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Author Topic: Bee question... (s)  (Read 1052 times)
dfizer
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« on: November 23, 2012, 07:28:11 PM »

Ok I have had hive top feeders on all three hives with a 2:1 sugar water mixture.  Recently 2 of the three hives completely stopped taking the sugar water - these were relatively full and heavy hives so I thought that they just didn't want any more or that the temps were too cold (lows in the low 20's and highs in the upper 40's) - nonetheless I more or less accepted it.  Today I went to take the feeders off the two that arent taking in anymore and found two completely different scenarios - the first one I removed the hive top feeder from looked like a ghost town.  There were no bees that I could see looking down into the top deep.  Soon, and I mean very soon bees started to emerge from between the frames and were acting rather angry - I put the insulated top cover on and let them settle back down. The next one was so very different.  As soon as I popped the hive top feeder loose there was a loud buzzing heard then upon removal there was literally thousands of bees hanging out at the top of the top deep. 
Now for my questions;
1). where should the bees be now given the cold weather?  Should they be more toward the top of the upper deep like hive 2 or down lower like hive 1. 
2). Why would the bees just all of a sudden stop taking the sugar syrup? 
3). What should I do now?

Any advice or critique is welcome...

One bit of added information - the hives are all very heavy and the reason I was feeding was just for insurance.

Bet regards -

David
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d_fixitman
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« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2012, 10:00:15 PM »

1. Clustered during the majority of the day unless you start reaching low to mid 40s???
2. No place to put it. Too cold to move to it???
3. Pull the feeders. Revert to candy boards or sugar bricks if you really need to feed. There will be plenty of moisture that the sugar bricks can help keep under control. During winter the bees will have a very hard time dehydrating the feed.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2012, 01:31:00 AM »

My guess is the hive with all the bees under the feeder simply has more bees in it.  Hives with more bees will often hang around at the top of the hive for some reason.  Maybe it’s warmer?  Maybe the bees aren’t needed for cluster yet?  Maybe there’s not room for the bees below?  The main cluster of bees (with the queen) will likely be where the last of the brood is/was.  I still have capped brood in my hives; no open brood. 

1.)  If the cluster is in the bottom box, they will have more food available to them to eat as they move UP in the winter.  So conventional wisdom would say the main group of bees should be in the bottom box.
2.) They’re full or it’s too cold.  I would pull the feeders like you have done.  Actually I would have pulled them back in Oct, but now is better than later.
3.)  In NY, you may want to wrap your hives or insulate.  Otherwise there really isn’t much you can do at this point.  It sounds like you’ve got the hives packed with food.  Relax and wait until spring, go on a cruise, build new boxes for next year?
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Finski
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« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2012, 01:36:42 AM »

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How many kilos sugar you gove to them
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dfizer
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« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2012, 10:56:05 AM »

First - thank you for the information, advice and support. 

Finski - I am using a 2:1 sugar to h2o mixture and mixed about 1.5 gallons of water to 25lbs of sugar - this yielded about 3 gallons of solution that I split three ways to feed each of the 3 hives.  Back in October I fed them about 1.5 gallons each of the same solution.  If this is too much then so be it - however what im trying to guard against is loosing them to the cold winter.  I am in the third year of bee keeping and have not had a hive make it through the winter yet.  I really want the hives to make it through this year! 

My reasoning for the hives not making it in the past two years are that I paid no attention to mites or mite treatments nor did I feed them anything prior to going into the winter.  An old crusty beekeeper mentor friend of mine suggested that I not feed then as "there are no slow antelopes in the wild" was his operating philosophy meaning that hives that are weak or not strong enough really shouldn't make it through the winter... kind of a survival of the fittest philosophy - well that's fine if you have money to keep throwing at new nuc's etc every spring however I have chosen a different operating mantra which is that I'll do any and everything I can to get the colony's through the winter.

Thanks for the advice - today I am attempting to weigh the hives....  I'll let you know what each weighs and we can go from there.

Just to be clear about my set up... each hive is beemax / polystyrene and has two deeps with an inner cover which leads to a top entrance.  I have put insulation on the inner cover but left enough room for the bees to exit through the top entrance.  The bottom board is a screened bottom board which I have left open for ventilation purposes - furthermore I have placed a piece of 1x2 to block most of the bottom entrance leaving about 1.5 inches open on each end.  The bees are still able to go in and out however the elements are blocked from the harsh cold opening.  I decided to do this because I have seen two bee trees now with very very small openings for bees to go in and out so I thought I'd simulate what they have done for themselves.

