Has anyone noticed if the height above the ground has any impact on mites or hive beetle populations. The harsh Wisconsin winter claimed all 5 of my hives this year so I am starting over AGAIN! so I can easily make adjustments to hive setups now.
I have mine on home made tables at desk height for convenience and to avoid skunks and mice and mainly just for the comfort and ease of access. Watch out for high wind though, needs to be tied down and tables need to be 4x4 pressure treated legs. No clue as to mite or hive neetle control but it does give ability to control ant migration. The ants tend to travel up the legs so there are measures to stop them. I also leaned the hard way not to attach brackets to sheds as this attracks hornets and wasps that like sheds. I would like to ask the northern beekeepers if two deeps are not too much hive for severe winters. Somehow I think that one deep brood box on the bottom and one medium super on that is enough for northern areas. Sorry to piggyback on your question but loosing hives over the winter needs every stategy that helps, Sorry to hear about your loses.
Good luck with your new season.
I had two of mine at table height for most of last summer. That made feeding or inspections a step-ladder affair, but made it very convenient look at the hives from the outside. I had one at about 12" from the ground (two pallets and some leveling below because of slope.) It had a big enough platform surrounding it so I could stand beside it and work it, so better.
I think I'm going to try @14/15" or so this summer (concrete block on edge and sawed-up pallet), plus leveling for slope.
My winter stand (where all hives are snuggled up together) is 18" high at its lowest - more like 22" on the slopey side. I wanted to avoid skunk issues in the spring. So far haven't seen or smelled any (nor seen roadkill) yet. Have seen possums, but no amount of height will deter them. I plan to make my summer stands individual for each hive, so I guess I can experiment some. The main issue with any height is the need for step ladders and hauling heavy boxes up them. I was planning to use my slopes by having them all face downhill, so the height at the back is less. Having started with my hives suspended from ropes two stories up and needing extension ladders to visit them makes anything on ground level seem marvelously convenient.
As to the issue of winter hive assemblages in northern NY (I am in northern Rensselaer County, so down the road from Battenkill JB) I have been thinking a lot recently about what makes a good hive configuration in a rigourous winter. All of my hives are internally compressed with extra insulation inside. I wintered (and all three survived) with two hives in double deeps and one with double deeps and a medium. I haven't had a chance to inspect, yet, but I suspect that they quickly abandonned the lower box and stayed essentially in the middle area. I have a feeding rim above the upper box on all of them and a quilt box above that. Lots of bees stayed under the quilt box where the air temp was very cozy. (And that despite having a small, open, upper entrance in the feeding rim.)
Two issues intertwine: having enough stores and having the right sized, and shaped space to hold it - and the bees - in. I like having the compressed-sided boxes (only 5 to 7 frames across) stacked higher because (I think, on the basis on only this winter's experience) this more closely mimics a natural tree cavity. And I think it affords a generous "middle space" between the lower, colder areas and the warmer spaces under the quilt boxes. And having the food stores stacked more vertically than laterally may help avoid the problems associated with eating themselves to the edges from one side to the other and then somehow not moving upwards to the next box.
My colonies were all late-ish 2013 swarms and didn't make a great deal of honey, so they barely filled one and half deeps. Given a longer period in the hive this year (and a slightly less-inept beekeeper) they may make enought to fill two 10-frame deeps and then some. If they did that, then perhaps three (compressed-sided) deeps would be best. I worry about the stack effect of a taller column, though. But having a short stack (only one deep, plus a medium) may eliminate a warm central space wholly within one box, without the need to bridge from one to the other during the periods when the bees cluster. (Perhaps mine are peculiar, but they didn't seem particularly devoted to their cluster-strategy, except during the most extreme cold nights (minus 15 F and below). And then during the day they would break it apart and go up for some sugar snax in the feeding rim, reforming into many smaller, egg or tangerine-sized festoons draping down from the ceiling of the feeding space (i.e. from the fabric floor of the quilt box above.) Maybe this is common, but it surely wasn't what I was expecting. I spied on them through the upper vent hole, almost daily.
I think it will interesting to see the state of affairs inside the hives once it's warm enough to separate the boxes- perhaps that will happen this week. But all my hives were a-buzzing around like crazy this afternoon - having a glorious time playing in the sun for the first time in nearly four months.
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