Can a Colony be too Big Going in to Winter?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Alt, Aug 5, 2020.

  1. Alt

    Alt New Member

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    Southern Ontario, Canada.
    Second year keeper

    I have two deeps of brood, and two deeps of honey, and the whole thing is full of bees. I missed the boat for splitting the hive earlier as I didn't realize this was something you should do. I thought it was more an 'if you want to' kind of thing. So I was wondering if a colony can be too big for overwintering.

    I'm also not sure how much honey to leave them. Last year a local veteran said around here the bees need about 1 frame per month of winter (meaning 5-6 months here) but that was for a colony with 1 brood chamber. Should I just double it? The little buggers are soon going to need another super, but until I figure out how much honey they need I'm afraid to harvest any.

    I'm also fairly certain my hive shouldn't be five deeps tall.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020
  2. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't know about northern winters, but I know if we get hard freezes, small colonies can't stay warm. By the same token, too large a colony better have good ventilation and plenty of stores.
    Cold doesn't kill by itself, humidity or drafts and hunger, they kill. Bees use more food in a mild winter, because they are flying, than if they are in cluster.

    now to your question, I'm thinking double it. I use a single deep and a single medium going into winter, that deep is bees and some honey, the medium is all honey, but we have mild winters and they eat more. Try for local or northern advice on this one, Your hive should NOT be 5 deeps tall. Could you get another queen? if you could and you have that much brood, it's only August 9th.
     

  3. Alt

    Alt New Member

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    Thank you for the response!
    Would you consider this a large colony? I have a hard time finding northern advice. People from Canada apparently don't care to share their beekeeping online. XD Do you do splits to stop your hives from getting too big? I should be able to get another queen. I've never done a split before though.
     
  4. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Appropriate colony size varies according to bee species (?) My Beeweaver bees reduce down to a pretty small cluster and grow up fast in the spring. One of my survivor hives has a huge winter population with good appetites, and a taste for robbing, I'm thinking they might be Italian. BeeWeaver queens are a genetically manipulated queen, controlled breeding environment I think. Beeweaver bees would not survive up north. There was a person on this site who lived in Minnesota I think and she kept Russians I think. You might search her posts - it is Riverbee. She is no longer active on this site
     
  5. Alt

    Alt New Member

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    I see. I don't know what kind of bees mine are. Thank you for your help! I'll check out Riverbee's posts.
     
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