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Author Topic: empty deep and 3 full mediums  (Read 1272 times)
ChrisT
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« on: October 27, 2013, 03:08:01 PM »

Hi all,

Going into winter if you have an empty deep and 3 full mediums of honey, what is the recommended plan for this situation?
The deep used to be full of honey and a little pollen and brood (of course). But since we had constant rain this summer, they have depleted all the stores in the deep and now since brood is slowing down, there is practically nothing in the deep. The mediums are completely chock full of honey and a little pollen (is it necessary that I give them a pollen supplement?)

Do I remove the deep or leave it? Do i get them to try and move down the honey into the deep? IS there time for such a task for them? We just got our first frost yesterday, although very unusual for us normally it doesnt get that cold until the beginning of december.

I guess I am just worried about them not being able to defend the empty space but if i remove it, they will definitely be too crowded right now I think. Just not sure what to do. Could I remove it in a couple few weeks when population is lower?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Chris
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riverrat
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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2013, 04:57:59 PM »

I would remove the pollen patty if you have it on "youmentioned a pollen substitute" This time of year its an open invitation for SHB. Not sure exactly what I would do in your climate. Here in Kansas I would leave the hive set just as it is and let them overwinter.
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ChrisT
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« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2013, 06:54:06 PM »

Thanks for replying. I havent given them any pollen... I was just worried that they barely had any.
Im sure they can survive on honey alone during the 3 months of cold. Was just asking if it was necessary.

Was more concerned about the empty deep just sitting there as I am sure when they go into cluster, no one will be there to defend from moths etc.. and removing now may mean they are too crowded.
I was also worried about them thinking they didnt have enough stores even with 3 mediums over their head.
The deep still has a few patches of brood in it and that is where the queen hangs out.
Just the rest of teh deep is barren desert except that the bees hang out on them becuase there are so many bees still in the hive.

If you say its good enough in Kansas to leave the deep then it probobly isnt bad to leave it here in georgia.
We have another month of decent weather so I guess Ill just see what happens. if the population goes down enough I may remove it.

Another question: When the cluster [hopefully] move up during the winter, they will be at the top in the mediums come spring. How do you get them to go down back into the deep in spring to lay?

Thanks
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iddee
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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2013, 07:28:36 PM »

First, they won't need pollen until brood rearing begins in Jan. or Feb.
Second, Wax moths aren't around when they are in cluster, so no worry there.
Third, They know where the stores are and will use them on an upward movement.
Fourth, They will only move down as the new nectar in the spring fills in above them. They will always store incoming nectar in top and move the brood nest down accordingly.
I agree with Rat, leave them as they are, but do have a mouse guard on the entrance.
Check for pollen stores when they start brooding in Jan. or Feb, and add if needed.
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« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2013, 07:47:31 PM »

I would leave the deep as it is, especially if the 3 mediums are totally full and since the bees still have brood in the deep. I agree with the above poster on installing a mouse guard.

You can probably harvest the very top medium as long as the 2 mediums and the deep are not less than 135 lbs. To check the weight, you can attach a deer scale on the front, lift the front an inch. Do the same on the back and add the 2 measurements. That will give you a good approximation of your hive's total weight.
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10framer
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« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2013, 10:02:00 PM »

i'd leave them alone. 
i'm below the piedmont and i've never fed a pollen substitute.  Things may be different up your way, i don't know. 
usually the maples come in bloom around late january along with a few other things.  watch your hive on warm days in late january and you'll probably see pollen coming in.
agree with the post above about wax moth.  if the hive is strong it shouldn't be an issue.
take a deep breath and relax.  you might be overthinking things a bit.
the bees will leave the queen nowhere to go but down when the first major flow kicks in next spring. 
three mediums is more than enough to get them through winter in dixie.  i probably would consider pulling one if all three are really full of honey.  if they are a mix of brood and honey i might leave it til next year. 
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ChrisT
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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2013, 10:28:07 PM »

thanks again for the replies

my 3 mediums are full full of honey only and they weigh approx 110lbs
Normally I would think that would be too much and I would remove one more but the deep is completely empty except a few frames of brood (not full frames of brood). Aslo since they used up all their pollen in the constant summer rains, I thought they might need some. Its interesting that it was suggested that they dont need pollen for the winter except for when the spring starts. If, so then why do I see so much talk of pollen patties? Just because people want it stored for when brood cranks up again?

I am also fascinated that idee and 10framer mentioned that they move down as they fill up. I was always under the assumption that if they cant go higher (aka honey bound?), then they prepare to swarm. I guess that rule doesnt apply in spring.

