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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am in a northern zone that gets a hard frost about now, according to locals the hives should be wrapped up and done by the first week in Oct.

I have a deep hive that I think has no eggs and no brood, I did find the queen and by the size of her abdomen she looks to be mated, but I am not sure if she is a late supercedure or if they just chewed off her paint spot. There was lots of brood on Aug 21, but not much larvae and no eggs. I went on holidays, checked the hive Sept 4 and found no brood but I did find the queen. I did not check for eggs at that time as I forgot. I will insert a picture and ask if this is larvae. Because my eyes are not great I took pictures of my frames and with magnification I saw these cells in the bottom right, is there larvae in there, I am not sure.
Beehive Honeycomb Pollinator Apiary Insect



My questions are, could she have shut down early, and if so should I continue to feed large amounts without the presence of much brood or slow it down? My other two hives are taking a gallon every two days but they were swarms with virgin queens early in July and have lots of brood, larvae but not many eggs.

Our nights were consistently under 10C and the days have been around 15C to 18C for two weeks, although we are now in a very nice warm spell. Should I continue fall feeding and let them fill up their honey stores or will they fill it up to the point that they do not have room to cluster properly. I understand that it is the emerging fall brood that creates space and keeps the bees from filling every available cell, or do I have it all wrong.

I am treating with Apivar strips, put on Aug 15 when my supers came off.
 

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Not sure but would offer a quick observation-could you be looking at winter bees and she shut down for the winter already? 10C is not that cold for night temps-what the forage like up there?
 

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Do you have asters and golden rod still blooming?
There could be some eggs and/or larvae in there. It's hard to tell from the photo.
When does your first snow usually arrive?
Anyway, it's best to try and tilt the hives up from the back. If it feels like a box of rocks, the bees should be OK. You can still use an in-hive feeder if they are light.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It is usually below 10C, many nights at 4C, some 6C so pretty close to freezing temps. Not much is blooming up here with the strange early summer and extremely high temps. Our first snow can be as early as Oct. 6.

I was wondering if she shut down due to the Apivar, and then it got colder. The last eggs were back before Aug 21 so I thought that might be a little early for her to stop laying for the year. My other two hives are still OK, maybe she is a little bit of a Diva and won't lay when it gets cold LOL.

If these are winter bees, and I hope so, I think this hive would be OK if she is a newly mated queen as the hive is booming with bees and she won't have to lay replacements. Today is drone moving day in that hive, everybody out!

I would lift the hive but it is a long deep layens. The stores in the other frames look good but they are not backfilling the brood combs yet I was just concerned that too much syrup too fast would not leave them a place to cluster.
 

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I will insert a picture and ask if this is larvae.
I will go on a limb and say this - you do have larvae on the picture.
I don't see the larvae itself, of course.
But I do see shiny liquid on the bottoms of those cells - pretty darn sure so.
This tells me there are 1-2 day larvae floating on the cell bottoms.

Also - pay attention to your own picture.
Count how many bees looking inside the seemingly empty cells with something shiny down there.
Yep - these are the nurse bees doing their job.

Verify in 3-4 days and pretty darn sure I will be correct

I say, give them a week to setup a good batch of September/October bees.
Then feed for the winter setup.
 

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Listen to your locals. If they say the hives should be ready by the beginning of October, then they have a reason to say that. That's about a month ahead of me, so your bees shutting down about now would be about right proportionally.
 

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Echo local knowledge. The smart ones weigh hives and know how many pounds to put on. For every gallon you get 10 pounds of weight. I'm not strong enough to tip my stacks onto a scale.

As odd as this sounds you actually want to encourage backfilling (opposite of spring when that encourages swarming). I'm in 6a and start with reducing down to winter config (done). Then have 2, 5 gallon buckets of ProSweet- Mannlake to start the winter nest. It's a pro grade very thick liquid feed. Expensive but worth it. Starting my 2nd bucket today. At about the 15th I"ll start sugar syrup 2:1 and feed an additional week. Then I'll be completely neurotic to the end of the month over the balance. Your question is great about "can you feed too much". A local pro in my area told me years ago that I need large hives going into winter so I've always erred on the side of over feeding, knowing the bees know how to compensate.
 

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Importantly, with your long hives AND cold climate - you want first to reduce to the number of frames allocated for the winter and only then feed for the winter.
This should be clear, but never know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Thanks all, I decided to go in the hive after reading these answers. It is about 4 days from that picture and yes there is capped brood. Yea!

We are now experiencing a week of high temps. so that should aide them in drying out the sugar syrup I need to feed.

Thanks for the reminder Greg, I do have long hives but for some reason, don't ask me why, I wanted them to fill out all 16 deep frames but I did not remember that the only important ones will be the winter configuration ones. I decreased the number down to 9 in both the long deep hives. The 9 is done simple because of my hive dimensions and this number fits underneath a med. 8 frame super that will be used for emergency spring feed and a quilt box.
 

