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Discussion Starter #1
I mostly read on this forum , but today I need to ask. Does anyone have links to good threads about preparing a hive for winter? Or a good video tutorial? I live in Rensselaer County NY. My five has 2 hive bodies, and 1 full medium super, and a 1/2 full medium super, and currently the queen excluder is off the hive. I harvested 1 medium super. I treated with MAPQ with 2 pads in august. So what is my next move for winter? This is my first winter. Thanks!
 

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Enjambres here!

I am in northern Rensselaer County, in the colder section of the county (not as cold as up on the Plateau, though.)

You need to get that half-super filled with syrup ASAP - a half super is not a good thing to have on the hive this late in the season. This is an unexpectedly good week to do that. Be sure to have robber screens on while feeding to avoid issues. (Keep the robber screen on until you replace it with a mouse guard.)

Do you know how much your hive weighs? Even though it is full of drawn comb, there can sometimes be surprising amount of empty space inside, which is why counting the number of box/frames is best complemented with getting a total hive weight which helps you know whether they are filled or not. Around here I would want a full-sized colony to weight a minimum of 120-130 lbs. My personal minimum (because I am a worry-wort) is 150 lbs but that's probably overkill

Beyond that, you have covered one of the most important wintering basics: mite treatment in late summer. Did you test afterward to make sure you had - and still have - low numbers? I also do a single round of OAV in December when the colony is broodless to get a final clean-up of the mites until the following summer.

I use a fabric-floored, shavings-filled quilt box with a shim below (feeding rim and upper entrance) and a shim above (vent shim to the outdoors) to control moisture in winter, as well as 1.5" in of foam insulation.

I surround my hive with 2"-4" of foam insulation held in place with ratchet straps.

I use wind baffles in front of my (very reduced) entrances.

If you're up at this end of the county, maybe you'd like to come and visit my apiary some time soon to see my winter preps?

Also do you belong to SABA (the local bee club)? If not may I invite you to our next meeting? It's free and in Ballston Spa on the third Monday of November, at & pm at the Cooperative Extension building. I am the club's librarian so if you come, please come over and say hi to me at the book table. Our website is: www.adirondackbees.org

The first thing I'd do, today, is getting half a gallon of 2:1 syrup on the hive and see if you can get them to take syrup every day for the next week. Put a robber screen on at the time; it will keep your hive safe now that the foraging season is over, and protect against field mice in the meantime. Every gallon of syrup will boost your hive weight by 9 1/2 lbs, and fill a couple or three of those empty medium frames.

And of course, welcome to Beesource!

Enj.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you Enjambres and WB2007. Why is the half filled super a bad thing? Do they need all that honey in the medium supers to make the winter? I have a top feeder I can put on. I wasn't expecting to hear that I should feed my hive.... Should I have left the full medium I took? My hive is pretty heavy, but I don't have a way to weigh it.
 

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You want them to move into a solid box of honey (or syrup) a partial box might get them up but not be enough to provision them further. Personally I would have left the full super and taken the partial. If the frames you took are not extracted, yet, you can put some frames back.

I don't know if you are using 8 or 10 frame equipment. I winter all my mature colonies in three, 10-frame deeps, plus 10 medium frames. But of course some of my new colonies of this year are smaller: anywhere from 15 deeps frames plus 5 mediums, to 24 deep frames and 8 mediums. But those hives winter in modified boxes that have a different widths (five-frames wide in the first example and 8-frames wide in the second) not full boxes with empty frames.

Do people winter in two deeps and a medium (which you have now)? Yes, particularly if you are using 10-frame equipment. Eight frame set-ups are a bit dicier. Convert it this way: two 10-frame deeps plus a 10-frame deep is equivalent to 26 deep frames, But if this is 8-fame equipment then you have only about the equivalent to 21 deep frames, or just about a two-box stack of 10-frames. And in that small a hive you may not have enough total hive weight if the frames are not chock-a-block full. The partial medium, which is risky in our climate if not filled wall to wall, isn't going to do much either way, but if you can get it filled then you are in fat city. That's why I suggested making some syrup today and getting it on the hive ASAP. We only have four or five days, and by Friday night temps will be slipping back down to too-cold-to feed. Only supply as much warm syrup as they take in a day. I'd started with half a gallon.

The best bet is to feed some more during this bonus warm week to see if you can get those frames filled. Then you've solved the problem in one easy step.

Where are you? I am in Pittstown. I can weigh your hive for you.

Enj.
 

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You're not that far from me and my offer to come weigh your hive stack stands (as is my invitation to come here to see my set-up.)

Enj.
 

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I use wind baffles in front of my (very reduced) entrances.
Enjambres, if I may ask... What do you use as a wind baffle? I'm in a much warmer climate, obviously, and going into my second winter. Most of my hives face between South and East, but I added a new one this year that faces more North. We get some good winter winds so looking for something to protect the entrance.

Thanks in advance,

Erik
 

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Wish MN wasn't so far...would love to drink coffee and talk bees with Enj after a visit to the Bee yard🐝☕🍰
 

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@erikebrown:

Re windbaffles: See this thread for a description of what I do, post #18 http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?331508-Do-you-insulate&p=1483142#post1483142

I know Gaiinesville weather, having had a farm out in Rappahannock County for awhile - you can get some seriously cold wind there notwithstanding it being VA. Can you turn the hive around so it faces south or east? Bees seem to do better when sun reaches their entrances early, especially in the winter. You could rotate it a few degrees a day for a week or so and that would keep them from being disoriented by the move. If you placed the hive in the summer when the sun rises and sets more northerly than in the winter it may not have seemed to be such a disadvantage.

In your climate I would use the upper entrance wind baffles that I describe in my comment, reserving the political signs for snowstorms or the bouts of sleety rain that pass for snow. Of course I also have a reduced front entrance, using just the small 7/8" wide central notch, with the notch turned up so it isn't blocked by dead bees. And don't forget to add mouse guards - I still have robbing screens on but the day they come off mouse guards go on. When the bees retreat upwards to cluster for warmth at night that allows mice to enter and set up house - eeeeew!

Enj.
 

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I have two top bar hives and what I did was to attach a piece of 1" builder's foam cut to fit to the bottom. Cut a second piece to fit the top. Next I wrapped the sides and bottom with reflectix duct insulation. (It's like shiny bubble wrap)
Liked it so much that I just leave it "winterized" year round and it's been working for me.
 
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