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Author Topic: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?  (Read 3910 times)

Offline FRAMEshift

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #20 on: October 14, 2011, 05:04:55 PM »

7 frames of bees?  my productive hives have in summer 50-60 langstroth frames
and in the end of summer I drop the number to 10 or 20.

Big hives are easy to over winter. They take care themselves.

Yes, we go into winter with 7 frames or more.  You have 10 frames or more.  Not a huge  difference.   If we have more then 7 frames per hive that's great, but I would not kill a queen and do a combine just to get more than 7.  As long as I have a good queen and at least 7 frames of bees and 4 frames of honey, I know I will have a good cluster and come out in Spring with a fast growing colony.

So in mid February we are at maybe 5 frames of bees surviving.  By mid to late March we are at 10 frames.  By mid April we have 20 frames and then we split and remove the queen.  Remember that we are using 33 frame horizontal hives with no supering.  So 20 frames of bees will fill the other 13 frames with honey.  If we start Winter with more than 10 frames of bees, we will exceed the capacity of the hive before June.  Your summer hive is almost twice the size of ours, so it's fine for you to overwinter more bees/hive.  But by staying in the 7-10 frame range, we can support more queens and start Spring with more healthy colonies than if we combined in order to have bigger hives.  
« Last Edit: October 14, 2011, 05:15:28 PM by FRAMEshift »
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Offline CapnChkn

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #21 on: October 15, 2011, 01:21:48 PM »
Here's a question.  Assuming the queen lays the same amount of eggs regardless of the population, there are ready stores and forage, and the brood box is being kept at temperature by artificial means, would it be possible to build up a full sized working hive from the "minimum" in a smaller amount of time?

That of course would be in comparison to a hive that builds by natural means.  The only factor I can think of that might slow or stop the process is the protein, bee milk, and royal jelly.
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Offline BlueBee

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #22 on: October 15, 2011, 01:52:32 PM »
Good question CapnChkn!

Last year I heated 2 frame nucs to 88F / 31C using electric heat.  My controller used a thermistor for a thermostat so they never dipped below 88F, day or night.  The bees were responsible for the additional 6F /4C needed to raise brood.

Despite giving the bees all the heat they needed, they didn’t raise many more brood.  I was disappointed in their slow buildup.  I’m not sure why they didn’t lay or raise a lot more larvae.  My guess is they were pollen and water limited due to the low number of foragers, but I can’t say for certain.   It would be interesting to repeat the experiment with pollen sub and a water supply inside the hive.

Maybe Finski will have some more insight into this question.

Offline FRAMEshift

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #23 on: October 15, 2011, 03:15:50 PM »
  Assuming the queen lays the same amount of eggs regardless of the population, there are ready stores and forage, and the brood box is being kept at temperature by artificial means, would it be possible to build up a full sized working hive from the "minimum" in a smaller amount of time?
The maximum rate a hive can grow is limited by the nurse bee population.  The body of a nurse bee can physically cover two cells to keep them warm.  So one nurse can raise two new bees.  The theoretical maximum growth rate is a doubling every 21 days with each of those two new bees becoming nurse bees and each raising two more new bees.  So it's exponential growth limited by nurse bees.

Lack of pollen, honey, or inefficiencies in laying or building new comb will only reduce the growth from that maximum level.  The queen may lay more eggs than can be cared for by the nurse bees.  The nurse bees will just eat the excess eggs.
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Offline Finski

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #24 on: October 15, 2011, 03:33:21 PM »
.
I have eight years' experience on elecrict heating + patty feeding in spring.

4 frames or less colonies prefere to become sick than build up.
They are in the prison of their small size.

We could imagine that we have 4 frames of bees. In practice they cover only half of frames. Practically they may rear  one frame of new bees. Minimum factor is short of feeder bees.
When after a month there are one frame new urser bees, they may rear maximum 2 brood frames. The wintered bees are almost died and the new bees must first compensate the dead bees. It takes 2 months that the colony starts to grow.

