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Author Topic: Couple questions for you more experienced (ideally in Central NC)  (Read 1081 times)

Offline woodsstalker

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I kept bees in Michigan about 30 years ago but due to a job requiring a lot of moving, I sold my equipment. Now that I am retired and enjoy gardening I am getting a few hives for the fun of it and as pollinators for my garden and orchards.

My questions:

1: When I purchased my equipment, they came with a screened bottom board. Something new since I got out of the hobby. But do you keep this under the stack the entire year, even thru winter? Seems to me that this would hinder the cluster from being able to maintain a comfortable temp thus using more stores to maintain body heat.

2: I see a lot of people using medium supers as a brood box and again for winter food storage. Does not the smaller super acting as a brood chamber not inhibit brood production. I would think that the larger box would allow more brood production thus a stronger hive.

Also, in all the literature I am reading, special mention is made of spring hive inspections with an emphasis on food supplies and supplementing with pollen and other nutrients.  It makes more sense to me to simply provide a larger box for fall build up thus giving the bees the food that nature provides.

Anyway - just my thinking and questions. Any input greatly appreciated.

Online iddee

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Re: Couple questions for you more experienced (ideally in Central NC)
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2013, 02:25:26 PM »
I am in central NC, but that covers at least 3 climates. Sandhills, Piedmont, ETC. Change your profile to show your city and we can help much more.
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Online kathyp

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Re: Couple questions for you more experienced (ideally in Central NC)
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2013, 02:58:27 PM »
in general

in colder climates, most of us put an insert into our screened bottom boards in winter.  if you look at it, it should have grooves for sliding a thin board or piece of metal in.  mine come from Mann Lake with the insert.

a lot of people use all one size box.  it's easy for frame switches.  easier on the back..  you just put as many on as you need and there is no problem with the brood area.  take off what you don't need for winter.

if the bees have stored enough, then you are correct.  often they don't, or we do not calculate properly what we can take and what should be left.  most bees starve, if they are going to starve, at this time of the year and going into spring. 
feeding pollen depends on your area.  i have very early pollen, so i don't need to supplement.  i have very wet springs, so if i want to encourage early buildup for excess honey later, i need to start feeding now and get that queen laying.  + my springs are unpredictable, and better to feed than have them starve in a cold and wet spring.

that's just general info.  hopefully someone from your area can help you with specifics.
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Offline AllenF

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Re: Couple questions for you more experienced (ideally in Central NC)
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2013, 04:11:45 PM »
Here in North Georgia, I run open screen bottoms all year long.  And I work it old school with deep brood boxes and shallows for honey supers. 

Offline dfizer

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Re: Couple questions for you more experienced (ideally in Central NC)
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2013, 04:14:04 PM »
I kept bees in Michigan about 30 years ago but due to a job requiring a lot of moving, I sold my equipment. Now that I am retired and enjoy gardening I am getting a few hives for the fun of it and as pollinators for my garden and orchards.

My questions:

1: When I purchased my equipment, they came with a screened bottom board. Something new since I got out of the hobby. But do you keep this under the stack the entire year, even thru winter? Seems to me that this would hinder the cluster from being able to maintain a comfortable temp thus using more stores to maintain body heat.

2: I see a lot of people using medium supers as a brood box and again for winter food storage. Does not the smaller super acting as a brood chamber not inhibit brood production. I would think that the larger box would allow more brood production thus a stronger hive.

Also, in all the literature I am reading, special mention is made of spring hive inspections with an emphasis on food supplies and supplementing with pollen and other nutrients.  It makes more sense to me to simply provide a larger box for fall build up thus giving the bees the food that nature provides.

Anyway - just my thinking and questions. Any input greatly appreciated.


I live in upstate NY - in a climate that is rather cold and harsh at times - and leave my screens open.  So to answer your question about leaving it open all year, my operating practice is to do just that.  This logic is primarily due to the possibility of condensation build up should the openings be closed.  Many people close off the screens or use solid bottom boards up here too so I'm not sure there is a best practice with respect to this.  

As far as brood boxes I use 2 deeps then a queen excluder then the medium supers.  I do not believe that using mediums for brood boxes etc has any advantage or disadvantage to the bees but to some beekeepers its more convenient to use mediums i.e. ease of handling, lighter etc.  

I have fed my hives 2 pollen patties each and recognize that I am gambling on a good spring where the bees can get out and forage.  In the even that the weather is uncooperative and they can't I am prepared to feed.  I believe you will have to assess how much natural food sources are available to the bees and at what time they will come available before you can decide when to feed pollen patties.  Remember that the pollen patties trigger the queen to start laying.  It's far more than just food for sustenance.  

Best of luck and welcome back to the hobby!

David

Offline woodsstalker

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Re: Couple questions for you more experienced (ideally in Central NC)
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2013, 11:11:59 PM »
Well - thanks to all of you for sharing your thoughts and experience. The idea of moisture in the brood box never occurred to me and the idea seems to have merit. Possibly something to experiment with.

Tho I think I will stick with the deeper brood box if for no other reason than the fact that this is the way the old timers did it and I fit that category - at least by age.

