Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner
41 - 60 of 168 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,249 Posts
I think moisture is important, however unlimited supply may be a detriment.
Yes, then couple that with a humid maritime winter climate as some contributors have and at the very least you'd be replacing bottom boards on a predictable schedule due to rot if not the bees too.
Too much of a good thing ain't so good.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
533 Posts
Maybe I've not seen this mentioned: so I'll just ask. Isn't that a hive with a single entrance at that point? If you need a UE because of snow like that you are effectively using a single entrance for the whole winter. It's not at all the same as someone in a different climate having an upper in addition to a lower. As a matter of fact, what I see there is a really well-insulated hive (snow) with a single entrance.
It's a single only if there's not another one besides the UE, such as a bottom entrance (whether blocked by snow or not).

TBH; Even when snow has covered the bottom entrances of our hives, bees soon find their way out by either drilling out through the snow themselves - or - perhaps it's the air they are pushing toward the outside? I'm uncertain as to the 'how' but the results are the same. Bee sized holes leading out through the snow. We've never had a bottom entrance freeze up or remain blocked by snow very long before bees figure it out while using both a top and bottom entrance.

Now, that all being said; with the elimination of top entrances this Winter, we will observe this phenomena (bees creating their own exits through snow) much closer and will more readily remove snow when it covers bottom entrances, something we never concerned ourselves with in past years when using top and bottom entrances.

Something New (the Beatles 3rd LP) to try and hopefully an assist to our bees....Guess we'll find out, heh?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,678 Posts
Gotta be careful with those absolute terms! Like "snow". It aint all the same! Fluffy snow like we have seen picture in numerous claims that it is all good, and free insulation. It sure as heck does not filll the bill when it happens to have been a heavy wet snowfall turning to rain and then a snap below zero temperature drop. I had multiple colony losses in just this scenario and I believe it may have been the same weather event that caught Grey Goose with similar results not so many miles away in Michigan.

Bees lose muscle action when their individual body temperatures drop below 45F. so they dont make effective tunnelers if they have to leave the cluster and go attend the bottom entrance issues. If you depend entirely on a bottom entrance for breathing air for bees, keep an eye on external blockage and remember that sloped bottom boards can be most effectively blocked by dead bees and ice formed from condensate dripping into the dead bees. Keep an eye on this.

I am going into winter this year with zero upper entrance or venting, but I can open an upper entrance to every hive with just the pull of a blocker strip without removing the top..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,678 Posts
Yes, then couple that with a humid maritime winter climate as some contributors have and at the very least you'd be replacing bottom boards on a predictable schedule due to rot if not the bees too.
Too much of a good thing ain't so good.
My son had a lot of his hives sitting on pallets directly on the ground. Ground moisture rising and adding to whatever moisture the bees create sure rots bottom boards.(n)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
406 Posts
Maybe I've not seen this mentioned: so I'll just ask. Isn't that a hive with a single entrance at that point? If you need a UE because of snow like that you are effectively using a single entrance for the whole winter. It's not at all the same as someone in a different climate having an upper in addition to a lower. As a matter of fact, what I see there is a really well-insulated hive (snow) with a single entrance.
A single entrance yes, but a single ventilation source no.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
533 Posts
As Winter sets in, even before we ever considered eliminating top entrances, we simply lean a piece of plywood (or any wide board) against the front. Those hives are usually protected from most storms (including the type described by Frank), but sometimes they blown down or we don't have enough to go around. That's when we observe the bees doing the work of clearing a path/tunnel out. Like I said, I don't know 'how' that is accomplished, whether the bees dig it out or whether it's the warm air escaping, or a combo....and....we're uncertain whether it will occur now that we've eliminated top entrances. Wondering, wondering....We also use some of these same plywood pieces to provide shade during the summer.

Our bee yard has a wooden 6' fence on the N/W side and faces several open gardens, then forest and lakes to the south. They are as protected as they can be shy of placing them all inside a building.

We got some flurries last night and early this am, bottom entrances are protected from whatever comes our way....we hope.

Alas, winter has come, so let the pacing begin until Spring. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
533 Posts
My son had a lot of his hives sitting on pallets directly on the ground. Ground moisture rising and adding to whatever moisture the bees create sure rots bottom boards.(n)
So true, one of the best pieces of advise I've ever got was to get them off the ground, any way one can.

However, it was the same old guy that insisted that a notched inner cover was mandatory to provide ventilation :unsure:....so...?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
406 Posts
Like I said, I don't know 'how' that is accomplished, whether the bees dig it out or whether it's the warm air escaping,
The warm air makes a pocket in the snow.

