Where should they be?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Tyro, Jan 2, 2011.

  1. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    So, I checked on a couple of my hives today. I didn't open them, only looked through the upper entrance with a flashlight. They are both alive. Both had bees in the upper deep on the tops of the frames. Not many though. Maybe only 2-3 frames had bees on them and then maybe only 1/2 to 1/3 of the top of the frame was covered with a single layer of bees.

    Can this information be used to infer anything about their condition and remaining stores? Are they out, almost out or is this just the top of the cluster and all else is well?

    Assuming a full upper deep hive body at the start of winter and an 'average' sized cluster of bees going into winter, where should the cluster be this time of year in northern climates?

    There are 70 more days between now and when I first start early spring feeding (early/mid March) and there is still plenty of cold weather to come.

    Any advice/interpretations are appreciated.

    Mike
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Lift the back of the hive. The weight will tell you more than anything else.
     

  3. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    To get a rough idea of how much stores they have left you can pick the hive up or tilt it forward to get an idea of the weight. Not sure how much stores you will need for the area you are in.
     
  4. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    i have seen bees clustered at the top in the fall my opinion and it may spark a debate is the cluster will start out where ever the brood happens to be in the hive when fall hit. generally you like for them to be in the bottom but remember they dont read the same books we do
     
  5. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    I have 11 in double deeps and most are in the upper deep when I put my ear against the hives.
    Also have 7 triple deeps and they are not in the top box when I listen but somewhere in the middle.
    The doubles are still heavy and have fondant patties as well for insurance (over the inner cover)
    Some bees just like it up top I guess!

    Perry
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Tyro writes:
    Can this information be used to infer anything about their condition and remaining stores? Are they out, almost out or is this just the top of the cluster and all else is well?

    tecumseh:
    the winter time movement (upwards or sideways) of a cluster is anyone's guess. the short answer to your question is NO.

    if you noticed just a few bees at the top of the box and the frames there looked full then I would suspect the inside of the box has warmed enough for workers to be exploring the inside of the box and the cluster is still located somewhere at the bottom of the box.

    hefting the box is the most direct means of determining stores without opening up the box. a scale accomplishes the same objective with much more accuracy. tipping (the front or back individually) as described by Iddee is likely to give you an improper answer as it is to give you the right answer. tipping presumes the stores are evenly distributed from the front to the back of the box. you can of course tip the front and then the back and have a more accurate guess. in past years I have employed a digital fish scale and used the tipping method to define (fairly accurately) the stores in hives.
     
  7. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    Thanks to all for the replies,

    I knew about lifting the back, but I am reluctant to do it. I tried it a couple of times last winter. It worked ok until the snow behind one of the hives collapsed and fell underneath the hive. There was no righting and leveling the hive in sub-zero temps after that.

    My winter policy up here is to leave the hives alone and not touch anything until late February at the earliest. I have learned that disturbances are just too traumatic for the bees.

    Now I satisfy my curiosity by simply peering into the entrances.

    Mike
     
  8. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Well, I guess that just leaves one choice. Take them down to Texas in the fall and let Tecumseh care for them for you until spring. :thumbsup: :D :D
     
  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I got enough girls to care for already Iddee... my skinny little arm gets tired carrying around a syrup bucket this time of year already.

    Tyro your policy sounds well considered. Sounds to me like proper fall preparation is key (weight being a very important quality here) to having some faith that a unit will make it until February. I would think in a lot of years at your location a February inspection might be iffy???
     
  10. milapostol

    milapostol New Member

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    It's funny, on one of our hives the girls have clustered on top. I only know this because they have been using a crack in between the hives to enter and leave the hive. This is our strongest hive, so I let them be.