of honey on board. For the most interesting read on this topic go to Pederson brothers, Cut Knife, Saskatchewan. The three Pederson brothers discovered accidently that bees can winter through in a singe deep and then went on to show an increase in production when the bees were kept with an excluder in the single deep brood chamber. It can go to 30 below and stay there for days in Sask. PS if you stay in one deep you must pull honey out or lose brood raising space.
I bookmarked both those sites and will read them, thank you.

One deep will hold 40 lbs. of honey and a cluster? That sounds pretty crowded. I have used all mediums, easier to lift, and the frames are all interchangeable, but I see the advantage of using deeps for brood chambers to organize them.
 

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I agree. I am changing to Dadants for the reasons you have noted plus it is much easier on your back. I am slowly going over to PF120 small cell and foundationless frames throwing out the old brood combs. Two mediums have more capacity than one deep. It is the frame interchangeability that I like best and additionally a person can make mediums and save a dollar, next to impossible for deeps.
 
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