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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thinking ahead about wintering and honey supplies, I heard that when using all mediums, best to leave 2 brood boxes and 2 full honey supers for each hive. Does that sound right?
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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I don't know that things are that cut and dried, but four eight frame medium boxes is a good overwintering size for a booming Italian colony. It should weigh well over 100lbs total. That is more than you need for a small Carniolan colony... If you are using ten frame deeps for brood and ten frame mediums for supers, then two ten frame supers full of honey and two ten frame deeps for the brood will be much more than they need for winter in NH. For a really booming Italian colony, two ten frame deeps and one ten frame medium would be plenty and for an average one two ten frame deeps would be plenty and for a small Carniolan cluster one ten frame deep might be plenty.
 

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>Supposin it's a booming Russian colony, and they are 10 frame mediums all around?

This is all a continuum... figure between one and two frames of capped honey for every frame of clustered bees and you'll be fine. Russians are pretty variable, though they tend to be frugal. I wouldn't count on what size their cluster will be. I would gauge stores on the cluster size, not just on the race or the size of the box.
 

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the foundation stock a hundred years ago for the "Russian" bees was more carni than Italian and german black bee, treat them the same as carni type bees. the Russian hybreds on the market are diluted pretty good from the Siberian imports.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Aha. Just a preliminary figure then, it looks like 1 medium brood box and 2 mediums of honey, that's what I'll aim for. I'm not sure how you measure cluster before it happens.
 

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for nh 2 mediums for brood 2 for honey might well be a better choice. the amount of space that the bees take up shrinks a lot as the temperature drops, the cluster shrinks and gets dense,. for our area at late /summer early fall temperatures on a nice day, you want the equivalent of a 10 frame deep totally stuffed with bees going into winter as an average strength, a strong italian colony would be bigger than this. a single medium brood box stuffed is kind of light in strength. you want at least 75 lbs. of honey to 130 lbs. depending on colony strength. about 100 lbs. on average, our climate is similar, I am west of you. wintering small colonies in double deep nucs this far north is possible but real trickey, many good beekeepers have tried and failed. I am told that Michael palmer in Vermont is the expert at this, most of his bees are actually in northern ny.
 

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>1 medium brood box and 2 mediums of honey, that's what I'll aim for.

Depending on the cluster, that might be good. I'm a little fuzzy about your distinctions... it's just three boxes that weighs about 100 pounds... I don't know which box is what and I don't care.

> I'm not sure how you measure cluster before it happens.

You don't You measure it WHEN it happens. Some 40 F morning you take boxes off until you get to the bees and you look down between the frames and count frames of bees. Figure it's roughly spherical, so if it's wall to wall bees it probably fills the box below as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
"you want at least 75 lbs. of honey to 130 lbs. depending on colony strength. about 100 lbs. on average"

Ouch. If one medium frame yields about 3.5 lbs/honey x 10 frames per medium super, that's only 35 lbs. of honey for a full medium super, so that would almost require 3 supers of honey per hive. That's a lot.
 

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the bees will back fill the brood box some before winter, but yeah 3 medium boxes is not enough for new Hampshire. you will need 4 or at least 5 for a large colony.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you. I had 4 mediums throughout last winter and I thought maybe that was too much space for them.

The other question would be whether honey frames placed in the outside positions can be accessed by a cluster, which usually forms in only one side of the hive (or the middle). But I guess you don't know where exactly the cluster will be located. Does this mean you'll always end winter with extra honey frames?
 

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you will need 4 or at least 5 for a large colony.
I have 8 frame equipment and SBB so I shoot for 5 boxes and I have had 4 boxes make it. I suspect my conditions are milder than NH but the 5 box configuration is a surplus that the bees take advantage of in the spring.
 

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The other question would be whether honey frames placed in the outside positions can be accessed by a cluster, which usually forms in only one side of the hive (or the middle). But I guess you don't know where exactly the cluster will be located. Does this mean you'll always end winter with extra honey frames?
I will stick my neck out hear and say that less of that happens in 8 frame equipment. The cluster is nearly the size of the box so they just go up. If you have 10 frame equipment you could do an experiment and put a wooden plug frame on each side so only 8 frames fit in the supers and go one super higher. Then compare that to other hives that you left at 10 frames and one box lower in the spring time
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I will stick my neck out hear and say that less of that happens in 8 frame equipment. The cluster is nearly the size of the box so they just go up. If you have 10 frame equipment you could do an experiment and put a wooden plug frame on each side so only 8 frames fit in the supers and go one super higher. Then compare that to other hives that you left at 10 frames and one box lower in the spring time
That's a thought. Just treat a 10 frame like an 8 frame.

After having invested in my five 10-frame hives, I can't justify making the switch to 8 frame, but it does sound interesting.
 

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Does this mean you'll always end winter with extra honey frames?
hopefully you will have some left for build-up in the spring. in early spring the bees build-up to a larger population, if the weather turns cold again the bees could starve. the build-up takes more food than winter survival on a daily basis. this also takes pollen. so you may need to suppliment both pollen and sweet stuff in the spring. the need can increase quite fast with young brood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Define "spring". :D It gets so interwoven with late winter, it's hard to tell sometimes.

But I was just reading a back thread where M. Palmer was mentioning the bees going through 10 lbs. of honey stores a month until brood rearing really kicks in, and then they blast through it. The trick is knowing exactly when that time is, altho last year I had sugar and pollen patties in there all winter "just in case". This year I may buy some fondant and use that as "just in case" patties on top. There are also combo pollen/sugar patties you can buy, but pollen may ramp up breeding a little too early, so I may just stick with fondant until "late winter".
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
define spring; maple syrup time to sometime in may.
That's a good one. From now on, maple syrup time, check diligently for food supply, and put a pollen patty in. And maybe add a super. Because my Russian hive swarmed by early June, and they probably got the signal by mid-May. Or maybe early May.
 

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Three 10-frame mediums overwinter fine here. It will also depend on your bees. Are they locally adapted northern stock or californian? Darker, tighter clustering bees are more conservative. Also watch for a fall flow and feed if it fails. It failed here last year and some colonies never really got started rearing brood after shutting down in an August drought. They need to be raising brood in late August and September - those winter bees are very important for overwintering success.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Wow. 3 mediums? I guess that would be capped honey in the top 2, and partial capped honey in the bottom, with room enough for them to cluster in the middle.

I think what I'll do is just consolidate the hives, take out any empties, and leave open frames for them in the middle of the brood nest, around late October/early November. Now does that sound right? If I can get it all into 3 mediums I will. If there's not enough honey frames to fill 3 mediums, then I'll just keep fondant in there on the top frames.

It's either that or just let them go au naturale, putting what they want where they want and just keeping an eye on food supply. That's the other option. I may organize them to death.
 
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