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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have put an empty box on top of the inner cover on one hive for the purposes of putting a feeder in there. Obviously, feeding sugar syrup won't work when the cold temps hit. Should I leave this empty box on all winter, ready to be used in spring? Or will the empty space be somehow detrimental to the colony below?
 

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If not being used, remove it. Retention and trapped air in the top part of the hive is a great benefit to the bees.

Please do not confuse my comments with the idea that bees do not need ventilation. I use upper entrances (different than top entrances) which still allow trapped air at the top, yet a means for bees to ventilate and circulate air if needed.
 

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To add to what he said, if you leave it on too long in the spring, they will hang wild comb in it. Then you have a mess.
 

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To add just a little different opinion here, I would say that if you put dry sugar on top of the inner cover for emergency feeding purposes that the sugar will act as an insulator and will also help absorb moisture from the hive. I would not though just leave an empty box on top of the inner cover as this will be have a negative effect on the heating of the cluster.
 

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AH OH! I see from this topic that I have a problem going into winter. This is my first winter and I have one hive. I have an empty super on top with sugar candy, then the inner hive cover and then the lid. I guess I had better get the inner cover next to the top of the brood box. Their stores are full. Could I eliminate the sugar? Should I do this right away or wait for a nice warm, sunny day? It is cool and wet here with the high today in the lower 50's.

Also, I heard it mentioned that you leave a shim or something to prop the top just alittle so that moisture can escape during the winter. Is this right?
 

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jd writes:
I would not though just leave an empty box on top of the inner cover as this will be have a negative effect on the heating of the cluster.

tecumseh:
first a warning or voice of concern...
do not overestimate the positive effects of warmer air outside the cluster area but interior to the box... a more important concern is ridding the interior space of excessive moisture (+ other respiration gases like co2 which actually may be just as important). By and large heating the interior of the hive thinking/manipulation is largely anthropomorphism (it makes humans feel better than it does the critters). the differential in temperature (inside from out) is what partially creates the problem of ice forming inside of the hive in the first place. at least some of the old time beeks would set up their hives for wintering with an empty box on top then they would place some kind of porous insulation material (say crumpled up newspaper or unfaced batt insulation) just to limit the 'chimmney effect' within the hive.
 

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srv/texasflood writes:
AH OH!

tecumseh:
the idea is to locate the dry sugar at the top of the stack to absorb respiration moisture which is generated from below (which then can act as an emergency food source if the need arises). this idea basically captures the essence of a 'candy board' without all the time and resources required to make up candy boards*.

*a candy board was basically rock candy (inverted sugar and later foundant) that was poured into a very shallow (thin) box with a solid bottom. the entire affair was then inverted over the top of the hive so the 'bottom' mentioned in the prior sentence then was in the same approximate position as the inner cover. hope this * ain't too confusing.

I have no problem in working bees in 50 degree weather when the sun is bright and the wind ain't a howlin'. anytime temperature are hoverin' in the 50's I like to make my manipulation short and quick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks, all. Good information, here. I'll take the box off when the snow flies, then just put it back on in spring (which is usually around July here... :shock: )
 

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Just one small note, Tec. CO2 is heavier than air and will drift down and out the bottom entrance.

If I were going to leave an empty super on top, I would try to fill it with styrofoam or something to eliminate to open space. To me, open space in a hive is a definite NO-NO. It serves no purpose but to cause problems.
 

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iddee writes:
Just one small note, Tec. CO2 is heavier than air and will drift down and out the bottom entrance.

If I were going to leave an empty super on top, I would try to fill it with styrofoam or something to eliminate to open space. To me, open space in a hive is a definite NO-NO. It serves no purpose but to cause problems.

tecumseh:
good points both iddee.

the last first... like yourself I don't like to allow any excess space in the hive. it just ain't my way but then I need not so much worry about preping hives for winter beyond allowing for some feed. however... I could see the benefit of allowing some empty space at the top of the stack for feeding whereby the hive cluster would need not be disturbed while feeding.

the respiration produced gas CO2* is likely much more important in winter mortality along the northern tier of the country than a lot of folks might think. any buildup (let say the front entry gets coverd by snowfall) means the cluster moves slower and slower as the cluster slowly gas themselves.... sometimes to the point where the cluster is incapable of moving to the very next frame of feed. sound familar? also when the air temperature falls CO2 will tend to become less and less reactive (and therefore be much less likely to move out of the hive). when you notice a heavy growth of fungus inside a winter die out with feed still in the box you can attribute at least part of the problem to CO2.

