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Hello fellow Mainers and others

Last season was my first season utilizing Michael Bush's approach of natural beekeeping. I was terrified I would loose all my bees. Just the oposite ocurred as for the first time in 8 years I had suffered no winter losses. YIPPPEEE

I have been splitting a colony that appeared to be survivng well the last couple of years without meds etc. and now all the hives have these genetics and all seem to be doing well.

Now on to my questions:

Removing winter honey supper:
I was keeping in two deeps and I did give each colony back a super of honey for overwintering. Assuming I have brood in the supper (I am looking today) I am thinking I should locate or relocate the queen into the lower deeps and place a queen excluder on. Then let the brood hatch and proceed with normal approaches. I am still regressing all the colonies over to natural comb.

Keeping Bees in mediums:
One of these hives had a medium super on and if this colony is strong I would like to split this and start keeping in mediums. Has anyone had experience with this in Maine? I am in the Brunswick area. If you have how many mediums are you using. I find this approach has great appeal for all kinds of reasons. I love the reduced weight involved and the uniformity in equipment.

Do you as a natural approach to bees rotate your boxes in Spring?

As usual all opinions appreciated! And I do hope all had a great winter season.

Best
Marcy
 

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Hi Marcy,



I'm delighted you have found/developed stock that works for you in your location.



If my bees are entirely in the upper deep come spring than they get reversed. I am still waiting for regular 60 degree days to do invasive inspections.



I had a great deal of difference in over wintering success between Washington and Hancock Counties - Hancock (the more Southerly) did much better than Washington. Would strict adherance to Mr. Bush's practices have made a difference? That is a very hard question to answer, and one which doesn't lend itself to consider regional conditions.



There are some beekeepers who are going to two deeps and a medium for their over wintering configuration. The hives I had in three deeps this past winter over wintered much better than those in two. I have got some medium boxes on order to find out first hand if the two deep + one medium configuration is the magic answer for my climate. If it is I imagine and that if the volumes match it shouldn't matter, then we may see more all medium hives; Certainly the boxes weigh less than deep boxes when full.



The all medium configuration is not yet considered standard and adopters will have difficulty finding not only nucs but more importantly stories from other beekeepers about how the all medium configuration has worked for them.
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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It's no colder in Maine than Nebraska. I overwinter in eight frame mediums. I only move empty boxes to the top if I happen to be in the hive and it's just so I can see when they occupy the box, which is harder to do if it's on the bottom. I don't move any of the boxes if they have brood in them. I don't want to rearrange the brood nest when it's still cold out...
 

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Hi neighbor, congratulations ,good news. Just came back from brother's hives, just beginning to brood, more eggs than brood. Smallest had less than 100 capped, not more than half a medium frame eggs. I put a little sub on 3 weeks ago, all brood is directly under that and they are all over it. Brood is in mediums if they were on, top deep if not.
A little pollen coming in till the wind kicks in off the water, then not much action.
 

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>We have moisture as well as cold.

I'm sure you have more moisture than I do. I have a lot more moisture than western Nebraska or Colorado but probably not as much as you do. But what does that have to do with mediums?
 

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>We have moisture as well as cold.

I'm sure you have more moisture than I do. I have a lot more moisture than western Nebraska or Colorado but probably not as much as you do. But what does that have to do with mediums?
FWIW
Southern NY, coastal:
It has been a constant struggle each winter regulating the moisture in the 20 hives I keep as 3 mediums with mouse guard and top entrances. I shim the tops sometimes as well. I don't wrap. Moisture is a bigger problem than the cold.
The 15 double deeps do not have the same issues with same mouse guard and top entrance configuration, no wrap.
Each bee yard has some of both so location is not the issue.
Started working more deeps into the operation last year to control moisture issue.
 

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Had not been thinking of the mediums as reducing the draft. Kind of like putting a barometric damper on an oil furnace. Reduced draft from shorter stack could move the condensation point closer to the overhead of the cluster. Have to think about that.

I do know that the blowing fog that was condensing on my porch roof was also blowing into the vent holes and condensing there. Moisture in, instead of the moisture out IAW plan.
 

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Do you as a natural approach to bees rotate your boxes in Spring?
I rotate boxes if convenient and seemingly necessary. Some hives end the winter with the brood nest quite high in the hive and I want it lower, so I put it there. Not much justification beyond that.
 

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Had not been thinking of the mediums as reducing the draft. .
Qood ventilation is one of the most important factors for overwintering (in severe winter conditions, lots of snow and long periods of sub zero temperatures).

My bottoms are wide open in front and back. The entrances used to be 16mm high, but now they are 24mm(1 inch). Mousegards both ways.
NOTICE: The hive roofs are well insulated and air tight.

The cluster starts wintering around the last brood in autumn in the lower body.
 

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>Started working more deeps into the operation last year to control moisture issue

Please explain why you think deeps have less moisture. This is a concept I have never heard from anyone before.
I don't know why the medium configs have an issue with moisture and the deep configs don't. But I'm tired of making ventilation adjustments on them all winter long. Excess moisture in the mediums over winter has been a colony killer.
 

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.. but I don't see any difference in Mediums vs Deeps...

I didn't either when I went with mostly mediums. I liked the uniformity in equipment of all mediums, and the weight difference and still do. The accumulation of moisture in winter is the problem. I don't know why it happens, but it does.
It's a battle between creating a wind tunnel if I vent too much and a steam room moldy cave like enclosure if I don't.
I'd welcome a solution, or reasonable explanation.
 

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Well, either clyderoad's observations are wrong or Michael Bush's observations are wrong. Oh wait , maybe there is another possibility, the observations are being made in different locations with different situations.
 

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MB may use a larger top vent to compensate for less draft.
Taller chimney in a deep has more draw.
Medium gap acts as a as barometric damper.
Something in 8 frame draw works better than 10 frame.
I am sure there are more possibilities.
 

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More ventalation with dry air keeps the cluster dry. Does more air that is already near the saturation point as it enters the hive, picks up respiration and then cools actually create more moisture condensing in the hive? Probably changes by the hour.
 

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More ventalation with dry air keeps the cluster dry. Does more air that is already near the saturation point as it enters the hive, picks up respiration and then cools actually create more moisture condensing in the hive? Probably changes by the hour.
Condensing point is the key factor. My hives get the maximum draft under the cluster by two full (back and forth) length entrances, but the roof is 2 inches thick insulation board (polyurethan). Warm and airtight roof saves energy. If the roof is not the warmest point inside the hive, sure you get moisture problems, because water drops into the cluster!

The kind of structure (common in US?), where air goes through the hive from entrance upwards and from some holes in inner cover, top box or both, is very difficult to handle in severe winter conditions. The inner surface of inner cover is not necessarily the warmest point inside the hive. The structure is very energy consuming, too.
 

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Juhani, I am assuming that your clusters move early to the top and rely on warm periods to go and bring back honey?

As humidity level rises there must be a point where respiration exceeds the diffusion rate of the water vapor. Not saying you reach that point yourself, just that at some regular humidity level that should occur.
 
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