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Preparing for winter
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Katbiene
New Bee


Joined: 04 Jan 2014
Posts: 8
Location: Siegen, Germany

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:46 am    Post subject: Preparing for winter Reply with quote

Hello,

my two swarms in my 2 TBH have built nice straight combs and collected much honey. I whant to let them all the honey they need for the wintertime. My question: do I have to put all honeycombs together? The bees built eather right an leftside because of the entranceholes in the middle of the frontside of the hive.

Can anyone give me advice?

Katbiene
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Katja and welcome to the forum

I think most of us have now moved away from centre entrances, partly because of this and also because having the colony at one end of the hive, means that the other end is available to perhaps perform a split.

I would guess it depends on your winter climate and how much honey they have, as to whether it is necessary to rearrange their honey stores.
If you get long cold winters then I would be more inclined to put all the honey at each end.

If there is lots of honey on both sides of the hive entrance (say 10 kg each side) and you get mild winters (or cold spells with milder periods in between) then I would leave it as it is.

Do you have an observation window in the hive? If so, this will help you to know where the cluster is through the winter and if they are running short of stores on one side, then you could move some across if they needed it. If you don't have a window, then it may be better to play it safe and move it now.
Personally I'm not a fan of messing with the layout of the comb in a hive, but people have lost colonies with this centre entrance set up, when they have starved at one end after being unable to access the honey at the other, so it's probably better to play it safe.

Good luck with over wintering them both.

You might want to think about drilling some holes near the end and moving the colony next Spring. You can still use 2 follower boards with this set up. I have a blank bar or 2 at the end and then the follower, so I can lift the blank bar out and then move the follower back to access that end of the hive. Make sure you drill the entrance holes 100cm from the end to allow for the blank bar and follower if you do this.
Or of course, you can continue with the centre entrances if you are happy with that set up.

Regards

Barbara
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While your conditions are very different to mine I would rearrange the bars to one side of the brood nest (leave one on the odd side as insulation). While bees are great at many things getting them to make a logical decision on which way to go for food is not one of them. Help them a bit.

Cheers
Rob.
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Katbiene
New Bee


Joined: 04 Jan 2014
Posts: 8
Location: Siegen, Germany

PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your advices! My TBH are "Phil Chandler style" - three centered entrance holes in the middle of the front side and either two holes on the back on each side (normely closed).

I read the discusion in this forum about what is better: entrance in the front or at the end - so I now the arguments. Now I have to handle with what I have and I`m confidential that the bees know, how to care for themselves. But I wonder, if they would rearrange the honey from one comb to annother more centered to have all the honey in reachable distance during the winter time?

When I started with the swarms in the beginning of may I gave them only 7 TB in the middle with a follower on each side. Over the time they built combs and I gave them more TB on one side. When I had to remove the follower on one side, I gave them more TB on the other side. One swarm grew so well that I could remove the second follower. They are sitting on 22 from 28 TB now. The smaler one has still the second follower - 17 TB are occupied.

During the treatment with Thymovar (second treatment will be finished early september) I kept the arrangement as it is. Later on I want to reput both followers directly next to the combs and control all combs if there is anough honey, how much brood there remains etc.

Then I have to dicide weather I have to feed the bees. And if it would be better to rearrange the combs. I am as unwilling as you, Barbara, to rearrange combs - but I would be much more disappointed, when the bees starve of hunger because they cannot reach the honey on the other side of the hive... :?

Greetings, Katja
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CeeBee
Foraging Bee


Joined: 16 Jun 2013
Posts: 104
Location: UK, Cambridge, Milton

PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I too am heading towards first winter with two May swarms in two TBH with centre entrances (with extra blocked holes towards ends of sides). Both swarms seemed to expand equally in each direction (but then I gave them space in each direction as needed), so now 20+ combs in each. As I wrote in another thread, one of them was getting so full that I made some 'gapped bars' and added a 'super' - the bees haven't really used it, but they completed the development of the few brood cells in the combs I transferred to the super, and capped over the cells that already had nectar, but they didn't add anything new. Still, it made space, and they've made some nice honey-storage comb on the gapped bars beneath. Will probably remove the super soon - if I harvest the gapped bars, then the combs from the super will provide a good replacement.

A few days ago, I harvested one comb from each hive (didn't replace it at the time, but may do later).

So, like you, I'm heading towards a situation with honey combs at both ends, and a brood cluster in the middle., and will decide at some point whether to 'rearrange' them.
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1123
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Katbiene wrote:
... But I wonder, if they would rearrange the honey from one comb to annother more centered to have all the honey in reachable distance during the winter time?...


