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Discussion Starter #62
Would you recommend the artificial comb? Are they still on the artificial comb?
Yes, they are still on artificial comb and I do like using it enough that I no longer use wax comb. If you decide to try it, I recommend running it through the dishwasher before you use it. I got some in black once that looked like they had some sort of residue on them. So, I wash them all first and I don't have any acceptance issues.
 

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I do believe many factors affect consumption rates. If you examine the metabolic curve for honey bee consumption of honey versus temperature you will see a pretty low consumption rate for about a 40F to 60F ambient inside the hive ( data form memory) - fairly wide range. If you look a the slope, consumption increases as internal temperatures rise but not a a fast as if it gets colder. The colder the ambient gets the more the more they consume to produce heat for survival.

There is more to the story as there is more than one issue such as moisture, CO2, brood rearing, dehydration. I have tried to weight hives every two weeks to get a trend in winter but was defeated by wet weather and an actual increase in hive weights! Understanding moisture control in a hive is not simple but it seems the bees are good at it.

In one case, increasing temperature you have increased consumption to raise brood, forage etc - things that help a hive survive. The opposite direction is purely survival from what I can see and learn. I'll take the warmer side and I heavily insulate with no top venting. My experience and efforts lead me to believe there is a tipping point whereby the bees control the inner environment to suit if you give them a chance.
 

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Discussion Starter #65
Any updates? Those of us who are in bee winterland need updates;)
The observation hive is doing well. It’s November 21, 2020 and they are still raising brood. It has been a crazy year though. They built up really well this spring and had about 5 deeps filled with surplus honey before they started the swarming process. Here’s a photo from early August. I had a couple of surgeries and was unable to split them when they were preparing to swarm so I got to see some really crazy stuff go down. The workers wanted to swarm, but the queen didn’t want to leave the hive and they couldn’t manage to get her out. So, when the virgins started emerging, the workers started killing them. After watching a number of virgins get killed and the queen still refusing to leave, I killed the queen by pressing on the polycarbonate sheeting. I was hoping that the workers would then let the virgins emerge and requeen the hive or swarm into a swarm trap I had set up. The workers however continued to ball and kill all of the virgins. Without checking my records, I think that went on for about 8 days before they finally stopped killing them. One of the virgins got mated and returned only to be killed by another virgin that emerged. Then the few remaining virgins battled it out until only one remained. Unfortunately, that one did not return from her mating flight and I ended up having to requeen the hive by placing a caged queen on the feeding screen for a number of days and then directly releasing her into the hive. That’s the short version. It really was crazy to watch it all unfold.
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