Cluster position in the hive for winter

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garry
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Cluster position in the hive for winter

Unread post by garry » October 1st, 2016, 9:58 am

Many (70%) of my clusters are high in the hives, lets say two inches from the top bars. I have wintered them like that, on the basis that they probably knew better than i did, with some success and i have also reversed some in Sept which did made it through. I worry that if i leave them high they won't be able to access enough food and if i reverse them they will lose unnecessary heat plus they'll spend energy reorganizing. Any advice on which side of that trade off i should error? These are full EPS doubles with three inches of top insulation in west central Alberta. Where the bees are high there is honey in the bottom boxes, Thanks garry

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Allen Dick
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Re: Cluster position in the hive for winter

Unread post by Allen Dick » October 1st, 2016, 10:14 am

I'd say the bees know best. Also, in October, they tend to move feed up above them as they settle in and may move down somewhat.

Feeding thick syrup at this time can be beneficial as it fills the cells left empty by emerging brood and ensures a low-ash diet to start the winter.

Nonetheless, a high position especially in mid-January has the benefit of keeping ice off the lid immediately above the cluster due to cluster contact. If the lid is well insulated, the cluster can also cuddle up to it and effectively double the cluster diameter compared to being in free space below due to the mirror effect.

Additionally, there is always enough condensation on the lid at the edge of the cluster to provide water to liquefy granulated stores. Moisture is necessary and only becomes a problem here in dry Alberta when it condenses and freezes above the cluster and then melts on warm days drenching the bees or becomes excessive due to extreme lack of airflow.

What are your hive weights?
Allen Dick, RR#1 Swalwell, Alberta, Canada T0M 1Y0
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http://www.honeybeeworld.com/Allen%27s%20Beehives.kmz
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Allen Dick
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Re: Cluster position in the hive for winter

Unread post by Allen Dick » October 1st, 2016, 11:19 am

Allen Dick, RR#1 Swalwell, Alberta, Canada T0M 1Y0
51° 33'39.64"N 113°18'52.45"W
http://www.honeybeeworld.com/Allen%27s%20Beehives.kmz
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garry
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Re: Cluster position in the hive for winter

Unread post by garry » October 2nd, 2016, 1:34 pm

Thanks so much Allen. Good link, that helps a lot.
I haven't fed sugar yet just a few hundred pounds of scrap honey syrup ( some overheated,spilled etc) I will feed this week good to know you think that might push them down a bit.

I haven't weighed most of the hives yet but they seemed heavy right after i pulled honey and during times i have had to move them for whatever reason.

I weigh off the front with a luggage scale contraption that i built, the one shown is an old dial scale but i have a better digital one that you can read from the top. They're cheap.
i[attachment=2]break.jpg
I remove the top and break the hive off of the bottom board then i place the bent part inside and lift the hive an inch or two. better if its cool so i don't kill so many.
i worked out a coefficient by trial and error(mostly error) of 2.24 (interesting number?) that is multiply the scale weight by 2.24 to get the total weight. It's probably not that accurate and it would skew depending on a number of factors but it does give me some idea and it's fast and easy and doesn't disturb the bees too much. anything above 38 lb. i guess as probably ok. anything under that i feel i have to do something. this one weighs 43.

Might be all moot anyways, i think the mites are going to kick my a$$ this year. the dead bees on the board are DWV.

Comments welcome, thanks again.
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Countryboy
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Re: Cluster position in the hive for winter

Unread post by Countryboy » October 2nd, 2016, 7:41 pm

Several years ago I made a YouTube video and the beginning shows a fairly easy way to weigh a hive. Lift one side of the hive up, and slide a set of scales under it. Then lift the other side of the hive up pretty much balancing the hive on the scale.

I haven't weighed hives for a few years now. When I get them ready for winter, I can tell by the weight of the box if it has much weight. Most of my hives will be fairly consistent on weight. I usually automatically give each hive a gallon of syrup when I get them ready for winter, (I leave a frame feeder in the broodbox year-round) and I just make a note for the beeyard if the hives were heavy or needed more feed. Usually if a hive is significantly lighter than the rest of the hives in a beeyard, that hive will likely die over the winter. (Maybe I am just breeding bees which do a better job backfilling the broodnest this time of year. The light broodboxes end up being culls.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3ptQy4700g
B. Farmer Honey
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