Very unlikely! I would definitely re-arrange to be sure that all of their honey is easily accessible.

If you'd prefer to change to entrances elsewhere on the hive it is possible to drill new holes with bees in the hive, but wear a bee suit! The old holes can be either closed with corks or screw a piece of wood over them.
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Bleith
Guard Bee


Joined: 05 Apr 2014
Posts: 51
Location: West Dundee, IL. USA

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Questions regarding winter prep as well. If they haven't built on some bars, do u remove them and move follower board over? So they don't have the empty space to keep warm,?
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Bleith

Yes, remove any empty bars and move the follower up to the last comb.

Regards

Barbara
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Bleith
Guard Bee


Joined: 05 Apr 2014
Posts: 51
Location: West Dundee, IL. USA

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks barbara. should i center all the combs in the hive? I thought about doing that and filling the empty cavity with straw for added insulation. I have side entrances about 1/3 rd way form one end. Another question would be on how do you make sure you have them clustered on one side? WE experience very cold winters here possible -20 F which ia about -29 C I believe
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Katbiene
New Bee


Joined: 04 Jan 2014
Posts: 8
Location: Siegen, Germany

PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

o.k. we will have a look on the bees end of next week. Then we will weight them an see how much honey they have and if ist anough for winter. I plan to remove all empty bars and reput the followers next du the combs on each side. We had realy bad weather all over august. Then I will decide if we rearrange the combs....

greatings, Katja
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Bleith
Guard Bee


Joined: 05 Apr 2014
Posts: 51
Location: West Dundee, IL. USA

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well the days of reckoning appear to be on us here in the Chicagoland area. Drones being forced out etc. bottom of hive filled with dead or dieing drones. Will they remove them themselves? We have gotten nights into the 40's F. AND WE have a few more to come. Removed some empty bars and moved follower board down to shrink area. I am also curious if I should remove a few bars with some small amounts of comb on them. Also don't think there is near enough honey for winter. Unfortunately it took some honey from them when they cross combed 3 bars in half moon shapes across the 3 bars early in the season. I tried to fix it but was making a friggin' mess. Decided to mash and strain the honey. May need to figure out how to get it back in there.
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Katbiene
New Bee


Joined: 04 Jan 2014
Posts: 8
Location: Siegen, Germany

PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2014 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello again,

after overlooking the hives, we decided to feed them. In one hive the bees sit on 22 combs (no more drones) - the others on 14(many drones!). There are no breadcells at the moment. We had no success finding the queens...
We will keep all (filled) combs incide. In nature the bees manage without rearranging the combs :) Next week we will weight the hives.

Katja
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1123
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2014 7:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Katbiene wrote:
..... We had no success finding the queens.....

As long as you saw evidence of the queens (eggs, young brood) they are most likely there somewhere!
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Paul Reyes
Nurse Bee


Joined: 14 Aug 2014
Posts: 26
Location: Scottsdale, AZ, USA

PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What I also do in winter is monitor the hive entrance. Brush off any dead bees or snow that blocks the entrance and make sure the bees have enough food! The late winter and early spring are when colonies can die of starvation.
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originalbee
Nurse Bee


Joined: 13 Mar 2012
Posts: 26
Location: England, Mid Sussex, Haywards Heath

PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 9:07 am    Post subject: preparing for winter Reply with quote

my little cast swarm from end june has drawn down 5 topbars and i have been feeding them 1;1 syrup which they are still taking readily.

My question is -
should i continue this or when should i change to thicker syrup or fondant ?

they are still bringing in oodles of pollen.

Keenly awaiting advice

Thank you
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Change to thick (2:1) syrup now.... ideally it should have been done a couple of weeks ago as they need to be setting down stores now for winter and the thicker syrup is better for that. They are unlikely to build any more comb, so remove any empty bars and move the follower boards up snug. I would reduce the entrance to half a cork if you haven't already and keep a close eye out for wasps as they are looking for sweet stuff now and will target small colonies.
Good luck with them. I have a similarly small cast swarm colony from mid July and an even smaller one from late July. Hoping to get them both through with a little help.

Regards

Barbara
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originalbee
Nurse Bee


Joined: 13 Mar 2012
Posts: 26
Location: England, Mid Sussex, Haywards Heath

PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many thanks Barbara...will do

fingers xd for these little colonies

B
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mefgbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Jul 2014
Posts: 57
Location: UK, Cheltenham

PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When feeding 2:1 syrup, how to know when to stop feeding; should the feeding of 2:1 continue until they appear disinterested in it ie. can you overfeed?