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I wanted them to fill out all 16 deep frames but I did not remember that the only important ones will be the winter configuration ones. I decreased the number down to 9 in both the long deep hives.
See?
Exactly. I just knew it.

You don't want the winter stores splattered across the 16 frames.
You want the winter stores to be packed into 6-9 frames (whatever is your case).
 

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I think there is considerable difference in strategy for wintering depending on you predominant bee type. Whether you are strong towards carniolan or towards italian habits. Italians may go into winter with far too many bees and keep breeding rather than making stores. Liquid feed can be used to curtail that effect but timing is critical. I see Ian Steppler, the Canadian Beekeeper on Youtube, speak about it. I have never raised bees other than Carniolan type with only a bit of italian content so this is not first hand knowledge.

I use the colony target weight method with 125 pounds for a double deep 10 frames colonies. The bees seem to know where to put the stores and gradually force the queen down into the lower box. When the last of the brood emerges from the upper box central frames there is some empty comb for cluster space, partially in each box.

Doing an examination and count of frames of capped stores can eliminate the need to weigh but I find in the fall that frames are gettting propolised and bridged and pulling them is really risky to knackering the queen when it is too late for replacement. I will be going entirely by the scale and watching the entrance.

A meat scale to hook under the edge of the bottom board allows one to nudge up one side of the stack an eighth of an inch. add the weights of the two sides and you have the colony weight with decent accuracy. I would not in my wildest dream, think of tipping the entire colonies up on edge and onto a bathroom scales!

Some folks who run italian flavor bees suggest a gross colony weight should be 140 to 150 lbs for a similar climate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
See?
Exactly. I just knew it.
Us newbies, we are so transparent😃

Long hive management is a challenge and I almost went to the standard langs this season but I am extremely glad I did not. I did put a swarm in a double deep lang because it was all the equipment I had and I find it a chore to dismantle it to check the queen, brood, apply treatment or do any hive jobs that need to be done. My back won't take even an eight frame super and just the thought of having to take down all the boxes, rather than just opening a lid to inspect makes me not want to do the job. Silly I know, but the long deep hive set up spoiled me and IMO as a hobby keeper it is important to enjoy working with the bees, not resent them.

Crofter, my queen was described as a Carnolian Kona cross from a local beekeeper. I follow Ian Steppler, I love his videos and even though he winters in a shed his information as to when certain hive chores should be done is valuable. I am quite a bit northwards of him so I err on the side of about 1- 2 weeks earlier when I should preform the same winter prep tasks as he does.
 

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If there's a queen, she should be laying...it's pretty odd if a queen is present and not laying, AND you are feeding.

If your eyes aren't good come back in a week to check if the brood are capped.
 

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Us newbies, we are so transparent😃

Long hive management is a challenge
Hehe..
Long hive management is really, really simple.
Contract for the winter.
Expand for the summer.
Horizontally.
That is all to it.

The classic 10-16 frame Dadants are very similar as they normally winter in a single box (single level).

Here (starting 5:00) a guy does exactly that - going around and squeezing his Dadants for the winter.
The very first hive - he reduces a small colony to four frames (there will be boards on both sides; plastic and insulation on top).
Right now he will feed them until all four frames are about 2/3-3/4 full.
End of program.
The guy works very efficiently, making quick decisions on the fly.
 

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Weighing colonies is really the best method. And if you don't know what weight to do because you're doing some weird hive, I'd suggest that you still weigh and come up with your own criteria. You can also ball-park it by counting frames of honey. A standard deep frame filled with honey is roughly six pounds of honey (on average, range is probably 5-7ish). If you've got a deeper frame you can do some simple math on about how much that size frame will weigh.

There's definitely larva in the pic you posted.

Even if a queen were shut down right now... I'd expect that there should still be some brood emerging/capped otherwise she will have been shut down for the last three weeks. I'm guessing that the guidance to be "done" by October 1st isn't necessarily that the bees are done brooding or anything at that point, just that you should have them fed and winterized by that time. When I do that here I aim for late October. I haven't fed in years, but I would be feeding now if I was going to need to feed anything. The general idea with these kind of statements is that you shouldn't be screwing around with the bees late in the season. You're not going to fix any issues at that time and shouldn't be pulling frames then... so the sentiment is that you should just stay out of them. You don't want to be trying to feed bees when nighttime temps are dipping down to freezing or nearly so. Feeding for winter weight should be a fast thing, best done all at once... not a quart or two at a time. If they need 30 pounds, feed them three gallons of 2:1 all at once and come pull the feeder in a week or so. I don't know your exact hive configuration, but those choices may or may not have feeding implications. When I did KTBHs, feeding was a royal pain. But with Langstroths it's no big deal at all. If you've got a long Lang, you could probably get away with frame feeders somehow.

