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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was just in my shed getting out Christmas decorations to do the garden, beeyard & meadow when I got this hairbrained idea: What if I were to take my weak hive and move it into the shed with the entrance at the window so the bees could come and go? The entrance would be facing east, they'd be completely out of the wind, rain and snow. Do you think they'd have a better chance of surviving the winter this way, or in our mild winters do you think it wouldn't make any difference?
 

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There are a number of factors to consider.
Rain as long as it does not get into the hive does not hurt the situation.

Snow, depending on the minimum temperatures, and how much there is, can actually help the situation by acting and an insulation blanket.

Wind reduction during the winter, always seems to help.

How much does the sheds temperature fluctuate? If it will minimize the lows, and low temps are a problem, then it will help. If on the other hand it reduces solar gain during the day, and reduces the temperature rise during the day, it hurts.

I would tend to think that if your winters are mild, it would not really help the hive.

Being close to the ocean, I would think that mositure and ventilation would be of concern.

Taking a quick look at your local forecast:

I would move the hives into full sun for as long as possible around the mid day.

Your weather looks to be fairly mild, with short periods of cold weather.

I would keep feeding the hives syrup and even some pollen.

Plan and look ahead. When is your spring nectar flow? You want your queen laying strong at least 44 days before your nectar flows start.

Keep working them around your weather as much as you can.


[This message has been edited by MountainCamp (edited December 03, 2004).]
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mountaincamp, thanks for your brilliant summation. Being a newbie, I often go into "overkill." That's why I always post here before pursuing a new idea. The only reason I was mulling this idea over is because this particular hive is in an ongoing battle with yellowjackets. They've basically given up and the YJs go in and out of the hive to consume the syrup in the hivetop feeder (I'm building a robbing screen and putting it on tomorrow). They seem to be leaving the bees alone now since this time of the year there are no YJ babies to feed. There's only about 3 frame sides full of bees in this hive and I'm hoping they can keep themselves warm enough through the winter. The hives are in an ideal place for most hives--face southeast and get sun at least 6 hours a day, with a windbreak directly to the rear with distant windbreaks on both sides (it's 60 degrees right now and the bees are flying). Only the front has no windbreak, but the wind never comes from the southeast, at least not so's it would make a difference. Upon reflection, that shed stays cold long after the weather's warmed up, so cancel the whole thing. dcross, I know! And I'm originally from NJ! NC winters are really not cold at all. I actually feed throughout the winter season because there's always at least one or two days every week that my girls are flying! Miki, thanks for making it unanimous. Ordinarily, I wouldn't be worried about losing hives during the winter--I brought three through last year which by August had grown to seven--but I'm worried about this small colony. I guess I'll just feed like the dickens and hope for the best. Thanks to all.
 
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Tia don't you have another hive??? If you do you could try what I am trying to do. I took my weak hive and put it over the stronger hive with a double screened inner cover between them. Left the bottom with a lower entrance and the top hive with an upper entrace. (I used an upside down bottom board with the reducer still stuck to it as the lid). I got the idea from Honey bee man I think. He does this with his nucs. might have bill hillbilly. I don't know it wasn't my original idea. LOL

Rod
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I thought of that, but like I said, I feed my bees throughout the winter. If I were to stack the weak hive on top with a double screen separating the two colonies, how would I feed the lower colony?
 
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Well I guess as your strong colony it shouldn't need feeding now should it?
You could do open feeding, or one of those feeder things that slips in the entrance although most people don't seem to like those. Now that it's gotten cold enough for my bees to cluster any robbing that I had going on is over. I sure can feel the heat coming out of the top entrance, which is pretty cool.

Rod
 

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Yellow jackets have been terrible this year, haven't they? I tried everything to get ridc of them, but only cold weather stopped them. No matter how many I killed there were always more.

I have a similar problem, I *THINK that I will just feed them, and mound the grass clippings and such around them for better insulation. I already have a windbreak set up.
 

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Tia: Putting your weak colony on top of a stronger one in your area, would most likely not buy you very much. Your temps are not that cold, that they cluster for long periods to produce heat.
If you have Nuc boxes, setting this weak hive up using the nuc boxes stacked, would help more. It would reduce the volume of the hive and put the cluster closer to the sides with solar gain.
You could stack the boxes 2 or 3 high and use jar feeders on the top bars.

As far as having to feed, sometimes being in a warmer area will cause the colony to consume more honey, then in one in a colder region over the same period of time.
An air temperature around the cluster of 45F is the most efficient for honey consumption. Above and below that temperature the colony uses more honey to generate heat or because they are more active.
The reason that southern bee keepers go in to winter with less stores is the length of nectar dearth, not the amount of honey consumes over similar time periods.

Terri: For Eastern Kansas, I don’t have a feel for your winters. But, if you have a colony that is light and you want to feed them for as long as possible. I would use a felt paper wrap and jar feeders. Our temps for lows now are in the teens, with highs in the upper 20’s / low 30’s. I still have jar feeders on all of my hives and re-filled 6 gallons for 15 hives yesterday.

I am going to NJ today to help friends finish getting their hives ready for winter. They are telling me that they are light, they think. We will see what they are like, but I plan on wrapping their hives, which should allow them to feed through most of the winter. Their average highs during January & February are in the 30’s. By the end of February the Maples are popping and the season has begun again.

So much of beekeeping is dependent on local conditions and one answer does not fit all situations.
 
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