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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey, everyone,

I was wondering what people have to say about the typical size of a winter cluster? Like across how many combs, how deep?

Regards,
Thomas
 

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My mentor always said 7 seams of bees going into winter. I’ve seen 5 make it thru a Michigan winter just fine.
 

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This varies depending on genetics with average winter cluster size of a colony of Italian bees covering between 5 and 9 Langstroth deep frames. Carniolans will cover about 5 frames. Pure Mellifera winters with very small clusters typically covering 3 or 4 frames. Non-clustering races such as the Egyptian bee may only have a few hundred bees in an active colony under some conditions.
 

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And then you have random mutts of random phenotype.
 

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IMG_9040.jpg
This is my Carniolan nuc January 2019 (3 seams, depth unknown, but not beyond the top deep). My 8-frame Carniolan hives had 5-6 seams of bees. They all overwintered fine (our winter is very mild).
 

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Hey, everyone,

I was wondering what people have to say about the typical size of a winter cluster? Like across how many combs, how deep?

Regards,
Thomas
To say the obvious, "It all depends." For example, here is one I have rescued only a few days ago in December (12/7/2019):

https://www.facebook.com/YSKHoney/

They have saved more than enough honey to make through this winter although they looked like an early spring swarm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have a snake cam picture of the cluster of what has been my strongest hive. They are carniolan.

20191210SCH-edit.jpg

So this is a bit of a Frankenstein hive, on more ways than one. I placed a nuc into a double deep hive body, so the girls built comb on the underside of the nuc frames! Far as I can tell, the cluster is at least 13 inches deep (original frame depth + about seven inches of "free" comb on the bottom, the cluster is a few inches from the very bottom of the "free" comb).

From what folks are saying it seems like these girls are looking pretty good for the winter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Nice pictures!

I was wondering, how deep are the combs? For example, are those 2x6" boards they are next to?

To say the obvious, "It all depends." For example, here is one I have rescued only a few days ago in December (12/7/2019):

https://www.facebook.com/YSKHoney/

They have saved more than enough honey to make through this winter although they looked like an early spring swarm.
 
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