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drstitson 

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Hi - like many here this is my first year of actually having my hands on fancy wooden boxes full of bees! Am in the midst of feeding. When feeding my UK ones yesterday evening i managed to have a brief look through the hive as it was warm enough and for once the bees weren't feeling too nasty! I have a super with 6 frames full and rest pulled and being filled and a couple of frames of capped in brood box again with pulled frames added to be filled (this was a slow to expand late swarm thats in standard national brood+super).
However am currently seeing 3 and a bit frames of capped brood (ok a little smaller diameter area than in summer) with an intervening cleaned up recently emerged frame ready for laying/filling.

I realise that the more bees that emerge ready for winter the better BUT how much sealed brood do others have at the moment? Does the amount tail off significantly well before we "shut up for the winter" around bonfire night? Obviously how much feed they take down will influence that somewhat but still have plenty of space to fill before brood area gets squished too much.
 

Finman 

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I realise that the more bees that emerge ready for winter the better

BUT how much sealed brood do others have at the moment?

.
Winter cluster will be about same size as the brood area month before stopping. Other bees will die before winter.

How much others have? You need not to know because you must live according your hives.

In my yard some hives has stopped brooding a month ago and some have some brood frame. It has nothing to do with winter methods. You may handle the hives without knowing what happens inside after winter feeding.

Old queens use to stop laying 2 weeks before young queens.

I have much hives which had 6 boxes in summer and now I squeeze them into one box.
In spring build up is better in tight house than in loose house where heat escapses to the empty space.
 

drstitson 

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autumn brood

thanks finman

i realise that there are many variables that effect brood density. i was just interested to know what to expect dynamically from now on as have never had bees to over winter before.

"Winter cluster will be about same size as the brood area month before stopping"

That's obvious as the cluster is made up of "new" winter bees & should be roughly the size of the brood cells they hatched from!!!! This is actually interesting from POV of the convective crownboard i am designing - the natural size that all my calculations suggest is for a central vent hole above the cluster of 10-11 cm diameter or 9-10cm square - i presume that fits nicely with the size of a winter cluster.
 

Finman 

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Those bees which feed larvae, will be not alive in cluster.
That is why the last brood area bees, which cannot feed larvae, will survive over winter.

The month old queenless bees whch have no opportunity to feed larvae, winter qute normally even if they have born in late July. That is quite amazing.
 

Finman 

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Why small winter clusters

One reason to hobby beekeepers´ small cluster might be that they try to store honey for win-ter. The hive will became too full. Then in late summer brooding area is so small that the hive cannot get a proper cluster. After that the colony has difficulties, even if UK weather is not difficult at all.

In Finland I am too able to kill all my hives during winter if I keep them in windy place, keep them mesh floor open. The easy thing in UK is that bees are able to make poo along the winter. In Finland bees stay in their cottages from October to March, 5-6 months.

*******
I am still making my hives for winter and if the colony is smaller than one full box, I unite them to make 2-box wintering. They have easy life during winter and they have a good build up in spring.

******

Just now our autumn glow is at its best. In half part of country all leaves have fallen down from trees. After 2 weeks all leave trees are naked.
 
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Skyhook 

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This is actually interesting from POV of the convective crownboard i am designing - the natural size that all my calculations suggest is for a central vent hole above the cluster of 10-11 cm diameter or 9-10cm square - i presume that fits nicely with the size of a winter cluster.
Sorry, I may have misunderstood, but are you planning to have a large open hole above your bees? Will this not make it very hard for the cluster to stay warm?
 

drstitson 

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big hole

good spot skyhook!

yes i am having a large hole above the bees BUT this leads directly into a shallow eke-height chamber with channels leading to two slots at the outer edges of the board, channelling the warm damp air back down into the outer zone of the brood chamber. Above this special "crownboard" will sit a "standard" insulated block below the roof BUT WITHOUT the fabled matchstick sized gap all around.

The aim is to encourage convection and removal of damp air away from the bees and without condensation above the cluster.

According to my calculations a typical cluster may generate an airflow of order of 50-125ml per minute (depending on size and ambient temperature - i've worked on -10 to +10C) assuming central temp of approx 20C!!!!!!!

I AM NOT repeat NOT planning a large open crownboard!!!! They will be fully insulated above but benefit from natural convection without chimney effect.

The prototype has been built and tested in cardboard - see pics - convects well (no video as smoke didn't show up well in the low ambient lighting -sorry). please bear in mind the channels height and slot width is actually going to be smaller in the finished item.

I've obviously got too much time on my hands if i can spend my weekends with my head stuck inside a cardboard box full of smoke!!!!!

BTW if anyone else is interested in the final setup will post more pics once everything made and also produce plans/instructions.

In at least one of my hives the the air entering the chamber will also be subject to continual temp/humidity monitoring so i will be able to generate some decent data about the performance wrt ambient etc.
 

Mike a 

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Let us know how your projects fairs drstitson.
Is this your own invention or some thing you have seen and adapted to suit your hives?

I'll stick with a simple crown board with a mesh covered hole and a sheet of foil backed insulation in the upper roof space and let natural convection from the cluster as they move around deal with the stale air and moisture.
 

Hebeegeebee 

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Bees usually survive the winter - despite what we do to them!

:)
 

drstitson 

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mike a

"Is this your own invention or some thing you have seen and adapted to suit your hives?"

