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Author Topic: losing hives overwinter  (Read 4088 times)
hvac professor
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« on: August 24, 2011, 07:37:51 AM »

I am a 1st year beekeeper and live in northeast new york near the vermont border. I was at a county fair yesterday and spoke with a woman from this area who claims she loses the majority of her bee hives every winter. I was pretty dissapointed to hear this and hope to hear otherwise from other beekeepers from my area.
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phill
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« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2011, 08:31:28 AM »

Last winter was unusually rough. But getting bees through the winter up around here is a challenge. Make sure they have plenty of stores, shelter them the best you can, and hope for the best.
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Finski
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« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2011, 08:58:50 AM »

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First of all you should restrict the wintering space same size as the brood area is when hive stop larva feeding.
You put an extra insulated board into the hive and stop heat leaking to emty part.
Then you feed combs full of syrup  when brood are mostly emerged.

When the hive is feeded and it is ready for winter, in some stage wrap it into stone woll or glassfiber woll.

Arrange the ventilation. If you have a mesh floor, you need nothing else.
If you have a solid bottom, then you need an upper entrance. It is finger size hole in front wall.

So you have in horizontal level 2 insulation boards and between them frames.
Then round the hive put glassfiber or stone woll. They breathe condensation moisture well out.


If you have a such queen, which dies not continue brooding along the autumn, you should have no problems with wintering.  Normal proplems are 10-15% and if it hits in that one hive, you start from begin in spring.


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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2011, 09:03:40 AM »

Many of the loses are not actually in Winter but rather in early Spring.  When the bees start to raise brood, they may use up the last of the stores and starve to dearth.  Also, the first of the brood sets off mite reproduction which is concentrated on a small population of bees.  

Make sure the bees have plenty of food going into Winter.  It helps to put dry sugar over the broodnest so that the bees can get to it even in very cold weather.  And it helps if you can get the mite population down in the Fall by doing a powdered sugar shake if the mite drop numbers show a problem.
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Finski
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« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2011, 09:04:24 AM »

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Restricting the wintering space.

Bee brave and restrict with harrs hand the wintering space. You shake the bees in front of hive from extra frames. When bees marsh all into the hive, they have not at leat too few frames there.

When you feed bees for winter and bees swell outside, and they do not go even at night ih´n, then give more space.

In langstroth hives put medium box under langstrot box.
In long hives give one or two frames more.

Th colony start wintering in the point where brood has bee last.
So in the box hives put brood in lower box.
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Finski
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« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2011, 09:09:08 AM »

 It helps to put dry sugar over the broodnest so that the bees can get to it even in very cold weather.  

Sorry pall. In cold climate bees can not eate dry sugar. It is 100% sure.

When you fill wintering frames with syrup, it is surely enough to go over winter.

NO ONE HERE put dry sugar for winterfood.

After cleansing flight as soon as possible you look inside the hive, and if you see capped food on upper parts of frames, everything are OK. When better weather come, you may look more closely how much they have stores.
Insulation saves food a lot.

I store food for 8 months for bees. They do not need extra food during that time if you have insultaion and if the hive doe not continue brooding in autumn.


They need not extra feeding, no Cristhmas super, no dry sugar. They need to be in in silence.

If you knock the hive, they allways prepare to defence the hive and rise their them up to 40C. It takes 24 h that they drop the temp to 23C which is cluster temp in winter.
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stella
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« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2011, 09:45:22 AM »

Thanks finski.
So, I will drill a finger size hole above the entrance, in the upper deep. Right?

Are the insulated boards something I buy?

I will assume that glass fiber is the same as fiberglass? I like the idea of it providing insulation and condensation removal at the same time. Do I make a hole in it for the entrance that I am going to drill?

Do I put fiberglass on the top of the hive as well?

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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2011, 09:45:43 AM »

Sorry pall. In cold climate bees can not eate dry sugar. It is 100% sure.
That must be true in Finland.  But I know that our bees use dry sugar and many beekeepers use it in climates much colder than North Carolina. If the bees run out of food and it's too cold for the cluster to move, having sugar above their heads may save them.  We spray the sugar with water so it's not completely dry.  

