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General Q&A, Bee chat and only Bee chat please
 #5060  by Chrisbarlow
 20 Oct 2019, 12:01
Alfred wrote:
20 Oct 2019, 10:18
What do you guys on single BBS do for stores- surely you can't have enough stores to last?
different sub species of apis mellifera consume stores at different rates and over winter in different sizes. Most bees that people keep these days are mongrels but still exhibit different traits. It is also important to remember that different areas have different weather patterns and temps. Some bees overwinter in smaller colonies, so need lees stores. Some bees overwinter in much colder areas, so tend may or may not need as much stores. some beekeepers use poly which also effect stores usage. Some bees are in warmer areas, so have forage available for longer in autumn and sooner in spring. think the different between Plymouth and Aberdeen as extremes.

Some people only need 1 brood box.

Personally in Yorkshire. I overwinter nucs, singles BBs, brood and a half and double broods. I tends to use a box that all the bees will fit in to. So if a colony will only fill a single brood, they get a single brood for instance. I have some at the moment on triple broods because there's an awful lots of bees inside them. I have a mix of wood and poly.

the nucs will always needs feeding in January. The single broods I will keep an eye on (or a heft on) over winter. some times they needs feeding and sometimes not. It mainly depends on the winter temps.

The broods and a halfs and double broods will be fine. come Spring the brood and a half will have the queen moved down to the BB and a QE added between the two boxes.

I personally prefer double broods.
 #5061  by Patrick
 20 Oct 2019, 15:48
That made me chuckle Chris because I can see advantages to most different hives and configurations - and am rubbish at standardising to “the best” as circumstances just sometimes mean they end up in all manner of set ups.

I think there is much to the idea that it’s only beekeepers that overly worry about it - bees just get on with it!

Alfred, I have read loads of articles and attended many talks where people have carried out advanced statistical analysis to prove the hopeless inadequacy of single nationals to overwinter bees. As Chris rightly says - different bees, different winters (and preceding summers or following springs), local forage or prevailing climate .

All I can tell you is I have overwintered many dozen of single box colonies over two decades of winter periods perfectly successfully. So it certainly can be done. :)
 #5062  by Alfred
 21 Oct 2019, 08:27
So if your single box is hefting light in say January what do you do-Im concerned about having to open up a hive in cold weather,as with only one day a week at the site you can guarantee it will be the coldest one.
I tried slabs of posh fondant in February gone and still got loss.
My double brood fixation came about last month as I was pouring articulated tanker loads into the hives every week -what the hell they were doing with I don't know, but if they could fill the equivalent space of a second chamber with stores I would know I've done all I could.
 #5064  by NigelP
 21 Oct 2019, 09:10
It's more a case of how much stores they use during the winter. In my experience bees in poly hives will use far less stores than those in un-insulated hives. Which generally means I give them 10 litres of thick syrup come autumn and job most cases, there are always exceptions.
My usual spring chore is removing store bound frames and replacing with empty so queen has more room to lay.
Whilst you cannot overfeed as it where; there is a balance and only hard won experience can tell you what that is for the size of colony/hive type etc etc that you keep.
 #5065  by Patrick
 21 Oct 2019, 10:00
Alfred wrote:
21 Oct 2019, 08:27
So if your single box is hefting light in say January what do you do-Im concerned about having to open up a hive in cold weather ...

but if they could fill the equivalent space of a second chamber with stores I would know I've done all I could.
Can’t argue with that Alfred! If you lost a colony through starvation, then doing all you can to avoid that again seems very sensible. You can lose colonies for other reasons tho - starvation is often indicated by many of the remaining bees are head first down cells. Going through in spring and simply finding no stores left doesn’t mean they necessarily starved - the neighbours could have cleaned it out meanwhile. And don’t be too hard on yourself regarding winter losses - in feral swarm colonies they are reportedly very common indeed.

Re single box. Note I said can, not should! I would guess the majority of beekeepers down here overwinter at least some on single box. I would expect a single box to be lightening by mid to late Feb around here - if it was January I too would bung on a decent lump of bakers fondant. I read of people sometimes putting on notional tiny amounts via a teeny access slit. Not sure I see the point tbh. I know some branded fondant is pricey but if I put on at all, I would put on a kilo block of bakers fondant minimum and buy it in 12.5kg blocks from ... local bakers. Think about bees access to it - If they are a bit light then over the crownboard feed hole (as long as there are bees below) is a big enough starter. If they were really light and it’s an emergency, a bagged slab cut open over a larger area directly over the top bars (with Qx or not depending on its consistency) within a shallow eke may allow sufficient immediate access.

I share your caution about “opening up” colonies unnecessarily in the winter but it’s really not an issue compared to the alternative suspected risk or likelihood of possible starvation later. I alreadt trickle oxalic around the same time. Taking off the lid or crownboard for under 2 minutes is not the same as actually taking out frames.

How and when you feed syrup can have a big influence on how they store it or indeed use it without storing.

As pointed out, there are too many particularly geography variables to be too dogmatic. Do what you think is best but always be prepared to respond to variables from the norm.
 #5066  by Patrick
 21 Oct 2019, 10:50
Just seen Nigel’s post. Good point re different hive constructions as well. Still yet to try poly hives.

Another thing is different localities may have different natural flora to supplement what you feed either late winter, early spring or both.

Abundant Himalayan Balsam around here not frosted until late in the year makes winter supplemental feeding unnecessary for hives placed near to the river. As Nigel says, some colonies will have untouched sealed frames of stores by Spring whilst others wall to wall brood and foraging furiously. Some late starters can usefully peak later, so yer takes yer pick..
 #5067  by Alfred
 21 Oct 2019, 13:27
The colony I lost arrived in a badly insulated full size hive and it transpired that the outer six frames weren't even drawn,so I don't think I could have made it worse by anything I did or didn't do.

No one take a punt on my polynuc lunacy?

I might get a nuc super for fondant feeding in the next seconds-sale anyway so while I'm at it.....
 #5068  by Patrick
 21 Oct 2019, 15:11
Kerrrching - the devil is in the detail. Sounds a bit odd providing 6 frames with bees and 6 frames of foundation. Did you pay for them?

Those 6 un-drawn outer frames of foundation were so much dead space to the bees unfortunately, if they had been drawn comb or maybe able to draw them in response to being fed and so were available to the bees to store winter supplies in you might have had a very different story and starvation wouldn't necessarily have been an issue. I wouldn't extrapolate from that sad experience to think only the box capacity was the issue.

You are obviously a practical chap so why not just make up a square deep rim to use as a nuc fondant eke unless you need a poly interlocking thingymajig?