In a big hive, which covers 10 frames, may rear first 4 half size brood frames. It must be lack of nurser bees. Bigger or less bigger, the brood area is the same.

But then the hives get new nurser bees.  a miracle will happen. The bigger the hiver, the bigger will be the brood area. The biggest hives may generate in second generation with heating 15 frames of frood. And brood area is from frame corner to frame corner.

A 5 frame hive can make 3 frames of brood.   but 15 is 5 times more than 3.

The brood area is actually a ball. It has tree dimensions. You may calculate two options, the radius of brood area is 10 cm or 15 cm.   how much is the volume if radius is 5 cm bigger?

The beekeepers cannot understand that biggest hives need help. Actually small hives need help but only big hives can help them. Along Spring you may steal brood frames every now and then from big hives and get smaller normal.  

so lets look the big hive which occupye allredy 2 boxes. It has 15 fat frames of brood.
When those brood have emerged, they occupye 4-5 boxes 3 weeks later.

If we have at same time 5 frames of bees and 3 fat brood frames, the colony fills only one total box. After 4 weeks the colony fills 3 box.  In my country it is allready a beginning of July.
At same time the biggest hive has 6-7 boxes.
 
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Offline Finski

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #25 on: October 15, 2011, 03:43:31 PM »
.
Beginners and experienced beekeepers make usual mistake when they split in Spring big colonies. They would  get a better result if they let the biggest hives grow, get a good yield and then make splits when main yield is over.

But nerves....
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Offline FRAMEshift

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #26 on: October 15, 2011, 09:48:45 PM »
Beginners and experienced beekeepers make usual mistake when they split in Spring big colonies. They would  get a better result if they let the biggest hives grow, get a good yield and then make splits when main yield is over.

Your hive on scales brought in 280 lbs of honey and had no queen.  So splitting off a queen can't be such a bad idea.  I agree that you would not want to do an even split in the early Spring.  But a small split including the queen does two things.  It frees up all those nurse bees in the big hive to become foragers since they have no brood to rear.  That increases the amount of honey brought in.  It also gets the new hive started early enough that it has time to grow before winter.  If the smaller hive is not large enough to make it through winter, there is plenty of time to move some frames of bees from the larger hive to the smaller.  We always equalize hives before Winter. 

This small split makes even more sense in our area because it decreases the total bees that need food during our dearth in July and August.  A good time to split is at the beginning of the flow or maybe a couple of weeks before the beginning of the main flow.

I realize that maybe what I am saying is the same thing you are saying, since our flow is much earlier than yours.  In Finland, if you split in early Summer or late Spring, you are also splitting at the beginning of the main flow.
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #27 on: October 15, 2011, 10:56:31 PM »
If you time a split to two weeks before or just at the flow (in that range) you can take all the open brood and the queen and most of the honey and start the new colony.  Leave the capped brood (at least a few eggs so they can raise a new queen) at the old location.  This frees up the colony to forage as there is no brood to care for, keeps them from swarming, because there isn't a queen, gets you a new young queen, and a honey crop.

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Offline Finski

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #28 on: October 16, 2011, 05:28:15 AM »
Beginners and experienced beekeepers make usual mistake when they split in Spring big colonies. They would  get a better result if they let the biggest hives grow, get a good yield and then make splits when main yield is over.
For winter bee
Your hive on scales brought in 280 lbs of honey and had no queen. 

-  only 2 weeks without queen

taking the queen off
-  some hives looses its mind and stops foraging
- they do not forage pollen which is needed for winter bee rearing
- mostly queenless hive makes better yield but I have gived upp from this system

 We always equalize hives before Winter. 

-  my all hives are so big that is needless. If the new queen is not able to lay 15 frames, it must go to bees' heaven. Every summer new queens will go there.

A good time to split is at the beginning of the flow or maybe a couple of weeks before the beginning of the main flow.

- I try to rear my hives as big as it is possible. I have false swarms and they are some kind of splits.
-  For mainflow I join hives  that they have 5-6 langstroth boxes. I combine them so that the hive has lots of foragers and brood to generate nurser bees.

