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Author Topic: Winter beekeeping...  (Read 9872 times)

Offline dfizer

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Winter beekeeping...
« on: February 01, 2013, 10:30:15 PM »
Hello all -
To date I have been keeping bees for three years and the first two years resulted in neither of the three colonies making it through the winters. 

This year I really want to make sure that my bees make it.  I live in Upstate NY and the climate here is rather cold... Now with that being said this winter has not been too bad yet.  The temp her now is 27F/12F or -3C/-11C.  I went to have a look at the hives last week when we had 45F/8C.  I did not open the hives - just observed.  I noticed that one of the hives felt a little light - perhaps they need food was my thought.  Now with that being said - I would like some advice from Northern latitude beekeepers who have fed during mid winter.  I would really like to know what you would do at this point.  I don't really want to open either of the three hives due to not wanting to break the seal they have made to keep the cold out but I'll do anything necessary to keep the bees alive.  Along this same line - what should I do about the other two hives?  Should I check open them up and check on them or just leave them alone.  One thing that is for certain - all three weigh considerably less than they did going into winter. 

I guess I'm just nervous about the hives dying and want to do everything and anything possible to help them make it through the winter.

David

Offline Vance G

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2013, 02:19:34 AM »
Your caution is well placed but it is too easy to feed to let bees starve.  If you have an extra shallow super or want to make a facsimle about three inches deep, put it on top of your colony on a still day that is hopefully above freezing.  I do this fast on a still day with thirties and the bees don't do much but expose their stinger and point it up at me.  Place a sheet of newspaper over the top and let it droop down.  spray it down wet with water and slowly pour in white  table sugar so the bees can displace down between the frames.  Five or ten pounds is good.  Then put the cover on and tape the joints between the box you put on and the hive body.  Personally I have basically an inner cover made out of half inch thick fiber soundproofing board.  Put your normal cover over that and you won't have much of an air leak.  The sugar will absorb the moisture the bees generate from their metabolism.  It is quick and easy and the bees can utilize the sugar even if they can't get to the honey in the hive bodies they may have tunneled up past on cold days.   Just know that it is a hard world and the needs of the many outweigh the lives of a few.  Possibly losing a tablespoon full of bees to insure survival of the colony is the way to go.

Offline Finski

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2013, 03:52:18 AM »
- I would like some advice from Northern latitude beekeepers who have fed during mid winter. 

I live at same latitude as Anchorage Alaska. It is now coldest month here and no one feed their bees before cleansing flight.
And it is not needed because hives stand well over winter when they have been properly arranged for wintering.

Dfirer, you must first reviele out, how to prepare hives for winter. Then they cannot bee Los Angeles or Florida guys who tell it.
They do not even know what is winter.

Another gang is those condensation guys which have lost their mind with their "thermodynamics"

Cleansing flight is here after first week of March. It happens when sun shines and temp is over +5C. Bees can fly up from snow to their hives.
When stomach is empty, you can give them syrup.


To feed bees at the worst time of year may be a final blow to the hive.

Yes, hives must be now lighter than in autumn but are they empty of stores. It revieles out when you open the cover and look, if you see capped food in frames.  .
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Offline Finski

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« Last Edit: February 02, 2013, 05:46:18 AM by Finski »
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Offline Finski

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2013, 06:03:40 AM »
.
Some basics to winter hives in cold north

1) Bee strain must be adapted to local climate that it react on time "autumn is coming"

- it keeps a real winter rest and do not rear brood during winter

2) Varroa treatment at the end of summer that winter bee brood will be not injured

3) Insulated brood boxes. It saves food that you need to worry, do they have food over winter.

4) Insulated hives give better spring build up

5) Feed the hives full that they cap the food. Timing is important.

6) Give them wintering peace. Don't disturb them with Thanks giving day honey balls or with Christmas meals

7) A proper ventilation and wind shelter


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Offline edward

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2013, 06:19:00 AM »
No food = they will starve and die.

Feeding, disturbs the bees and they eat more food that fills there bowels and a greater risk for them defecating in the hive.

