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Author Topic: 1st year: what I learned this Winter  (Read 3469 times)
greenbtree
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« on: February 13, 2011, 02:32:12 PM »

Things experienced beeks  relayed on the forums that didn't sink in.

Location: Iowa
1.  Don't try to bring small colonies through Winter, combine them in Fall.  Sure you want more hives, but a dead-out in January doesn't do you any good.
2. Wrap your hives in black tar paper.  I didn't, and I think some I lost could have made it if I had.  What I didn't understand is it is not so much for at night, but during a sunny day it allows enough warm up so the bees can break cluster and move to stores.  I had two hives that died inches away from capped stores.
3. Lots of disagreement on this, but too much moisture IS a killer.  My hives were too damp, even with the hives tipped forward.  My two remaining hives were in dire straights (dead moist bees packed between frames), I added just a popsicle stick to frame edge on top of hive and things dried right up and bees are MUCH happier.  One hive I lost had a cluster of dead bees covered in ice.  Yet I had this hive tipped forward.  I suspect that here in Iowa our Winters alternate between very cold (down to minus 20) and very damp - lots of snow and sleet, thus tipping alone isn't enough.

If I had a mentor I suspect I would have done much better - he or she could of pointed and said "That hive is way too small, it will never make it" or "Here in Iowa you need more ventilation than that."  I am joining a local club, hopefully I can hook up with someone.

JC
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Acebird
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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2011, 03:25:01 PM »

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If I had a mentor I suspect I would have done much better


I suppose it would matter who that mentor was.  There could be 900 mentors on this forum, pick one.  It won't guarantee that you don't sustain losses.

Question, do you have an upper entrance, notch in the inner cover?  Will you next year?

As far as the rotten bees ... I would pull all the frames of honey and cut out the bad stuff and refrigerate until you get your new nuc.

Where did you get the queen or nuc?
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greenbtree
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« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2011, 05:51:13 PM »

I know I will still have losses with a mentor.  But I hope he or she will clue me in to local condition strategies.  I pulled part of the remaining honey and threw it on top of a hive that I really don't want to lose.  They were into the sugar block.  They tore right into that honey - at least I assume so from all of the scritching, tearing sounds I heard from in the hive.

Three of my hives are from a local beek that was selling his hives, either directly or were descended from them (I did a split, and gave a frame of eggs to a swarm where the queen died.)  The rest were and are from swarms and cutouts.  The one I gave the honey to was from a cut out and at this point is the most vigorous as far as I can see.  Time will tell of course.

You can bet that my inner covers will have notches next year.

JC
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2011, 12:20:29 AM »

I've just heard my whole life to EXPECT 40% losses in the best of bee yards - a number frankly hard to swallow, I just don't know of any other venture where you would except that degree of loss as inevitable if averaged out.

I know we have a lot of treatments for bees today, I haven't heard of an updated percentage in a long time. I always believed beekeeping to bee one of the most fascinatingly frustrating hobbies anyone can take up. I can only image doing it at a commercial bee yard level.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2011, 12:27:11 AM »

>Location: Iowa

I'm not far from you.

>1.  Don't try to bring small colonies through Winter, combine them in Fall.  Sure you want more hives, but a dead-out in January doesn't do you any good.

True, but in recent years I've been pushing this to have nucs in the spring.  Some don't make it but the ones that do really take off.

>2. Wrap your hives in black tar paper.  I didn't, and I think some I lost could have made it if I had.  What I didn't understand is it is not so much for at night, but during a sunny day it allows enough warm up so the bees can break cluster and move to stores.  I had two hives that died inches away from capped stores.

