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Author Topic: Winter cluster location  (Read 958 times)
hvac professor
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« on: January 18, 2014, 12:26:07 PM »

I posted about losing a hive a short time ago and now concerned about another one. Live in upstate ny near Vermont and have had a tough winter so far. Sun is out today and it is around 30 degrees so I popped top cover off and noticed the cluster of bees were in the corner of the top box, of four deeps. I had put some dry sugar on the top cover just for the heck of it a week ago, the sugar was moist and there was a fair amount of condensation on the top cover. Not sure what to do. I had the hive wrapped with decided to take it off, boxes are painted white and. I am concerned yet again as the weather next week will be below zero for a week, any ideas would be appreciated.
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mikecva
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« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2014, 12:49:03 PM »

I usually do not open a hive under 45-50 and then only to put some sugar patties in on the frames (last time I put in Christmas candy canes). I have the hives open for under 30 seconds and with no wind.   -Mike
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hvac professor
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« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2014, 12:59:39 PM »

I hear you on that, I am not one to open a hive but today was the best day for the next couple weeks to do something to save one of my last two hives. No wind at all and sun directly on hive so I went for it. The cluster should be much lower in a four deep this time of the season, wondering why it is in top corner
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tefer2
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« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2014, 01:22:31 PM »

Are you using a top vent hole of some sorts?
I like a notched inner cover or a vent box.
On any that are wrapped we always have a top vent.
Next, we like to place a 2 inch piece of polystyrene on inner cover then top.
If the cluster is already at the top of hive, they aren't going back down.
You have to find a way to feed them from the top.
It is better the have your feed directly above the frames rather than over cover hole.
I would use another inner cover and pour candy into the deep side of it.
Then swap out your existing one with candy cover.
If done fast, won't be problem.
Bring tape along to cover any gaps with new cover or wrap hive again.
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Steel Tiger
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2014, 02:01:52 PM »

 All the bees in my surviving hive were also in the top box. During the last week, we had temps into the 50s. I added a medium full of honey from a deadout and they immediately clustered on it. I put some paper towels on top to hopefully draw out any moisture.
 I stained my hives with the hope that the darker color will give the hives some solar gain. It seems to be working but not nearly as well as I was hoping. Next winter I'll be wrapping with black felt cloth.

 Here's a video you might be interested in to prepare yourself for next year. Michael Palmer talking about wintering bees in northern Vermont. I found it to be very informative and I'm looking forward to this spring to start building up my hives.

 
Michael Palmer

 
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hvac professor
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« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2014, 02:09:52 PM »

Thank you very much for the advice, I have a 10 frame deep full of honey from a dead out last week and will put that on top, I did leave 2 mediums and three deeps overwinter because of the bee population and did not ever pull one, this deep will make the hive basically 5 deeps high in mid winter, is that ok?
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hvac professor
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« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2014, 03:19:16 PM »

I just finished putting a 9 frame deep from the dead out on top, then put a foam notched top cover on with an outer cover, notch in top cover will allow ample venting. I then re wrapped the hive.
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capt44
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« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2014, 03:35:46 PM »

First of all that moisture on the inside of the lid is something to really be concerned about.
You can take a piece of cloth something like flannel and staple it to the inside of the top letting it hang down the side about an inch of so.
That will wick the moisture to the sides of the lid and won't let it drip back down on the cluster.
If you have that much moisture check your ventilation, make sure the entrance is open and vented at the top.
Most inner covers will have a notch cut in the side about 3/4 -1 inch wide and at least 3/8 inch deep.
This will let the air circulate and wick the moisture out.
I would have left it wrapped, the bees set up for winter under the conditions that are present, when you alter the hive or environment the bees may not be able to re-adapt in a cold snap.
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Richard Vardaman (capt44)
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« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2014, 06:36:17 AM »

Winter Clusters gravitate toward honey stores in an 'upward' direction.  Bees clustered in the top box indicates that stores have likely been exhausted, although it can be amazing how much honey sometimes is remaining below and/or on the sides.  Being in the top, they 'may' be doomed already depending on how much winter is left.  Keep an eye on them and KEEP FEEDING until Spring arrives, either with dry sugar, candy or honey.  Good Luck!


NOTE;  other than quick inspections to determine and replenish stores, no other frame manipulations should be performed and the winter cluster should NOT be disturbed other than to see where it is….if possible.  If you can't 'see' the cluster but there are obvious signs of bees and honey inside, generally all will be OK.  Just leave them Beeee.  Smiley  Winter inspections should be avoided, EXCEPT to determine remaining stores.
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hvac professor
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« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2014, 09:24:27 AM »

will bee :-below zero for the rest of this week, been a tough winter for the girls
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2014, 11:33:03 AM »

HVAC,
Left up the back of the hiveabout a 1/2". How heavy is it? for a comparison, Take you dead hive put it together with empty frames so that it has the same components. If they feel the same, do as mentioned above. How big was the cluster? It is possible that what you are seeing is a bunch of bees got separated and you have 2 clusters. Sometimes this happens and can cause one or both clusters to bee to small to maintain enough heat. Hopefully they are large enough to keep it warm and the honey you gave them will do the trick.
Jim
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ApisM
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« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2014, 11:36:20 PM »

As is often mentioned, the best temps in the winter is -10 degrees.  It is the most efficient.  If it goes above 30 then that is getting too warm and they eat alot more due to increased activity.  Don't let the cold scare you, be more scared of the moisture you have.  Upper entrance is the key.
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jayj200
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« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2014, 09:12:59 PM »

far north and you wrap with tarpaper! years ago when that was all that was available OK.
Home Depot or Lowe's in every city, 2 inches Styrofoam around a hive.and keeps for years. is reasonable a must including small vents top and bottom
jay
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tefer2
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« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2014, 07:30:38 AM »

Hopelessly Lost?
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jayj200
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« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2014, 02:30:51 PM »

no reason to be lost. win some lose some.
hedge your bet even now with winter mostly over. Insulate and ventilate. as smaller hole at the top.
just big enough to let one bee at a time out.

any body out agree or disagree with this?

Google SAM Comfort Part 2 Philadehia beekeepers guild
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tefer2
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« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2014, 03:48:55 PM »

We're talking about your location jay!
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capt44
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« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2014, 08:35:26 PM »

I agree on the hive being vented thru the entrance and top around the inner cover.
Only thing I don't agree with is the Styrofoam around the hive.
When it warms up the insulation can actually keep the hive from warming up on a sunny day.
This time of year most of the clusters will be in the top box.
As said feed from the top, sugar or candy.
Here I'm going to put 1-1 syrup with pro health on my bees and pollen patties to stimulate laying.
It was in the teens and now the weather has changed, suppose to be in the upper 50's and next Wednesday 70degrees.
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Richard Vardaman (capt44)
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« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2014, 06:18:21 AM »

Unfortunately it has bee  below zero (-20) at night for the past week and 20 inches of snow in last two weeks, afraid for major losses in surrounding areas. Worst winter in 15 years
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KD4MOJ
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« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2014, 02:34:02 PM »

As is often mentioned, the best temps in the winter is -10 degrees.  It is the most efficient.  If it goes above 30 then that is getting too warm and they eat alot more due to increased activity.  Don't let the cold scare you, be more scared of the moisture you have.  Upper entrance is the key.

I do hope that is Celsius!  grin

...DOUG
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hvac professor
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« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2014, 04:46:47 PM »

I wish but unfortunately Fahrenheit   embarassed
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