I will leave it for now as it seems it would not adversly affect them.
Just worried that since my bees absconded the last year durig the first week of november leaving a full deep and 2 full mediums, I didnt want it to happen again as I am still not sure why they absconded last year.

Thanks again for the help



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10framer
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« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2013, 10:48:15 PM »

the swarm impulse will kick in around the same time if you don't watch them. 
bees build comb from the top down, humans decided to get them to build up at some point.  i supered down this spring when i wanted to expand the brood chambers and it worked fine. 
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10framer
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« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2013, 10:50:34 PM »

if the mediums are full of honey but 7 out of 10 (i'm assuming) frames are empty something doesn't sound quite right.  the mediums are full of capped honey or some capped and some open nectar?
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merince
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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2013, 06:12:06 AM »

Pollen patties are used mostly by northern beekeepers and commercial beekeepers.

Commercial beekeepers need to have their hives ready for Almond pollination which usually happens around February 15. It takes about 1 month for a round of brood to emerge, so they need to start feeding in January to have strong hives for almonds.

For us northern beekeepers, maples and willows are the first pollen flow, but the weather is often marginal during their bloom. If the bees cannot fly, some beekeepers supplement in order to have strong hives for the main flow. Strong hives make honey.

I don't like patties as this year they attracted SHB (a first for me). Since you are down south, I agree with the other posters - avoid them as much as possible. If you have to feed them, feed them in small amounts that the bees can clean up in a week or less.
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iddee
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« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2013, 08:42:04 AM »

Pollen patties are used to increase brood rearing. In early fall to raise winter bees, in early spring to raise summer bees.

They store above and push the queen and brood down. If they push to the bottom, "honey bound", they push right out the door. "swarm"
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"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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ChrisT
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« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2013, 03:24:20 PM »

Idee and 10framer, I never thought of it in that way about going "down and then out" eventually.
I always thought that they moved up but if you didnt have empty frames above (rather had full honey frames) then that was what "honey bound" meant. lol. Funny how we are taught to keep adding up when we should be adding in both directions.
Ill have to let that one soak in. I will keep that in mind come next year.

10framer, the 3 mediums are full of honey, no more room in them. The deep has 3 of the 10 frames with "some" brood on them. The rest are dead empty. Wasteland (except maybe a spattering of honey and pollen - literally nothing to speak of).
You mentioned that meant something was wrong but I would like to reiterate that we had a REALLY wet summer up until the end of july and part of august and they ate everything that was in the deep. It "was" full of honey and pollen and brood. So that wet weather was the "something wrong", I think.

They are storing some away int eh deeps now that there is no more space in the mediums but there is no way, I dont think, that they will make up for it by cold time and I was worried about the empty comb.

Thanks

Chris


 
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iddee
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« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2013, 04:40:33 PM »

In Atlanta, 1 1/2 medium should be all they need for the winter. Button them up and relax until Feb.
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"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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10framer
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« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2013, 05:56:58 PM »

i didn't track it but i should have.  i think i've had over 6 feet of rain in butler this year.
so there are wall to wall bees in the deep the frames just aren't being used?
supering down was an experiment.  my most productive hive was the only one that didn't like it.  they actually walked across that foundation to get in and build and fill comb above an excluder.  i finally put it above the brood chamber but below the excluder and they drew it out.  and the queen filled it from wall to wall. 
how old is the comb in your deep?  the only time i ever saw bees stop using cob in feral hives it was black and the cell walls had become really thick.  usually in houses the bees would move either from front to back (in between floors) or from side to side.  that depended on the construction of the house, though.  older houses allowed for some really big combs.  i wish i had pictures of some of the cutouts i did 15 years ago. 
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merince
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« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2013, 06:36:38 PM »

This situation can also happen if the deep was full of brood and the flow ended up unexpectedly before they were able to "backfill" the empty cells from the emerging brood with nectar.
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sterling
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« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2013, 07:17:40 PM »

This situation can also happen if the deep was full of brood and the flow ended up unexpectedly before they were able to "backfill" the empty cells from the emerging brood with nectar.
Which is what probably happened. I am north of you Crist but everything dried up a little early and it stayed warm and some of my hives had about the same thing as yours. bees usually will fill or almost fill the empty brood cells with nectar late fall and that is what they eat through the winter and restart raising brood in the empty cells late winter.  Nobody will probably agree with me but I put out some feed so they could fill the empty brood chamber so they wouldn't have to depend on the capped honey that they use to raise brood with in the spring.
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merince
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« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2013, 08:07:07 PM »

His 3 mediums are equivalent to 2 deeps, so he has plenty of stores, even if he was a lot further north. Usually, I also recommend feeding if the brood nest is not backfilled. So you are not alone on that.

