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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello i am new to beekeeping and have a bit of a dilemma. Do i have enough bees for them to successfully over-winter. In mid June i received 2 five frame nucs, I successfully installed them using the 'Chop and crop' method into 2 warré hives. The season is slowly coming to an end (I live in europe, Bohemia, hardiness zone 7a) and my two colonies have so far each only filled the top box (eight bars). With the help of some sugar feed will there still be time for the colony to grow before winter, or should I play it safe and combine the 2 colonies into one before winter hits?
 

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Continue to feed, slowly. You can winter a colony on one Warré box. No worries. And no need to combine at this stage.

In September/October you do the following setup.

Put two sticks on top of the topbars of the uppermost box.


Take a fondant package, cut a square into the underside and put that on top of the topbars. Cover the whole lot with an empty hive box and fill the box with insulation. Keeping the warmth is very important.


The winter cluster of bees will be right underneath the fondant package. The bees eat their way right up into the package. First you see them eating through just a small hole.


It is very important to leave the plastic on the fondant, so the warmth get trapped in the foil and with it the humidity that condensates on the plastic foil. See picture. This way bees have both, food and water in winter. Plus the warmth is trapped in the bag, so they stay warm even in a smaller cluster.


Bees eating their way up into the fondant...




Bees walk from the comb straight into the bag. Usually a good portion of the bee cluster sits in the bag later.


This way you can overwinter even smaller colonies in a Warré hive one a single box. In Spring they simply explode and make nice colonies later.

It was too late to start a new colony, the earlier you start them, the less trouble you get. Of course.

In winter check regularily the fondant - once it is eaten up, replace it on a sunny day (flying weather would be best) with a fresh bag of fondant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Wow thanks allot Bernhard, so quick, thats a load of my chest. Just wondering (because i make my own sugar candy) how many kg is tnat Apifonda fondant and how many of those packs +- do the bees consume during the winter? thanx lot again!
 

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That's 2.5 kg per bag. It is meant only as a backup, since there is not much space in one box. Bees consume 1 kg per month in December and January, in February and March the bees eat some more. So with the bees well fed before winter, you get away with one or two bags per winter. As said it depends on stores that are in the combs.
 

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I also have a small colony in only one box of the Warre. I'm afraid it may not be queen-right because they became more aggressive a few weeks ago, I've seen less activity, and when I knock on the side of the hive I don't get the usual bzzzzzzz. I don't see any queen cells, and I've only seen a couple of drone bees. We're at 2500' elevation in a dry, mixed woodland. We're zone 8a - hot and dry in summer with about 20 inches of rain in winter - I've got some queries out to learn about expected nectar flows between now and winter.

I fed them when I first got the 4# package, but probably stopped too soon, that was in May. I also had them on a stack of 3 boxes, this morning I took one away, now we're back to 2 - the full one and the empty one. What should I be feeding now? Should I try adding a queen?

Here's what it looks like inside:
Bee Beehive Food Insect Membrane-winged insect


Thanks so much for any assessment or advice you might offer!
Kahty
 

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Looks alright to me. I see some capped worker brood, no queen cells. You want to check for eggs: tip the box on it's side (combs vertically all the time), use a breadknife or any other long knife to cut out a small triangular piece of comb, somewhere in the center of the box, where you can see empty cells. This way you can see if there are eggs in those cells.

As I said in another thread, get a digital luggage scale and weigh the hive box. One box without lid and bottom weighs about 5 kg/11 pounds. With bees, comb and all. The rest is stores. A box full of honey, packed with honey that is weighs up to 15-18 kg/33 lbs. Since the bees winter bad on full combs you want the half of the box full of stores. That is 7 kg/15 lbs of stores. Plus bees and comb and box that makes a total weight of 12 kg/26 lbs. As shown above use a slab of fondant, wrapped, to feed during the wintertime. Insulate.

Weigh the box, keep feeding with thick syrup. I suggest to buy the syrup from a well known producer since there are many mistakes possible making your own.

You find a lot of cups at the lower combs when the hive gets into the swarm mood. Notice that the rim of those cups are thick at first.


When bees starting to thin out the rim, thinner and thinner, they want to swarm soon. (In a week.)


Filled with royal jelly.


Capped swarm cells after the hive swarmed.


With the combs having no bottom bar or frame, almost all queen cells are attached to the bottom where you can find them easily. I also harvest them to put them into small mating units to get some spare queens.


Queen emerged.
 

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Thank you so much for your information and suggestions, Bernard!

I weighed the box this morning. It's 26#, so that is good?! I haven't used a smoker yet, I've not gone in the hive much and have only done it in the mornings. I'm guessing that for comb cutting that's best done middle of day when bees are out? And with a smoker, of course.

How much syrup should I be feeding now? I will prepare for fondant feeding this winter. I think we've got about 2 brood cycles, about 1.5 months till possible first frosts.

I took another picture this morning showing all the comb, I think the new little wedge at the bottom is new comb, not queen cell, is that right? Also, there are 2 beekeepers in my area that have mated queens available.

Bee Honeybee Beehive Insect Membrane-winged insect


I observed an average of 6 bees per minute over about 5 minutes bringing in pollen. While I was watching this, a bird swooped in and veered off at the last second, possibly at having seen me. It flew off too fast for me to ID - it was about the size of a stellar jay, but had no blue, only brown and white.
 
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