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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Did a quick check on 17 hives today before our next cold spell hits tonight. It has been a mild winter and I know there is a lot of talk about bees using more stores when the weather is mild. Most of the hives I checked where either single deeps of 5 frame nucs. I figured these would be the ones that might need feeding. It also included a few 1 deep/1medium hives.

I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. All 17 where not only alive, but loaded with bees and still had plenty of stores. It was too cold and windy to pull frames, but I could see plenty of capped honey from above.





I know at times I take a lot of flack from those at Beemaster who are strong supporters of creating ventilation. But I still attempt to replicate what the feral colonies around here do. These hives are all polystyrene with no upper ventilation. Some have a 2" insulation shim, all have 2" insulation covers. They have a 3/8" x 3" bottom entrance. The hives where last opened in the beginning of October which gave the bees plenty of time to seal all cracks, which they did. None had any signs of moisture or dysentery.

The first two where 5-frame nucs (actually two 2-frame queen mating nucs) that where moved into the 10-frame poly hives in September. The last was a full sized hive.
 

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Those hives look really strong! I'll be happy if mine look half as good. Our mild weather turned south last night and right now (4am) before I leave for work, its gusty and cold (15F) with ice/snow covering everything. Glad I put candy boards on. Just hoping for another bout of mild weather soon to put pollen patties on.
 

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a robo snip...
It was too cold and windy to pull frames, but I could see plenty of capped honey from above.

tecumseh:
you should highlight the first part of the sentence for the new bee keepers.. ie the bees are a bug and are very much temperature sensitive. think temperature prior to any manipulation.

I myself don't really like to look at the top most part of a frame and magically ascertain stores. invariable this can lead you to making great leaps of faith with little evidence to support your fall. looking and hefting (even one end) is a good double check methodology for me.

like the pictures. is that some kind of insulated feeding rim?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
tecumseh said:
I myself don't really like to look at the top most part of a frame and magically ascertain stores. invariable this can lead you to making great leaps of faith with little evidence to support your fall. looking and hefting (even one end) is a good double check methodology for me.

like the pictures. is that some kind of insulated feeding rim?
Good point, hefting is always a good idea. My dilemma with hefting is I have mixed honey super cell and wood frames. An HSC frame empty almost weights as much as 1/2 a full wooden frame. The polystyrene boxes also mess with your judgement.

Yes, it is a 2" Styrofoam shim which is topped with a 2" Styrofoam cover. Since they are polystyrene hive, I didn't want to use wooden shims as that would be the least insulated area and would be the spot of condensation.
 

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I'm curious about those shims as well. Is there anything filling the air space on top of the frames that the shim is producing? If not, won't the bees fill the space with wild comb on top of the frames?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Omie said:
I'm curious about those shims as well. Is there anything filling the air space on top of the frames that the shim is producing? If not, won't the bees fill the space with wild comb on top of the frames?
It is not put on until end of September/ early October, so they are usually out of the comb building business by then. I do get a strong hive now and then that builds comb up there, but that is an easy trade-off if it helps get the not so strong colonies through the winter. If you look at the 2nd picture, you can see a piece of comb on the 3rd frame from the left that they build between the cover and the frame.

It is imperative that the shims come off before the first flow in spring, otherwise you will have a mess. Plain comb I can deal with, It is comb filled with honey that becomes a problem.


Rob...
 

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another robo snip..
It is imperative that the shims come off before the first flow in spring, otherwise you will have a mess. Plain comb I can deal with, It is comb filled with honey that becomes a problem.

tecumseh:
I suspect (speculating for certain) that the going on and coming off is time sensitive based upon you location??? Speculating again (I can do that a lot :oops: ) elevation may have some part in this time sensitive decision.

looking at this space (provided by the shim) in another light... extra space can act as a 'blow out preventor' for very active hives (if the coming off doesn't work out as planned). cleaning up such stuff is always a mess but is likely preferable to retrieving swarms from trees <my own somewhat modified migratory tops are designed with this somewhat in mind.
 

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On February 3rd it was 6C, so I went for the first inspection of this year.
It was nice and sunny in the home yard, girls looked healty and flying, all 20 hives .
Opened some hives, lots of honey in there.
Went to the second yard, got 10 Buckfast hives there, 5 were active flying, the other 5 looked dead.
Cleaned dead bees from the bottom boards, opened hives to find small clusters of bees in them.
It is my first winter with Buckfast bees, I know they winter in smaller clusters than Ontario bees,but didn't expect to see a nuc size cluster. :confused: :eek:
What worries me more than the size of cluster is yellow snow in the front of all hives. Dysentery.
Are they all going to die or survive, can't say. Crossing my fingers
 

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tecumseh said:
looking at this space (provided by the shim) in another light... extra space can act as a 'blow out preventor' for very active hives (if the coming off doesn't work out as planned). cleaning up such stuff is always a mess but is likely preferable to retrieving swarms from trees <my own somewhat modified migratory tops are designed with this somewhat in mind.
That's some of the reason people use slatted bottom racks for- helps provide extra space for foragers to hang out in so the hive doesn't feel too overcrowded on the brood frames- a little like a pressure valve on a pressure cooker. Shady and cool in the summer heat, too. In the hot summer evenings, my whole slatted rack area under the hives was jammed full of thousands of bees just hangin' in their shady 'screen porch'. :D
 
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