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Two 8-frame Langstroth hives
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I need some advice on managing hives for winter. So far I left the supers on for winter. I think it is a good idea to take them off here in Perth, Western Australia. Apparently that's what other beekeeps do around here.

I was going to take the super off this year but I found that the bees didn't have much honey at all (in one particular hive, it was zero) in the brood box. So I left the super on with a few frames of honey for them. Winter is short and mild here, not even three months, and they will generally have something to forage on in neighbouring gardens. However we might get a week or so of rain, wind and bad weather where they have to cosy up inside.

What would a good beekeeper do? Leave the super on? Remove, monitor and feed? That's a bit risky if not monitored accurately. Something else?

Thanks for your help. Enjoying this forum, it's really good !:thumbsup:
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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I have mild winters also, maybe a bit colder. I generally leave one super on each hive so that they are a double deep with a medium. Going into winter, the bottom deep is mostly empty and I feed until the super is full off capped syrup. In early Spring, the medium gets rotated down to the bottom and is allowed to clear out so it can be used as a super again in April.
 

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What would a good beekeeper do? Leave the super on? Remove, monitor and feed? That's a bit risky if not monitored accurately. Something else?
Yep - something else. For quite a few years now I've been placing a small jar of Baker's Fondant on top of the Crown Board (Inner Cover) feed hole, usually at the end of February - but last Winter these went on at the end of January because it was an insanely warm winter.
Because the bees won't scoff fondant while they have stores in their combs (they will pick at it though), these jars then act as a 'fuel gauge', and are checked weekly at first, and twice weekly once they start to be used. Whenever a jar begins to run low, then a second one is added. (Full-sized boxes have 4 holes, nuc-boxes 2) When nectar finally starts to come in, the fondant is ignored.

If you don't have fondant handy, then damp-set dry sugar would do the same job - any left over can always be recycled to avoid waste.
LJ
 

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I am a novice with a 5-6 month winter meaning a no foraging period. I try to assure a hive's weight going into winter by measurement in the Fall. I finished feeding syrup to boost the naturally stored honey in my hives to a chosen weight, 80 lb. of honey or better in my case. I finished on Nov. 2 1999 and have not fed since. I would think you need a net 40 lb. of honey or more for three months and be able to support strong Spring brood rearing. My Spring can be very cool and wet.

At the start of the Spring flow, depending on colony conditions - especially the queen, I get either a large colony ready to forage but low on stores ( 15 -20 lb.) or a troubled colony. Trouble is usually due to a queen laying or infection issue, and much more honey is left stored. I keep a defined brood chamber all year via a queen excluder. Thus excess stores are never wasted and desired. I prefer new nectar coming in end up in my supers.

I have done this for two years and find excess feeding is far better than less feeding. ALl this effort is [pointed at earlier foraging with strength. Survival in milder climates, shorter winters with smaller, slower building up colonies likely require less stored honey - guessing 25 lb. for 3 months.
 

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I am a novice with a 5-6 month winter meaning a no foraging period. I try to assure a hive's weight going into winter by measurement in the Fall. I finished feeding syrup to boost the naturally stored honey in my hives to a chosen weight, 80 lb. of honey or better in my case. I finished on Nov. 2 1999 and have not fed since.
Over 20 years with bees and you still call yourself novice?? :scratch:
On- topic- I hate when there is leftover syrup in spring, I remember when running 2 brood boxes I would always end up in too much excess of syrup before the flow and then had to keep those frames separate, etc. Switching to single brood overwintering fixed that problem, but feeding in early spring is sometimes required if we get mild winter. They use less honey when it is cold, but since it is hard to know without opening the box, I normally do similar to what little_john suggested and place some sugar on top of inner cover to gage if they need more food- if they devour sugar then they must be low on food, if they leave it be then they have enough.
 

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6a 4th yr 7 colonies inc. resource hive
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3rd year 6a- Trying the idea of rotating the top super under deep to store pollen. Also known as the pollen box idea. You have to let the queen lay into the super, then rotate it down in spring and they are supposed to fill it with pollen. So my config is medium deep medium sandwich concept. Anything else over that is a honey harvest. Removed QE’s and added slatted racks under so these are pampered bees. So far so good. The queen prefers the deep and fills out the full frame. They get the added protection and storage at the entrance with the pollen box.

Had 100% overwintering success with deep, medium so hoping this takes swarming pressure off.
 

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Everyone has different strategies for wintering over so here is mine. I never leave a honey super on the hives by September here in upstate New York. Honey supers are trouble for pests, add area to heat, and generally not useful for the winter cluster. I winter over with one or two deep boxes and let them prepare the boxes and brood in September. Usually broodless by the end of October and time to OAV the mites. It is counterintuitive but they downsize for winter as the summer field bees die off. I store a few deep honey frames from abundant hives and use them in late February for emergency feeding. Not sure this is helpful where you are but works well here.
 
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