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Author Topic: Winter cluster  (Read 3135 times)
GSF
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« on: September 19, 2013, 02:32:03 PM »

As you can see, I'm located in central Alabama. I have been reading about bees dying in their winter cluster in the hive. At what tempature do they go head first in the cell to stay warm?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2013, 03:34:24 PM »

>At what tempature do they go head first in the cell to stay warm?

In theory about 50 F.  In reality, it's a bit more of a continuum starting at about 50 F and getting tighter as the temperature goes down.
 
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Michael Bush
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MsCarol
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2013, 09:56:26 PM »

Along GFS question,

How large.....in terms of "ball sizes" does a cluster need to be to survive a Zone 7 winter???

An added question to that - what does it mean in pounds of bees for any given "ball size? Kinda trying the get a feel here.
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rwlaw
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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2013, 10:53:57 PM »

Instead of lbs of bees think of how many frames of bees going into winter. Up here in MI if you don't have 6 or seven in a single, your in trouble & need to combine.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2013, 09:14:00 AM »

>How large.....in terms of "ball sizes" does a cluster need to be to survive a Zone 7 winter???

You barely have winter... a softball size cluster of Italians would probably make it.  A baseball size cluster of Carnis would probably make it.
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Michael Bush
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T Beek
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« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2013, 10:59:09 AM »

In Wisconsin a basketball sized cluster (or larger) is preferred.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2013, 01:08:22 AM »

I agree with T Beek that bigger is better when it comes to winter bees…..as long as they don’t eat all their stores by spring.  However I have overwintered some pretty small colonies with the help of insulation.   How you keep your bees might be just as important as your genetics.  Varroa can take a big toll on the winter cluster size as well so there is no simple all encompassing answer to a minimum cluster requirement.  Depends on hive design, varroa, genetics, venting, amount of cold, amount of stores, cleansing flights (if any), etc. 
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derekm
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« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2013, 02:30:18 PM »

With the right hive your bees should not be forced to go into cluster until the outside  temprature falls below -25C.
Forcing them into cluster by not having a correctly insulated hive, all that results is the beekeepers fault, not the bees, or the varoa, or the other diseases.
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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?
Oblio13
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« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2013, 03:47:26 PM »

With the right hive your bees should not be forced to go into cluster until the outside  temprature falls below -25C.
Forcing them into cluster by not having a correctly insulated hive, all that results is the beekeepers fault, not the bees, or the varoa, or the other diseases.


Curious about what kind of hives you have. My bees are in clusters way before the temperature even gets to freezing.
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T Beek
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« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2013, 06:26:27 AM »

With the right hive your bees should not be forced to go into cluster until the outside  temprature falls below -25C.
Forcing them into cluster by not having a correctly insulated hive, all that results is the beekeepers fault, not the bees, or the varoa, or the other diseases.


Please provide a little (any?) evidence for this outrageous statement. 
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10framer
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« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2013, 09:49:31 AM »

we're a little cooler than average down here right now.  bees cluster at around 52 degrees and we are already having lows in the 50's.
the thing that concerns me is that some of my hives are still wall to wall brood in at least one ten frame deep.  if we have a sudden cold snap i'm concerned about chilled brood on outer frames.  gary, if i remember right you've got a double deep full of bees, you should be ok, just make sure they don't starve this winter.  down here the bees will still be raising brood in november most likely (they may never stop) and by late january they'll be bringing some pollen in already. 
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derekm
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« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2013, 10:28:40 AM »

With the right hive your bees should not be forced to go into cluster until the outside  temprature falls below -25C.
Forcing them into cluster by not having a correctly insulated hive, all that results is the beekeepers fault, not the bees, or the varoa, or the other diseases.


Please provide a little (any?) evidence for this outrageous statement. 

I have some hives that the bees have more than sufficient power to heat the top to 20C+ when its -25C outside.
I 've done the thermal measurement on the hive itselfs, and the bees have maintained the floor temperature not the top at 16C with the top at 30C and its -15C outside.
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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?
Oblio13
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« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2013, 10:55:47 AM »


I have some hives that the bees have more than sufficient power to heat the top to 20C+ when its -25C outside...

