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Author Topic: Winter Cluster  (Read 1355 times)
ZuniBee
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« on: October 15, 2007, 05:40:42 PM »

While looking at Michael Bush's outstanding page on terminology it reminded me of a question I have been thinking about.

Winter cluster = A tight ball of bees within the hive to generate heat; forms when outside temperature falls below 50 degrees F.

With the frames in the hive how do they form a ball of bees? Are they just located in the same area between the frames? So you would have a circle of clustered bees between the frames in the same location across the hive?

Sounds like a stupid question but I have been picturing a ball of bees and when I explained it to my son he asked how there was a ball if the frames were in there.....
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2007, 05:51:44 PM »

The bees form the cluster ball up between the frames, the larger the quantity of bees the more frames will be involved.  If you could open the end of a beehive and look between the frames you would see a cluster of bees spanning several frames that roughly resembles a soccer ball in shape with the frames breaking the plane. A cluster that encompasses 5 frames of tightly packed bees in the late fall can be 1/2 that size in the spring due to winter die off.
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Life is a school.  What have you learned?   Brian      The greatest danger to our society is apathy, vote in every election!
Michael Bush
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« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2007, 09:13:03 PM »

>With the frames in the hive how do they form a ball of bees? Are they just located in the same area between the frames? So you would have a circle of clustered bees between the frames in the same location across the hive?

Picture a ball of bees and then insert the frames into the ball.  Yes, there are complete barriers between parts of the cluster, but they can feel the warmth through the wax.  This is one reason why mediums overwinter better than deeps.  The cluster is often spanning a gap or close to a gap between the boxes and they can move from frame to frame there.  It's also why Langstroth bored a hole through the hive, combs and all, so they could communicate better.
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Michael Bush
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misfyredOhio
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« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2007, 08:30:34 PM »

Right now, I've got a feeder on my one hive (my first year). If the bees are in the winter cluster when it's 50 or below, will some bees break cluster to feed? Or should I go ahead and remove the feeder? 10 day forecast looks like high temperatures are going to hover around 55 degrees (Ohio).

I have a total of 3 medium boxes heavy and in good condition. I already have fed 2 gallons with fumidil. I am now feeding another 2 gallons. (Paranoid about starvation).

Thanks. --Beth
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2007, 08:41:29 PM »

>Right now, I've got a feeder on my one hive (my first year). If the bees are in the winter cluster when it's 50 or below, will some bees break cluster to feed?

The problem isn't that some won't find there way there, if it's close enough to the cluster, but that the syrup will still be cold from the night before even when it gets over 50 outside.  So they are probably not taking it if the temps are in the 50s in the daytime.

> Or should I go ahead and remove the feeder? 10 day forecast looks like high temperatures are going to hover around 55 degrees (Ohio).

It probably won't hurt anything to leave it on.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
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Finsky
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« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2007, 12:51:43 AM »

Right now, I've got a feeder on my one hive (my first year). If the bees are in the winter cluster when it's 50 or below, will some bees break cluster to feed? Or should I go ahead and remove the feeder? 10 day forecast looks like high temperatures are going to hover around 55 degrees (Ohio).

I have a total of 3 medium boxes heavy and in good condition.


55 F = 12 C is not a limit, where colony is ON/OFF in cluster. In my country 12 C is normal when it is rainy day in mid summer.
Cluster comes when bees have prepared to winter, brood are away and they are not working outside any more.

In spring they are in cluster when they keep brood area's temperature 32C / 90F

When I feed for winter in September, 55F is normal day temperature.

If you feed bees, they are not in cluster even if temperature is outside 30F. They work to store the syrup and they have hot in the hive.
So misfyredOhio, give syrup so much they take it and continuously. Don't stop it. 

- Bees fill cells and then they cap them
- Bees need high temperature that they are able to cap food.
- My system is that I give 16 liter (2 boxes) syrup first and then next week third box. Then 2-box hive is full (=3 medium boxes).


Here is wintercluster in spring. When I put terrarium heater on, the cluster filled whole space and started brooding



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Finsky
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« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2007, 01:25:52 AM »


Keeping hive warm during feeding


Hive should be warm when feeding that bees do not go into cluster and stop storing.

_ Put a couple  newspaper sheet over the feeding box
- Keep entrance quite small that you have ventilating bees in opening all the time
- When hive is full, take feeding box away that warm does not escapes via feeder opening.

Bees need to have warm that they may do capping process to end. It take a couple of weeks that food is capped. But keep hive warm.
Bees start normally brood feeding when you give winter food. That rises the temp from 23C to 32C.

After that let hive be in peace,
- put lower entrance wider
- if solid bottom, make or keep upper entrance open
 - put hive slanting forwars that condensation water may come out
- dont keep 1 cm holes to hive because of mice.
- Give oxalic trikling in December OR  when surely all brood are emerged.
- Put good insulation over the inner cover that when moisture condensates, it condensates to sidewalls which are cooler than cover.
- If inner cover is cooler than sidewalls, condensation happens on colder surfaces = to upper corners of the inner cover

- Dont examine or listen  colony during winter. It helps nothing. It only disturbs the hive.
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Cindi
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« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2007, 10:27:15 AM »

We should all be grateful and thank our lucky stars for the wonderful advice that comes to us from men who have kept bees for many, many years.  We have lots of great beekeepers as our forum friends.  Listen to their words of advice, and learn, learn, learn and listen some more.  Have a wonderful day, best of our great life we live.  Cindi
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