Author Topic: How do I downsize this hive for winter?  (Read 862 times)

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Offline SmokeyBee

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How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« on: October 07, 2017, 05:41:23 pm »
In South Carolina, it seems that the norm is to overwinter in one deep and one medium. I drive around the state a lot for work and this is what I see for almost everyone here.

One of my mentors told me to add another box when the previous one is about 70-80% drawn which I have been doing all season. I now have a deep with 4 mediums. This same person told me not to remove boxes for winter because wild bees don't do this. His philosophy is to try to stay as close to a natural condition as possible.

Like everything else, I have to make my own decision on what is right. I've seen more beehives than I can count in my travels and NO ONE has more than a couple of boxes right now.

If I decide to downsize, it seems like I'm taking stores away from the bees. With just a few exceptions, all the frames have capped honey, uncapped honey, or pollen or SOMETHING that I'm hesitant to the away from them.

How do you take away boxes without taking what the need? They have about 60 lb of honey altogether.

I am a first season beginner...

Offline Perry

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2017, 06:14:40 pm »
Determine what the bees in your area need for weight going into winter. You should be able to consolidate the resources needed for that in the boxes required (sounds like 2), and then put a bee escape on top and the remaining box(s) above that to clear out the bees and reduce them to your target.
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Offline brooksbeefarm

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2017, 10:38:02 pm »
If the 4 med. boxes are full of honey / that means you have around 160 lbs. of honey to me plus what is in the bottom box. usually the out side frames will have capped honey in them, deep frames of honey will weigh around 8 lbs. and med. frames of honey 4 lbs I am in southwest Mo. and i try to keep 60 lbs to 80 lbs on for winter. Your winters are (i think) milder than ours, so if you have 60 lbs on, that should get you through. If you have SHB's in your area i would not leave all 4 med. supers on, depends on how strong your hive is if i would leave one or two supers on and the rest i would put the frames in a plastic trash bag and into the freezer. If you have SHB and leave 4 supers on over winter you could have a problem come Spring. Jack
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Offline SmokeyBee

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2017, 07:15:52 am »
Perry and Brook,

Thanks, the bee escape sounds like the way to go. To be clear, the supers aren't full of honey. The top one is 90% honey, the rest are drawn comb with some uncapped honey and pollen and I'm just guessing at the 60-lb total.

This particular hive is doing really well in my opinion and is, as we say around here, "slap full" of bees. Is there a risk of them swarming at this time of year if I take away their space? The brood nest is 5 frames in the deep.

One last question... I don't have enough freezer space for those frames. Is it OK to put them in the attic or basement in trash bags?

Offline brooksbeefarm

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2017, 09:37:28 am »
Yes you can store them in a trash bag, The way i do it is put the frames in the freezer for 48 hrs. then put them in a trash bag with para moth crystals or BT the frames, make sure the trash bag has no holes in it and sealed tight. My self i would store them in the basement, if i put them in the attic i probably would forget about them till i needed them and the hot attic could melt the wax on hot Spring days. Jack

Offline Lburou

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2017, 11:27:23 am »
...The way i do it is put the frames in the freezer for 48 hrs. then put them in a trash bag with para moth crystals or BT the frames, make sure the trash bag has no holes in it and sealed tight...
That is what I do.  I put the whole super in a trash bag, seal it, freeze it, and store it in my shop (be careful not to tear the bag, tape it if you do).  Putting the super in a trash bag before freezing eliminates the condensation while freezing and thawing...that is important on those humid days here. 

Small Hive Beetles and wax moths can complicate use of a bee escape, I wouldn't try that here.  I'm too unreliable in my schedule, (read forgetful), and using a bee escape could protect SHB larva and unleash a plague of slime and regret before I remember to remove that super.  It isn't just that I'm almost 70 y.o., I've always been 'scatterbrained'.
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Offline SmokeyBee

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2017, 01:14:51 pm »
Do I need to worry about swarming this late due to the reduced space?