In this case, however, he has plenty of stores, and you want to leave the bees some empty comb to cluster and to raise small batches of brood during the winter. In a double deep, he would need about 4 brood frames and 4 frames of pollen. The way it stands currently, all of that space is on the bottom.

I have couple of posts on wintering and feeding on my blog. The one called Fall inspections: Do I need to feed and how much goes in detail about what is the optimal wintering composition of honey frames, brood frames and pollen frames.
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10framer
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« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2013, 11:17:33 PM »

This situation can also happen if the deep was full of brood and the flow ended up unexpectedly before they were able to "backfill" the empty cells from the emerging brood with nectar.

then it seems like there should still be brood in more than three frames. 
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merince
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« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2013, 11:41:24 AM »

This situation can also happen if the deep was full of brood and the flow ended up unexpectedly before they were able to "backfill" the empty cells from the emerging brood with nectar.

then it seems like there should still be brood in more than three frames. 

Not really. The amount of eggs the queen lays is dependent not only of the space available, but also on the day length and outside temperature. There is actually a spreadsheet and a formula that lets you calculate the amount the queen lays based on the outside temperature. I will try to dig it out for you.

As a rule of thumb, in September, I expect to see around 4 frames of brood - and he has about that. All the honey is overhead, so I expect the cluster to form on the top of the deep and the bottom of the bottom medium and slowly move upward.
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10framer
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« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2013, 01:13:45 PM »

in ohio i might expect that but in atlanta i would think there would be more.  but since the o.p. hasn't responded to the question about how many bees are actually downstairs it's still impossible to really have an idea of what's going on.  i'm about an hour south of him by road and had highs in the 80's most of the week with a high of 74 for today.  i'm about to spot check a few of my hives and i expect to see more than 3 partial frames of brood in the weakest of them.
if bees cover the frames i'm more prone to think that the bees had backfilled the brood chamber and have since used up the nectar that was stored there.  i would still expect to see pollen in some frames if the mediums are full of honey only.  something doesn't quite add up from the description.  what i'm hearing is that the deep is basically empty except for the three frames and that the supers have only capped honey.  if the bottom medium had brood and pollen in about 2/3 of it this would sound better to me.   
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ChrisT
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« Reply #20 on: November 02, 2013, 01:14:38 PM »

Thanks merince,

I do understand 10framer's idea that there should be more brood but since its getting cold(er), I would not expect her to fill out huge amounts of frames of brood either. I wasnt really worried that I only had 3 deep frames of brood. I was more worried about the huge amount of empty space itself. I have enough bees right now to defend it but was worried as they start dying off in numbers, as they starting to do now (just becuase of the life cycle, not bc of any disease or anything), i assume at some point here soon there wont be enough bees to cover all the frames of the deep. The queen is still hanging out down there and they havent gone into cluster yet at the bottom of the first medium.

iddee had also mentioned that 1.5 mediums by itself was enough to survive winter here in atlanta. I didnt want to take off too much as I just need to make it though at least one winter to be able to learn what happens during winter (last november they absconded leaving a full deep and 2 mediums). If 1.5 mediums is enough to go through winter then 3 should be way more than enough and allows them the space to not be overcrowded so I am still thinking that having the empty deep = way too much undefendable space. But as others have suggested here, that is something that I apparently dont need to worry about. And, I really cant remove it as long as she is raising brood down there.

Again, appreciate all the help. Just trying to get through the winter but at least I have now officially passed the date where they left last year (November 1st). Yea.

Thanks
Chris



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ChrisT
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« Reply #21 on: November 02, 2013, 01:24:35 PM »

10framer,

I have bees covering every frame everywhere (deep and mediums - lots of bees)... but brood on only 3 of the deep frames.

They did fill up the deep frames but with all that rainy summer weather, it was all used by the end of august. They have since not been abel to fill up those deep frames as there wasnt much here in september and october to be able to fill up with. The queen did start laying in the first medium durign teh summer as expected adn they did fill up that brood area in the first medium with honey where the queen had been laying. So they were backfilling just were doing the medium first and then started on the deep i guess but its not much to speak of. I did check wednesday and there was some more honey in the deep than when i first posted this, but not much more, so they are slowly starting to backfill it I guess.