I realize that maybe what I am saying is the same thing you are saying, since our flow is much earlier than yours.  In Finland, if you split in early Summer or late Spring, you are also splitting at the beginning of the main flow.

-  Young bees do not start to forage earlier even if they have not brood.

- I have mating nucs as many as productive hives. It is a big job to get there assistant bees. So it is better to wait that hives are maximum size when I rear queens.

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Offline FRAMEshift

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #29 on: October 16, 2011, 10:55:38 AM »

-  For mainflow I join hives  that they have 5-6 langstroth boxes. I combine them so that the hive has lots of foragers and brood to generate nurser bees.
So you have to find a queen among 20 frames of brood so you can remove her and combine.   How do you find her quickly? 
Quote
-  Young bees do not start to forage earlier even if they have not brood.
I think there is pretty good evidence that there is lots of flexibility in when house bees shift to foraging.  The "normal" time is 42 days from the egg but they can start in much less time if there is a shortage of foragers relative to storage bees.  Even if they don't shift, they speed the work of foragers by drawing comb and quickly storing what the foragers bring in, letting the foragers get back to work faster.
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Offline Finski

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #30 on: October 16, 2011, 12:25:15 PM »
[
I think there is pretty good evidence that there is lots of flexibility in when house bees shift to foraging.

where is that evidence?

I have made tens of mating nucs to virgins + just emerging workes older workersgo to the old hive.

I have followed  the workers and  no bees carry pollen into the nuc before 2 weeks even if the queen lays.

And the rest of the hive, which leaved after swarming, they are not cabable to forage surplus even if they do not have brood to be feeded.
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Offline FRAMEshift

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #31 on: October 16, 2011, 04:34:41 PM »

where is that evidence?

I have followed  the workers and  no bees carry pollen into the nuc before 2 weeks even if the queen lays.

If you are seeing foragers 2 weeks after a split with new bees only, your foragers are still a week early.   And I think it takes about a week for the hive to realize that it needs new foragers out of the main sequence.   So the next batch might be more than a week early, but you would not see that since you are only looking for two conditions;  no foragers or some foragers.

I have done some reading on polyethism in research papers and specifically in "The Hive and the Honeybee" and there is evidence presented there for flexibility in the movement of bees through the different assignment stages.  The "normal" time is 42 days but the papers report foragers much younger than that if they are needed.

In an earlier post in this thread, you said, "mostly queenless hive makes better yield but I have gived upp from this system"  So you have seen the effect of nurse bees being released from nursing duties and freed up for early foraging.  You gave up for other reasons, not because of lack of nectar gathering and honey production.

You are right about the effect of broodlessness on pollen gathering.  Here is a research article on that shows a 250% effect of brood on pollen gathering.  http://resources.metapress.com/pdf-preview.axd?code=rh2c0mf36y9ax6ge&size=largest

So maybe your foragers start at a much younger age but gather only nectar.



« Last Edit: October 16, 2011, 05:00:16 PM by FRAMEshift »
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Offline BlueBee

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #32 on: October 16, 2011, 05:18:40 PM »
Frameshift you say that population growth is limited to 2x the nurse bees because ‘1 nurse bee can only cover 2 brood cells to keep them warm’.  But what if we are electrically heating the hive to the point that the nurse bees don’t need to provide any heat for those 2 brood cells?  Then all the nurse bee have to do is fed larvae.  With 24 hours in a day, couldn’t a nurse bee feed more than 2 larvae?  I don’t know the answer, that’s why I’m asking. 

I do agree with Finski that electric heat doesn’t seem to promote growth in small spring colonies.  I’m still a bit baffled about why though.

Offline rdy-b

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #33 on: October 16, 2011, 07:25:14 PM »

where is that evidence?

I have followed  the workers and  no bees carry pollen into the nuc before 2 weeks even if the queen lays.

