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Author Topic: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains  (Read 3274 times)

Offline Cold Bees

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I wanted to collect any advice on assisting a colony through a  hard spot.

I started a package of Italians in May on all new foundation.  So the bear ate all the brood in June.  The new electric fence seems to be working.  To my surprise, the colony has drawn 5 frames out and there is brood in all of them.  They are happily collecting pollen everyday, thanks to a wet summer here in Colorado.  They are consuming a quart of 1:1 sugar syrup every 2 days now.  The colony is up at an altitude 9200 feet, and the first frost can come as early as the first week of September.  There are flowers, though, till late October.  General advice around here is to have two deeps drawn out full of honey and pollen to get them through the winter.  I am only a quarter of the way there now, though I hope they can fill out a deep pretty quickly with all that brood becoming available soon. 

My question is all about wintering over PLUS.  I have access to electrical power, which I could use to provide a heat strip of some sort.  In addition, I assume I will have to feed both syrup and pollen through the winter.  Any advice on anything related to pulling these bees through would be appreciated.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2007, 04:08:19 PM »
>The colony is up at an altitude 9200 feet, and the first frost can come as early as the first week of September.

I lived in Laramie WY at 7200 ft and I'd say the first frost might come much earlier than that, but that's probably as late as you can expect it. )

Assuming it's your only hive and you can't do a combine, I'd buy a terrarium heater and put under the hive.  They are by far the best heat source to baby a hive.  Put some sytrofoam on the lid.  Make sure there's a top entrance and a mouse guard.
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Offline Robo

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2007, 09:17:40 AM »
Reduce their space as much as possible, you may have to put in a Styrofoam divider.  Do a search on Finman's experience.   He is very successful in wintering very small hives in Finland.  I have had good luck with the "poor man's" two 7watt  night lights for providing suplimental  heat to nucs.
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison



Offline Cindi

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2007, 12:33:54 PM »
Robo.  Finman.  I looked at his profile, he was last active on February 18, 2005. 

Is he the same as Finsky?  Maybe before was he called Finman?  Just curious.  Have a wonderful day, great life, Cindi
There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2007, 12:35:54 PM »
Finsky and Finman are one and the same Cindi!   Have a super day!    Ken :)

Offline Robo

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2007, 01:20:29 PM »
Yes,  my mistake,  Finsky use to be Finman.. :roll:

http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php?topic=1979.msg9995#msg9995
« Last Edit: August 21, 2007, 02:21:25 PM by Robo »
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison



Offline Cindi

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2007, 02:14:14 AM »
Awesome, I wonder why this name change has happened, the change from Finman to Finsky.  Oh well, it doesn't matter.  Finsky is a very valued member of our forum in my eyes. I have listened and learned many things from this gentleman. He is very strongly opinionated.  He is Finish, so am I, maybe that is my afinity to his posts (little pun on words). 

I would encourage many of these new forum members to go into Finsky's profile, read his words and thoughts.  Over fourty-five years of beekeeping in the harsh land of Finland.  Wanna keep bees in a difficult land, Finland would be the place to go.  There is in that land a very short time to get the bees ready to work hard and bring in the honey -- many years he has attained that, many years he has not.

Anyways, back to Finsky.  He irritates people or on the other hand, people love him, he can be annoying, but on the other hand again, he can be a supreme mentor.

Rats, I seem to go off topic sometimes, but when I think of things, I cannot help but let my thoughts flow.

Have a wonderful day, and always....love this life you're livin'.  Cindi
There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service

Offline reinbeau

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2007, 08:23:45 AM »
For the record, Finsky hasn't been active on Beesource, either.  Real life must be getting in the way of his cyberlife!  :)

- Ann, A Gardening Beek -  ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

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Offline Cindi

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2007, 12:13:55 PM »
Ann, about a week ago, Finsky made a couple of posts, then dropped off into thin air again.  Yes, I think he is just plain and simply busy with life.  Have this wonderful day, great life.  Cindi
There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service

Offline Cold Bees

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2007, 05:47:50 PM »
Finsky/Finman does seem to say it like it is.  I read through lots of his posts now, and he even predicted that the Italian package I was beefing up would want to swarm in the spring.  They did, in fact, just asfter the bee hit, though it was a small swarm, given the damage.  I'll go ahead and try a heater since I have an outlet nearby.  Thnaks everyone, for he advice.  Michael Bush is a pretty good advisor also.

Any thoughts on winter feeding?  Do I just leave some pollen substitute out in a dish or something like that?

Offline Robo

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2007, 09:16:45 PM »
Any thoughts on winter feeding?  Do I just leave some pollen substitute out in a dish or something like that?

I have better luck feeding candy instead of syrup.  Less moisture put in the hive and I seem to have less problems with dysentery which will wipe out a small/weaker hive.
http://robo.bushkillfarms.com/beekeeping/emergency-feeding/
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Offline Cindi

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2007, 11:58:20 AM »
Cold Bees.  There is a lot to learn about beekeeping, I have been keeping bees for two seasons now, taken courses and only am on the tip of the ice berg.  I will give you some advice, that may be elaborated on further by more seasoned beekeepers on our forum.

I understand that your bees are not ready for winter, weakened.  But, do they have time yet to store winter stores?

In our climate, we begin to feed the bees a 2:1 sugar syrup around the beginning to middle of September.  Our bees are in the winter cluster around the middle of October, or so, depending on the weather values outside.

