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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Over the years we've had some spirited debates on here regarding "the need for insulated beehives" and "whether bees heat the cluster or the hive" etc. A few days ago I came across this document whilst looking for something else:
http://bibba.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Breeding-honeybees-on-a-small-scale-Dorian-Pritchard.pdf

Although the paper is principally concerned with breeding honeybees, there is a most interesting diagram on page 10. The chat that goes with it can be found alongside, in the chapter "Management issues".

A quick description of what she does is ...
Takes a colony in an 11-frame brood box, and removes the outer 2 frames (to encourage the circulation of air). Then she sandwiches this brood box between a shallow box at both top and bottom, so that the colony (on it's brood frames) is effectively suspended in mid-air. She then REMOVES the summer top insulation, leaving the feed hole in the bare Crown Board (inner cover) open, in order to vent moisture from the hive via vent holes provided in the sides of the telescopic cover. Finally, she places a mouse guard over the open bottom entrance, thus providing a through-draught (hopefully one which is not too strong).

This must be the best demonstration possible of a colony not requiring insulation (other than what it provides for itself), and of it heating only the cluster - for that colony is suspended within a cavity which does keep the rain off it, but that's about the only protection it provides.

Hope you will find this ... err ... 'interesting'. :)
LJ
 

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5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
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I did a quick review of the PDF LJ. Do you know "where" she was doing this winter strategy?
In Kentucky sure it may work, In Manitoba maybe not so much.

I like the empty space under, Actually did this on 10 hives this past winter. placed the first medium of frames in a deep so my space was 3 inches. (got tired of the bottom 2 inches of the frame getting mouldy)
My "top empty" Is a quilt box.... Air flow would be dependant on the where as well, lots of draft in the south would not be a show stopper for over wintering. if you want to slow air flow "tall stack" mix in a little sawdust and pack slightly. normal is loose planner shavings.

As you go north the cold air would be drawn in as the heat vents. Here too we have an "it depends" with 3 or 4 8 frame boxes one has a stronger chimney effect, than a single 10 frame deep.

IMO her plan works in some places , weather dependant. And fails in others.
The comment All beekeeping is local comes to mind. Absolute buy in of optimization strategies,, would IMO be a band around the globe, with similar environment and weather. North to south Not so much.

Also with the air flow she offers, there would be little to no water droplets on hive surfaces to utilize in winter, so she must be where water can be collected intermittently during winter. I am convinced bees do need some water in winter and if they cannot go out to collect they must collect within. reharvest of vapor turned to droplets.

GG
 

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I find the actual subject of the PDF even more interesting to me - the small scale trait selection/breeding.
Am still unsure how and if this is possible based on my experience so far.

As far as the wintering as depicted - location dependent.
Maybe OK for the original location - seems like some UK place per the writings (generally mild and generally humid per our local standards).

I had healthy sized clusters actually freeze to death in place over the winter of 2018/2019.
 

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Have you fellows read the article number 61, Overwintering of Honey Bee Colonies, in the Resource/USDA section here on Beesource? The part about the hive bodies with the sides replaced by screen wire should show that it is drafts, not cold, that is the major problem.
 

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Have you fellows read the article number 61, Overwintering of Honey Bee Colonies, in the Resource/USDA section here on Beesource? The part about the hive bodies with the sides replaced by screen wire should show that it is drafts, not cold, that is the major problem.

How about watch:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVTvnaq3rIk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpjQTHbHn1k - August; how the hive-less project started.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7xyaU7T-Vk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n7th6TmdkQ

And another season, 2015:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFZIe1_3M9Q
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca3Zr9o_okY

They wintered OK without a hive to speak off - BUT in the shed, which is important.
It was noted the results were less than ideal.
Wintering in the shed, in the hives was the best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi guys - yes, very much agree with your comments about location-dependency. I think this approach would most likely be fatal up there in Canada or Northern States.

From reading the text, the writer (a geneticist) reveals that he/she (Dorian being a unisex name) operates in Derbyshire - that's north of our Midlands, famous for it's wide expanse of heather moorland and rugged terrain. Very much hill sheep country. Conditions can get very bleak and hostile there in Winter - snow-bound and so forth - but in common with most of Britain, even the worst of winters is fairly short-lived when compared with how Michael Palmer (for example) describes his long drawn-out winters in Vermont.

I'm not sure if I'd ever be brave enough to try this methodology myself - but I think it would be a very good way of eliminating Italian blood from Carniolan or Buckfast lines (or Russians for those of you who have them) - using Winter as a mechanism for weeding-out the warm-climate genes ...

Thanks for the reference to mesh walls - must look into that.

LJ
 

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Hi guys - yes, very much agree with your comments about location-dependency. I think this approach would most likely be fatal up there in Canada or Northern States.