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When you fill wintering frames with syrup, it is surely enough to go over winter.

Thanks for this idea Finski.  I used this during the dearth to give some food to a starving hive without setting off robbing.  I also thought this might be a better way to feed since it does not fill the broodnest with syrup.  Do your bees move the syrup from the filled syrup frames into the broodnest?
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They need not extra feeding, no Cristhmas super, no dry sugar. They need to be in in silence.

I agree about the silence.  We add the dry sugar in mid December just before we put insulation on top of the hives.  Then we leave them alone until late February.
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Oblio13
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« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2011, 10:09:46 AM »

Sorry pall. In cold climate bees can not eate dry sugar. It is 100% sure.

Mine do. I live in New Hampshire, about 43 degrees north. I have Russian bees.
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kathyp
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« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2011, 11:26:20 AM »

mine do too, but we have moisture to spare and we have enough days that warm for them to break cluster and move around.  they  must have the moisture for the dry sugar to be of any use and that's  not a problem in my area!! 
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« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2011, 11:51:56 AM »

 Do your bees move the syrup from the filled syrup frames into the broodnest?

The hive is feeded so that you may feed part  in the middle of August. Then hives are still full of brood. At the start of September there is no larvae because flowers do not give pollen. Then last brood emerge.

Now, you´should give the last feeding that bees fill the empty brood cells.
If the colony is pressed into one wintering box, it happens with the aid of excluder.
The queen get only one box to lay in August. So do the professionals.

I let them lay as much as they like. Just now I move all brood frames to the lowest box and extract the honey. Now bees still need  2-3 boxes but summer bees are dying with huge speed.

I take all honey away and reolace it with sugar syrup. On average bees consume 20 kg per hive.  
This happens at the level of Anchorage.

in large USA you have many kind of beekeeping habits but I cannot see, why you do all those tricks.
At least at hobby level proceduals are really odd.

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Finski
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« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2011, 12:08:59 PM »

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I repeat still that our climate is so harsh that beekeepers have not much do their procedures many ways.
It is almost one alternative what you can do. If you try something eslse, you loose your hives.


I have tried to clear out that "idiot way to keep hives alive over long winter". Why should it succeed on the area where you have long snow periods. Bees can fly out but not in.

Areas which have only one week snow and sun is warming next week, it should be easy to keep bees.

What I have followed British beekeeping and beekeeping of this forum, bees are kept like aquarium fishes. All the time feeding, nursing and taking care and many does not take main product honey away. That is not beekeeping. It is petty keeping, bugs on back yard.

Actually my winter is mild and wet. We seldom have white Christmas.  When snow rains, most of it melts. So snow is wet and snow cover is not good to hives. In  north winter is cold and wet snow is rare. Bees do well under snow cover.

During 15 years the usual snow cover has been on my cottage are 30 cm. In western coast 5-10 cm is enough.

In the middle of Finland snow cover is 100 cm because ot does not melt away all the time.

I am sure that my advices are relevant in some parts of USA and Canada.
We have not popcornfields. They are found 1000 km to south.
 They need 2 moths longer summer what we have.
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2011, 12:10:52 PM »

If you knock the hive, they always prepare to defend the hive and raise their them up to 40C. It takes 24 h for them to drop the temp to 23C which is cluster temp in winter.

That is really good to know. My first year, I was told that during the winter to give a good rap on the box and listen to the buzz to make sure they are alive. Sounds like a good way to kill your bees. angry
Thanks Finski.
Jim
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2011, 04:47:57 PM »

Actually my winter is mild and wet. We seldom have white Christmas.  When snow rains, most of it melts. So snow is wet and snow cover is not good to hives. In  north winter is cold and wet snow is rare. Bees do well under snow cover.

During 15 years the usual snow cover has been on my cottage are 30 cm. In western coast 5-10 cm is enough.

In the middle of Finland snow cover is 100 cm because ot does not melt away all the time.


Where do you live in Finland?  What town or city is close to you?
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BlueBee
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« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2011, 05:51:11 PM »

During 15 years the usual snow cover has been on my cottage are 30 cm. In western coast 5-10 cm is enough.