Offline Perry

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2017, 05:20:46 pm »
I doubt it, the queen should be slowing down now and there will not be the drone population either.
Lee, I'm 59 and I bet you have a better memory than me. ;D
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Offline Lburou

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2017, 08:49:01 pm »
...Lee, I'm 59 and I bet you have a better memory than me. ;D
Maybe.  When I forget what I'm saying, I just wait a few minutes and the idea comes round again.  ;)

BTW, I saw six dead drones on the landing board of a hive this morning.  We are changing seasons here in North Central TX.  :)

Look!  There goes a chicken...   :laugh:
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Offline SmokeyBee

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2017, 08:54:13 pm »
Thanks everyone!

Offline CBT

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2017, 09:24:38 pm »
Perry, Canadian mist wouldn’t have anything to do with that would it? :laugh: ;D

Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2017, 05:52:01 am »

One last question... I don't have enough freezer space for those frames. Is it OK to put them in the attic or basement in trash bags?
NO!!  :o
That technique acts like an incubator for wax moth and small hive beetles!
If you have any product like Honey Harvester or Bee Go, the job will go a lot faster.  A bee escape will work too. The deal is to get them moved down so that you can remove unnecessary boxes.
I don't believe you will create a swarm situation.  You will just need to be aware of food stores and give supplemental feed in anticipation of them consuming it all before spring. 
I am a little late adding my 2 cents worth, but other newbies reading this might benefit.

Offline SmokeyBee

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2017, 07:39:10 am »
Bakersdozen,

Other than the freezer, is there a better way to store them?

Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2017, 08:53:20 am »
Smokey, you can use BT.  Here is a link to a thread regarding BT. https://worldwidebeekeeping.com/forum/index.php?topic=5995.0.  There have been several discussions on BT, so if you want more info put BT in the search box.

It is also highly acceptable to use moth crystals. Paradichlorobenzene is the key ingredient to look for.  Enoz manufactures moth crystals that can be purchased any where.  I have seen it at Walmart (in the section with laundry baskets and clothes pins) and hardware stores.  Don't use moth balls!  Not the same thing and they are toxic.
To use moth crystals, stack your woodenware, with frames inside.  Stack them snuggly so there are no openings or gaps.  Every 3rd or 4th super or brood box lay a layer or two of newspaper.  On the newspaper, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of moth crystals.  At this point you can add more woodenware with frames (creating a tower) and repeat with the newspaper and moth crystals or put a telescoping lid on top.  If you don't have a telescoping lid use something else that will seal it like a piece of plywood that is weighted down.
The object is to kill any existing moth and SHB eggs that are in there and prevent moths from finding the frames of wax while in storage.
Like you, Smokey, freezer space is a luxury I don't have and I have to use BT and moth crystals.  I store woodenware in my garage.
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Offline SmokeyBee

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2017, 11:44:39 am »
Thanks, BD, sounds easy.

Offline Lburou

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2017, 08:14:08 pm »
My BT a. is out of date and I had some frames in weak NUCs with a lot of wax moth larva.  Make sure you buy a recent batch of Bt a..  :)
Lee_Burough

Offline brooksbeefarm

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #16 on: October 14, 2017, 08:29:12 pm »
Hmmmm, I didn't know BT went bad if you keep the bag sealed. ??? Jack

Offline Lburou

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #17 on: October 14, 2017, 10:13:18 pm »
Hmmmm, I didn't know BT went bad if you keep the bag sealed. ??? Jack
Sorry to say it does. Have had mine for four years in a sealed container.  I've read of several folks with the same outbreaks of larva on the combs.  :)

P.S.  I should add there were wax moth larva on combs in my shop too.  In past years, you would see the larva progress at the base of cells, (with plastic foundation), tunneling for a couple inches and stop, (dead).  Late last year and again this year, the BT a. had no effect on wax moth larva on frames sprayed last spring.
Lee_Burough

Offline Mikey N.C.

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2017, 09:42:30 am »
Can you use para-moth on honey frames ?

Offline brooksbeefarm

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Re: How do I downsize this hive for winter?
« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2017, 01:18:07 pm »
I suppose you can, i did for years,but i don't now. To me even after airing the frames out i can smell the Para moth crystals and i think after using them year after year the wax absorb some of the chemicals into it? That's just me. Jack