Yes, you should get rid of queens that don't preform well under winter , change at an appropriate time.

mvh edward  :-P

Offline buzzbee

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2013, 09:35:03 AM »

Offline T Beek

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2013, 10:45:45 AM »
Your caution is well placed but it is too easy to feed to let bees starve.  If you have an extra shallow super or want to make a facsimle about three inches deep, put it on top of your colony on a still day that is hopefully above freezing.  I do this fast on a still day with thirties and the bees don't do much but expose their stinger and point it up at me.  Place a sheet of newspaper over the top and let it droop down.  spray it down wet with water and slowly pour in white  table sugar so the bees can displace down between the frames.  Five or ten pounds is good.  Then put the cover on and tape the joints between the box you put on and the hive body.  Personally I have basically an inner cover made out of half inch thick fiber soundproofing board.  Put your normal cover over that and you won't have much of an air leak.  The sugar will absorb the moisture the bees generate from their metabolism.  It is quick and easy and the bees can utilize the sugar even if they can't get to the honey in the hive bodies they may have tunneled up past on cold days.   Just know that it is a hard world and the needs of the many outweigh the lives of a few.  Possibly losing a tablespoon full of bees to insure survival of the colony is the way to go.


X:X X:X  Excellent!  I've saved several colonies from starvation using similar methods, but normally will add the 5-10 lbs of sugar at winter wrap up as a precaution.  Some colonies find it and need it, some don't.  As Finski said, Proper winter preparations (for 'your' region) are required to over-winter bees in areas like Up-State NY.  You folks get some miserable weather for bees and humans.  In N/W Wisconsin, we're actually colder than Anchorage on average, despite latitudes on the globe.

There "many" beeks living in NY.  I'd find one or two, or a club to join.  Stick w/ practices performed by Beeks in your part of the world.  You can't go wrong whenever looking another beek in the eye who's giving advise :-D. 

Oh yeah; "always" trust your bees :)
"Trust those who seek the truth, doubt those who say they've found it."

Offline rubeehaven2

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2013, 11:10:43 AM »
I am also in the Hudson valley and this is my first winter with bees.  I just fed the girls on one of the warm days.  Just a sheet of paper on top of the frames and poured sugar on top, with an added spacer bar between the frames and the top cover.  But, a new bee supply store just opened the 1st of January right down the road from me!  YEAH!

 http://www.hudsonvalleybeesupply.com/

They are very experienced and very helpful!  Not open on Sunday or Monday however.  It's wonderful that a place opened up so locally.  (and even more wonderful that they know what they are talking about!)  The store may become a second home for me! 

Good luck with your bees.

Rich

Offline Finski

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2013, 01:51:32 PM »
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In Finland, no one feed hives between October to February  and they have enough food still 2 months more?


What is so different in USA? Why hives consume twice as much winter food as in Finland?


No one use here newspaper sugar system.
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Offline Finski

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2013, 02:11:26 PM »
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That is interesting figure http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/food/inspection/bees/2011-winter-loss.htm

 Ontario Canada

Estimated mortality of honey bees
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Offline Bush_84

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2013, 02:53:22 PM »
From what I understand it's not uncommon to use fondant or dry sugar here in the USA.  What you need to do is simply pop the tops on a nice day to see.  If they are in the top box and you don't see capped honey, it may be wise to put on fondant or dry sugar.
Keeping bees since 2011.

Also please excuse the typos.  My iPad autocorrect can be brutal.

Offline Jim 134

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2013, 03:04:30 PM »
You can use this
http://www.viddler.com/v/4169aac7



           BEE HAPPY Jim 134 :)
"Tell me and I'll forget,show me and I may  remember,involve me and I'll understand"
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"The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways."
 John F. Kennedy
Franklin County Beekeepers Association MA. http://www.franklinmabeekeepers.org/

Offline Finski

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2013, 04:07:35 PM »
From what I understand it's not uncommon to use fondant or dry sugar here in the USA.  

OK, you nurse you hives at same way even if some parts are tropic and some tundra.
Local means to you the whole USA

I have seen it too often.

Florida now temps

night  15C  day 25C

Alaska Fairbanks

night -15C  day -25C


« Last Edit: February 02, 2013, 04:19:07 PM by Finski »
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Offline Bush_84

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2013, 05:38:12 PM »
You asked about the USA in general so I responded about the USA in general.  Local to me does not mean the whole USA because according to your numbers Alaska sounds nice compared to many days we have had in January.  We have had multiple days in a row that never saw 0 f but got down to close to -30 f.  Not to mention the wind chill, which does make a difference. 