Thanks again.

David 

David
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Finski
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« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2012, 11:13:03 AM »

.
Can you calculate how many kilos sugar you gove to each hive. We need not water here.

And altogether to 3 hives?
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dfizer
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« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2012, 01:47:19 PM »

about 36 kilos total - about 12 kilos per hive

David
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BlueBee
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« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2012, 01:52:39 PM »

It sounds like your beemax configuration is similar to my polystyrene hives in many ways but mine are homemade.  So I do have some additional suggestions for you knowing your configuration.  



With a top entrance I always block off any bottom entrances or screens for the winter.  The top entrance will vent any moisture from the hive as is.  There is no need for anything else.  Leaving places for air to infiltrate in the bottom of the hive just sets up convection currents (chimney effect) though the hive and defeats the purpose of the insulation.  The warm air rises and flows out the top of the hive, that lowers the pressure inside the hive which then pulls in more cold air from below.   Not good.

The purists (like Derek) will also tell you a top entrance lets too much heat escape too, but for a standard sized bee colony, I have not seen this.  My hives stay very warm in the winter with a top entrance that is reduced down to about 50mm x 9mm.  When I make the entrance any smaller, the bees will typically chew it bigger.  I regularly see bees walking around my entrances when the temps outside are 32F/0C.  If the hive was cold, this would not be happening.  The top or mid entrance also results in less bearding in the summer.
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mikecva
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« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2012, 02:11:17 PM »

Did you put a mouse guard on the hives? An entrance reducer with 3/8"H x1/2"W opening works. I have commercial mouse guards on 1/2" in front of my entrance that I leave on year round because I am in an oud corn field (it also keeps the snakes out.)
Try not to disturb the hive once the bees have clustered. If you want to feed something (some of us 'must' do something) then sprinkle some cane sugar (that has been put thru a blender) on top of your inner cover (I have wax paper taped on mine). The sugar will absorb some water over time and the bees that feel they have to get extra food on the occasional warm day can eat while still inside of the hive.  -Mike
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Finski
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« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2012, 02:30:14 PM »

about 36 kilos total - about 12 kilos per hive

David

It depends too, how much you left honey to boxes.

I use 20 kg sugar per hive. It is necessary feed the hive full. Otherwise they do not cap the food.
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BMAC
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« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2012, 03:31:24 PM »


My reasoning for the hives not making it in the past two years are that I paid no attention to mites or mite treatments nor did I feed them anything prior to going into the winter. 

Did you treat for mites this year?

They most likely did die from mite overload in the past if you have not been treating for them.  We had a very good flow up here this fall and if you run them double deeps, they should have packed it full enough to last till April.  Less of course you are not in a good honey production area, but in Balston Spa you should be able to produce a fair amount of honey.
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dfizer
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« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2012, 09:42:22 PM »

Thanks for the reply, especially with the suggestion regarding mites... I treated with the thymol treatment (Apiguard) but may have not done it correctly.  After reading the instructions on Betterbee website I see that it says you are supposed to close the verroa screens - don't really know what that means but I can tell you that I have screened bottom boards and did not "close" them.  I guess that treatment is supposed to take care of the verroa mites.  Is there another type of mite I should be concerned with?  I hope not.

I have discovered that it is very difficult to weigh a hive...  scales dont seem to work.  What I can tell you is that all three are almost too heavy to lift.  They are probably 80+ lbs (35+ kgs) each.  I am a little befuddled by how one of the hives was acting when I removed the hive top feeder last week.  There were very few bees in the top box.  It looked like there were not too many bees in the bottom box either but after a few second of having the top open bees started to appear.  To put this in perspective - the other hive had muy grande amount of bees literally clinging to the bottom of the feeder and although not feeding on the syrup they were all up top.  I didn't know what to expect when removing the feeders so for the two hives to be so dramatically different worried me a bit.  Today I removed the third hives hive-top feeder and just like one of the other hives - it was bee-aplooza when i removed it.  It was like someone had just dumped a package of bees on top of the frames....  so - the odd hive out is the one that had very few bees - if any in the top box. 

A question for you northern climate beekeepers - what is your experience this time of year when temps are hovering around 0C / 32F.  Where "should" the bees be?  And is there anything I can do to help increase the survival chances of the one with the bees in the bottom box?

Thank again

David
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