Hive weights

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MT204
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Hive weights

Unread post by MT204 » September 19th, 2015, 7:57 pm

I built myself a scale so I can weigh my hives.
I'm using 3-10 frames deeps.
What would be a good "suggested" wight for a hive of this size going into the winter?

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Allen Dick
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Re: Hive weights

Unread post by Allen Dick » September 19th, 2015, 8:10 pm

Where are you located?
Allen Dick, RR#1 Swalwell, Alberta, Canada T0M 1Y0
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MT204
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Re: Hive weights

Unread post by MT204 » September 19th, 2015, 8:30 pm

Sorry, 60 miles South of the Canadian boarder. Whitefish, MT.

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Allen Dick
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Re: Hive weights

Unread post by Allen Dick » September 20th, 2015, 2:03 am

Well, it depends on what you are weighing. The following numbers are approximate and accuracy is not important. Ballpark numbers serve well enough.

Early October is the best time make the final estimates for winter although estimates should be made earlier to determine how much to feed. Feeding after October gets difficult, and can be harmful unless absolutely necessary.

Assume each brood chamber weighs 20 lbs without honey, pollen or bees. That can vary, depending on materials, construction and age.

Floor and lid weights can vary a lot, so weigh them or take a guess.

The bees themselves should weigh at least ten pounds in early October, and allow more in September since colonies lose old bees as fall progresses.

So, a typical triple should weigh 3x20 + 20 (your lid and floor may weigh more -- or less) + 10 = 90 pounds BEFORE ANY FEED IS CONSIDERED.

Around seventy-five pounds of feed should ensure a good strong colony is okay until May. Sixty is the minimum IMO and you will have to check in late March or early April.

Where the feed is located is very important. Bees move up into empty space during winter, and honey below the bees is useless to them in winter, so do not leave a lot of empty comb in the top boxes.

Ideally, the top box will be a brood box that contained brood all summer and in which the brood has hatched and the cells filled with honey and pollen. Ideally, all frames in that box will be mostly full, mostly capped and mostly undisturbed by the beekeeper.

If honey is granulated rock hard it is of little value to the bees, so feeding sugar syrup to add weight is good insurance as sugar syrup usually does not granulate much in the combs and is readily available even in cold, cold weather.

So, IMO, 165 pounds is a good target weight for a typical triple if the feed is good quality and properly located in the hive.

Although more can be okay, too much leftover feed can be a nuisance in spring if all the brood combs are still full of honey and there is little room for brood rearing.

YMMV.
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MT204
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Re: Hive weights

Unread post by MT204 » September 20th, 2015, 1:35 pm

Thank you very much for the knowledge.
I have looked and read for quite some time and that's the best I have seen it explained.
The scale I built is very similar to this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIK_K_-gNh0.
As of today they are 135, 145 and 155 lbs not counting the bottom boards, so will be giving them something to eat.
Thanks again for the input!!

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Re: Hive weights

Unread post by Charlie » September 21st, 2015, 11:47 pm

Allen,
For those of us who don't know a much hives weigh or don't have the equipment to properly measure them, could you give us an indication of how much sugar/honey a hive would need to make it through winter (number of frames at a guess).

Because at this time of the year I'm going through my hives for a final time, treating for mites and putting in my frame feeders with essential oils in the syrup. I will also be throwing on protein patties to get the bees ready for a long cold prairie winter. In my case it would be easier to know how many frames the bees need to survive.

I personally feel that if I have 10 full frames of honey/sugar that the hive will make it to late winter or early spring. Where I can feed sugar blocks if I need to along with the protein patties.

Last year I had triples and this year I'm going in with doubles. I'm using double EPS boxes this year because after thinking about this all summer I believe a double may be easier for the bees to keep warm than triple. This is based on a cluster of bees is capable of producing so many watts of heat and the more surface area the more heat loss, hence double should have less heat loss than triple.

I would appreciate insight from anyone that has to deal with the long cold winters.

Thanks

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Re: Hive weights

Unread post by Allen Dick » September 22nd, 2015, 8:10 am

A full standard frame from a ten-frame box weighs about six pounds. You can easily confirm that with a bathroom scale. You need at least sixty pounds of good honey or syrup, total, and mostly in the top box. Don't rearrange the feed in fall. A good colony will do that itself. (Moving feed closer to the cluster may be necessary in mid-March and April in some cases, however).

Bees will not eat patties over winter until they are raising brood and then only if the patties are within inches from open brood.

Bees do not heat the wintering hive, but when brood rearing starts in late winter and spring, that activity plus longer days and warmer sun create heat that may warm the hive enough to encourage further activity.

So, heat conservation beyond protection from drafts is not beneficial in the early part of winter, but becomes important in February and beyond.
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Re: Hive weights

Unread post by MT204 » September 22nd, 2015, 9:06 am

Quick follow up.
Put the top feeders on with 3 gallons of 2:1 on each hive on Sunday evening.
Monday evening all were dry.
Guess they were still hungry!