My idea - liked the idea of insulating above crownboard to reduce condensation but not idea of venting warm air out of the top of the hive with matchsticks or proud screw heads.

did some thinking and calculations and came up with the design you see - the channels are obviously needed to reduce stagnation of damp air in the non-vented sides and shape of the channels is inspired by rear diffusers on F1 cars!!!!
will obviously insulate further the dead space behind the channel walls.

Those with national hives would of course be free to decide whether the slots go front and back or side/side and likewise whether parallel or perpendicular to frame axis. If i can get another hive at the UK apiary to go for the design we could try S-S vs F-B with temp/humidity monitoring and might consider making dedicated models for each of my dadants.
 

Finman 

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I have a fingersize hole in upper part of front wall. I have solid bottoms.

"according my calculations" that is really a fat sentence. heh heh.
 

drstitson 

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Finman

"that is really a fat sentence. heh heh."

Sorry - that sentence summarises a complex Excel spreadsheet in which i can vary ambient temperature and cluster size to give airflow along with a page matching centre holes to side slots for various hive types!!!!



BTW you should remember that in the UK we have warm wet winters (except for the last one!!!!) NOT cold dry ones like in continental europe.
 
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Poly Hive 

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I have no intentions of being rude here but I do have this thought.

Given this is a first year in beekeeping and seemingly a pretty short one at that is it not just a tad early to be dreaming up theories and calculations?

How about being kind to your bees and just winter them with a thick layer of insulation over the CB and an open but sheltered floor.

The bees may well prefer your idea, but for the first year they (OTOH) may well not.

They have no choice. Remember that.

PH
 

Heather 

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Drstitson - I may be misunderstanding- but in your opening thread you seemed to infer that this was a late swarm -and you have them on a brood and a super.. If this is so- and it is prob too late now- but I would personally have got them all into the brood box, removed the super and allowed all stores to be made in the outer edges of the brood. They arent a large colony and you have a lot of area for them to keep warm. It will be interesting to see what they are like in March - Good luck..


And if I misinterpreted- sorry :confused:
 

Storm™ 

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Looking at the design and your description your aim is to removed moisture to the outer edges whilst feeding the warm air back into the colony and the center of the hive. In all to stop condensation build up above the hive and then the water dropping onto the colony directly in our all too damp and cold winters.

The moisture will then return back down into the main body of the hive along the outer sides.

Potentially it will condensate on the outer inside walls instead, and air will cool slightly before being drawn from the base of the hive back up past the cluster and through the vent hole at the top. Once this process has begun theoretically the temperature will be easier for the bees to maintain.

The only problems I can see are (and this is totally from a non expert in bees, but fairly well educated in atmosphere control position)

Where is that condensing moisture going to go unless you have a sump/drain.

The situation will work as long as there is decent airflow into the hive from somewhere otherwise it will stall. Think in term of a lovely open fire in a gap ridden cottage. Lovely draw to keep the fire going. Plug all the holes and install double glazing and the whole lot becomes a nightmare as the heat rising draws a vacuum in the house and then the fire stalls. (aware that fires require much more oxygen than bees etc)

The climate outside stays fairly stable and does not fluctuate too much otherwise the condensation factor will increase with no flow to remove the moisture.

Possibility in theory that the bees become more active within the hive due to extra warmth and use more stores. Produce more bees. Run out of room and stores.

If the top inside of your modified eke is flat and level the moisture will still condensate above the hole as its first surface of contact at a lower temp than the inside of the cluster. You need to have a semi circular inside roof. So that the sides of the inside of the eke roof slope down to your vent slots on the side. Moisture will still condensate but it will dribble to the sides and down the inside wall. If at the bottom of the hive on either side you had a thin trough to collect this water the bees could use that I suppose.

Dunno just throwing it out there because I find this interesting and I used to deal with this sort of thing all the time.
 

drstitson 

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Heather

Am slightly hazy about the exact history/provenence of the UK bees (a swarm bunged in a box with whatever frames to hand) - as i said they were deemed too nasty by the newbees to "service" properly and when i managed to find time in my tight schedule to fit in beeclub again (mid July?) the main problem was that they were still sat on a mixture of shallow and deep frames with loads of hanging comb.

I bravely volunteered to adopt them as they were less nasty than my own bees and i was by then un-aversed to the odd sting! first job was to rationalise the setup with some new brood frames and shallows moved up to the super and hanging comb fragments grafted into empty frames with wool/string (which has now been neatly removed leaving pristine comb).

A combination of weather and my schedule not allowing weekly manipulation by myself (as the newbees still too scared to handle) meant that it has only been hands-off treatment and feeding for last while!!!!

They still have 3 good frames of capped brood to emerge yet so will be a decent size for a while.
 

drstitson 

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Storm

The thick insulated top block below the roof should keep temp high enough inside top of chamber to prevent local condensation (same as for everyone else in recent discussions). any condensation will therefore form on outer walls and drip down & out rather than form above bees and drip down onto them.

the hive entrance (+/- OMF) provides the fresh air venting into the hive so IT IS NOT a hermetically sealed room like a modern house which leads to the problems with open fires.

Had thought about sloping edges to the chamber but a pitch roof might be even better!!! (rather than arched).
 
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Storm™ 

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so IT IS NOT a hermetically sealed room like a modern house
oh god no I realise that. If it has an OMF then of course it would be a moot point re low air induction.
 

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