Winter bees

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

Sanntos 

House Bee
Joined
Aug 9, 2011
Messages
187
Reaction score
173
Location
Sweden
Hive Type
langstroth
Number of Hives
20
Before giving the bees enough food to see them through the winter you have to know how much honey they have left in the broodchamber....
Since the number of brood frames shouldn't differ too much between different colonies when giving the winter feed, the amount of honey shouldn't neither (please correct my English, if it's to bad)
 

Swn58 

Field Bee
Joined
Oct 30, 2014
Messages
639
Reaction score
515
Location
Birmingham
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
Less than 1.....more than 20!
I'm sure a better description could be found than "winter bees", they're all just bees
I agree. It's like calling drones 'summer bees.'
 

Sanntos 

House Bee
Joined
Aug 9, 2011
Messages
187
Reaction score
173
Location
Sweden
Hive Type
langstroth
Number of Hives
20
I'm sure a better description could be found than "winter bees", they're all just bees and their physiological development is a function of their task history rather than the season per se...
They were called "Fat bees" in the famous Australian publication "Fat bees, skinny bees"

But "winter bee" sound better than "fat bee"
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: mbc

oliver90owner 

Queen Bee
***
Joined
Jul 15, 2009
Messages
16,148
Reaction score
598
Location
Lincolnshire
Hive Type
14x12
So would there just be lots of empty cells or lots of stores in this situation?
It depends on the season. Sometimes a colony can be starving late in the summer. Sometimes the bees can already have kicked out the drones because the income is sparse and stores are low.

Bees do not starve by calendar dates - it depends on the season. If the winter season (between autumn and spring) is short and they start off with lots of stores (and bees die off in the winter months, for whatever reason - often due to varroa nymphs feeding during pupation or beekeeper interference) they may not have sufficient space to brood in spring (and too few bees to build up quickly).

Alternatively they may be starving by the time they should be building up for the new season ahead. In nature, the colony would peg, but the beekeeper can feed extra stores as necessary - but only by knowing the conditions in the hive - that means knowing how well they were provided with winter stores, that winter bees would not be dying off due to varroa infestations and how much stores might be left after the winter (hefting is one way of checking).

Some years it has been known that bees have needed feeding until as late as May, or they may have died due to starvation. If you keep bees by the calendar, you could have lost a lot of colonies before the summer season had even arrived! That particular year, I supered my bees late March (OSR was already well in bloom and the weather was good), went on holiday to Spain for about ten days - and then removed the supers on my return as it was wet and cold (and remained wet and cold the whole of April and into May). I didn’t lose any colonies, did not actually need to feed (it was a fairly marginal decision at times), but neither did I get the expected decent OSR crop that year.
 

pargyle 

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
***
Joined
Oct 16, 2012
Messages
14,940
Reaction score
5,667
Location
Fareham, Hampshire UK
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
6
It depends on the season. Sometimes a colony can be starving late in the summer. Sometimes the bees can already have kicked out the drones because the income is sparse and stores are low.

Bees do not starve by calendar dates - it depends on the season. If the winter season (between autumn and spring) is short and they start off with lots of stores (and bees die off in the winter months, for whatever reason - often due to varroa nymphs feeding during pupation or beekeeper interference) they may not have sufficient space to brood in spring (and too few bees to build up quickly).

Alternatively they may be starving by the time they should be building up for the new season ahead. In nature, the colony would peg, but the beekeeper can feed extra stores as necessary - but only by knowing the conditions in the hive - that means knowing how well they were provided with winter stores, that winter bees would not be dying off due to varroa infestations and how much stores might be left after the winter (hefting is one way of checking).

Some years it has been known that bees have needed feeding until as late as May, or they may have died due to starvation. If you keep bees by the calendar, you could have lost a lot of colonies before the summer season had even arrived! That particular year, I supered my bees late March (OSR was already well in bloom and the weather was good), went on holiday to Spain for about ten days - and then removed the supers on my return as it was wet and cold (and remained wet and cold the whole of April and into May). I didn’t lose any colonies, did not actually need to feed (it was a fairly marginal decision at times), but neither did I get the expected decent OSR crop that year.
Spot on RAB ... and nicely delivered !
 

hemo 

Drone Bee
Joined
Jun 2, 2009
Messages
1,986
Reaction score
1,371
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
6-10
I think everyone would remember If someone claimed a colony had consumed a whole 12.5 KG slab of fondant in a week.
My LH colony did in 12.5kg though was nearer 10- 12 days last autumn.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mbc

Do224 

Field Bee
Joined
May 27, 2020
Messages
508
Reaction score
229
Location
Cumbria
Hive Type
national
It depends on the season. Sometimes a colony can be starving late in the summer. Sometimes the bees can already have kicked out the drones because the income is sparse and stores are low.

Bees do not starve by calendar dates - it depends on the season. If the winter season (between autumn and spring) is short and they start off with lots of stores (and bees die off in the winter months, for whatever reason - often due to varroa nymphs feeding during pupation or beekeeper interference) they may not have sufficient space to brood in spring (and too few bees to build up quickly).

