Oxalic Acid with top supers...?

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RoseCottage 

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Hi all,
I am a newbie and this is my girls first winter. So in preparation we fed them very well in September. My single WBC hive went into winter with a brood heavy with honey, sitting on a super full of honey and sugar syrup. We also had a full super of sugar syrup 'honey' stored on top of the brood chamber ( the queen excluder is in place on top of the brood chamber).

So the girls had plenty of food.

Now, however, I have to treat them with Oxalic acid.

So I am off to Thornes on Wednesday to get some but am looking for a little advice about how to apply it in my 3 box configuration...

All comments appreciated,

Sam.
 

Finman 

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If there are no bees in uppermost box, take it off and put it into your store room.
Extra space just steal the heat from cluster.
Try with hand how heavy is the rest of hive.

Take excluder off. Give a little bit smoke that they do not attack.

Then let bees calm down to next day and give trickling.
 
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Repwoc 

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It sounds like you have the queen excluder between the brood chamber and the stores in the super(s). If the bees move up there the queen will be stranded in the cold and will perish - so I think you need to remove the QX.
 

RoseCottage 

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Thanks for the advice. I thought that the bees stayed with the queen to protect her from the cold. So I thought that the stores above and below would only be used by the bees when the brood chambers ran out. I also imagined that they would use the lower stores first and then individuals would wander to those above as needed...

I will walk up the hill to my girls later today and remove the excluder.

Is it wise to remove the uppermost stores from the bees at this time?

All the best,
Many thanks,
Sam
 

oliver90owner 

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It may have been wiser to simply left one super of stores above the brood. Some will argue that the super below is a good idea, but if you think about what the bees would have done it will be quite clear that any stored honey would either be in, or above, the brood nest.

The queen excluder must be removed at the earliest opportunity, whether bees are below or some are above it. The bees will tend to move upwards and will leave the queen to chill and perish.

If all bees are below, it should be relatively painless operation taking only a few seconds; if above they must be disturbed, or the disaster outlined previously may be imminent, if not already a fact. I would likely leave the uppermost super on the hive if the bees are close to it but remove it if the bees are in the lower super with adequate stores above them. As Finman states, the space above the bees has to be warmed by the bees and it also presents a larger surface area through which cluster heat energy can be lost.

Do you have the cover board covered with insulating material? WBC broods and supers are often not so heavily built as single-walled hives and can benefit from extra insulation and the weather is not so good at the moment. Remember dry, warm and stores are their requirements at this time of the year....

Regards, RAB
 

gavin 

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I'm mostly with RAB here.

1. They need stores above, as they will naturally work slowly upwards. The wintering space above doesn't matter too much as they have filled it with stores, so no need to restrict that space by taking the super off. What matters more (particularly as your bees have plenty of stores) is that they don't get wet from condensation - so either insulation above, or an open feed hole in the crown board helps.

2. You need to remove the QX above the brood box and probably thump the edge on the palm of your hand while it is suspended over the brood box to allow adhering bees on it to fall into the brood box. Doesn't matter if there are bees in the super too and you've split the cluster, just press on.

3. Quickly dribble the 5 mls direcly on each seam of bees, put the super back, close up. As RAB says you don't need to put it back if the bees are far down with lots of stores above them.

4. You may as well have a lit smoker handy, but don't use it unless they get really restless.

5. Do it all quickly, with minimum fuss using slow, steady movements and no knocking of the boxes.

When spring comes you will probably have a brood box with lots of bees and some stores, a super above with bees and brood in it too, and spare stores too. Underneath you will also have a box of syrup stores, a risk of oxalic contamination and hopefully no bees. Problems, as your bees will soon need somewhere to store the season's honey. I'd take the bottom box away then, and store it to be used as feed next autumn. And learn a lesson that your bees will need only so much in even a cold winter, and so there is no point filling lots of boxes with syrup! Also that the advice to put stores underneath the brood box is certainly not what most UK beekeepers do. It isn't the direction the bees will naturally work in, and there will be a lot of travel staining from all those dirty feet.

Then you are down to a 'brood and a half' for the summer. You will probably have to live with the complications that brings, though if the brood nest is compact you may be able to insert a QX again and keep brood raising to one box. Make sure that you have spare empty supers for April.

Aim next autumn to have one brood box (maybe two if your bees are very prolific) of bees and stores. Wall to wall stores in one box suits most bees in the UK but not all. You'll probably have that spare box of stored syrup to add on top, and that formation (called a brood and a half) will do them for the winter.

Besides all that, reconsider calling them 'girls'! They're bees ...

all the best

Gavin
 

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I'm mostly with RAB here.

1. They need stores above, as they will naturally work slowly upwards. The wintering space above doesn't matter too much as they have filled it with stores, so no need to restrict that space by taking the super off.
Holy S*.* You do not know Gavin what are you talking.

