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Old 30th July 2013, 04:33 AM   #1
Finman
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Default Wintering beehives in finland

This txt is from Beemaster forum , sticked

Our bee summer is short. Willow starts blooming at the beginning of May. After 10.8 you may take all honey off . At the beginning of September it is last chance to feed hives for winter. So, if you take all honey off, bees live with sugar 8 months. Main yield flow is from 20.6 to 25.7.
We have permanent snow from December to start of April. So wintering under snow is not a correct answer.
Bees' 4 winter months out of 8 are like in UK. No snow, temp +10 - -5C

in Western Finland they often has only 4 inches snow. Most of beehives situate near sea cost, where worst winter temp are under -20C. But in inner land -30C in February is quite normal, but not continuous.
In April nights are often -5C and days +10C.

Essential part of wintering is to give formic acid or thymol fumigation to gives that it kills the mites which will otherwise destroy winter bees and their brood. Perhaps varroa do not kill the hive but it reduces more or less the size of winter cluster. Then build up in spring is slower.

RULE ONE in wintering is that you must have a bee stock, which is properly sensitive to shortening day and stops brood rearing at the end of August. If the hive continues brood rearing over November, it will die very soon. It consumes too much stores and is not in wintering mode to get over long winter. But no problem. We have good stocks of Italian, Carniolan and Buckfast bees which act properly in wintering.

RULE TWO in wintering is that you reduce the hive room to that size as the cluster will be. If the hive has 6 frames of brood, it will need 6-7 frames for winter. If hive has 15 frames brood, it needs 2 boxes to wintering. No one uses 3 boxes in winter.

Professional prefer wintering colonies in one box. They use to keep excluder over first box and that is why colony needs that one box.

NEED OF SUGAR
Colonies spend on average 20 kg sugar during that long winter. Consumption increases rapidly when the colony starts brood rearing.
Cleansing flight use to be in March and up that no extra feeding can be given to hives.

HIVES AND WRAPPING
All hives are insulated. They are double wall ply hives or polystyrene. Polyhives are more and more numerous.
Wrapping is not needed. It is just old habit. Some like me use geotextil covering to protect entrance against snow, wind and birds. Woopecker are sometimes harm to polyhives.

VENTILATION

If you use mesh floor, the no upper entrances are open.
If you use solid bottom, upper entrance or some upper hole should exist that respiration moisture comes out from hive.

In normal frost, like -10C, condensation happens often inside the hive. It makes there snow, but when mild weather comes, it melts and drills to bottom and out from hive. A solid bottom is little bit in slanting position that water comes out.

SUCCES OF WINTERING
Alive hive in spring is not a goal. The most important thing is to get colonies to foraging condition. That gives very different goal to wintering than simple "stay alive". For example 5 frame wintered hives are difficult to build up in Spring. Even if you have 2 box winter cluster in Autumn, after winter you may have only cupfull of bees left. How much I have brood in May, that rules, how much I can get hioney in July.

WINTER LOSSES
Starvation are quite rare in insulated hives . Varroa makes losses, if not clear dead outs, but at least reduction of clusters. Nowadays varroa has made bad surprises even to experienced beekeepers. It has became more lethal for its viruses. 20 years ago varroa was easier. Winter losses in Finland are about 15-20%.

SPRING BUILD UP

After cleansing flights bees continue wintering as long as they get pollen from nature. If the colony has pollen stores in frames, they can start early brood rearing but others must wait that willow starts blooming. Patty feeding is used very seldom but most beekeepers believe that sugar feeding helps in early build up. But it does not.

Insulated hives and proper ventilation keeps hives warm. In warm hives, which are fully occupied, the build up is faster that in hives which have much room and too much ventilation. 15 W electric heating has shown that colonies really need warm hive to make large brood areas. Very few heat with electric but more believe that good ventilation helps build up. Again, beekeepers have lots of belief.

It depends, how big the cluster has been after winter. According that the hive will be ready to forage surplus. Small winter cluster and rapid spring build up is a dream. It is impossible. You can help small colonies to become productive when you give frames of emerging bee frames from bigger hives. It helps in swarming problem too.

It takes about 7 weeks time to build up from willow pollen start to fioraging condition. - to biggest hives.
You may rear 3 frame hive from May to July, but it is not able to forage surpluss honey. Too slow.



VARROA
Varroa is nowadays a main killer of winter. It reduces so much size of wintering cluster that before winter the whole cluster may disappear from hive. But more often is that it kills 20 -30% from cluster and makes spring build up slower.

European Union Varroa Group researched best treatments in years 1998-2006.
Recommendations were that give formic acid or thymol treatment in August and then in November give a oxalic acid trickling. Autumn treatment kills about 70-80% of mites and trickling should handle the rest. If you give trickling too early, hives may have brood and mites are in safe under cappings.

WINTER LOSSES
Hives have many kind of winter losses what ever you do. I have had 20% spare hives during my beekeeping decades and that has been fine.

Most usual are
- NOT practically starving out
- queen losses: drone laying, missing, decreased laying, nosema stops laying
- nosema reduces bee cluster. Bees are not able to feed larvae in spring. - Giuve emerging bees from healty hive
- varroa reduces bee cluster. August treatment necessary.
- weak hives must be joined to get proper build up
- a hive dies if it continues brood rearing in autumn. But those are rare and thanks to our local queen breeding.

We do not use package bees. Queens are normally bought from south Europe in May.