Glad to see you have brood, I don't think anywhere in North America should have bees that have been broodless for three weeks already... that doesn't add up to me at all. I'm guessing it got a little dearthy and she shut down. Or maybe they superseded her. Tis the season.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I don't know your exact hive configuration, but those choices may or may not have feeding implications. When I did KTBHs, feeding was a royal pain. But with Langstroths it's no big deal at all. If you've got a long Lang, you could probably get away with frame feeders somehow.
Thanks for your reply, it does help. I am doing long deep layens but I made pass thru top bars instead of touching bars for ease in feeding and the hive body has been made with dimensions that allow it to be supered if I need. I am feeding 1 gal syrup every day for the last 3 days in XL baggies.

I am thinking supersedure as the original queen had two dots, a blue with a white dot overtop, so unless they ate it off this length of time with no eggs suggests the old queen was replaced while I wasn't looking. Swarm season was over by then so I left the hives alone. All in all I don't mind if it is a young mated queen, the original one was 2 years old.
 

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All in all I don't mind if it is a young mated queen, the original one was 2 years old.
This seems to be about what the bees will bear in my experience. This season was a bit anomalous for me as I had two queens coming through their second winters (so going into their "third season", as far as birthdays go they'd only have celebrated their second if that makes sense, so these had overwintered in a nuc first year and then two seasons of production (including this year as 2nd season). So I got to graft from one of those as my base stock for this spring, which is cool. The other was just a touch too armpitty for me (flying into the armpits of my tshirts... something that the bees I bought from Michael Palmer a few years back were "famous" (in my apiary) for). They were great bees otherwise. And I did an entire summer of grafting from them and letting them cross to "whatever" here, so they're still a prominent part of whatever genetic soup I've got going, but have been not grafting from the armpitters after that first year and it seems to work. The first summer of new queens of the MP stock netted a lot of armpitters, but it's very rare for one to do much of it now.

I'm pretty sure they've both older queens have been replaced this summer, both hives were queen right when I took honey and got my Apivar on which is all I care about at this point of the year. They could have twelve laying queens at this point and I'd be OK with it :D

So you've already fed about 30#, everything is relative... etc. But I would say that when I took enough honey to need to feed, I would typically not need to feed much more than that on a normal hive. Now there were times that I needed 60# on a hive to make weight. But cluster size and breed matter in this calculation as well. Whatever mutts I have seem to be more than capable of wintering on ~140-160# triple deeps and oftentimes come through winter with huge clusters and having not touched a lot of the honey in the top box yet.

What I'm saying is at worst I've moved some honey from a deadout into a colony or two in the spring. If I wanted to live closer to the edge I could probably do a lot lighter and they'd be OK. But I've never been too upset at having good frames of honey available to drop into mating nucs or light overwintered nucs in March. In fact I've started putting on a 4th and sometimes 5th deep of comb onto production colonies for them to fill with honey so that I don't have to feed. Haven't fed for at least three and maybe four falls now. I like it this way, I really don't like feeding bees.

Anyway, I'd try to quantify what your bees have before you feed any more. A well regulating cluster needs empty cells, you don't want them plugging everything up, they cannot crawl into cells and cluster as tightly if that's the case. It sounds like you're doing pretty well though. Maybe someone with a Layans can contribute some ballpark weights for you. But worst case you can always somehow rig up some dry sugar for them as insurance if you're not confident in your feeding regiment yet.
 

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Weighing colonies is really the best method...........
Maybe someone with a Layans can contribute some ballpark weights for you. .......
I will say - talking of the weights is mis-leading for many alternative hive systems.
This standardized approach is good for (again) standardized multi-box/vertical Lang beekeeping but it is where it belongs.

Consider:
  • in cold winter AND a single level frame configuration those recommended ~140-160# of honey will be distributed over frames not covered by bees and to the side
  • the bees will not move sideways onto the frames of solid cold honey (even though the honey is there)
  • alternative hive setups have various non-standard construction empty weights and are not really designed up front with the idea of being accurately weighted

When wintering on single tier large frames (Dadant/Layens/Lazutin) - a general and working approach is to:
  • allocate the # number of frames well covered by the cluster (+2)
  • insure that every frame is 2/3-3/4 full at start of the winter (this usually amounts to 50-70#).
  • typical setup amounts to "box-in the-box" configuration and ends up to be very "fuel efficient" (of course supplemental/emergency feeding is always an option)
Also, having a very long history, the long hives have been better suited for non-Italian type bees (smaller clusters/no excessive winter brooding).
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I have been advised by some layens beekeepers here to have at least 8 deep frames. One of my hives managed to fill a med lang super as well so on that one I am leaving it on top for winter feed insurance. The other one did not so I am I going to make some sugar bricks and a feeding shim for them.
 

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From the previous posts it appears that the gross hive scale weighing, and that which would result from inspecting the number of frames of brood and necessary honey seem to agree. Arrived at by different means but a common net result (y).
 
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