Winter Cluster

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cstroud 

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Hi,
One of my hives is less active than the others, and has significantly less bees without a doubt. I have prized the edge of the crown board off, and the bees appear to be in a winter cluster between a couple of frames.

I have considered that something may have happened to the queen in the colony, and this may account for the small number of bees (I hav'nt been through that hive for a couple of months maybe, but have accepted it is too late to do anything if this is the case. The hive has plenty of stores. Anyone elses bees is cluster?

Chris
 

Finman 

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.
Bees seems few when they are in cluster. Often they are in lower parts of frames and you cannot see them all.

Cluster will be same size as brood area was 1 month before brooding finishes.

But if you really have bees only in 2 two gaps, the colony needs only 3 frames for winter. It is important to deminish the space as small as possible.

If the hive was bigger in late summer, varroa may have killed too much wintering bees and that s why cluster is small.

You may look inside the hive and look if you see anything special in occupied frames.

Perhaps it has no queen and you see, if they have done queen cells.

.
 

Fattony 

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Hi Finman,

Do you mean by that, that you should take all but 3 frames out the hive and fill
the resulting gap with for example insulation board so the bees have less
space to keep worm.

Regards,
FT
 

admin 

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Do you have any pollen going in that hive? what about the other hives,do they have pollen going in?
 

Finman 

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Hi Finman,

Do you mean by that, that you should take all but 3 frames out the hive and fill
the resulting gap with for example insulation board so the bees have less
space to keep worm.

Regards,
FT
That I meant but just devide the space with insulating board and put one piece against box wall.

 

Heather 

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Wow, Finman - how much heat was lost from the colony during that picture taking time.. surely could have caused deterioration for them??
 

the naked beekeeper 

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If there are unused frames, will putting a dummy board help keep them warm??
Dummy boards don't come all the way down to the hive floor do they?
 

jezd 

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Wow, Finman - how much heat was lost from the colony during that picture taking time.. surely could have caused deterioration for them??
I think they recover very fast once heat it returned from the centre of the ball, also there is a heater in that hive I think.
 

cstroud 

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Hi,
sorry about the delay admin. Yes I have been looking out for pollen, and I think all the hives have been bringing in pollen, so I guess that rules out the queen being absent. I have taken that hive away from the others ,and put in a relatives garden, just in case, although I don't know if this would help anyway. i had considered that it may be a late swarm like one of the other members on the forum, but the hive is heavy so maybe not.

I'm thinking maybe they got hammered by varroa as Finman suggests?

thanks for the advice
Chris
 

richcamp 

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Hi,

I do not look inside my hives after I have finished autumn feeding I just lift each side of each hive to to get an estimate of the amount of stores in them.

I think that if we leave them alone in winter that they have a better chance than if we meddle with them. After all they ( bees that is) have survived by themselves for millions of years.

regards
rich
 

Floss 

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I agree with Rich .
My hives are quite different in character and one more active than t'other. I have fed them and treated them for varroa and done all advised and now hope I have helped them to see through the next few weeks...we'll see!

Floss
 

Hombre 

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Spot on Jezd, a terrarium heater I understand, but did you notice the extra wire for the reading lamp? - Long dark winters in Finland, they all take it in turns to read the hive records under the lid :)

I bet your lot are gobbling all their feed, what with the mild weather. My bees were out for a couple of hours today with training flights and bringing in pollen. They obviously haven't made up their mind to cluster yet. They will want Christmas presents next! :grouphug:
 

cstroud 

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I don't genrally take my crownboards off at this time of year either. Propolis seal and all that. My attention was drawn to this hive because there are so few bees compared to the others. If i crawl down and look at the hives from underneath through the varroa floor and all except this one have stacks of bees.

My colonies have very different characters. A beekeeping friend of mine told me about a 'lazy' colony he had, and he had to give them a good knock to get them moving in the morning. I suspect he was pulling my leg!!

Chris
 

oliver90owner 

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I suspect he was pulling my leg!!

If bees are moved around, even in The uk, they may not be totally appropriate for the prevailing climatic conditions.

Honey bees do not survive in all climates. Comparing them with the bumble bee, might be appropriate excepting bumbles are rather more extreme. Some species of bumbles cannot populate regions if either too cold or too hot.

Honey bees will be similar but obviously not to the same extent. So some strains (not species here) may work at lower temperatures than others.

Your friend whose colony appeared to need 'waking up' may have had a slightly different strain; or it could have been a smaller colony, and so warmed up more slowly; or it may have been (slightly?) infected with some pathogen; or perhaps that one hive was shaded or the entrance turned away from the early sun-rays; or cooled by a hole in the hedge from the prevailing wind direction. Who can tell why, but the reason was probably simple had he analysed the comparisons with other colonies.

Regards, RAB
 

rourkie 

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hi a dummy board will not help insulation very much, if they are empty combs best remove themthen put in dummy board then fill space with a ridig insulation ie kingspan ect regards jim
 

oliver90owner 

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I use dividing boards for winter, if needed. No bee space. Solves any discussion. They are used in Dartingtons for atificial swarming, so I made some extras

Doesn't matter if they don't actually go down to the floor as long as the top of the compartment and the sides are sealed. Leave an entry/exit at the bottom if using two and they do reach the floor, if frames are the warm way!! Mine are on OMFs so don't get any other ventilation. Solid floors are different regarding ventilation requirements.

Dummies (with bee space are OK for replacing un-filled end frames as they reduce the 'vain' space and supply some extra insulation when tight against the hive wall.

Regards, RAB
 
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