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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am hugely depressed due to five dead-outs and very anxious about my remaining three hives. The fault is all mine, I'm sure, due to pre-winter manipulations in response to "oops, they didn't fill the bottom deep". The dead-outs were heavy with filled frames of capped honey. The three remaining hives are also heavy but the bees are at the top. They are eating fondant off the top bars right now. My question: is there any reason not to add a deep of capped honey above each hive? Highs are in the 30's if that matters.
 

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No reason not to. I've been there. It was probably an on and off cycle of warm and cool, or maybe high mite loads. Also, sometimes we beekeepers rearrange the honey near the end of the season. Bees don't usually go for the full supers at the outer edges of the box as the sides are too cold.

Anyway, you should be able to put another super on top of your good hives. They'll move up to it. Sometimes bees run out of pollen stores too. A pollen patty this early in spring will help, and will not create a hive beetle problem like it would in the fall.

Rob.
 

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I'm trying to uunderstand what the OP was declaring to be his "fault". Was it that he added additional frames of capped honey late in the season? How might that be a bad thing?

I ask because one of my plans for my bees is to remove capped-honey frames during the spring flow, store them and then return them to the hives after the fall flow to make sure the bees are loaded up with stores for the winter (Honey is surely much better for the bees than even Laurie's much-adored (by the bees) sugar cakes.). I don't plan to harvest any honey so this was one idea I had to deal with the need to remove it to lower swarm-pressures. (I had initially planned to never remove honey from the hive, but I see now that will have unintended consequences, so I know that I have to get it out of there.)

What was wrong about adding extra frames of honey? Was it just that any manipulation of the frames is not good? Is it dependant on how late the manipulation happened? How late is too late?

Maybe the dead-outs are not at all the result of any beekeeper adjustments to the frames within the hive? I know late in the season (well, after the flow had ended - mid/late Oct.?) I removed empy frames and replaced them with solid follower boards and foam insulation panels along the sides of the hives. I moved one or two of the outer (honey-filled) frames up a box to even out the numbers between my two deeps, and all of my hives are OK.

I think this winter with its unusually early, long, and deep cold periods has been very hard on bees which may not be used to the temps.

I am sorry you have lost so many of your bees!

Enj.
 

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No reason not to. I've been there. It was probably an on and off cycle of warm and cool,
Rob.
This is what did my nuc's in last January and it probably did it again this year. Checked them two weeks ago, had 8 nucleus colonies alive in 45F temperature, over the course of the last two weeks it has been down all the way to -30F (WITHOUT WIND CHILL) and up to 25F. That's a 75F temperature change, that's like going from a nice day in the middle of June to a cold day in January over night. I'm hoping I have enough hives make it through this bloody winter to breed off of this year, if not I'm going to have a sucky 14'.
 

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I'd be less concerned about the temp drop and more about the length of time it stays zero/sub zero where the bees won't move to new comb for feed. I'll be surprised if mine make it. We've had no break in the cold for a long time.
 

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Yes, add the honey, BUT do this first. Swap the frames around so that there are three empty frames alternated with full frames. The empties should be toward the center. The reason is that now is the time for bees to start brooding up for spring. They need empty space to do that and they need ready access to honey so they can keep warm until temperatures moderate. Giving 6 or 7 full frames of honey with 3 empties alternated in the middle will satisfy both needs.
 

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Enjambres, great idea to feed back excess spring honey, the only worry maybe is that during the storage period (spring to fall) the honey may crystallize?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks, everyone, for the replies. I will add the deeps of food and keep the middle clear for brood. Oh me oh my, I wish I knew the reasons why! I also thought it would be a good idea to have extra frames of capped honey stashed away but found it challenging to keep them moth-free. Lesson learned: no supers in the fall (my favorite honey) until the brood nest is backfilled so I don't mess with their configuration.
 

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I'm sure Michael Bush can comment better, but from what I've read if you keep double deeps (?) for brood and wintering, then at some time in the spring, you'll need to reverse the boxes so that the 'now honey empty' brood box on top and full/mostly-full honey box on bottom is moved up - and the bees move up to feed. Sometimes you have to swap the boxes around another time or 2 to get/maximize their consumption of honey before the spring pollen starts. I don't believe it was his idea originally, but know I've seen it on his site somewhere (www.bushfarms.com)
 

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The bees will be able to access dry sugar instantly on the top bars and may not make the jump up to a cold box that doesn't smell like them. Eat the honey and feed sugar.
 

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I second Vance's advice. If they are already eating fondant stick to that. The problem w/ adding honey above, That I've seen, is that the bees are reluctant to cross that beespace between frames. More often than not they go up there and pull honey down into the cluster when it is warm enough to do so. If it stays cold they stay in cluster and starve to death. This will start a huge debate, but this is why I am transitioning some hives to at least one deep hive body w/ a medium above and below to see if that helps. More space in the deep w/out a gap. However, I have not run cut down frames yet so this could change what I observe.

For feeding honey, feed in the spring--the bees will eat the old before touching the new. I tried storing until fall and it is a mess--waxworms, weeping frames, etc (unless you have freezer space). Just be sure the honey frames are on the outside and there is empty comb in the middle for broodnest expansion to prevent swarming (read some of Walt Wrights stuff on brood nest expansion zones and the prevention of swarms).
 
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