But for me specifically I wouldn't feed ant hive unless they needed it.  I left my hives with two deeps and a medium (8 frame).  They have 1" insulation on top and all around with tar paper.  They also have upper entrances.  As of last week all of my hives have their clusters at the top.  I couldn't see a significant amount of capped honey so I put some fondant on the hive.  I would rather know that they have some extra there if they need it than do nothing and find out they starved.  However if the bees were not located at the top or had plenty of capped honey then I would leave them be.

Next winter I will try to leave them with three deeps.  I believe the university on mn winters in this fashion.
Keeping bees since 2011.

Also please excuse the typos.  My iPad autocorrect can be brutal.

Offline edward

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2013, 08:01:40 PM »
Some times young first year queens keep on laying eggs late into the fall and winter consuming food that was meant to bee for the whole winter.

When this happens the hive will bee light on food and they can end up starving.

In the fall if the bee keeper cools the hive down buy making it drafty, cracks between boxes or top roof(coins,matches) they might go into winter hibernation and stop the brood cycle.


mvh edward  :-P

Offline derekm

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2013, 06:49:17 AM »
.

In Finland, no one feed hives between October to February  and they have enough food still 2 months more?


What is so different in USA? Why hives consume twice as much winter food as in Finland?


No one use here newspaper sugar system.
the physics is obvious the hives are losing heat...  heat go in the form of sugar... it then comes out.
Why do beekeepers in the USA put them in boxes that lose so much heat?
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?

Offline T Beek

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2013, 09:33:37 AM »
Hm mm,  Mine are well insulated  ;). 

These kinds of generalizations don't help IMO.  How many beeks, in a 'variety' of climates keep bees in the US?  As compared to Europe?  Asia or Africa?

Why do some Europeans (no names ;)) consider beekeeping a competitive sport?   

After all; BEES are the ONLY experts  :bee:

Too many assumptions coming from across the waters on this thread.  Sadly, most are just that.  :(

Can we get back to the topic now?  :-D
"Trust those who seek the truth, doubt those who say they've found it."

Offline Jim 134

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2013, 10:13:23 AM »
Hm mm,  Mine are well insulated  ;).  

These kinds of generalizations don't help IMO.  How many beeks, in a 'variety' of climates keep bees in the US?  As compared to Europe?  Asia or Africa?

Why do some Europeans (no names ;)) consider beekeeping a competitive sport?    

After all; BEES are the ONLY experts  :bee:

Too many assumptions coming from across the waters on this thread.  Sadly, most are just that.  :(

Can we get back to the topic now?  :-D

 T Beek :goodpost: :th_thumbsupup:  

This beekeeper is in Ballston Spa, New York USA about 120mi west of me.
not in Finland,Alaska,Ontario Canada or Hampshire UK

  

              BEE HAPPY Jim 134  :)
 
« Last Edit: February 04, 2013, 08:00:52 PM by Jim 134 »
"Tell me and I'll forget,show me and I may  remember,involve me and I'll understand"
        Chinese Proverb

"The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways."
 John F. Kennedy
Franklin County Beekeepers Association MA. http://www.franklinmabeekeepers.org/

Offline derekm

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Re: Winter beekeeping...
« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2013, 10:56:52 AM »
Hm mm,  Mine are well insulated  ;). 

These kinds of generalizations don't help IMO.  How many beeks, in a 'variety' of climates keep bees in the US?  As compared to Europe?  Asia or Africa?

Why do some Europeans (no names ;)) consider beekeeping a competitive sport?   

After all; BEES are the ONLY experts  :bee:

Too many assumptions coming from across the waters on this thread.  Sadly, most are just that.  :(

Can we get back to the topic now?  :-D
In Norway they can can get down to 8Kg(~18lb) stores consumed over winter. This is documented in a scientific paper.
what are your typical colony weight losses overwinter?  (not the stores you put in but the weight consumed).
 I am really interested in what the weight consumptions/energy losses are  in any US  colony with corresponding climate and beekeeping practice.
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?

 

anything