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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Within the last couple of days I read (... or think I read - old age is beginning to take it's toll) a post in which the writer suggested that 60 lbs of stores were required for overwintering within their region. Wherever that was.

Anyway, that post triggered a memory I had of a comment which Moses Quinby made within his book 'Mysteries' (1859):
"After deciding what kind of hive we want, the next important point is the size. Dr. Bevan, an English author, recommends a size "eleven and three-eights (#) inches square by nine deep in the clear," making only about 1200 inches (##), and so few pounds necessary to winter the bees that when I read it I found myself wondering if the English inch and pound were the same as ours."

(#) A small mistake - Bevan actually wrote: "eleven and five-eights inches square by nine deep in the clear ...", 'The Honey Bee', Edward Bevan 1843, p.32

(##) 1200 cu.in. = 20 Litres, i.e. 1/2 the volume of a modern-day 'standard' brood box.


Bevan had suggested 18 lbs of winter stores, and mentions a) a guy named Isaac who managed with 8 lbs, and b) Huber who managed with even less. Bevan also mentions experiments conducted by Hunter and Keys in which they concluded that on average 8 lbs was sufficient from the beginning of October to the end of May (that is, if Spring proved to be 'ungenial'), and that in the first six months of Winter on average not more than 5 lbs were consumed. Less if the weather was colder.

I can well imagine some raised US eyebrows at such figures .... :)

So how about Warre, as his hive had very similar dimensions to that of Bevan ?

Emile Warre states that, following extensive experiments, that 12 kg (26.5 lbs) of winter stores are required. (But he doesn't define 'Winter' as Bevan does)
Warre's full-size boxes (the ones to which he was referring) were 400mm (16") deep and so would have had a volume of 2300 cu.in. He was of the firm opinion that box volume and stores requirements are proportional, and so adjusting his 26.5 lbs for a 1200 cu.in. box would give us a tad less than 14 lbs.

There can't possibly be any precise accuracy involved with such figures of course, as there are so many variables involved: strength of colony; local climatic conditions; breed of bee, and so forth - but there's a world of difference between stores in the sub-20 lb. range and the 60 lbs. cited for a 'conventional' hive - and this may be of interest to those keeping bees on a tight budget.

I can't offer much in the way of personal experience on this one, as I'm fairly relaxed about the amount of winter stores my hives have, for as some of you already know I place small jars of fondant over the Crown Board (inner cover) to act as 'fuel gauges' in view of our wildly erratic winter temperatures.
In many of the hives that fondant remains untouched (as at today, 23rd March), but two hives exhausted that fondant by the 26th February, and have been given small amounts of 2:1 sugar syrup (1/3rd of a pint every other day) since that time in order to keep them 'ticking over'. These are two of the most powerful colonies I have, and are in boxes twice the size of most other colonies - so this would appear to support the idea of a direct relationship existing between large colonies in large boxes requiring proportionally larger amounts of winter stores than smaller colonies in smaller boxes.
'best
LJ
 

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little john,
do we know what states these folks kept in, could be in the place they were it was right.

when my dad gave me his bees in 78 he kept in 3 deeps, and insisted the top one be full for winter. in spring at dandelion bloom we made 3 10 frame splits. would get 3 of 4 thru winter somewhat consistently. he called the bee a "black Italian". I recall as a kid when the bears hit them they would face hit and sting out 200 yards from the hives. mean by todays standard. so the bees of the 1859 is not the bee of today I would think.

I like to read the old books they have some interesting tidbits in them.

I like your fondant idea, the fuse. could have a LED and sensor on each side of the jar and get a text when the light shine thru,, high tech fuse....:)

GG
 

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I think it is important to consider hive box size as being a contributing factor. In a large box many more pounds of honey are in outside frames and corners. One quote was that 15 pounds honey left and the bees are starving. They really cannot run around and clean the corners. They certainly wont if they are covering brood in late winter / spring. Adding to the stranded honey would be the likelihood of a smaller cluster going into winter.

Throw in the Carni / Italian ~ factors and you have a question with no one simple answer.