I've tried wrapping and not wrapping (some experiments with wrapping but mostly decades of not wrapping).  I came to the opposite conclusion.  The wrapping seemed to just keep everything soaking wet all winter.  Here's some other people's take on that also:

    "Although we now and again have to put up with exceptionally severe winters even here in the south-west, we do not provide our colonies with any additional protection. We know that cold, even severe cold, does not harm colonies that are in good health. Indeed, cold seems to have a decided beneficial effect on bees."--Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey, Brother Adam

    "Nothing has been said of providing warmth to the colonies, by wrapping or packing hives or otherwise, and rightly so. If not properly done, wrapping or packing can be disastrous, creating what amounts to a damp tomb for the colony" --The How-To-Do-It book of Beekeeping, Richard Taylor

>3. Lots of disagreement on this, but too much moisture IS a killer.  My hives were too damp, even with the hives tipped forward.

And they will be more moist if you wrap... Do you have a top entrance?  Letting the moisture out makes a huge difference.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslazy.htm#topentrance

>  My two remaining hives were in dire straights (dead moist bees packed between frames), I added just a popsicle stick to frame edge on top of hive and things dried right up and bees are MUCH happier.  One hive I lost had a cluster of dead bees covered in ice.  Yet I had this hive tipped forward.  I suspect that here in Iowa our Winters alternate between very cold (down to minus 20) and very damp - lots of snow and sleet, thus tipping alone isn't enough.

No, it's not.  At least not in our climate.
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Finski
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« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2011, 01:09:04 AM »

.
I have trusted on good look with varroa. I have handled hives with oxalic acid drippling and not according reseached advices.

Last summer my mite load was high. I saw it with naked eyes.

Last autumn I lost 4 lives. Bees just vanished.  Mechanism is such that mites concentrate themselves into last brood which ought to be winter bees. Too few winterbees will emerge and nurser bees die during the autumn. So colony just disappeared.

Winter game very early and some of hives are untreated with oxalic acid.

I do so that when snow melts and weather is about 10C, I take brood frames off and concentare them in few hives without  queen. I suppose that 3/4 hives are then without brood and then I give a oxalic acid trickling. 

To the brood hives I give special treamtment which is a littel bit laborous. I make false swarms from emerged young bees and trickle them and return into queen right hives.

What I learned: Things do not go allways as they should with varroa. Prefer to make more work than trust on good luck.

Like Muhammed said: Tie first your camel and then trust on Allah.

.
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2011, 06:41:01 AM »

I don't live in those extra cold wet places, but along the lines of gathering warmth in the winter, has anyone ever tried something like a black plastic (clean) round oil pan over the top of the hive to gather the heat of the sun without trapping moisture? - I've also been thinking pretty often about parabolic sun reflection for different/other applications - has anyone done anything to reflect sunlight to the backs of the hives?

(Keep in mind I'm not making recommendations) I probably wouldn't need these techniques, but I guess out of curiosity and my own edification I was curious to whether those things had been tried.
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« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2011, 06:53:50 AM »

I don't live in those extra cold wet places, but along the lines of gathering warmth in the winter, has anyone ever tried something like a black plastic (clean) round oil pan over the top of the hive to gather the heat of the sun without trapping moisture? - I've also been thinking pretty often about parabolic sun reflection for different/other applications - has anyone done anything to reflect sunlight to the backs of the hives?

(Keep in mind I'm not making recommendations) I probably wouldn't need these techniques, but I guess out of curiosity and my own edification I was curious to whether those things had been tried.

Makes no sence. Bees generate their heat at night, in rain, in clowdy weather.

Here in winter the sun does not shine during 3 months.



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Acebird
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« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2011, 08:47:33 AM »

Quote
I've tried wrapping and not wrapping (some experiments with wrapping but mostly decades of not wrapping).  I came to the opposite conclusion.  The wrapping seemed to just keep everything soaking wet all winter.  Here's some other people's take on that also:

I probably shouldn’t open my mouth here but if wrapping killed the bees with moisture you would never be able to keep bees in a plastic insulated hive because nothing is more water tight unless you wrapped the hive with metal.  I do believe the top entrance and notch in the inner cover is essential for ventilation.  Granted, I have no real experience to go on.
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greenbtree
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« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2011, 09:55:22 AM »

I really like all the advice I can get on this forum.  If I do a tar paper wrap next winter, I am going to do it with a top entrance or notch to make sure moisture can escape.  I also am making some double nuc boxes to try to overwinter smaller colonies.  This has not put me off beekeeping, I expect a learning curve.  I also figure there will always be SOME losses. 