EMERCENGY FEEDING
It is normal procedure to feed hives in spring if it seems that hive has too few stores.
Emergency beefing continues sometimes up to June. Frost nights will be over 10.6.

Last edited by Finman; 30th July 2013 at 04:57 AM.
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Old 30th July 2013, 05:36 AM   #2
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A very useful post Finman. Shows we get it easy here, doing our Oxalic in January and hoping that we picked the right week when there is no brood.
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Old 30th July 2013, 05:36 AM   #3
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.
Late summer arrangements

Normally hives have stopped brood rearing so that the last brood emerge at the first week of September. It is a last change to feed hives. Otherwise they do not cap the food.

That is nature's opinion. Vanishing pollen tells to bees that it is time to stop brood rearing. Old queens stop laying 2 weeks earlier than this summer's queens.

So the first half of August is the period when main gang to winter cluster will be layed. Bees need moslty pollen stores inside the hive, because there are too few flowers outside.

Just now it is a time to arrange the hive, that the queen has space to lay, hive has pollen stores in proper places and prepare that you get last honey out. It is not bad idea take a excluder and stop laying in those brood frames which have much honey.

The hive is usually 5-7 boxes big, but when food ceases on fields, summer bees will die at huge speed in the last half of August. At the beginning of September hives are either in one box or in two box. Then feeding .

Professionals starts their feeding works at the first half of August. They have 500-1000 hives, and they have not enough time if they wait too long.

I have just now lots of nucs, 3-5 frames. I add now bees to them of emerging brood, and I try them to rear brood as much as possible. It is only 2-3 week time to do that. Take care that nucs have pollen to final end. They do not have stores.

I change my last queens during winter feeding.
Now old queens are in peace and no interruptions are needed, because queens have practically 2 weeks time to lay winter bees.

Before feeding I evaluate the size of wintering colony and I join hives if needed. I may try to winter small colonies, but it is totally waste of my time and wasting of bees. There is whole summer to rear hives big, and there is no idea to try to rear small colonies bigger in autumn or in spring.

Big is beautiful in beekeeping. Big colonies winter splended and you need not worry about mistakes. They are first which bring honey and so they lenghten the yield season. Difference to weak colonies may be 20-50 kg honey per summer.

.

Last edited by Finman; 30th July 2013 at 05:41 AM.
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Old 30th July 2013, 10:03 AM   #4
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Quote:
If you use solid bottom, upper entrance or some upper hole should exist that respiration moisture comes out from hive.

In normal frost, like -10C, condensation happens often inside the hive. It makes there snow, but when mild weather comes, it melts and drills to bottom and out from hive. A solid bottom is little bit in slanting position that water comes out.
have you tried doubling the insulation and leaving out the upper hole?
any open hole ,of any sigificant size in a thin walled box, ties that level and al levels below in the hive to outside temperature

Any issues of suffication in deep snow?
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Last edited by derekm; 30th July 2013 at 10:26 AM.
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Old 30th July 2013, 10:16 AM   #5
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Finman, thank you for posting this.

These are the type of posts I like to see.
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Old 30th July 2013, 11:10 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by derekm View Post
have you tried doubling the insulation ?
No. It is not handy at all.

Quote:

and leaving out the upper hole?
I found the upper hole 45 y ago when I had 6 one box hives. 5 died and one was alive. That one had upper entrance. Hives were under snow.

It is very necessary. Some make air movement to go via inner cover.



Quote:
Any issues of suffication in deep snow?
Hives are in better condition when they are above snow. I noticed that when we had 15 years period that I cannot cover them with snow.
If south there are often +celsius weathers and snow is wet. That is not good for bees.

I have wintered hives in cellar too, but all get there bad nosema.

To save sugar during winter? It is not needed. Bees need not extra feeding during September - April. Question is about couple of euros if I try something else. It is equal one lbs honey.
Our winter stays normally above -20C. Not bad.

Usually I am in trouble when I try to get winter stiores eaten in hives.

Hives must be feeded full. Otherwise they do not cap the food stores
.

Last edited by Finman; 30th July 2013 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 30th July 2013, 01:46 PM   #7
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Finman do you use formic acid every year? I'm going to use MAQs for the first time as my new queens due a week Friday.

Last year I used homemade thymol but the gap of non laying was quite big but they did go strong into the winter, something im not willing to risk this year as my colonies are do not as much brood as they should have due to filling the brood nest with nectar during the hotspell.
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Old 30th July 2013, 01:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Finman View Post
HIVES AND WRAPPING
All hives are insulated. They are double wall ply hives or polystyrene. Polyhives are more and more numerous.
Wrapping is not needed. It is just old habit. Some like me use geotextil covering to protect entrance against snow, wind and birds. Woopecker are sometimes harm to polyhives.
What type of geotextile do you use? It might be easier to use against woodpeckers than mesh, easier to store too.
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Old 30th July 2013, 02:06 PM   #9
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.
Geotextile is from road construction works. Thin textile lets sun shine in and makes the tent too warm.

.i think that normal bird net on fruit fields is better. Your bees fly all the winter.

.
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Old 30th July 2013, 02:10 PM   #10
Finman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herefordshirehoney View Post
Finman do you use formic acid every year? I'm going to use MAQs for the first time as my new queens due a week Friday.
i have used only oxalic acid trickling 10 years but it really needs August treatment.

i bought 25 litres formic acid (agricultural foraging stuff)
the cost will be 50 cents per treatment.

Last edited by Finman; 30th July 2013 at 02:16 PM.
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