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Winter stores, hive format etc.

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goodbobby 

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Having recently followed another forum member's advice and stored some partly drawn/filled frames in a super(1) under the brood box as well a fully drawn but uncapped super(2) loaded with nectar above the bb (my daft? idea!). I have carried out my weekly inspection today. I found the super(2) above the bb is now fully capped and the super under the bb(1)is filling fast with nectar some of which is now capped. The hive is a National.

I couldn't find the queen (she normally is easily found) and there is no evidence of eggs or recent larvae, there is plenty of pollen stored and honey stores going into the bb as well . There are copious volumes of very calm bees, still some drones and a lot of capped brood still to emerge.

I am in the middle of Apiguarding and frankly panicked a bit as I was expecting bee activity to have lessened considerably not burgeoned. In a mad moment I decided to put the bb back in its normal position on the mesh floor with the super(1) on top and the QX on top of that effectively turning it into brood and a half. Above that I have placed the now full (but Apiguard tainted)super (2). My reasoning was that the queen could have been in the super(1) below the bb and was keeping a low profile because of the apiguarding.

The site of the hive is a bit windy although it faces SW into a shallow valley so I am concerned about keeping the hive height as low as possible this winter so that I can strap it down and also I am intending to insulate the roof.

I am now worried that I will end up with super (1) not being drawn out much further before the onset of colder weather and this creating a barrier to the bees going through the QX into the stores above. Also that I have created an edifice that they will find difficult to overwinter in and too big to maintain hive temperature. Any repeatable thoughts would be appreciated, do I need to change the format? Have I now got a problematic situation?....should I also consider turning the frames warm way ?
 

Floss 

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As a new beek I am afraid I am unable to advise you but I recognise that "anxiety" that all is not well! The weather has been good recently and my bees have been active brining in new stores so hopefully there is time for them to sort themselves out for winter.

Some of the best advice I have been given this past year is that the bees know what they are doing and so i have adopted a "custodial" role as I am not confident enough to manipulate more than is absolutely necessary! That said I am still Apiguarding also and feeding!

I am sure someone with more experi3ence will be along to advise you soon. Hang in there!

Floss
 

goodbobby 

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Thanks for your calming message floss

I may be unecessarily anxious but not seeing my normally placid queen for the first time since the nuc was hived in late May has heightened this and made me wonder whether putting the super (1)under the bb(albeit temporarily ) at the same time as apiguarding has caused a problem.

I just get the feeling that over the last 2 weeks I have mucked around with the girls too much!
Bob
 

Solo 

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I am no expert, but I'll try and help. The prime requirement is for the bees to have adequate winter stores next to the brood nest. ideally in the adjacent frames. Therefore I would suggest that you inspect and rearrange the contants of the brood box if necessary. Put all the frames with nurse bees and brood in their middle of the brood box in their natural sequence. Then surround them with frames of pollen and capped honey till the brood box is full. Then place any uncapped honey in a super above a queen excluder. Make sure the queen is in the brood box though. If you still have more frames with capped honey you could store them off the hive temporarily. After say a week, reassess the stores in the brood box, and if you think they need more, scratch the cappings off some of the full frames and put them in the super for the bees to take down into the brood box, or alternatively if you want to extract some honey from the stored frames, then feed thick sugar syrup from a rapid feeder.

I hope this helps and if any experienced readers think it's not quite right, please say so, as this is my first post.
 

gavin 

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Hi Bob and All

Yes, I think that you are right that you are mucking them about too much. Many beginners do, as I did in my time.

Some folk may put a super under the brood box, but this is certainly not normal practice. They usually fill over their heads and move down at the end of the season, so if you are using a super for extra winter stores I'd have put it and left it above the BB.

But now you have the arrangement you have ...

Is your BB filling with stores as the brood hatches out? If so, your capped super (honey rather than syrup?) above the QX is extra to requirements. Take it off and you have a honey crop. The brood box stores plus those in super 1 should be enough.