Last edited by mefgbee on Wed Sep 09, 2015 8:40 am; edited 1 time in total
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think you can over feed them as they can only take as much as they have comb to store it in. You should stop feeding once we start getting frost on a night as the extra moisture in the hive causes problems. Otherwise, feed them (if you feel they are low on stores) until they have capped stores in the last comb or they don't want any more.

I like to feed them slowly and steadily rather than putting a large gallon feeder in at one go. At the moment I'm feeding them a jar (approx. 500mls) every few days. They usually empty the jar overnight the first night and then ripen it off and cap it. It's convenient for me to do this as they are right outside my back door and it only takes a couple of minutes each hive. Obviously, if your bees are at an out apiary, then you may need to feed in bulk.
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mefgbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Jul 2014
Posts: 57
Location: UK, Cheltenham

PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Barbara.

I have 2 hives both from swarms collected in May.

Hive 1: swarm collected mid May and put into TBH with observation window. They have built about 12 combs. Brood nest is about 3-4 combs and they've started filling it with stores. About 5 combs at the other end seem to have nothing in them. Always busy at the entrance. Have never seen the queen, but she must be in there! I was concerned they were light on stores so started feeding them 2:1 a few days ago, and they've taken 4x 900 ml so far. But with half the combs looking empty still I was going to give them some more.

Hive 2: swarm collected end May and put into a small TBH without any window. They've really struggled for some reason, maybe there was some queen problem. However they do have brood and there is a queen, so maybe they've got over their initial issues. But they only have 3 combs (one of which was donated to them on 21 June with some uncapped brood as they had appeared queenless). In the last few weeks they've picked up their activity, still have brood and a queen, and bring plenty of pollen back. But they have no stores and must've been a really weak colony to have only built 2 combs of their own. So a couple of days ago I started feeding them 2:1 and they've nearly finished 2x 900ml. In the last 48hours they've slowed a bit with the feed! Last week I closed their hive down to just 5 bars to help with keeping warm. They need help probably...

I have been wondering about donating one of the empty combs from the other hive as that would give them greater ability to store extra feed. But I don't want to do anything to risk the Hive 1 colony. Or maybe I should get Hive1 to fill an empty comb and donate that. Or just let nature run its course. Both hives are in my garden so I can watch the activity many times a day.

1st year for me, so am not sure how many stores they likely need to overwinter?

Thanks Mike
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2015 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My guess would be that Hive 2 was a cast swarm that had maybe been hanging around for a while before you hived them and then struggled to get good weather for the queen's mating flight. The end of May and most of June was cold and blustery.

With so little comb and brood I'm afraid they are very unlikely to make it.
The sensible thing to do would be to unite them, but if you want to give them a chance (and you are sure they have a queen and not laying workers) you could donate a couple of combs from the other hive as 10 should easily be enough for them to over winter on, assuming you can get them to fill the other empty combs up.

if you decide to do that I would give hive 2 empty combs and then feed them both. Hive 1 has enough to do to fill the combs it has and there is always a risk of comb breakage in the transfer, when they are full and heavy and fragile.

Reduce entrances down to half a cork if you haven't already and keep follower boards snug.

Good luck, whatever you decide.

Barbara
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mefgbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Jul 2014
Posts: 57
Location: UK, Cheltenham

PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2015 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again for the advice Barbara, it is much appreciated.

I agree that my hive2 is unlikely to make it through winter but I am loathe to unite as each hive has a queen. Just to be sure of that fact I opened up hive2 this afternoon and I saw the queen, and some capped brood. They have started drawing out some of their comb and storing the syrup. The Hive2 bees have never been so busy since I started feeding them! I wish I'd given them a feed a month ago but I made a mistake.

Hive2 has been running with a half-cork entrance for a few weeks now as I was concerned about wasps whilst I was away. Hive1 currently has two full-cork entrances open, both of which can be very busy around early afternoon. As I've seen no signs of robbing at hive1 is it OK to leave their entrances for the time being or should that be closed down too?

Also I gave each hive another 2x 900ml jars of 2:1 syrup.

I shall transfer the empty combs across at the weekend if all looks well.

Mike
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2015 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good to hear that hive 2 are picking up and showing a will to survive. If they are queenright, then I would probably do the same as you and keep them separate but give them as much help as I could.

