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Over Wintering Brood box and Super

 
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barshambees
Nurse Bee


Joined: 26 Feb 2015
Posts: 26
Location: UK/Suffolk/Beccles

PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2015 5:09 pm    Post subject: Over Wintering Brood box and Super Reply with quote

Hi,

I have some colonies currently in Nationals and will be moving some over to Warre hives this season. I am using strip foundation in the national frames...... Though some are just Top bars, some are top and side bars.

I am keeping a couple of colonies in Nationals until I build some more TBH.

I want to leave them a Super or two of food on over the winter so I don't have to feed them sugar syrup.

Would I put the Supers of honey under the main box before winter in hope they would move it to the top to where they need it? Would I leave it on top?

Just thinking about where the queen would be in the spring and whether she would be in the super or the main box. And does it matter?

I'm not going to use queen excluders.

Perhaps it would be better to use two main boxes rather than 1 1/2 , though this would mean buying some more kit. I don't really want to do this as I want to end up with all TBH (Warre and Horizontal)

My feeling about taking honey is just to take one frame at a time when the box is full - say one a fortnight or whatever. I don't want or need to take whole supers off at any time.

Any help and ideas would be much appreciated.

Andy
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BBC
Scout Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2012
Posts: 398
Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've seen some extremely contorted methods of transfering a colony from a National into a Warre Hive, some perching a National brood box on top of a Warre box, and hoping that the bees will work downwards, and others shaking the bees in using a custom-made funnel, and so on .... All completely unnecessary.

By far the simplest method is simply to secure a set of Warre top bars underneath bare National top bars with cable-ties or similar, chequerboard these a few at a time into your National brood nest, and wait for the combs to be drawn out. Then gradually remove the standard National frames, leaving just the combs on modified top bars in place.

Then - on a suitable day - simply remove those frames, trim the combs so that they'll fit into the narrower Warre box, cut the cable ties, and then install each top bar with it's comb. When all 8 combs are installed, shake or brush the remaining stragglers into their new home. It's that easy. No fuss, no drama, no waiting to see if the bees will gradually transfer their brood nest from one type of box to another.

And - if you do this early enough in the season, then there'll be plenty of time for the girls to build-up their own stores - and locate them exactly where they want them.

I used this method last year to transfer a large colony into 2 Warre boxes (actually 4 x 100mm Russian boxes using Delon wire frames), and a smaller nuc into a second hive with half that volume. These bees have over-wintered well, and are currently very active.

Colin
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barshambees
Nurse Bee


Joined: 26 Feb 2015
Posts: 26
Location: UK/Suffolk/Beccles

PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Colin. I have warre bars under national top bars in a couple of hives.
Going to transfer over in April to the new hive. I have got my head round that bit.

I was pondering more about the remaining two colonies which I aim to keep in Nationals for at least another season while I get used to the warre set up. (security blanket if you like...)

How do I over winter the Nationals on Brood and a super of honey.

Do I just leave the super on top and not worry where the queen is in spring (I am useless at finding her majesty)

I have heard some people put the super underneath the brood box so the bees transfer the honey to the top of the brood box frames and work up over winter.

Or am I trying to complicate things too much?
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would think that most people run a national on a brood box and a half and then super on top. That's the way I do it. so that the brood box and the first super are for brood and honey for the colony and then any supers above the queen excluder if you use one are for the beekeeper. That's the way I work mine and then they overwinter on the honey they have backfilled into the brood nest once the beekeeper's supers and queen excluder have been removed. So basically, no swapping boxes around. Brood box on the bottom and a super on top of that for the bees, queen excluder and then more supers as required for the beekeepers honey. Others may have a different method but I like to keep it simple.
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Martin White
Nurse Bee


Joined: 24 Jul 2011
Posts: 46
Location: Co. Meath, Ireland

PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara,

Do you over winter all your Langstroth hives with a super? Do you ever have to feed ? Do you insulate your hive in winter ? Do you add a queen excluder in Spring when you add a 2nd super.
Are you in the Northern part of the UK ? Does leaving a super for the winter reduce winter losses, are your colonies stronger in the spring ?