How about a description and some pics of these hives that maintain a 45°C (81°F) temperature differential?
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derekm
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« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2013, 11:37:36 AM »


I have some hives that the bees have more than sufficient power to heat the top to 20C+ when its -25C outside...


How about a description and some pics of these hives that maintain a 45°C (81°F) temperature differential?


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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?
BlueBee
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« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2013, 01:18:19 PM »

I probably have the 2nd best insulated hives on this forum after Derekm, but I don’t quite agree with Derekm in this case.  I have experimented with hives made from materials ranging from 19mm wood to 50mm of foam.  By the time you get to 2” thick polystyrene (insulation board), a hive gets a little bulky.  The big box stores in Michigan just carry up to 2” extruded foam board and cutting the foam that thick becomes a little more dangerous on the table saw IMO.  So I stopped experimenting at 2” thick polystyrene.  Still, 2” thick foam bee hives would probably classify as ‘super insulated.    

Heat loss calculations do say that a heat source of 10 to 20 watts would maintain a temperature differential on the order of 30 to 40F with respect to the outside temp.  HOWEVER the real variable here is the heat source; namely the bees.  Turns out they don’t make many watts of heat if they’re not in cluster, not raising brood, or not aggravated.  If you’ve ever watched bees in such a condition they just hang around on the frames and pretty much do nothing.  Doing nothing generates very little watts.  

So once the brooding stops in the late fall (Michigan), the watts of heat from the bees drop and even super insulated foam hives drop down to the 50F to 60F range and the bees go into a light cluster.  Once they go into cluster, they do start generating a descent amount of watts again and since it doesn’t take many watts to keep a super insulated hive +30 to +40F above ambient, my hives tend to maintain a temp of between 45F and 60F all winter.

However once they stop brooding for the year, even the bees in my super insulated hives do drop back to a loose winter cluster.  IMO the advantage of super insulation is it prevents the bees from being  exposed to the really bitter cold night time temps.    
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derekm
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« Reply #15 on: September 23, 2013, 04:08:32 PM »

max metabolic rate is at a bee temperature of around 20C (68f). it fall off in both directions. At 20C it is around 20W/kg of bees. A good size cluster is around 1.7Kg. So 20w is conservative.
Bluebee your bees are telling you to add more insulation and seal those joints at top, my 20W gives 45C not 45F.
Bees in insulated hives can volunteer to cluster and save energy. Bees in wooden hives are forced to cluster or die.
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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?
BlueBee
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« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2013, 08:38:32 PM »

I don’t always listen to my bees. Smiley  I think Finski scolded me one time to doing that (along with about everything else I do laugh).  Anyways, who knows, you might be right.  My goal is simply to get my bees through a Michigan winter.  I’ve actually dropped down to 38mm thick foam hives in my newer designs.  I really don’t see anything wrong with the bees going into cluster.  This seems like a very natural behavior.  Bees that don’t go into a winter cluster seem unnatural to me.  Maybe I’m missing something. 
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derekm
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« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2013, 01:48:40 PM »

the target for full sized hive is 75mm of polystyrene or 50mm of PU/PIR. 50mm PIR is easy to work.
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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?
10framer
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« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2013, 08:16:52 AM »

^^^^^^ yeah, we've mostly only ever seen snow on television down here guys.  i grew up really close to where gary lives and i can only remember single digit lows maybe 2 or 3 times in my entire life.   now it only dips into the upper 20's a few times a year.  you guys struggle to keep them warm and we struggle to keep them from starving.  our main flows are over about the time you guys are thawing out and we have a long dearth while your main flows are on, then we have some weak fall flows and after that it's basically a dearth again.  in a good year i leave two deeps and a medium and hope i don't have to feed in late february.  this past january i had highs near 80 and 3 semi-full frames of brood in all but one hive that was a pathetic cut out i did last september.  this year i'm feeding all but a couple of hives already.   
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T Beek
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« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2013, 09:34:21 AM »

Goldenrod has been done for a couple weeks, won't have dandelions until April....a 7 month dearth..........A new beekeeping season has begun  Smiley in North Wisconsin.
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