sounds good .......our winter goes go from oct. -end of march
thanks again for sharing your knowledge. i need to find out more on winter feeding ...do you bring your hives out of elements/....does honey act as an insulator for the hive?...so much to know and we are very inexperienced and to busy to read much...heres a dumb question??? do bees sleep ,work in shifts,or what...whats up at night in there/?
Winter ball of bee is as big brood area before wintering. If the last brood area like with us in August is one box, the space for winter is one box enough. If brood area is 1,5 supers, you must give to bees 2 supers for winter.
We have in Finland two habits:
1) Solid bottom with opening + upper opening for ventilation
2) Open grid bottom and no upper opening.
The last one is developed for polystyrene hives. I have used them since 1987.
If the wall is solid wood like I had 20 years ago, bees consume sugar 50% more than in insulated box. Polystyrene box is very warm and bees develope in spring very fast.
Hive must protected from mouses, and birds. Birds are disturbing all the winter bees and eat them, but bees stand it.
Also you can do outer box for bees for wind protection. But I think that in your climate it is not necessary. Hungarian use 3 W electric heater on the bottom of hive.
Last year I used first time terrarium heater with bees and my invention were very new in Finland. I had two frame colony which I carried through winter. There was 7 W heater in the hive and the hive was in fire wood shelter. It was fine! In spring I took brood frames from big colinies and now that tiny colony is collecting honeys as his big sisters.
Also after cleaning flight I started to give soija flour-yeast-pollen -mixture to bees and their brood raising was 1,5 month ahead natural development.
Honey does not act as insulator.
Bees are not sleeping. They consume food and vibrate their wing muscles and produce heat for winterball. Of course the warm rise upp.
Also when bees respirate and use food they produce water vapour. That vapour condense to water drops on walls. That is why many use grid bottom during winter.
With solid bottom you need to use upper entrance open because moisture will escape from hive. If hive is too tight, bees will get nosema and half of bees may die.
I use thin wood panel ceiling on top with 5 cm foam plastic mattress. It is also during summer in hives.
In our country origin of bees is important. Some bought nucs and queen from New Sealand. All colonies died. Also as we by queens from Italy, they are not able to survive over our long winter.
Ability to stand over long winter is one of the most important character in our bees.
Last spring I had 5 colonies "coffee cup size", and with some trick and thanks to terrarium heater they have now five supers each.
When varroa mite come to my hives it brought many diseases with it. Little colonies did not survived over winter any more. 5 frames is minimun. But now I think that terrarium heater is solution in that problem.
Do they sleep at nigt ? ---- It seems to me that they sleep and rest after hard flight. In the middle of the day you can find old workers hanging in the bottom of hive. I think that their muscles do not stand all the time working.
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