Yard Visit Middle of September 2013

Conditions

September Wyoming Hives

The hives are in great shape.

  • they are more than heavy enough for winter
  • bees are healthy
  • no pests

So, one entrance reducer was put in. I’ll put the other in after the first snow.

A Quick Look

There’s not much that can be done by opening Wyoming hives this late in the season.

  • days are warm
  • nights are cold
  • there’s little forage for the bees to work
  • a killing frost and first snow are due anytime

So, I seldom open a hive this time of year.

But having never run hives with top entrances, it was a great time to see how the bees organized their broodnest.

I opened one of the 3 story hives. Here’s what I found:

The top box:

  • was moderately heavy
  • had a couple of light weight frames in the center
  • those frames contained a small amount of scattered, sealed brood

The middle box:

  • was heavy
  • had three light weight frames
  • those frames contained small patches of sealed brood

The bottom box:

  • was heavy
  • had most of the brood in the top 1/3 of 6 frames
  • honey and pollen were packed below and surrounding the brood

Broodnest structure couldn’t be observed as all frames were drawn on small cell size plastic foundation with 11 of them in a box spaced at 1 1/4″.

Comparison

Winter Clusters

That’s a different configuration that what’s typically seen in a vertical hive with a bottom entrance.

  • open comb space is higher and more compact
  • there is open comb in all 3 boxes
  • most stores are below and directly adjacent to the cluster
  • fewer empty combs

And this configuration doesn’t resemble what I’ve seen in horizontal top bar hives. Where the broodnest is nearest the entrance. And all honey stores are behind the broodnest.

Is it significant? I don’t know. It’s only one hive. But it was left undisturbed so the bees could organize it the way they wanted.

Winter Thoughts

Snow and a hard freeze is forecast for next week. So, I’ve been thinking about winter and upper entrances.

Siberian beekeepers have promoted a single upper entrance. Their research indicated bees over wintered better with minimal draft and higher carbon dioxide levels. But I wonder:

  • can blowing snow drift into and possibly fill a hive?
  • what about moisture buildup on the hive’s bottom board?
  • what about excessive moisture freezing on the cover?
  • will an upper entrance be too drafty with Wyoming’s winds?
  • or maybe it will be too stuffy. šŸ˜‰

And Later

Next spring will show the real difference between a bottom and top entrance. Then, the bees break the bonds of their tightly insulated cluster and rear brood. And that’s when conditions in the hive’s interior make a big difference.

With the lighter weight stores above the broodnest, and some empty comb in all 3 boxes, these hive could have checker boarded themselves. Should be interesting!

-bW

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