If you are seeing foragers 2 weeks after a split with new bees only, your foragers are still a week early.   And I think it takes about a week for the hive to realize that it needs new foragers out of the main sequence.   So the next batch might be more than a week early, but you would not see that since you are only looking for two conditions;  no foragers or some foragers.

I have done some reading on polytheism in research papers and specifically in "The Hive and the Honeybee" and there is evidence presented there for flexibility in the movement of bees through the different assignment stages.  The "normal" time is 42 days but the papers report foragers much younger than that if they are needed.

In an earlier post in this thread, you said, "mostly queenless hive makes better yield but I have gived pup from this system"  So you have seen the effect of nurse bees being released from nursing duties and freed up for early foraging.  You gave up for other reasons, not because of lack of nectar gathering and honey production.

You are right about the effect of bloodlessness on pollen gathering.  Here is a research article on that shows a 250% effect of brood on pollen gathering.  http://resources.metapress.com/pdf-preview.axd?code=rh2c0mf36y9ax6ge&size=largest

So maybe your foragers start at a much younger age but gather only nectar.




yep and on the other hand field bees still have the ability to nurse larvae they are not as good at it
 but the hive can rebound from many disasters because of this its in there nature-- :) RDY-B

Offline rdy-b

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #34 on: October 16, 2011, 07:38:39 PM »
[quote author=BlueBee link=topic=34986.msg290215#msg290215 date=1318796320

I do agree with Finski that electric heat doesn’t seem to promote growth in small spring colonies.  I’m still a bit baffled about why though.
[/quote]

 it is quit possible that the bees have become protein deficient and have burned up there vitillogene reserves and cant recharge
there HYPOPHARYNGEAL GLANDS-which produce bee-milk-in til they are giving a source of protein weather natural pollen or a man made substute-give them protein to emulate a flow and they should rear brood --RDY-B

Offline FRAMEshift

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #35 on: October 16, 2011, 09:07:33 PM »
Frameshift you say that population growth is limited to 2x the nurse bees because ‘1 nurse bee can only cover 2 brood cells to keep them warm’.  But what if we are electrically heating the hive to the point that the nurse bees don’t need to provide any heat for those 2 brood cells?  Then all the nurse bee have to do is fed larvae.  With 24 hours in a day, couldn’t a nurse bee feed more than 2 larvae?  I don’t know the answer, that’s why I’m asking. 
The nurse bees keep the brood temperature within very narrow bounds.  I think there is more leeway in temperature during the larval phase so it's not just a matter of competing chores.... feeding vs warming.  The capped brood must be more carefully regulated because all the development steps are time critical and the rate of development depends on temperature.   I guess if you could keep the temperature exactly right with an electric heater, that might free up the nurse bees somewhat.  But it's not a matter of the average over the whole broodnest.  Each cell must be kept within narrow bands so you can't have hot spots or cold spots.  Not sure you can do that with an electric heater.
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Offline FRAMEshift

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #36 on: October 16, 2011, 09:11:51 PM »

You are right about the effect of bloodlessness on pollen gathering.  


How did you quote "broodlessness" and end up with "bloodlessness"?    :-D
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Offline rdy-b

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #37 on: October 16, 2011, 09:20:36 PM »

You are right about the effect of bloodlessness on pollen gathering.  


How did you quote "bloodlessness" and end up with "bloodlessness"?    :-D
 spell checker scans the quote also i only proof read my stuff--nice catch--RDY-B
  some of this stuff gets a litel bent to say the least- 8-)

Offline Shanevrr

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #38 on: October 16, 2011, 09:34:33 PM »
Brushy sells a adapter to stack a nuc on top of a 10 frame box, may be good for overwintering a weak nuc, or for that matter a double screen for stacking two low population/weak hives.  Anyone tried this?
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Offline rdy-b

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Re: Lowest colony population to survive Winter?
« Reply #39 on: October 16, 2011, 09:39:23 PM »
  I take ply wood and drill 1 1/2 inch holes in them
 and screen both sides of the hole place on top of a strong hive                                                                                                            and stack weak hives on top heat transfers through the holes
i call it the condo method-- :lol:  RDY-B