I had one stacked nuc 3 x 5 frame deeps that absolutely starved out this past winter and I felt from tipping it in the fall that it should have been rolling in wealth. It did show some unconfirmed nosema symptoms but other than that I am baffled.
 

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I think it is important to consider hive box size as being a contributing factor. In a large box many more pounds of honey are in outside frames and corners. One quote was that 15 pounds honey left and the bees are starving. They really cannot run around and clean the corners. They certainly wont if they are covering brood in late winter / spring. Adding to the stranded honey would be the likelihood of a smaller cluster going into winter.

Throw in the Carni / Italian ~ factors and you have a question with no one simple answer.

I had one stacked nuc 3 x 5 frame deeps that absolutely starved out this past winter and I felt from tipping it in the fall that it should have been rolling in wealth. It did show some unconfirmed nosema symptoms but other than that I am baffled.
Frank
I agree seems each hive has a similar weight in fall and some have plenty left and some run out.
I have had a few small/NUCs surprise me with low stores as well.
Last year had one that went into fall with 5 solid frames of bees and 5 frames of honey, 50% honey should be fine. By spring I had 10 frames of bees and no honey left, they kept growing all winter, was odd, fortunately I had a deep on top with an old blanket and was offering 1/4 pollen patty and sugar bricks spritzed with water from feb on or they would have been dead.
also have seen frame 1 and 10 underutilized, starting to really like my 8 frame gear :)

GG
 

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One thing to consider is simple geometry.

Take a pencil and paper and do the arithmetic on surface area/volume ratio.

You will see that 300x300 (~12x12) square is about 15% more energy efficient vs. the compatible 6-frame Lang (6-frame is the closest compatible Lang setup).
The square is even more efficient than the skinnier 5-frame Lang (a typical nuc).
Unsure about the 8-frame at the moment, don't remember the numbers (been a while since I did all this math).

Pretty much energy loss in the square setup is significantly less for the same exact volume and other compatible factors.

So all things being equal - the square just easier on the wintering bees (less energy drain, less food consumption requirement).

Which, of course, is old news and is a known fact in human buildings - compare the cubic volume to all other volumes

(if you think about it - the skeps beat every rectangular box by a mile in energy efficiency department)
 

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One thing to consider is simple geometry.

Take a pencil and paper and do the arithmetic on surface area/volume ratio.

You will see that 300x300 (~12x12) square is about 15% more energy efficient vs. the compatible 6-frame Lang (6-frame is the closest compatible Lang setup).
The square is even more efficient than 5-frame Lang (a typical nuc).
Unsure about the 8-frame at the moment, don't remember the numbers.

Pretty much energy loss in the square setup is significantly less for the same exact volume and other compatible factors.

So all things being equal - the square just easier on the wintering bees (less energy drain, less food consumption requirement).
:)

Round is even more efficient in perimeter to volume ratio. The bees in trees had that sussed out a long time ago.:) Especially for Carni bees the 8 frames might indeed winter better or with insulated followers either side to replace outer frames, like Enjambres seemed to favor.
 

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:)

Round is even more efficient in perimeter to volume ratio. The bees in trees had that sussed out a long time ago.:) Especially for Carni bees the 8 frames might indeed winter better or with insulated followers either side to replace outer frames, like Enjambres seemed to favor.
Like I said - the skep.

But we all know - the dimensional lumber and movable frame hard to get by without.
So - back to the cube - the best, practical alternative (and the only legal in most places).
 

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Btw, the "6-framer" beekeeper channel came back to life.
This subject is exactly the point of a recent video - he left extra super with honey on top of his standard 6-frame deep (there was too many bees in the preceding fall).
Turned out the extra honey super was not needed and hardly used.
A single 6-frame box still has plenty of honey left still in it.

Granted, the "6-framer" is based on a mild region (something about USDA 6-7 on average I recall).
But the 2020/2021 winter was cold and ran one month longer for him - so that's a pretty good demo.