From reading the text, the writer (a geneticist) reveals that he/she (Dorian being a unisex name) operates in Derbyshire - that's north of our Midlands, famous for it's wide expanse of heather moorland and rugged terrain. Very much hill sheep country. Conditions can get very bleak and hostile there in Winter - snow-bound and so forth - but in common with most of Britain, even the worst of winters is fairly short-lived when compared with how Michael Palmer (for example) describes his long drawn-out winters in Vermont.

I'm not sure if I'd ever be brave enough to try this methodology myself - but I think it would be a very good way of eliminating Italian blood from Carniolan or Buckfast lines (or Russians for those of you who have them) - using Winter as a mechanism for weeding-out the warm-climate genes ...

Thanks for the reference to mesh walls - must look into that.

LJ
Interesting idea LJ, every few years take the pants off the potential breeders for a winter. weed out the ones drifting toward the dark side....
for me a screen bottom with a small top entrance would do a similar deed. continuous cool to cold air flow over the cluster.

your dislike of the Italian blood in bees is somewhat funny to me. understandable, but non the less funny

GG
 

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This is more my style. We had one winter where it never got above -20C / 29 below F. daytime high for a solid month! Not typical but we commonly get -36 C and I have seen it 48 below F.
Insulation cuts way down on the use of stores and gets things up to speed a bit earlier in the spring. White clover blooms here about the middle of june. You would not get much honey for yourself without some insulation and be willing to feed syrup.

Surviving the coldest is one thing but the bees have to be able to warm things up enough to start raising brood before the previous years fat winter bees time out.

By the same token we cannot tolerate as much slippage due to mites as might be tolerable where the winters are milder and shorter.
 

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This is more my style. We had one winter where it never got above -20C / 29 below F. daytime high for a solid month! Not typical but we commonly get -36 C and I have seen it 48 below F.
Insulation cuts way down on the use of stores and gets things up to speed a bit earlier in the spring. White clover blooms here about the middle of june. You would not get much honey for yourself without some insulation and be willing to feed syrup.

Surviving the coldest is one thing but the bees have to be able to warm things up enough to start raising brood before the previous years fat winter bees time out.

By the same token we cannot tolerate as much slippage due to mites as might be tolerable where the winters are milder and shorter.
nice pics
they look toasty.
the top box is that full of wood chips?
South facing? I presume. Building to block the north wind.

GG
 

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nice pics
they look toasty.
the top box is that full of wood chips?
South facing? I presume. Building to block the north wind.

GG
You got it GG.

A 1 1/2" feed shim under the shavings box with a tiny exit hole. A 1" hole below handhold of upper deep which the bees mostly propolised shut and I parially taped over. 3/8 X 3" bottom entrance. Most of the stacks have an empty 3" lift under the bottom deep. Saves bottom frames from lodging full of the dead bees that drop and hang up during the winter. I think I saw you recently posted that you use medium frames in deep hive bodies for the bottom course. Same net effect.

That fellow Derek Mitchel (perhaps) had some interesting computer modelling of the effects of an empty three inch lift on the bottom. Not at all intuitive but positive.
I see Roland uses an empty hive body on the bottom or empty frames.

That space may accomplish some of the things supposed done by an open screened bottom that LJ promotes, but without the big pneumonia hole!;)
 

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Crofter; Do you see any difference in the number of colonies with EFB between the insulated and uninsulated colonies in your area?
 

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Crofter; Do you see any difference in the number of colonies with EFB between the insulated and uninsulated colonies in your area?
I dont know. There are only a handful of beekeepers that I am in contact with and I have not heard of anyone other than myself having an experience with it. Some of them might not recognize it.

It showed up here in the spring as failing to build up of a few colonies but they had been well insulated and well stocked and only one 3 deep of 4 frame nuc failed to survive. In my particular case I could not connect it with stress.
 

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"mesh walls" Test conducted in Minnesota, CHARLES D. OWENS, Agricultural Engineering Research Division, part of USDA , early 1950s - lots of thermocline data using a ton of thermocouples, lots of testing but all focused on one thing survival. Provides some very interesting temperature data for a cluster in winter and in environmental chambers - deep freeze.

"Interesting" - quick scan showed no data meaning numbers, parameters or performance other than survival with reference to "natural stressing". Using winter for culling is a curious concept. I have to read it slowly. Thanks for the open mating and genetics information. I am beginning to think about queen rearing in a sustainable way.
 

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Maybe I just got lucky, but both of our hives survived the winter, with nothing done to the hives. Granted we had a mild winter, with only a few morning lows in the -15 F to -20 F range. With my limited experience, the Carniolan’s seem to winter better than other types we tried. memtb
 
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