It's difficult to know without seeing how active they are, but I would probably be inclined to reduce Hive 1 to one hole. A bit of congestion isn't really a problem for the bees and definitely preferable to the risk of a wasp attack. It's really soul destroying to see a hive being hammered by robbers, be it wasps or other bees and very difficult to deter them once they start.

Regards

Barbara
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mefgbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Jul 2014
Posts: 57
Location: UK, Cheltenham

PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2015 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara I read your post, got up immediately, and went to hive1 armed with a cork... but both entrances had bees fanning away frantically with a lovely hum, so I hadn't the heart to shoo them out the way tonight and bung up one of their entrances!

But I'll get them early tomorrow before they're up as they don't get started until about 0630 I've noticed... Laughing Wink

Thanks Mike
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originalbee
Nurse Bee


Joined: 13 Mar 2012
Posts: 26
Location: England, Mid Sussex, Haywards Heath

PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:10 pm    Post subject: preparing forwinter Reply with quote

All very interesting advice, applied to me too, thank you B

My cast still seem to be drawing out comb , are very active at the entrance and are taking 500mls syrup every 2 days

Just one more question -

when the first frost arrives should we exchange syrup for fondant and keep that on throughout the winter months till foraging begins again ?

Much appreciation for your mentoring
B
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi

We've already had our first frost a few days ago but it was a one off and I am still feeding syrup at the moment as the temperatures are reasonable albeit damp today. I really prefer to give them syrup as much as possible because they can store it more easily where they want it. Looking at the forecast I think I can get away with another couple of weeks of syrup feeding... not ideal to be feeding this late but preferable to fondant in my opinion... after all they are still collecting nectar too.

I've just had a dwindling colony brought to me for uniting with a very small but queenright cast of my own and they are going to need lots of feeding yet to get them up to winter weight.

It's been a very disappointing year for honey stores and queen rightness.... I'm feeding more colonies this year than I have in the previous 17 put together. Can't believe how poorly they have done!
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1123
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara wrote:
It's been a very disappointing year for honey stores and queen rightness.... I'm feeding more colonies this year than I have in the previous 17 put together. Can't believe how poorly they have done!

Same here! I've had to feed every new colony (colonies that over-wintered are OK) and and I've had quite a few cast swarms where the queens have failed to mate. Others in this are have seen similar.
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CeeBee
Foraging Bee


Joined: 16 Jun 2013
Posts: 104
Location: UK, Cambridge, Milton

PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2015 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if this area is blessed with an excess of Ivy, or is it the same everywhere. Just like last year, all colonies are now booming and taking advantage of it. I cut out a colony from a birdbox a month ago, fastening their 9 small combs to bars - looked inside today - all combs being built out now there's more space, and loads of nectar stored and brood in progress - found and marked the queen today. So no feeding needed, it seems, and the ivy will keep going for (maybe) months yet.

But summer indeed seemed poor - stores just declined as the season progressed. Perhaps mead made from left-over ivy honey in spring is going to be 'my thing'.
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mefgbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Jul 2014
Posts: 57
Location: UK, Cheltenham

PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2015 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello, since my last post on this thread in September I've been feeding 2:1 syrup and both hives have been taking it. Now it's colder I've noticed that it's just being ignored, so am wondering about making some fondant.

But I'm undecided on how to actually administer it to them. I was wondering about forming a slab of fondant in the shape of a follower, and hanging it from a top bar with some netting. Then add it to the hive after the last comb. Or should I just place a block of fondant inside on the floor of the hive, and keep it simple?

Regarding my hives: Hive1 appears to have about 7 combs with stores, and the other combs have space so I feel they could use more if they choose to. Hive2 has really moved on and I'm impressed with how much stronger they are now. But they only have 5 combs to play with, so I wonder if a couple of bars of fondant hanging there would help?

Thanks

Mike
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2015 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mike

Good to hear that you have got their stores topped up a bit with syrup. I think you are right to now consider fondant as a back up. I am also thinking along the same lines as regards hanging it from a top bar although I had the idea of possibly making a sling with stainless steel mesh for the fondant... plastic is a much better/warmer idea thanks. It is definitely preferable hanging it from a top bar than in a dish on the hive floor because if it is too cold when they need it they will not be able to leave the cluster to access it and the cluster will not move to the bottom of the hive as they cannot keep warm there. It might also be better to have 2 or 3 bars with shorter slabs of fondant rather than one deep slab of fondant hanging.

Just thinking maybe the nets off punnets of nectarines etc would serve the purpose well.

Regards

Barbara
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