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bee's clustering.....

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biglongdarren 

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hey ye...at the minute my bee's are flying everyday for ivy if the weather permits them......often after how many days of bad and cold weather do they start to cluster,and when they cluster does the queen still lay away or what...sorry if these are silly questions but this is my first year as a bee keeper...Darren
 
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Depends entirely on the weather. They fly down here in Devon whenever there is any sunshine throughout the winter. I suspect it is not much different where you are.

If they are truly clustering then the queen will stop laying but she can start up again in a warm spell.

I am not sure the above answers your question but in most parts of the UK they don't truly cluster for the entire winter as they do in countries where there is snow on the ground all winter.
 

drstitson 

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cluster

as i understand it the cluster is a dynamic thing not a static lump of hibernating bees wrapped around the queen.

bees circulate from inner to outer taking turns to generate heat.

obviously some bees cycle out of it to pick up food from stores and if weather favourable i presume this extends to a little gentle foraging (even if just for water).
 

mbc 

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The bees will cluster every cold night and break up and become active every warm day to a certain extent as drstitson says " the cluster is a dynamic thing "
 

oliver90owner 

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The cluster will form as the inside temperature of the hive falls. Lots of brood and a lot of bees in a well insulated hive may mean the colony does not start to cluster as soon as a small colony in an over-sized or colder hive.

All sorts of considerations, the above and day-time temperatures, 'vain' space in the hive,etc, but it basically comes down to internal hive temperature; the bees know when they need to huddle together to keep the broodnest (reduced) and winter bees warm enough. Any bees experiencing temperatures below about eight degrees Celsius for extended periods will be brown bread.

Two years ago and there was little clustering before December and bees were still actively flying and foraging right up to Christmas Eve, although they may have been in a huddle from late November, onwards, for a few days at a time. Last year, they were all totally clustered by Christmas - and had been for a month and probably more. This year? Who knows yet. We will find out in our particular locale when it happens. Simple as that; the bees will decide; they know best.

With regards brooding. Two years ago - lots of brood into December, last year brood was very much reduced early November and this year I have not checked but expect eggs and young brood are severely diminished in number even now.

Restarting brooding. Two years ago, soon after the middle of February; last year more like the middle of March!

Sooo, it all depends on the weather and forage. Whatever you do will make little difference if the colonies are strong, healthy and dry - along with adequate but not excesssive ventilation. The only other thing the beekeeeper can be helping them with is that of a sufficient supply of heating fuel for the winter months, especially after snitching all their hard-earned stores earlier in the year.

Regards, RAB
 

Midland Beek 

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I would say that in the mild winters we have in this age of global warming there are probably lots of colonies in the UK that are never without brood. And this is especially the case for colonies in the south and in built up areas and where there is an urban heat island effect.
 

Hivemaker. 

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I would say that in the mild winters we have in this age of global warming there are probably lots of colonies in the UK that are never without brood. And this is especially the case for colonies in the south and in built up areas and where there is an urban heat island effect.
Many do indeed have brood even in the middle of winter down south. Often have a short period of no brood at all just after the heather,which is ideal for treating the mites....only need treating once a year.
 
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Polyanwood 

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last year in London because it was a colder Winter when I treated with oxalic some were broodless, and they were broodless for a little while because Spring was late. Other years most of my colonies still have brood around New Year, when I treat with oxalic.

Interestingly this year there is a much lower varroa drop. Probably the broodless period helped. This year I have done autumn thymol treatment and won't bother with oxalic.
 

biglongdarren 

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my Bayvarol Strips come off this weekend,will i still need to treat for mites later on in the winteror what????
 

Black Comb 

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last year in London because it was a colder Winter when I treated with oxalic some were broodless, and they were broodless for a little while because Spring was late. Other years most of my colonies still have brood around New Year, when I treat with oxalic.

Interestingly this year there is a much lower varroa drop. Probably the broodless period helped. This year I have done autumn thymol treatment and won't bother with oxalic.
I've only one year's experience with oxalic so I'm still learning.
How can you tell if they are broodless?
I was told just open up the hive and quickly administer the oxalic to each seam meaning the hive is open for minimal time.
 

admin 

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as i understand it the cluster is a dynamic thing not a static lump of hibernating bees wrapped around the queen.

bees circulate from inner to outer taking turns to generate heat.

obviously some bees cycle out of it to pick up food from stores and if weather favourable i presume this extends to a little gentle foraging (even if just for water).
You missed out poo,I have often seen them outside on a sunny winters day even when the temps are low,you can sometimes see them go about 30ft from the hive and then return.
 

oliver90owner 

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How can you tell if they are broodless?

The weather. For instance, 3 weeks at around -5 Celsius is likely fairly certain to be broodless!

Regards, RAB
 

jezd 

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The bees will cluster every cold night and break up and become active every warm day to a certain extent as drstitson says " the cluster is a dynamic thing "
exactly, regardless of seasons bees will cluster when they need too
 

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