Alternatively they may be starving by the time they should be building up for the new season ahead. In nature, the colony would peg, but the beekeeper can feed extra stores as necessary - but only by knowing the conditions in the hive - that means knowing how well they were provided with winter stores, that winter bees would not be dying off due to varroa infestations and how much stores might be left after the winter (hefting is one way of checking).

Some years it has been known that bees have needed feeding until as late as May, or they may have died due to starvation. If you keep bees by the calendar, you could have lost a lot of colonies before the summer season had even arrived! That particular year, I supered my bees late March (OSR was already well in bloom and the weather was good), went on holiday to Spain for about ten days - and then removed the supers on my return as it was wet and cold (and remained wet and cold the whole of April and into May). I didn’t lose any colonies, did not actually need to feed (it was a fairly marginal decision at times), but neither did I get the expected decent OSR crop that year.
Thanks for the detailed response. I do appreciate what you keep saying about dates not being important as conditions will be different every year. It’s just useful to get a rough idea as a beginner...for instance I recently watched a BMH video about condensing large colonies down for winter around the end of August. I couldn’t understand why that doesn’t induce the bees to swarm at that time of year (can still be good weather with reasonable forage late Aug can’t it? 🤔), but he said he’d never ever had that happen. It’s just useful to know...as a guide
 

mbc 

Queen Bee
***
Beekeeping Sponsor
Joined
Feb 16, 2010
Messages
6,454
Reaction score
1,402
Location
bestest wales
Hive Type
national
It depends on the season. Sometimes a colony can be starving late in the summer. Sometimes the bees can already have kicked out the drones because the income is sparse and stores are low.

Bees do not starve by calendar dates - it depends on the season. If the winter season (between autumn and spring) is short and they start off with lots of stores (and bees die off in the winter months, for whatever reason - often due to varroa nymphs feeding during pupation or beekeeper interference) they may not have sufficient space to brood in spring (and too few bees to build up quickly).

Alternatively they may be starving by the time they should be building up for the new season ahead. In nature, the colony would peg, but the beekeeper can feed extra stores as necessary - but only by knowing the conditions in the hive - that means knowing how well they were provided with winter stores, that winter bees would not be dying off due to varroa infestations and how much stores might be left after the winter (hefting is one way of checking).

Some years it has been known that bees have needed feeding until as late as May, or they may have died due to starvation. If you keep bees by the calendar, you could have lost a lot of colonies before the summer season had even arrived! That particular year, I supered my bees late March (OSR was already well in bloom and the weather was good), went on holiday to Spain for about ten days - and then removed the supers on my return as it was wet and cold (and remained wet and cold the whole of April and into May). I didn’t lose any colonies, did not actually need to feed (it was a fairly marginal decision at times), but neither did I get the expected decent OSR crop that year.
Thanks for taking the time to answer the question better than I could.
 
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
1,229
Reaction score
1,627
Location
Yorkshire
Hive Type
wbc
Number of Hives
12
Thanks for the detailed response. I do appreciate what you keep saying about dates not being important as conditions will be different every year. It’s just useful to get a rough idea as a beginner...for instance I recently watched a BMH video about condensing large colonies down for winter around the end of August. I couldn’t understand why that doesn’t induce the bees to swarm at that time of year (can still be good weather with reasonable forage late Aug can’t it? 🤔), but he said he’d never ever had that happen. It’s just useful to know...as a guide
Think the bees (and Laurence on this occasion) know best! They know the day-length is shortening. They know their priorities are changing. They have already reproduced by swarming or decided against it. They know they must get prepared for winter to survive.

The other factor to consider is how old is the queen. If she mated this season, you can be pretty safe in the knowledge she is less likely to swarm, due to her stronger pheromones that get carried around the colony quickly.

I keep records and in the relatively short time I've kept bees, the last sign of swarm cells is 2nd week in July. Other beekeepers may report differently. This is what makes beekeeping so interesting and challenging and we're all so hooked.

With bees it's a combination of 'nature' AND 'nurture'. Sometimes they behave in a certain way due to their 'nature' or genetics and this can differ from colony to colony. Sometimes it's down to 'nurture' i.e. the local environment. You can have a wonderful bee but if the environment is rubbish e.g. bad site, damp, poor forage, they won't do well. This is down to you to influence and get right.
 

Erichalfbee 

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
27,415
Reaction score
8,905
Location
Ceredigion
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
9
Swarm preps start a good time before QCs are made, remember and throwing a large number of bees together isn’t going to reproduce the impetus at that time of year
 

Erichalfbee 

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
27,415
Reaction score
8,905
Location
Ceredigion
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
9
On a time frame two weeks before charged qcs....?
longer
I you think a colony can’t just suddenly decide to swarm. Lots if things have to be in place. Mature drones need to be flying. There must be stores to take and a sufficient number of bees to carry the swarm and to maintain the colony after it leaves.
 
Last edited:

Latest posts

Top