*I have never much overwintered bee in the north but at least for a short time in my life I ran with several second generation North Dakota/Minnesota beekeepers who had considerable experience in overwintering bees in hives and cellers. so the above is definitely not my direct experience but the relayed experience of people who I had conversation with some years ago.
 

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Hobie said:
I have put an empty box on top of the inner cover on one hive for the purposes of putting a feeder in there. Obviously, feeding sugar syrup won't work when the cold temps hit. Should I leave this empty box on all winter, ready to be used in spring? Or will the empty space be somehow detrimental to the colony below?
If you aren't going to be feeding during the winter, and taking the box off is not going to hurt anything, but leaving the box on might possibly creat undesirable conditions over the winter for the hive, then... why would you leave it on? :confused:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Because it would be easier to be able to go out and plop a jar into an existing box on a warm winter day, than to drag out the whole box and set it up. Less disruptive to the bees, too.

And I did not know that leaving the box on would create undesirable conditions... that's why I asked!
 

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Hobie said:
Because it would be easier to be able to go out and plop a jar into an existing box on a warm winter day, than to drag out the whole box and set it up. Less disruptive to the bees, too.

And I did not know that leaving the box on would create undesirable conditions... that's why I asked!
Sorry, I wrongly assumed you knew it might be detrimental over winter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
No problem! I suspected it might, so I asked. I have learned from some of the most respected posters here that, when in doubt, it is better to post a questions BEFORE you take action. I will not discuss how many "clever moves" I had to un-do my first few years. :oops:

Well, the fact that I suspected something might be a bad idea, and it turns out it was, might mean I am getting smarter. On the other hand... I doubt it! :D
 

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Hobie said:
I will not discuss how many "clever moves" I had to un-do my first few years. :oops:
I look forward to my first year of 'clever moves' as a new beekeeper too. :lol:

Actually, I'm supposed to be getting an active first hive as a gift soon...and it has an empty super on the top too and has not been tended much for the past 1 1/2 years...so once I get it over to my place the first thing that will come off is that empty super...unless there's a warm spell during which I'll sneak some syrup in a baggie on there. But still, once the warm spell is over the empty super is coming off. :)
 

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So when is the big move of your gift hive????

We are waiting for the outcome of it :chased:

I think everything will go well for you.

G3
 

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G3farms said:
So when is the big move of your gift hive????
We are waiting for the outcome of it :chased:
I think everything will go well for you.
G3
Thank you for the good wishes!
I am still waiting for the beekeeper who promised to help move the hive to give us a go ahead date.
The hive owner and I really can't do it on our own- we need his help- he has the bee experience, the needed young muscles, ....and the truck! :roll:
One good thing is that her farm is now under contract to sell so that gives it all a little more urgency, plus she and I are hoping to go to a beekeeping club meeting that he is giving tomorrow night (an hour drive each way)- hive owner and I are hoping this will additionally inspire said BK to help us make the move happen over the next few days.
If it were up to me it would be done already, but I am dependent on these other people and we 3 need to coordinate it together.
I'm crossing my fingers that we can do this by Nov 1st.
I am very anxious and it's hard to keep waiting, but wait I must. :cry:
I'm trying to be really positive in my outlook about it happening soon and successfully.

One thing I do know for certain....there will be honeybees flying in my yard this Spring one way or another. :)

P.S. that avatar smilie you used is making me nervous! :shock:
 

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P.S. that avatar smilie you used is making me nervous!


No need to be nervous, it will happen, just a matter of time. I use to have some of the little black german bees and they were real rascals to deal with. You could pull up in the car 30 yards away and they would be waiting for you to get out. Never was happier to see them die out finally.

I am sure all will go well, sounds like you have plenty of help.

G3
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ah, yes. Even with only 2 hives, I have been chased around the yard by crabby bees! I've always figured, if I could add some "Benny Hill" music, it would be quite entertaining to onlookers.
 
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