Winter cluster

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Eddy Honey, Jul 24, 2011.

  1. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    I know that the bees cluster in the winter time. You wouldn't think there would be enough room for a "ball of bees" between the frames. Are there several clusters throughout the hive on different frames?
     
  2. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    While a new beek, I did get lucky enough to start in January with my mentor. Thus watching what a winter cluster looks like

    Think in 3D, the cluster is across multiple frames looking just a ball , it is almost as if there are no frames just a ball of bees.
     

  3. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    think of a ball of bees that are divided by combs.
     
  4. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    The bees form one cluster. The frames (with built combs) are like partitions "slicing" through the cluster. Or said differently, the cluster forms as if the combs weren't there--except that in those encircled combs the bees maintain their brood raising activities. Of course, this is done on a much smaller scale than during the warmer months, when they can spread out and keep a much larger area at the required temperature, cooling or heating as needed.
    The distribution of the honey stores is very important in locales where the winter cold is long and severe. The individual bees can't leave the warmth of the cluster. The cluster itself slowly moves, following the stores as honey is consumed. If the stores are not contiguous, the family can die from starvation even though there is plenty of honey, simply because it is out of reach.
     
  5. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    Another question about winter: When cold weather sets in I plan on 1 deep and 2 mediums. If I wind up with some drawn out frames full of uncapped honey that won't fit in those 3 brood boxes can I store it or do I need to get the uncapped honey out? I may be over-thinking this but....
     
  6. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Right. The cluster is packed close together and is incorporated in between and in the cells of the comb.
     
  7. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    Yes store it, put it into the freezer for at least a few days to kill wax moth eggs, then just store it closed up somewhere safe. You can add it back in late winter on a warm day. I helped my mentor in January, and he added a few frames into light hives.
     
  8. Jacobs

    Jacobs New Member

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    If you are talking about uncapped nectar, I would keep it in the freezer if I were storing it. It will have too high a water content and can ferment at room temperature. I regularly store it in a chest freezer I have for bee frames. I use it for things like boosting a light hive or feeding a caught swarm. Once the nectar warms, the bees will use it as needed.
     
  9. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Where is this uncapped honey going to come from? If it is already in the supers that are on the hives, leave it where it is. Otherwise, extract it and if feed is needed later, feed them something else.
     
  10. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    I only have 3 hives at present and don't own an extractor. I plan on crushing and straining honey when the time comes. An extractor would come in handy when the time comes.
     
  11. srvfantexasflood

    srvfantexasflood New Member

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    Perhaps you might be able to rent or borrow an extractor. Crushing the honey comb means the bees have to do all that work over again.
     
  12. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    I know...They're pretty good at it though. I witnessed them drawing out an 8 frame medium in 4 days. Apparently they had motivaton lol.
     
  13. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Just remember, building new combs comes at the expense of producing honey. The less combs the bees have to build, the more nectar will be stored and turned into honey.
     
  14. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    I have heard that them doing so is rather insignificant compared to the amount of honey one gets one way or the other. Not that I subscribe to the idea that one shouyld destroy comb annually.