The hives up here that beekeepers completely bury with snow always have a chimney melted thru, that heat has to go somewhere. They have both top and bottom vents and I would assume that since snow is a great insulator, that it also protects the hive from the -40C air moving into the hive. It might be -40C outside but tucked under feet of snow in a pocket of warm air that escapes from the hive 24/7 I would doubt that the air that ventilates the hive is -40C.
 

·
Premium Member
Mutts.
Joined
·
472 Posts
and remember that sloped bottom boards can be most effectively blocked by dead bees and ice formed from condensate dripping into the dead bees.
This raises a question. Since most screened bottom boards have a small un-screened border inside, could this happen with them as well?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
111 Posts
We will on occasion throughout the winter clear the entrances of bees when we make our rounds. The type of winter we have determines how often that is. But our double deeps have upper entrances and only our singles and nucs have just the bottom entrances. But we have never found so much condensation that icy bees blocked the entrances. Often a quiet colony has very little condensation compared to those that are more active, which makes sense.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,799 Posts
If your hive is dropping enough dead bees to cover the screened bottom board...then that's a bigger problem.

Many hives have just a few dozen down there even after months without a cleansing flight.

Only the ones that die or get severely weak from a pest like a shrew, will have enough down there to cover the screened bb.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
728 Posts
If your hive is dropping enough dead bees to cover the screened bottom board...then that's a bigger problem.

Many hives have just a few dozen down there even after months without a cleansing flight.

Only the ones that die or get severely weak from a pest like a shrew, will have enough down there to cover the screened bb.
Not my experience. The bottom boards on my hives get a LOT of dead bees over winter.
 
  • Like
Reactions: crofter

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,799 Posts
Hmmm. Well I've measured and scooped how many bees are down there.

In stressed out weak colonies (shrew damage, mite issues), it's on the order of 500+ bees. Over the course of the whole winter - perhaps 1000-2000 in very bad situations. Those ones have the whole entire bottom board with dead bees, generally a sign of a colony without much hope. It's gruesome. I notice they cleanse out the dead pretty frequently.

The stronger ones of course have dead bees on the bottom board too - but on a warm day with snow on the ground, they'll kick those dead bees out. I can then actually go and count how many have been removed.

It's not thousands.

Just note that my observations are in colonies with few mites if any. Not saying others have mites - but that's the condition where I made my observation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
406 Posts
The stronger ones of course have bees - but on a warm day with snow on the ground, they'll kick those dead bees out - and I can actually go and count how many have been removed.
We might be talking apples and oranges here. If you are in an area where they get a few days during the winter to kick the bees out or the dying can go die outside the hive the build up in the hive will be less. If, however, it is too cold for months at a time I expect the build up can, and does block the exit of those bees cleaning the hive.

Here is a great video Ian Steppler did last winter. It addresses the need for bees to get water in winter, condensation on the inner cover and at the beginning he sweeps up a lot of bees that are dead by Jan. These bees are from the hives in the row he is sweeping as his shed is dark and the bees don't fly.

 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,799 Posts
Hmmm, well as with most beekeepers here, my bees generally occupy a cluster that encompasses 8 frames entering into winter.

By spring they have 6. So obviously, those 2 frames went somewhere, but I do not find 2 frames of bees dead in the hive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,678 Posts
Maybe they are occupying the space that was filled by the 40 pounds or so of honey they consumed ;)

I must be doing something wrong or my bees are sloppy house keepers because I seem to have close to half an inch of bees on the front half of the bottom board on surviving double deep colonies.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,799 Posts
Could also be entrance reducers, if that's what's being used. My shrew guards give them a nearly open front entrance with holes that stop shrews from entering - but plenty of room for them to haul out the dead.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
728 Posts
I must be doing something wrong or my bees are sloppy house keepers because I seem to have close to half an inch of bees on the front half of the bottom board on surviving double deep colonies.
Same here. That is on surviving colonies.

I use a slatted rack on all of my hives, and one feature I like is that the baffle accross the front prevents plugging the entrance area.
Could also be entrance reducers, if that's what's being used. My shrew guards give them a nearly open front entrance with holes that stop shrews from entering - but plenty of room for them to haul out the dead.
I have not noticed much effort towards hauling out the dead bees in the depth of winter. I believe most of the dead on the snow are actually bees that have flown out and died, whether by poor choice or as a colony preservation mechanism when they are sick/dying.
 
41 - 60 of 168 Posts
Top