JC
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Finski
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« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2011, 10:56:42 AM »



If you have a mesh floor, don't use upper entrance.

If you have solid bottom, use upper entrance in front wall. Don't lead the moisture between inner and outer cover.
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Hethen57
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« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2011, 12:17:08 PM »

What Finski is saying above is the advice that saved my hives from moisture....however, I lost my share this year from failing queens that I should have changed out at the end of summer Cry

I now insulate well above the inner cover and plenty of ventilation comes through the screened bottom.  Any moisture condenses on the cold outside walls (instead of the insulated inner cover) and drips down and out the screened bottom.
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« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2011, 03:09:31 PM »

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Any moisture condenses on the cold outside walls (instead of the insulated inner cover) and drips down and out the screened bottom.

That part makes sense to me.  Now that I have made 1/2 medium spacers I will try the insulation in the top for next year.
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« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2011, 12:53:52 AM »



If you have a mesh floor, don't use upper entrance.

If you have solid bottom, use upper entrance in front wall. Don't lead the moisture between inner and outer cover.

I disagree, I have bottomless hives, which is even more open than SBB, plus a 1/2 entrance in an inverted solid bottom board that I use for tops.  I have no trouble with my bees being too cold or moisture forming inside the hive.  My hives also face south, the wind comes from the south, and I still don't have problems unless the hives get blown over.

I must admit that with bottomless hives it doesn't matter whether the hive is tilted forward or backward, as long as it's tilted so that any moisture than may forn can run out of the hive via gravity.  Bottomless hives also makes the following bit of advice immaterial.

When it comes to venting it is best to ensure that the top vent is above the entrance so as to enduce a chimney effect with the air circulation.  Vents to the rear or sides, though beneficial, just aren't as efficient as a vent above the entrance.
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« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2011, 01:13:51 AM »



If you have a mesh floor, don't use upper entrance.

If you have solid bottom, use upper entrance in front wall. Don't lead the moisture between inner and outer cover.

I disagree, I have bottomless hives,

OK you do so.  But I cannot see why to waste winter food that way.
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« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2011, 01:24:51 AM »



If you have a mesh floor, don't use upper entrance.

If you have solid bottom, use upper entrance in front wall. Don't lead the moisture between inner and outer cover.

I disagree, I have bottomless hives,

OK you do so.  But I cannot see why to waste winter food that way.


Beleive it or not, the bees use less stores now then when I used solid bottoms and telescopic tops.  Lots less condensation within the hive and a significant reduction in hive losses, less than 20% (except for natural disasters, beeyard wise) and some years no losses at all.
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Acebird
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« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2011, 11:33:17 AM »

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I must admit that with bottomless hives it doesn't matter whether the hive is tilted forward or backward, as long as it's tilted so that any moisture than may forn can run out of the hive via gravity.  Bottomless hives also makes the following bit of advice immaterial.

How about making the inner cover sloped so you don't have to tilt the Whole hive.
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« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2011, 01:51:15 PM »

.
Beekeepers have many succesfull habits to over winter hives.
I think that new beekeepers try to over winter too small colonies.
Big colonies take care themselves.
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« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2011, 03:29:11 PM »

I've just heard my whole life to EXPECT 40% losses in the best of bee yards - a number frankly hard to swallow...

I'm knocking on wood and keeping my fingers crossed... I haven't lost any in 5 years (6 colonies). Must be luck or just my location. We do have mild winters here in N Fla.

Of course, since I typed this... I'll probably have a dead hive next week. shocked

...DOUG
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« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2011, 11:15:40 PM »

On your list of what you learned your 2nd year of beekeeping see how many of the things from year 1 were unlearned. Then on  the 3rd year what was unlearned from year 2 and so on.  Keep the list long enough and you might find you've learned and unlearned the same things several times.
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