When I was in the hobby in Michigan we used the deep box as a brood chamber then another deep box on top for stores which seemed to work real well there. But here in NC I'm goning to go with the medium super for storage and see how that works.

Thanks to each of you for your replies.

Offline edward

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Re: Couple questions for you more experienced (ideally in Central NC)
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2013, 04:13:47 AM »
I would close the ventilation in the spring build up, the girls need help keeping the brood warm .

Then when they need to dry nectar to honey or are big and strong you can open the ventilation again.

I also think good ventilation is important in the wintertime.

mvh edward  :-P

 :bee: Welcome back to the wonderful world of beekeeping  :bee:

Online iddee

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Re: Couple questions for you more experienced (ideally in Central NC)
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2013, 07:49:14 AM »
Another old timer here, set in the old ways. I use solid bottom boards, and 2 deeps or a deep and a medium for wintering. Either will work. I also use wax rather than plastic. Just another sign of age, I guess.You are in a good beekeeping area, with 3 or 4 large beeks in your neighborhood. Glad you got back into it. The bees need us.
"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me . . . Anything can happen, child. Anything can be"

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Offline edward

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Re: Couple questions for you more experienced (ideally in Central NC)
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2013, 07:58:22 AM »
Seams to me the bees adapt to all the strange ideas we beekeepers have  :-D

mvh edward  :-P

Offline sterling

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Re: Couple questions for you more experienced (ideally in Central NC)
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2013, 12:08:48 PM »
I have a few hives with deep brood boxes and some with medium brood boxes. And either will work. In the mediums the bees will use two or even three boxes in the winter to cluster and raise brood in late winter here in TN. That may be a problem in colder climates but works around my area. As far as the SBB. I can't see leaving that much open area for the cold to get in. Imagine leaving you doors and windows open all winter and the energy it would take to heat your house. There are smarter ways to let the moister out.

Offline edward

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Re: Couple questions for you more experienced (ideally in Central NC)
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2013, 12:21:33 PM »
Wet bees are cold bees that will die.

Dry bees are happy bees

mvh edward  :-P

Offline AllenF

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Re: Couple questions for you more experienced (ideally in Central NC)
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2013, 02:29:04 PM »
I really must admit at this time that for the past several years since switching over to screened bottom, laziness and lack of time are the true reasons of leaving the screens open.  I did close them for a year or two, then winter caught me one year.   Everything has worked out fine since.   

Offline 10framer

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Re: Couple questions for you more experienced (ideally in Central NC)
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2013, 12:34:13 AM »
I have a few hives with deep brood boxes and some with medium brood boxes. And either will work. In the mediums the bees will use two or even three boxes in the winter to cluster and raise brood in late winter here in TN. That may be a problem in colder climates but works around my area. As far as the SBB. I can't see leaving that much open area for the cold to get in. Imagine leaving you doors and windows open all winter and the energy it would take to heat your house. There are smarter ways to let the moister out.

heat rises and cold falls so in theory the hives shouldn't lose much heat from the bottom.  i used screened bottoms for the first time when i started back up late last year and none of the bees had any problems with it.  even the pathetic cut out i did in october that probably went into winter with 1000 bees or less.

Offline 10framer

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Re: Couple questions for you more experienced (ideally in Central NC)
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2013, 12:40:57 AM »
welcome back stalker.  i'm back into it again too.  i like going into winter with double deeps for a few reasons.  i'm an old timer, a deep full of honey should be enough to get almost any colony through winter, it makes it easy to do early splits and if i need to find the queen it's easier to go through 20 frames instead of 50.  welcome back and get ready for mites and beetles.

Offline woodsstalker

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Re: Couple questions for you more experienced (ideally in Central NC)
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2013, 01:05:53 AM »
welcome back stalker.  i'm back into it again too.  i like going into winter with double deeps for a few reasons.  i'm an old timer, a deep full of honey should be enough to get almost any colony through winter, it makes it easy to do early splits and if i need to find the queen it's easier to go through 20 frames instead of 50.  welcome back and get ready for mites and beetles.

Yeah, that's another concern of mine - new bugs, new beetles, new systems. back when I used to be in the hobby, ordering was so simple. Now, gosh, one has to really concentrate when making out an order.

Any of you older folks remember Walter Kelly?? You could call his place anytime and he would talk to you, answer your questions and make recommendations. Made a person feel like they were the only thing on his mind. But not this new crowd over there!! It's all about money. They will be nice as long as you are buying! But I guess that's the case with any of them.

I'm getting excited tho. Feels good to be back in the hobby. I always enjoyed my bees. Plus, another new trick with in the hobby is the internet. So easy to get information. Anywey.....

Offline jpmeir

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Re: Couple questions for you more experienced (ideally in Central NC)
« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2013, 08:18:57 AM »
This is a business that's taking off.  Big money at stake now. Lots of stuff to buy. I'm happy there's several companies to purchase bee supplies, but sometimes I feel lost as to the choices, gagits, deeps vs mediums, feeding, etc. All these companies have tons of neat stuff that guys like me think we need to be a good bee keeper, but the beemasters know better and are doing more with less.  I'm learning that bee keeping is about keeping it simple, making your own stuff when possible, and the nice to have stuff/wiz bang items end up in a pile.... but I am helping the economy....:)  JAT