The purpose of the sugar syrup given to the bees is that the bees can take this syrup and store it in the honeycombs for their winter feed.  Sugar syrup is not intended to be fed to the bees all winter long, it can cause dysentry within the bee colony, too much liquid.  That is why Robo said that he uses the "candy" he spoke of and indicates his website.  This candy is used in the event that the bees do not have enough winter food stored in cells and the cluster can at all times reach this sugar candy.  It works very well in the climate where he has extremely cold winters.

About the pollen patty.  Pollen is the protein for the bees, keeps them strong, the honey/sugar syrup is their carbohydrate.  They need both to live and be healthy.  But there is a but.  Unless the bees have not stored enough pollen, then generally the pollen patty is used in the early spring for the spring build up.

I would not really see a problem leaving a pollen patty on top of the frames in the colonies (other members please respond with you opinions on this aspect of pollen patty in hive).  We do not leave pollen patties on in the winter time here, because we are pretty much sure that the bees have gathered enough pollen for winter stores.  But again, wait for other responses that may be better suited to your area.

I hope that some of my responses may have cleared up a little bit of mystery for you.  Await other responses, then form your own opinions.  Have a wonderful day, best of this life and good luck with you colony in the forthcoming season of quietness within the bees.  Cindi
There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service

Offline Cold Bees

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2007, 12:03:01 PM »
Cindi,

I missed your post, and wanted to thank you.  I've gotten tons of advice and help and I think the bees will be ready by mid-october.  It's already quite a cool day, temperature is 43F.  But they have been draining a quart of 1.5-1 syrup a day and I am increasing to 2:1, if I can get it to dissolve!  I'll build some insulation based on other posts here, and I will provide pollen substitute.  There is plenty of pollen in Colorado, and they are laden with it whent hey come back, but I am worried that they did not draw out enough comb in time to store it.

Offline Dr/B

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2007, 12:35:21 AM »
A beekeeper friend of mine stacks several of his hives on top of each other, and combines screened dividers + screened bottom boards between each hive for the winter months.  He uses a solid bottom board on the bottom hive, a solid top on the very top, and turns all entrances 90 degrees from the one under it.  Of course he'll use entrance reducers.  He has wintered many hives in one stack.  He says each hive generates it's own heat, and as these collective hives each generate their own heat, the heat rises within the column, and keeps all the hives warmer, and saves this heat better than one hive alone.  I guess you could say it utilizes ALL the heat from each hive, to warm the entire column.

 Any others out in beeland tried this method?


Dr/B 8-)

Offline rdy-b

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2007, 01:47:08 AM »
similar we take 3/8 ply wood make two inch holes cover the holes both sides with screen and use for dividers between medium box with weak nuc colony in it for entrance we just slide box forward or backward these bee condos are temporary but jump starts them to use as increase to make grade for almonds in feb. which is our cold spell around here.  RDY-B

Offline Cindi

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2007, 02:11:04 AM »
Dr/B.  I think there has been mention before about hives too highly stacked.  Not positive if my memory serves me.  But...I think I recollect that if there is to many stacked hives the condensation levels get very concentrated up high.  YOu will receive more comments on my comments, listen and learn.  But maybe with top entrance this condensation will escape anyways.

Cold Bees.  Dissolving 2:1 suguar syrup is indeed a conquest.  Especially to keep it suspended in a liquid state.  When I prepare the 2:1 sugar syrup, I bring to the boil the indicated amount of water, which is usually enough to use up an entire 10 pound bag of sugar.  I take this 10 pound bag of sugar and make a slit in the bottom of it.  I hold this bag of sugar while I slowly pour it into the boiling water.  In a few minutes the entire bag has been released.  I continue to heat this sugar syrup mixture until it almost reaches the boiling point.  I know this heat has been attained by how the water clears, the bubbles begin to appear on the bottom of my big pot, a slight bit of foam begins to show on the top of the solution. I turn off the heat and let it cool to warm.  Then I scoop the sugar syrup using a 4 cup measuring cup into gallon jugs and it is ready for the bees.  The solution does not crystalize.  This is my method.  Have a wonderful day, best of our wonderful lives.  Cindi
There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2007, 11:26:57 AM »
I haven't had good luck with single box hives stacked on double screens.  The humidity is too much for the top one.  Solid dividers worked much better.
Michael Bush
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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2007, 10:07:43 PM »
The old way of stacking hives was just that, one complete hive on top another.  I find that when stacking could be considered that just putting them next to each other like townhouses works better.
Life is a school.  What have you learned?   :brian:      The greatest danger to our society is apathy, vote in every election!

Offline Cindi

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #18 on: September 16, 2007, 02:27:13 PM »
I'm thinking that stacking would be an awful lot of work in the springtime when it comes to examining the colonies.  Unstacking, yikes!!!  Side by side is much easiser, better yet, side by side, the same as they were in the fall, with enough space between each one to move around.  That is my preference.  Our winters are reasonably mild, so cold is not really an issue here.  Moisture is our quandry.  But....I'm pretty sure that I have read that bees can survive very well those cold temperatures, far below zero, whether it is celsius or farenheit.  It is the wind that makes the chill, probably very very cold for the bees.  That is where putting the hives closer would be of definite benefit.  Have a wonderful day, best of our beautiful life.  Cindi
There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2007, 03:37:52 PM »
I've been putting mine up against each other, especially in the winter.  Seems like huddled together they will be warmer.  It seems to work, but it's difficult to say as we haven't had a "normal" winter since I started.
Michael Bush
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Offline Cold Bees

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Re: Wintering over with a weakened colony in the Colorado mountains
« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2008, 12:22:08 AM »
Well,

Thanks all, was warm yesterday, almost 60, got to check things out and the colony seems to have pulled through so far, REALLY GOOD NEWS.  I'll remember these tips as the beeyard grows, thanks.