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Re: Hive weights

Unread post by Colino » September 22nd, 2015, 9:10 am

Charlie wrote:Allen,
For those of us who don't know a much hives weigh or don't have the equipment to properly measure them...
I would appreciate insight from anyone that has to deal with the long cold winters.Thanks
Charlie I use a $10 digital bathroom scale from Walmart. Vance taught me to tilt the hive forward until you can put the scale underneath, tilt it back and read the scale. I don't know how you're set up but my hives are on bricks so I tilt the hive up from the bottom board. Takes only a minute or so and doesn't excite the girls too much.
Narcissism is easy because it's me or I, Empathy is hard because it's they or them.-Colino

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Re: Hive weights

Unread post by Vance G » September 22nd, 2015, 1:36 pm

I tilt them sideways my friend, I believe it is lighter lifting that way and the results would be the same if your stand allows. You folks up there in Bee Paradise with heavy hives! The bulk of my bees are in a dried out barren and I am off soon to go pump another round of syrup into them. Hopefully some will have got there from last weeks subsidy. Most of my light ones are nucs I am trying to get filled up and up to size. My sugar bill is high but when I break it down to the few dollars a week for each colony it puts a different complexion on things. To me anyway, not to my wife.

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Re: Hive weights

Unread post by Colino » September 22nd, 2015, 3:13 pm

Vance G wrote:I tilt them sideways my friend, I believe it is lighter lifting that way and the results would be the same if your stand allows. You folks up there in Bee Paradise with heavy hives! The bulk of my bees are in a dried out barren and I am off soon to go pump another round of syrup into them. Hopefully some will have got there from last weeks subsidy. Most of my light ones are nucs I am trying to get filled up and up to size. My sugar bill is high but when I break it down to the few dollars a week for each colony it puts a different complexion on things. To me anyway, not to my wife.
Yes you did but I didn't remember that. I tilt mine forward because I don't have room to tip side ways. I was giving you credit for teaching me the basic method.
Narcissism is easy because it's me or I, Empathy is hard because it's they or them.-Colino

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Re: Hive weights

Unread post by Vance G » September 22nd, 2015, 7:40 pm

Machts Nicht Laus or something like that. Spent the afternoon feeding. Many of the bottomless pits are starting to weigh something. Amazing how some draw comb even this late beautifully and others have created a tangled mess of cross comb that will need straightened out next summer. I had one get robbed out and made good use of those ten drawn frames in nucs I am feeding. Looks like I am going to get them fed up to weight. I have two malingerers that don't seem to be making fast headway. I should stack them and be done with it but not smart enough.

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Re: Hive weights

Unread post by Colino » September 22nd, 2015, 9:06 pm

Vance G wrote:Machts Nicht Laus or something like that. Spent the afternoon feeding. Many of the bottomless pits are starting to weigh something. Amazing how some draw comb even this late beautifully and others have created a tangled mess of cross comb that will need straightened out next summer. I had one get robbed out and made good use of those ten drawn frames in nucs I am feeding. Looks like I am going to get them fed up to weight. I have two malingerers that don't seem to be making fast headway. I should stack them and be done with it but not smart enough.
Sorry to hear about your dearth Vance. I haven't even started to weigh mine yet because there is still a flow on, but I've tipped a couple and they feel heavy. I put out a feeder of syrup and the only thing interested in it is yellow jackets. I'm wondering if I'm reading things wrong and the bees just haven't found it yet.
Drawn comb sure makes a difference, I have never had bees like I have this year. All my hives are packed full of bees, they look like some of the pictures I've seen of Allen's bees. Even the 3 swarms I caught mid August are building fine, I'm treating them like nucs, but they aren't taking syrup. Maybe I'll try the baggie on the top bars thing and see if they'll take some. The cut out I did also mid August is looking good, I gave them some extra brood with drawn comb and they've filled 2 boxes. But winter is the big equalizer and I'm not going to count my eggs till next spring.
Narcissism is easy because it's me or I, Empathy is hard because it's they or them.-Colino

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Re: Hive weights

Unread post by Vance G » September 23rd, 2015, 9:28 am

If there is nectar, the bees don't want syrup usually unless you put lemon grass oil or honey bee healthy or some other feeding attractant in it. I haven't been to my bees on the irrigated ground in a month but they were plugged then. I have some four way mating nucs I made by dividing mediums and cutting down plastic frames and using sheetrock screws for the cut off end. They were being all drawn out and I imagine they are stuffed now too. I imagine one half frame of them will be feed for any single nuc. I suppose I need to let half of them get robbed out so I have empty drawn comb for the virgin to lay in.

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Unread post by MikakoBed » June 11th, 2016, 3:30 pm

I saw a post here last year or so where someone drilled holes in their foundation. The bees just filled the holes with comb.

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