Auto-translate is needed as usually:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Just posted on another thread about the above figures (post #1) contrasted with 60lbs of stores being considered an improvement resulting from insulation, which reminded me of this thread.

It seems to me that something really fundamental has changed within the world of beekeeping between the early 19th Century and today. It could simply be the bees of course - back then AMM was all there was, and AMM are known to be a frugal bee, whereas Italians are completely the reverse.

Overwintering much smaller colonies in smaller boxes - that must also have played a part.

Can't say I'm sold on the "can't have too much insulation" argument - for if the bees are warming an insulated cavity, that means that they're not tightly clustered, so heat can escape from the cluster but not escape to the same extent from the cavity itself, which progressively becomes warmer, and so the bees cluster even less tightly ... and so on. And the warmer the bees, the more active they become - hence the honey consumption.

This observation wasn't lost on Bevan (1827):
"A variety of experiments were made by Mr. John Hunter and Mr. Keys, to ascertain the quantity consumed during the respective months of winter and spring, and they all led to one conclusion, namely, that it amounted upon an average to eight pounds, taking the season through, from the beginning of October to the end of May, when the spring proves ungenial. During the first six months the consumption was not more than five pounds upon an average, and the colder the weather the smaller was the consumption."

The 'Absence of Excessive Insulation" is also a feature of Warre's design:
"To my great surprise, I noticed straight away that the bees consumed less of their stores in the hives with single walls where they would feel the cold still more in winter. This is however normal. In single-walled hives, the bees are torpid; they are as if in a continuous sleep. Now, who dines in that condition ? With hives with warm walls, the bees are active for longer, and thus have need of sustenance. The single-walled hive thus economises on wood and stores, by as much as 2 kg from November to February."

Gray Goose asked earlier about the States where the beekeepers I mentioned operated from (sorry about the late reply): Moses Quinby hailed from New York: originally Coxsackie, Greene County, and later St. Johnsville, Montgomery County - he made reference on several occasions to latitude 42 degrees, which is the same as Michigan (I had to look that one up :) ) - so 'tis fairly Northern. Bevan was of course British, Emile Warre was from Northern France.

Quinby is on record as saying: "A stock of bees will, generally, consume a pound of honey per month, betwixt the 1st of October and the 1st of March: from this time to the end of May, they will consume two pounds per month"

On another occasion he wrote: "Not one swarm in fifty will consume twenty-five pounds of honey through the winter, that is, from the last of September to the first of April (six months). The average loss in that time is about eighteen pounds; but the critical time is later — about the last of May or first of June, in many places."

At a pound a month, simple arithmetic makes 5 pounds of honey between Oct and Feb inclusive, and another 6 pounds of honey from March to May inclusive = 11 pounds total.
In the second paragraph he talks about 18 pounds being consumed during exactly the same period - so either he's referring to different hive types or, more likely imo, he's simply being descriptive, rather than supplying data for analysis. :) But regardless of the discrepancy, these are very small numbers.

Greg - have you any info on what amount of stores (typically) are required in practice for either the 6-frame commercial or the Warre-sized CVH stacks ? Even 'best-guess' would be useful.
'bast,
LJ
 

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Greg - have you any info on what amount of stores (typically) are required in practice for either the 6-frame commercial or the Warre-sized CVH stacks ? Even 'best-guess' would be useful.
'bast,
LJ
Hey LJ,
I will compile some numbers and will post back.
I have several sources to look up about "6-frame commercial or the Warre-sized CVH stacks"
But also typical Dadant keepers usually winter hive-inside-hive configurations - which amount to 5-8 frames setups and no bigger (this includes the northern-most areas). And the typical Ukrainian frame operators are just the same - 5-8 frame wintering sets (regardless of how big the summer size colonies will be).

