Empty Super on Top for Winter, or not?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by lazy shooter, Oct 5, 2012.

  1. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    I have three hives in one of my two apiaries All three hives consist of one 10 frame deep and a ten frame medium. Each deep in filled with brood and honey, but the top medium boxes are not full. One top box has seven frames of brood and honey, one has six frames of brood and honey and one box only has three frames of brood and honey. There was rain a week ago and many blooms have come forth. The bees should have good forage, and my area is still three to five weeks from a frosty morning.

    If the bees don't fill out the top mediums, should I place an empty super on for the winter? I may want to put a candy board on later in the winter in December or January. Will a medium box without any honey or brood be detrimental to my bees? Can I feed on top of an empty frame?
     
  2. pistolpete

    pistolpete New Member

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    How about feeding your bees for the next three weeks. That should let them pack away around 20 lbs of sugar. I've been researching this topic from multiple sources lately. Bees don't heat the hive outside of the cluster, but it stays warmer than ambient, so having an empty super on top seems like having no insulation in the attic. I have a top cover with a 3/4" rim and a small exit hole, 2" insulation on top of that, then the roof. That still leaves room for feeding granulated sugar or candy.
     

  3. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I'm a bit confused-
    when you say a medium has only 3 frames of brood and honey- you do have all 10 frames in there, correct? Are all the frames drawn comb already, or are the 'empty frames with only bare foundation?

    You do not have any excluders on, I assume and hope.

    If your top supers have all drawn comb then your bees have a good chance of filling them up over the next several weeks if you say there is good bloom now.
    If it's just bare foundation in the 'empty frames', then I would take the box with only 3 frames of brood and honey OFF and give two of those frames to the box with 6, and the other frame to the box with 7. Be SURE you don't transfer any queens! Then you'd have two hives with good stores up top in their mediums, and one hive with only the one deep.

    If you really want to feed your bees at some point, then Pistolpete's right, you are better off feeding them syrup now (use precautions against robbing!) rather than using candy boards in mid winter. In fact, the other approach is that you could leave that medium with 3 full frames ON that hive and just feed syrup to all three hives for a couple of weeks. If your comb is DRAWN, they will fill it up with the syrup and whatever nectar they forage. If it's only bare foundation then feeding is probably not going to get them to draw comb out at this point in time anyway- your'e better off then just distributing the brood/honey frames into the two mediums and removing the empty medium.

    Be careful if feeding syrup now- reduce entrances to 1" and block upper entrances while feeding- robbers can start a frenzy. Don't spill syrup around to attract other bees- keep the syrup tightly sealed within the hives and minimal entrances so they can defend the entrance well..

    I hope all this isn't too confusing. You may get as good or better advice from others here.
     
  4. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    Omie:

    The frames in the top, medium box that do not contain brood and honey, are new wood frames with rite cell foundation. They are not drawn out frames. With a fall flow coming and undrawn frames should I feed syrup?

    Thanks for your responce.

    Lazy
     
  5. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Lazy,

    I won't tell you what to do. I will tell you what I am doing, just northeast of you.

    I just pulled my empty box with foundation only from the 2 box hive that had one.

    I also have a deep with a young queen and ambitious young bees that I checked on today, and I have let them keep their medium super because they are starting to draw it out. I am feeding syrup to all hives, AND we have a flow. If that medium doesn't have drawn comb filling up within a couple of weeks, I will remove it and spray whatever comb I got with BT. That will leave only a deep on that hive.

    The harm in an empty super with just foundation is it is a lot of area for bees to patrol for wax moth and shb, with no benefit to them. You need 80% coverage of bees to protect the real estate. An empty super in a non-flow time is definitely too much real estate.

    Gypsi
     
  6. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    In that case i would do this:
    that would leave the two mediums pretty full on those two hives. And no half-empty box on the third hive.
    On the other hand i don't know about rite-cell foundation- maybe others can help more here.

    I myself don't like to feed syrup unless there is no other choice. With a Fall flow starting as you've said, I would just let them forage for nectar- it's more nutritious and they do have time where you are to fill up.
     
  7. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    Thanks Omie and Gypsi, I am not at the ranch again until Monday or Tuesday. I may just leave them alone and see how far they get along with honey stores. If I move some frames about, I coulnd end up with three boxes that were pretty full. I have some small, two inch high hive boxes that I could then put on the full hives and use them to feed candy if necessary. It would only allow for a two inch space from the frames to the top cover. I'm stll thinking. Thanks again.
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Gypsi writes...
    and I have let them keep their medium super because they are starting to draw it out. I am feeding syrup to all hives, AND we have a flow.

    tecumseh..
    we appear to be having something of a flow here after our last good rain. lots of stuff is blooming but I suspect producing more pollen than nectar. it looks like one of the brush/shrub type plans is also fixing to bloom (not sure what it is but if I could bottle the smell I would be very very rich) which does produce a nice little flow at the very end of our season.

    I have snipped the above line since this does give you some idea of what is essential this time of year if you have a particular purpose in mind. We are at the wrong end of the season to get a lots of foundation pulled to comb but with even a bit of flow + some feed this gives Gypsi a good possibility of getting another box pulled prior to spring.

    as long as you have some reasonable population relative to total space any worries of excessive space (at your location) in regards to heating or guarding are likely overstated. I like candy boards a lot (don't use them much myself since I have a large stack of frame feeders) but you kind of want to employ candy boards after any threat of fire ant problem is finished.

    so to answer your question 1) no I don't think there is any downside to the extra boxes* and 2) feeding on top of the empty frames is quite allowable.

    *come winter time (we don't get much) when the top box is empty often times I will remove this and simply set it aside in the same yard with the idea that I will stack it back on the most populated hive in the early spring. since these kind of boxes are empty and light they really represent no extra problem if they are on or off the hive so I simply remove them for simplicity sake in working the bees.
     
  9. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    I have two nucs I started fairly late. I plant o keep the bees in 5 frame boxes through the winter. two boxes set side by side. but I also want at least 5 med frames of honey above both. No way the population of these nucs can draw and fill 5 frames in the time I have left. so I put a med super on top of my largest hive and they are doing it at the rate of about a half gallon of sugar water per day as of right now. and things are starting to cool off. They have gotten the job done fairly well in about 2 weeks. In the end I will have a double deep 10 frame with one deep packed with honey. Two 5 frame nucs with a med nuc of honey on each of them. We always get warm days all the way through winter so I sill be able to keep a closer than typical eye on their food situation.

    With this mornings temperature at 47 degrees and the forecast for the next few days being the same I am at a cross road as to whether to feed any more or not. Days are still into the 70's.

    I want to give my big hive time to arrange thing after they are finished filling this med though. I may go ahead and move the frames to the nucs and let those bees finish the filling of them.