If you think that I should have more brood than I do, then I guess I should be worried. I thought 3 frames of brood was a good amount for this time of year tho. But again, I havent been successful making it trough a winter.

Thanks for the help
Chris

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Vance G
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« Reply #22 on: November 02, 2013, 05:59:31 PM »

I would pull the top box of honey at a minimum and harvest it.  The two remaining are a great plenty to winter anywhere if they are indeed full.    New beekeepers are taught to be afraid to take a crop from their bees.    More often than not, it results in their bees swarming.  Pulling two mediums and feeding twenty pounds of sugar in heavy syrup would not be an unreasonable thing to do.  Even though you have had a frost, I will bet that your bees will be out bringing in pollen.  Bottom line is, you do not have to do anything.  A lot of that stored honey will be used to raise bees come spring and you best stay on top of the population or they will swarm on you.  Congratulations on successfully getting bees thru a challenging rainy season!
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iddee
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« Reply #23 on: November 02, 2013, 07:02:20 PM »

Although I can't disagree with Vance, I would think it better to harvest that top box when the flow just begins in the spring, if it is still full and completely capped. Just for insurance.
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"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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merince
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« Reply #24 on: November 02, 2013, 08:15:35 PM »

Actually, I agree with 10framer. You are very close on the brood - the difference could be the breed or the fact that some races maintain smaller brood nests and shut down production in a dearth. The question is whether you have pollen frames in the deep. That could be another reason for the smaller brood nest - not enough pollen to rear brood.

You said you saw your queen, so I would check on the pollen supply.
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10framer
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« Reply #25 on: November 02, 2013, 10:13:04 PM »

ok, now we have more information.  three frames with brood and stores in some of the other frames sounds way better to me.
i keep forgetting it's november because i've been sweating in my deer stand.  the empty space is more of a concern than the amount of brood.  something just sounds a little off to me.  have you had a frost up there yet?  my bees were still working a couple of days ago but we haven't had a killing frost yet.  i got held up today but i'll definitely get through a few hives tomorrow.  maybe i'll be surprised at what i see.     
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ChrisT
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« Reply #26 on: November 03, 2013, 12:00:09 PM »

merince, there is indeed hardly any pollen in the deep and almost none in the mediums, although as vance pointed out, I noticed yesterday that they are bringing in quite a bit of pollen right now, from where i am not sure and I havent seen any pollen coming in for a while befoer this (a month maybe) so maybe my hive is getting back on track (or trying to catch up).

I would really love to pull one more medium but im gonna leave it because I just want to get through a winter successfully. I am interested that iddee says to pull it in spring if they havent used it. Would it really be viable honey (for sale) after a couple few freezing cycles? Or at that point is only good for feed?

I think the common assumption is my brood seems low to the conscensus of people because my bees have little pollen to raise brood on. So that mystery is most likely solved although I was originally concerned about having an empty deep but as time has passed they seem to be starting to try and fix that. I guess since i never made it this far last year, I didnt know there was still some pollen and honey out there to be had this time of year in Atlanta.

Thanks again for the help
Chris



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merince
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« Reply #27 on: November 03, 2013, 12:15:54 PM »

Honey should be fine to pull in the spring, unless you ended up with some of the quickly crystalizing honeys. The thing is, if the bees have left over honey in the spring, they will convert it in more bees and give you a good harvest with fresh honey. Either way (whether you harvest it in the spring or use it as feed) - look at it as an investment.
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Vance G
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« Reply #28 on: November 03, 2013, 12:16:06 PM »

A dozen freezing cycles won't do diddly squat to your honey except convince it to crystalize depending on the nectar source.  Some tree honeys never seem to crystalize.  I have a pound from Tennessee that is seven years old and still liquid and undarkened.  It was never heated.  If you want to harvest it in the spring, that is fine as long as you don't feed and get sugar syrup mixed in with the honey.  Won't hurt you but it is bad form and fraud if you plan to sell your honey as honey.  You are overthinking this sir and that seldom pays.  Your brood is low because you have a queen that has a survivors propensity to not raise a bunch of unneeded workers to eat all the honey so the colony can starve.  

Realistically there is just nothing you can do now, so stay out until what your local beeks tell you it is spring~!   If it approaches the spring flow and your bees have this mountain on honey above them, it will incentivize them to swarm.  Then you can watch them go to the trees or you can become a beekeeper.  A part of being a beekeeper is harvesting honey and leaving your bees in a position where they need to store honey again.
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