I have some single deeps that we’re late splits or swarms that have about 4 frames of empty foundation two on each side. Would this wee fine to leave or would it be better to pull them insert a follower board and maybe put insulation on the sides?
One trick recommended by the great Dr. C. C. Miller was to make "hive dummies" - wooden boxes the size and shape of a comb frame to occupy the space of empty frames. An insulated follower board is the same idea - reduce volume to conserve heat. The best things overall for heat conservation is to insulate the hive with styrofoam (or even a quilt box), and to provide an upper hive ventilation tube. Lots of ways to arrange for Winter as they vary from place to place.
One frame of honey / pollen would not be a bad idea because it could reduce the distance some bees may have to travel to get food when leaving the warmth of the cluster.
I have done this by placing 1/2 or 1 inch insulation on either side to decrease the heat loss of the cluster. I am in Canada, and had mixed results. You are in Texas so your chances are much better. You could feed them late in the winter once the weather improves.
In your climate I am sure you would be fine to just leave the empty frames to the outsides. I have used aluminum faced foam board to fill spaces and it would be better insulation factor but I am a thousand miles or so north of you. Enjambres has many posts on the use of foam board fillers.
Just keep in mind that unfaced styrofoam seems fun for the bees to chew on and that some foam board contains anti termite poison that could be bad for bees too. Enjambres uses aluminum foil tape to cover surfaces the bees could accesss.
Thanks it’s next to impossible to find out stuff on what’s necessary down here. It will be 31 here Tuesday and rains Monday so I’m concerned but I’m not even sure at what temp of cold is detrimental to bees is 30’s a cake walk. All my bees are in commercial equipment basically so there’s really no ventilation but I don’t know if it matters as much since it doesn’t dip below freezing for more than a couple days at a time.
I’ve tried sugar rolls never seen a mite all my bees are weaver spawn and supposed to be vhb. I also used oav anyway. They have a couple frames of sugar syrup and I feed them ultra bee I have a feeder ten yards away so they should be good on pollen. It will get to freezing here next week and my bees are in commercial deeps with migratory lids so I thought it may get drafty in there there’s no inner cover or anything like that. Nobody talks about how to winter hives in the humid south but maybe there’s a reason for that.
You'll probably make it through Winter with commercial tops in Wharton. I'm am perhaps a bit over the top on Wintering, making super-cozy, insulated, quilt boxed, vented hives with the best of all the bells and whistles, etc., and for a California boy, no less.
My mentors all use commercial tops and I do get about a 10% drop on them most years for population increase rate in the early Spring, but even a mile or 2 makes a big difference. I may be a lot closer to an early source of pollen than they are. Their bees do just fine and Winter losses in coastal California, Texas, and Florida are almost invariably due to reasons other than weather. In these states,Winter INCREASE is more common if you are starting with 130 lbs for 2 deeps, feed them pollen and 2:1 building up to Winter, and leave them alone through the cold.
Try making a few fondant boards, foam insulation blocks, a quilt box, etc. and see how it affects your bee colonies. It may or may not be worth doing.
Thanks sounds like I maybe ok. I looked at a hive I have at my house and there’s a bunch of dead wasp they are a weird looking yellow jacket. Also I thought it was pretty crazy they built a propolis wall.
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