For the compatibilty sake, here is a table of typical Dadant/Ukrainian setups (based on 3-4 kg per a deep Dadant/Ukrainian frame)
  • 5 frames - 35-45 lbs in stores (small colony)
  • 6 frames - 42-54 lbs in stores (smallish colony)
  • 7 frames - 49-63 lbs in stores (medium colony)
  • 8 frames - 56-72 lbs in stores (medium-large colony)
  • 9 frames - 63-81 lbs in stores (large colony)
  • 10 frames - 70-90 lbs in stores (large colony)
 

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So this 6-framer guy is based in UZDA zone 6-7.
Mild and short winter typically.
He winters on 5-6 Dadant frames.
A single box per his standard unit.
Directly on his trailer - just a row of boxes on each side.
That is 35-45 (5f) to 42-54 (6f) lbs per a colony.


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This guy says he winters on 2-3 boxes.
I got a picture of his 2-box setups so let it be two boxes (equivalent to 9 Dadant frames)
USDA Zone 4.
His frames are 1/2 Dadant frames.
300x300 square insulated CV boxes.

Per my calculations - he runs 63-72 lbs of stores for rather long 6-7 months winter.

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This guy here says he runs 3 boxes into the winter when goes into a shed.
But he also tried it outside on 5 boxes (as pictured) - this is equivalent to 9-10 Dadant frames.
Small frame is about 1/4 of the Dadant frame.
300x300 style design.
USDA zone 3.
Also 6-7 months of no flying.
My calculation is his 5-box setups run 70-90 lbs of stores.
The 3-box setup for in-shed wintering - 49-63 lbs.

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Then there is this guy.
Another 300x300 variant (I largely model my own CVH after this guy).
USDA zone 7 (just like Texas - hot and dry).
He just winters on two small boxes - pictured.
I estimate 42-54lbs for his winter (very similar to the 6-framer guy above).

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Heck, another one for a good measure.
Also a 300x300 variant (identical hive model to that of my post #13 above).
The climate is milder however - USDA 5-6 (kind of IL, USA).
Guy winters outside - anywhere from 3 boxes to 4 boxes to 5 boxes.
Winter stores appropriately - 42-54lbs to 56-72lbs to 70-90 lbs.

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This guy runs about 63-81 lbs in stores.

300x300 variant too but on a larger frames - about 1/2 Dadant in size (equivalent to Lang medium frame, but rather a squarish frame).
Winters on two boxes - outside.
No special provisions; no wraps, just thick wood.
USDA zone 4-ish.


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Greg - have you any info on what amount of stores (typically) are required in practice for either the 6-frame commercial or the Warre-sized CVH stacks ? Even 'best-guess' would be useful.
'bast,
LJ
OK, I gave you many examples.

Most all of these run at least somewhat localized bee and/or some kind of Carni mixes.

However, the 6-framer guy runs some kind of Italian derivative as he says.
So he stuffs them up into 6 frame boxes just the same.
 

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I run several Warres in Britain. They typically use half a box of stores over winter, about 6kg or 13-14 lbs in your money.

I've read Quimby recently. Bee farmer. Used stimulative feeding, and swarm weights imply huge colonies by our modern UK standards. I am using bees a bit like his (40- 60% Amm) and not feeding. So I have small colonies, well insulated hive, mild winters, low fuel requirements. Quimby's bees would need more stores (larger colonies, harsher winters, NY state I think). Huber was in Switzerland, extreme winters, primitive hives so even though he had pure Amm I would be surprised if his bees used less than 8 lbs.
 

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I run several Warres in Britain. They typically use half a box of stores over winter, about 6kg or 13-14 lbs in your money.

I've read Quimby recently. Bee farmer. Used stimulative feeding, and swarm weights imply huge colonies by our modern UK standards. I am using bees a bit like his (40- 60% Amm) and not feeding. So I have small colonies, well insulated hive, mild winters, low fuel requirements. Quimby's bees would need more stores (larger colonies, harsher winters, NY state I think). Huber was in Switzerland, extreme winters, primitive hives so even though he had pure Amm I would be surprised if his bees used less than 8 lbs.
Carni-derived bees could be just as frugal as the Amm.
Or even the Italian derived bees could winter in smaller clusters (if that is the goal).

It is just here in the US, many hobbyists (especially the beginners) see no difference between themselves and the commercial operators and follow the same patterns.
 
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