It’s beginning to sound like Finski is living in the tropics  grin

30cm of snow?  Parts of Michigan get over 300cm a year.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowbelt

Joking aside, for those of us living in the north, Finski has some very good advice. 

According to a conference I was at, in Michigan we had at least 60% of the hives die last winter before March.  We then had a cold spring that probably took out even more.  If people were really successful at wintering bees, there wouldn’t be such a huge demand for new bees from the South every spring.  The fact that there is such a huge demand, implies a lot of people fail at wintering (rather they like to admit it or not).

Getting your bees through winter is probably the trickiest part to bee keeping in the north.   
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derekm
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« Reply #15 on: August 24, 2011, 05:54:29 PM »

Sorry pall. In cold climate bees can not eate dry sugar. It is 100% sure.

Mine do. I live in New Hampshire, about 43 degrees north. I have Russian bees.

probably the condensation inside the hive wets the sugar or it provides the water that the bees use.
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If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
Finski
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« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2011, 12:28:58 AM »

probably the condensation inside the hive wets the sugar or it provides the water that the bees use.

 My opinion is that bees get necessary water when they uncap honey cell, Moisture dilute the open food.

The cluster is 20 C warm. Bees respire 10 litres water during winter and most of it goes out via ventilation. Some part condensates on side walls and drills to bottom and then out.

Too humid air inside the hive makes the bees sick. Nosema is one.

Inside wet snow bees feel worse than in open cold air.


Bees consume  20 kg honey and exrecete from food 10 kg water. Handfull dry sugar means nothing in that game.

During winter ice sticks hang in the lowest frames parts like carrots. When it is mild weather, they melt away. 

Bees tolerate quite much condensation inside the hive. If someone says that he have had NEVER condensation in the hive, I do not believe it. I have condensation in the middle of summer when moist 36C hive air meets cold bottom at night.

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Finski
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« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2011, 12:33:29 AM »


Where do you live in Finland?  What town or city is close to you?


I live in Capital city Helsinki on the isle Lauttasaari.  Isle has no bees.  The size is mile x mile

My hives are 150 km away to east from Helsinki. It is 15 km from the sea.




My hives have this kind of lanscape. Several hives are in the upper part of the picture.
balance hive brought 140 kg in one month this summer behind that lake.

Photo has taken in the middle of May. Fields are not green yeat.






This area is too open and windy. It is probably December in the picture and snow cover is 10 cm
« Last Edit: August 25, 2011, 12:57:59 AM by Finski » Logged

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derekm
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« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2011, 04:53:03 AM »

During 15 years the usual snow cover has been on my cottage are 30 cm. In western coast 5-10 cm is enough.

It’s beginning to sound like Finski is living in the tropics  grin

30cm of snow?  Parts of Michigan get over 300cm a year.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowbelt

Joking aside, for those of us living in the north, Finski has some very good advice.  

According to a conference I was at, in Michigan we had at least 60% of the hives die last winter before March.  We then had a cold spring that probably took out even more.  If people were really successful at wintering bees, there wouldn’t be such a huge demand for new bees from the South every spring.  The fact that there is such a huge demand, implies a lot of people fail at wintering (rather they like to admit it or not).

Getting your bees through winter is probably the trickiest part to bee keeping in the north.  



60% losses!  yet Michigan bee keepers can make a hive from common materials that will enable bees to maintain 34C inside  the whole hive with an outside temp  of -40C for less than $60 per hive but michingan beekepers choose not to do so... Facinating as Mr Spock would say. If you get such high losses there is nothing to loose in trying high levels of insulation.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2011, 05:06:31 AM by derekm » Logged

If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
sawdstmakr
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« Reply #19 on: August 25, 2011, 11:48:43 AM »

Finski,
My hives have this kind of lanscape. Several hives are in the upper part of the picture.
balance hive brought 140 kg in one month this summer behind that lake.

Are you saying you get over 300 pounds of honey from 1 hive? WOW.

I pulled a little over 100 pounds from my best hive (and still have a little more to pull) and I thought I was doing pretty good.
Jim
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