BB still light? If you have a flow on now (ivy?) I'd leave everything alone now to see if they bring in enough for the brood box and the Apiguard-tainted super above it. If they don't and assuming that all the brood is in the brood box, you could either remove the top super and feed or just remove the partially empty super, the QX and put the filled super directly on the brood box. Minimise the re-arrangements at this time of year and certainly don't change from cold way to warm way, it makes little difference and will just upset them again.

hope that helps

Gavin
 

goodbobby 

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Hi All appreciate your advice

Solo ....thanks for your input, advice taken on board

Hawklord..........In the BB there are mixed stores and capped brood on 9 to10 frames and the capped brood probably totals 60% 0f this.

Gavin ..........there is a honey flow of sorts on but I dont think it is only ivy, there are a lot of large suburban houses nearby....the hive site is an away site. The fully capped super(2) is hefty and looks to be good honey but obviously Apiguard flavoured. The BB is filling up with nectar as the brood emerges.There are quite a lot of pollen stores. I cant see any brood in the partly capped super (1) that I originally stored temporarily under the BB.

Obviously if I could spot the queen who I either think has stopped laying because of the Apiguarding, or is no longer present then I could "minimise" as you say. I have been quite non-invasive previously sticking to weekly inspections since May and leaving well alone otherwise.

I think my next visit at the end of the week may clarify matters.
 

Queen B 

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Re cold way versus warm way. One year I experimented with comparable colonies by putting half warm way and half cold way for the winter. The ones which were warm way round all, without exception, strarted to build up a month earlier than the cold ones, and maintained their advantage all season.

Whatever you do, though, don't forget to remove the queen excluder if there's a super above that you're leaving on. Husband forgot that once, I didn't think to check, lost the colony!
 

Black Comb 

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Why can't the QE be left on over the winter?
 
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I wouldn't worry about any Apiguard traces in the honey if you are going to use it for your own consumption. If the honey has a medicinal tang that will be the ivy in it not the Apiguard.

No eggs or young larva is not a great sign. There is good weather in the south at the moment and with the ivy flow the queen should be laying, assuming you live somewhere south-ish.

Removing the QX will allow her to return to the BB as it is not impossible she got trapped in a super during all the box juggling.
 

MJBee 

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PeterS,
QX should be removed because there is a risk that the queen will get stranded in a cold brood box if the rest of the colony moves into the super when following the food.
Mike
 

Kay Bate1 

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Begining Too

I have found this text all very interesting as a new bee keeper too.
I personally found whilst treating with apiguard that with the eke in place the bees built comb to fill the gap and thus I had cross bees when I needed to remove the comb. Is there any way to prevent this happening in the future?.

My brood box was almost full with capped stores and I needed to add a super for more space.Can I leave this on or should I remove it in due course as winter sets in?I currently have the QX in situ and feeding syrup?

Thanks,
kay Bate
 

goodbobby 

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Update from the box juggler, any ideas on hive insulation?

PHEW!!!!!!!!!!..................................

I did my weekly inspection Thursday and although I still could not locate the queen, thankfully, I found plenty of "c" larvae in the bb which is now about 60% stores and 40% brood. Checking my beek course notes, I think these larvae are probably a week or less old, so Her Maj must be around somewhere and is still laying ??? The mite count for the week is only about 20 or less so I assume that the three week Apiguarding treatment can be concluded.

My main queries result from my daft "box juggling"...(see my opening thread post). Consequently, I am now on a brood and a half with the super therein 85% full of capped or near capped stores of reasonably runny honey. However, the queen does not appear to have laid in this new extension to the bb. The remaining super above the QX is 95% full of of capped stores but I think this could be mainly ivy........As I have said before the hive faces sunny, but potentially windy, South and is on the slope of a valley with brambles on three sides which will die back as winter comes. I intend to strap the hive down and am also thinking about cladding the hive body with some 3/4" painted polystyrene sheets and putting some insulation in the gabled roof. I am aware that ventilation shouldn't be compromised but I need to keep the hive "warmth efficient" as possible because of exposed site, maybe replacing the omf with a solid floor. Certainly with brood and a half plus a super the hive will be on the big side for the colony to maintain temperature.