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

PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Martin

I over winter my Nationals on a brood box and one super. I don't normally insulate them and they have survived like that for 17 years. Up until this year I haven't had to feed them but this season has been the poorest I can remember and I am having to feed some colonies at the moment.

Yes, I am in the North East of England. I am located in the bottom of a valley though, so reasonably sheltered but we get pretty hard frosts and it can be quite damp.

I haven't been using queen excluders for the past couple of years but I will probably go back to using them next year as I'm finding drone brood in the supers and it makes things more complicated when trying to harvest.... I hate harvesting and extracting honey at the best of times without added complications.
As regards whether leaving the super on over winter reduces winter losses, I don't know but I can't remember the last time I lost one in a National hive. Then again I only have 2 Nationals and both colonies are old ones.... one is 17years old....and the other is about 13. I can't say if it makes them any stronger in Spring and in fact they are actually very slow to build up, but I put that down to genetics. The reason the super is left on is that I don't have to worry about them starving in winter and that's all I care about.
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Martin White
Nurse Bee


Joined: 24 Jul 2011
Posts: 46
Location: Co. Meath, Ireland

PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara,

Do you leave the same super on each summer / year as part of your extended brood chamber. Do you replace/harvest some of the frames from that super iin spring/early summer ?

To have no loss in 17 yrs is a fantastic achievement. Are your bees all of the same stock, family or do you requeen ?

Martin
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Barbara
Site Admin


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

PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes I leave the same super on and don't usually harvest anything from it. I also very rarely rotate old comb out, so the brood box and super are mostly very old and blackened comb.... there are benefits to this in that the old comb is much better at buffering moisture within the hive. The down side may be that my bees suffer a variable level of chalk brood. Having said that, they may naturally have a disposition to it anyway and being located in the valley where it is naturally more damp lends itself to fungal infection. Generally the chalk brood is only a very minor problem though.

Yes, my bees are almost entirely derived from the swarm that landed in my plum tree 17 years ago, although they have swarmed multiple times every year since, so the genetics will be somewhat diluted.

Don't get me wrong.... I have had losses in the past 17 years but I can count them in single digits and largely, they were beekeeper error in one way or another.... (2 hives blew over... one hive I left an empty box on top after uniting and they died of the cold... one relatively young hive swarmed itself to death... but I gained most of the swarms from it.... one I split and they ended up with laying workers .....and a trap out that went heartbreakingly wrong and half the bees starved to death and the other half repeatedly failed to raise a new queen)
I remember each one, as they all hurt me quite badly and I try to learn from them and where possible educate other people from my mistakes.

Over the past few years I have over wintered 6 or 7 colonies in a variety of different hives and if I have had one loss, I consider it a bad year. Mostly they all survive winter. I am much less confident of such success this winter though as the bees have not stored nearly as much honey as I would have liked.
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Martin White
Nurse Bee


Joined: 24 Jul 2011
Posts: 46
Location: Co. Meath, Ireland

PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Last question, do you take splits, artificially swarm, or just let them swarm, watch for same and collect/swarm traps etc. ?
Thanks for all your help, and not for the first time.

Martin
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Barbara
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Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I almost always allow them to swarm freely. I'm fortunate to live in a rural location and be retired, so allowing them to swarm is socially acceptable and I'm there most of the time to keep an eye out and capture the majority of my swarms as well as providing a general swarm removal and trap out service locally .... the majority of which I give away.

I appreciate that not everyone can allow swarming to this extent as it can be quite a nuisance to neighbours and in urban settings where hollow trees are few and far between, the bees will often colonise inappropriate (to humans) locations like roof spaces and chimneys, so you have to assess what is best for your set up.

When I first started beekeeping I did try to suppress swarming (I was ignorant and naïve, so not very successful), which was pretty frustrating for me and probably my bees too, but I have since learned to accept and even delight in it and of course there is a real thrill to be had from capturing them!
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