Ok, hive stays alive but that is enough. When it start to make brood, it needs high temperature on brood area.

In spring when the colony have become smaller it is great advantage that you take loose space off from hive.
 

RoseCottage 

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All,
Many thanks for the thoughts offered in response to my question.

We had the local bee inspector visit us in the Autumn (around late August) and it was he who suggested that we move the super underneath the brood. Not sure why now to be honest...

All the best,
Sam.
 

gavin 

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Really?!

Many UK beekeepers winter their bees on brood and a half, or double brood boxes. I have, and they are fine like that. It isn't 'vain space', it is stores. In a natural hollow in a tree for example, the combs can be quite tall and by the time the bees have stopped back-filling and moving down, there will be a lot of comb above them.

Last year in 'another place' we had a good discussion on the strategy people use through the winter. Some prefer good insulation above the bees, some prefer good ventilation by keeping the feed hole open. Some have the feed hole open until perhaps February and close it then, believing that the priority has changed by then from keeping them dry to keeping them a bit warmer.

Please remember that this is based on UK experience from a range of thoughtful UK beekeepers, from books, and from my own experience. You have no right to write that I 'don't know what I'm talking'. Your perspective comes from a land where bees are not native because they they can't survive the climate, and you do things we regard as strange.

I would agree that in spring if the super is empty, take it off and let them fill out the brood box first. As this hive is so well-fed, I suspect that the super will still have a lot of stores.

best wishes

G.
 

gavin 

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Thanks Sam. As I'm sure you worked out, my 'Really?!' was directed at Finman!

As you can see, you'll always get a variety of opinions. There were some on the fora advising putting supers underneath brood boxes, so your inspector was not alone.

Watch your bees and you'll get a feel for these things yourself.

all the best

Gavin
 

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Ask a group of beekeeper's etc...

The main thing Rosecottage is to get that Queen excluder out.
 

Finman 

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Really?!

Many UK beekeepers winter their bees on brood and a half, .
Gavin, you try to teach a duc to swim....

Most of my hives have now 2 langstroth brood and full of bees

But he has 3 boxes!
H asked "a little advice about how to apply it in my 3 box configuration..".


************

That excluder in winter seems to be national trick in beekeeping!

Quite common phenomenom.
 

Hawklord 

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1. They need stores above, as they will naturally work slowly upwards. The wintering space above doesn't matter too much...
I'd have to disagree with this. Considering that heat rises therefore the warmest place in the hive is gonna be just below the crown board. This is my situation at the moment. I have an open mesh floor with a super containing 10 Manley frames above, 5 of which were being capped. Above this is the queen excluder on which is placed a standard National brood box with 11 frames + 1 dummy. My hive has been in this position since September. When we had the milder weather in September through to November the bees will have eaten the stores in the super will have been loosely clustered around the queen excluder. Now that we are in the colder weather the bees will be tightly clustered in the brood chamber and when brooding begins it will start at the in upper part of the brood frames. This seems a more natural situation for the bees to start rearing brood until the queen works her way to the entrance and the brood chamber is full then it will be swarming time. Stores will be filled from the top of the brood frames and bees work upwards.
 

oliver90owner 

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Hawklord. Sorry but the way I said is the natural way the bees do it. You would never find a bees nest 'upside down' in nature. Flat, yes, or a slight rise from the entrance might make a difference, but not normally like that in a vertical situation.

Bees in natural surroundings store their winter supplies above the brood nest. Period.

I would think that this has been a practice to try to minimise the amount of egg laying in the super, although I can't see how.

Many colonies were fed in August and some beeks were close to tucking them up for the winter. Can't remember, but could look back in my posts, when I said the autumn looked like being a long one and several on the forum disagreed. I think I was closer than them, but nevermind, I would not be surprised if bees had not transferred any subbed stores above the brood nest and the nest moved down in the autumn. People who advocate subs don't admit it, but I would not be surprised. That is what would happen if it were done earlier in the year, that is fairly certain! Classic way to get honey moved from a part-super is to put it back beneath the brood.

The natural situation is that the brood will start in spring and move down - try leaving a space (empty super box) below the frames and it will soon be built up as brood comb and she will be laying in it early on, if the colony is strong and there are plenty of young bees to draw comb. BTDT.

Bees have been doing it that way for millenia, or at least that is what I have read and been told.

And look at it this way. What Gavin says about the stores being honey, not air. Your way the bees would be munching downwards all winter leaving a bigger air space above, needing to be heated. More of Finman's vain space.

We give then unnatural space for honey storage as it is, or we would all be running Warre systems, would we not? My Dartingtons work perfectly well and I am fairly certain the bees sort themselves in those without me 'trying' to put stores below the brood nest! But that is more like a horizontal hole in a tree, not our typical vertical ones.

Regards, RAB
 
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gavin 

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Surely has to be:

Bees in natural surroundings do not store their winter supplies below the brood nest. Period.


G.
 

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