So my quandry is what to do about the super above the QX now winter approaches ? Can I leave it in place, or spin it out and feed the honey back to the bees perhaps mixed with sugar syrup as it is thick ivy? Might the Apiguard tainting make it unpalatable for the bees? Also I would really appreciate if anyone has some experience to pass on of insulating, draught proofing of a gabled roof National ?
 

oliver90owner 

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Ive said before, I would like to winter a National with a super of stores - a single brood has to be quite full of stores to get the needed amount. I find 14 x12 with full stores is perfectly adequate without a super. A brood and half is about the same as a 14 x 12.

Removing the OMF?!?. Why?

The OMF will help to keep the hive dry. It is damp which kills bees, more than cold. With a solid floor you need to arrange things to keep adequate ventilation. With an OMF, it has more than enough. Top ventilation loses heat energy (warm air rises), bottom ventilation is like your domestic hot water cylinder - the heat never goes to the bottom (some short immersion heaters are fitted for the very reason of only heating part of the tank)

Water condenses on cold surfaces. Your insulation should keep the inside surfaces warmer - again, think of double glazed and single glazed window panes.

Water vapour and air will slowly circulate and be changed for fresh air, but that must happen or the bees could not effectively 'burn' that amont of fuel.

So the way to go IMO is to prevent draughts while leaving all, or most, of the bottom ventilation, insulate the sides and top (particularly the top) and let the bees do the rest. Preventing draughts could be an extra coarse screen under the hive, baffles, deep skirts, etc. Empty supers below will reduce the turbulence reaching the brood nest.

Regards, RAB
 

darrenperrett 

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I`ve put a ply skirt around my stand to within 1" of the bottom which I intend to remove in the spring. It`s really to help keep the fog out which soaks eveything around here in the winter.
 

goodbobby 

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Thanks RAB sounds pretty sensible to me. When I insulate the roof would you recommend I leave the Crownboard holes open or narrow them down? I've also heard from my local BBKA guys that some beeks put a matchstick under a corner of the crownboard on the lee side of the hive to improve ventilation during the winter????????

I think I may convert to 14 x 12 next year!

darrenprett looks a sensible modification,will consider as it gets a bit misty here, don't let Thornes know or they will be knocking them out flatpack for £25 each!
 

MJBee 

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Matchsticks under the crown board is a pre open mesh floor idea.
Cover all holes in the crown board and insulate is IMO the way to go. if any holes are left open it just creates a chimney effect letting heat out and dragging cold air in through the OMF.
:cheers2: Mike
 

oliver90owner 

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As I said earlier: Top ventilation loses heat energy (warm air rises)

As MJBee replied.

I also said: With an OMF, it has more than enough (ventilation).

Holes in the crownboard are for feeding if necessary, which, of course, should not normally be required.

BTW, I don't usually strap my hives to a concrete slab, but could be a good idea if really required. I usually find those straps don't last long out in the weather (particularly sunlight) so I cover the strap and leave the ratchet under the roof (top insulation is a close fitting wad of polystyrene in a super). I am afraid I often leave a concrete block on the roof, which is generally overkill as my hives are reasonably sheltered so a National roof is unlikely to get blown off. 150 deep roofs are also a good investment, as every little helps. I only have one of those. I bought the standard ones as they were cheap and are sufficient. The deep roofs won't blow off, ever, I think.

The ratchet straps certainly keep all the boxes tight together if the hive is opened late and the bees have no chance to propolise any gaps.

Changing to 14 x 12 is mainly the cost of frames and foundation. I made open mortice and tenon jointed ekes in softwood, to match the brood construction, and screwed everything together. Had gone 'top space' previously which fell in nicely with the Dartingtons I have since built.

Regards, RAB
 

rae 

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o the way to go IMO is to prevent draughts while leaving all, or most, of the bottom ventilation, insulate the sides and top (particularly the top) and let the bees do the rest.
How are you planning to insulate the sides and top? I've got a massive sheet of jablite (the really thick foam stuff they put under floors) getting in the way in the garage - I was thinking of running it through the table saw and making an insulated cover. Would 4" of foam do the bees? Or cook them? :)
 

oliver90owner 

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Makes one h*ll of a mess using a table saw unless you get a toothless blade. OK you have an extraction system!

100mm would do, little different to 50mm, I would think. They would not mind. Remember when the sun warms the hive in spring that insulation will keep it cool!

Regards, RAB
 

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