BBKA Forum

British Beekeepers Association Official Forum 

  • Bees don't die of the cold "Ever"

  • share the funny, scary & the completely stupid things you've seen & heard
share the funny, scary & the completely stupid things you've seen & heard
 #8782  by AndrewLD
 07 Sep 2020, 08:03
NigelP wrote:
06 Sep 2020, 20:26
Andrew, how are you killing the wasps that end up inside the floors?
The Apishield trapping cassette is removable so you can choose what you want to do with the wasps - I have seen videos of a French beekeeper running a blow-torch through the mesh before opening the cassette - seems a bit gruesome, not to mention the risk of setting it on fire. I leave them, they dehydrate very quickly and die off plus any live wasps are themselves an attractant to other wasps. If you wanted to, you could put the cassette in a bag and then put it in the freezer!
Note that I do not use the Apishield as it is intended i.e. as a replacement floor. For a number of reasons I think it unsuitable for that and so I put it under the OMF and seal the back of the OMF with a fine mesh - Apishield still works and it relieves the pressure on the bees of wasps trying to sneak in the entrance.
 #8783  by AdamD
 07 Sep 2020, 08:33
Patrick wrote:
06 Sep 2020, 14:24
All my old books used to refer to the condensation in hives and sometimes mouldy frames, but I can’t say I have ever seen either in my hives on open mesh floors all year round.

Not that I am cracking open hives much in the winter but never noticed any visible condensation on crownboards when trickling oxalic for example. Wonder if it is more a solid floor thing?
I use open mesh floors and they generally have the tray out most of the year. The only time I have seen mouldy frames is in a couple of the plywood nucs I have where the ventilation in the floor is minimal - say a 2" round hole. These also have a ventillation hole in the front wall above the entrance - well they used to - as bees have propolised the hole entirely. They don't like ventillation high up.
 #8929  by Steve 1972
 19 Sep 2020, 21:57
I see Fondant mentioned over a feed hole in one reply..that has isolation starvation written all over it IMO..not that my opinion matters but Fondant is an emergency feed that bees need full access too..placing a 2kg block of fondant directly on the top bars gives unrestricted access even more so when a 2in eke is used with a solid crown board on top of the eke.. when in the depths of winter i have seen the bees through a clear crown board covering the full block of Fondant on the top bars bellow the 2in eke..
I am not disrespecting anyone's advice but any semi solid feed is most definitely better on the top bars.. :roll:
 #8930  by huntsman.
 19 Sep 2020, 23:49
Steve, I see your point but a two inch eke as we move into spring may quickly be built up with brace comb. There may even be pollen and early brood in this area. Plus the possible chance that the queen is there and if care is not taken, lost.

This also takes a lot of energy which IMO would best be expended in the brood chamber proper, that early in the year.

For me, I place it over the porter hole. with a one inch eke.
 #8931  by Patrick
 20 Sep 2020, 07:52
Insofar as the bees don’t get to express a preference, I have done both approaches. If the cluster is already below the crownboard a traditional “insurance” tub of fondant at Christmas is not going to do harm.

If however they are “flip over” light in February I want them to have access to a large face of fondant quickly. I use a slab of fondant in a ziplock freezer bag flattened with the underside torn open directly onto the top bars and surrounded by an eke. I have not to date ever left it on long enough to experience them building brace comb in the space from a flow and all the top of the cluster is now covered by the ziplock bag. My bees don’t seem to build brace comb on fondant.

Like so many things, it’s whatever works for you. What I am surprised to see is the often seen advice if your bees are starving to give them teeny amounts of fondant as some act of beekeeper largesse. a) if they are starving, what went wrong with your winter feeding plan? b) as it is our responsibility and - to be brutally honest- probably our fault they did not have enough to tide them to spring, give them a decent amount of grub to recover the position not just enough they can just survive. There are plenty of reasons for small colonies coming out of spring but starvation is one where a beekeeper can’t blame bad luck.

I can see the economics when you have lots of hives but that doesn’t translate into so reasonable advice when you have one. In fact, I notice that most of the commercial guys are unstinting in their supplementary feeding, but that is for maybe other although related reasons.
 #8934  by AndrewLD
 20 Sep 2020, 10:25
Patrick wrote:
20 Sep 2020, 07:52
Like so many things, it’s whatever works for you. What I am surprised to see is the often seen advice if your bees are starving to give them teeny amounts of fondant as some act of beekeeper largesse. a) if they are starving, what went wrong with your winter feeding plan? b) as it is our responsibility and - to be brutally honest- probably our fault they did not have enough to tide them to spring, give them a decent amount of grub to recover the position not just enough they can just survive. There are plenty of reasons for small colonies coming out of spring but starvation is one where a beekeeper can’t blame bad luck.
I think it's going to depend on what has prompted the need for fondant; sensible precaution or the late realisation that they have a crisis.
Putting fondant over a feed hole if one can see the bees underneath it has worked for me and the advantage is that I can monitor consumption without removing the crownboard.
As for plans; the lesson for me has been to change them as circumstances dictate. My original plan was to clean the wet supers following extraction and then feed them part capped frames with any cappings spoiled (capped over granulated honey). Change of plan to rapid syrup feeding had to be implemented when I realised that taking down the supers was taking too long. The syrup is now disappearing so fast that I started looking to see if my feeders were leaking :o
 #8954  by NigelP
 20 Sep 2020, 20:44
In the mild winters we have recently had, where you put fondant (if required) makes no difference. About 7/8 years ago I realised the folly of putting it over the holes in the crown board and ever since have put it directly over the frames. These days my crown boards don't have any holes.
That particular year we had a very mild Feb and queens were laying well; it was followed by an exceptionally cold March. We had -15C at times. I lost 1/2 of my colonies that year. Reason was simple when I saw what had happened. The bees would not abandon the brood to move to nearby stores so they died. If I had put the fondant directly over the frames I suspect they would have survived but I'll never know for sure.
I think in many cases you can "get away" with fondant over a hole in a crown board but there are a few occasions when you can't. As I cannot predict future weather patterns I don't take that chance. I've been bitten once and you learn by your mistakes.
 #8962  by AdamD
 21 Sep 2020, 09:22
The intention of beekeepers has to be to feed well enough in late summer/autumn so that fondant is not required.

I don't get the cold weather as much as some of you as I am 2 miles from the sea, so for me, fondant over the feed hole has been OK. (Good packing/insulation over is highly beneficial of course however fondant is added).

It's fair to say that bees don't draw comb for fun so if there is fondant over the top bars and the colony does draw some comb, it's most likely because they need to space - so they are doing OK. A nice problem to have!
 #8964  by Steve 1972
 21 Sep 2020, 10:31
All my hives are Abelo poly hives with homemade clear crown boards and deep poly roofs...all get fed fed copious amounts of 2:1 thymol syrup until the bees stop taking it..some stop sooner than others...all seem to make a good weight some more than others going into winter..however i have found with my hives in there location that some of them munch through there stores a lot quicker than others..this is where i could come unstuck if i did not regularly weigh/heft my colonies ...up to date i have had to feed fondant later on every winter...
Once one hive needs fondant i feed the lot of them 2kg each (unless any are nailed the the ground) and monitor weekly/fortnightly by lifting the lid and looking through the clear crown board and topping up as required..some do not touch it but it is there for insurance if the bees do need it..come spring when the crocus and willows start to bloom any unused fondant is removed and binned or any untouched fondant is placed in the freezer...i do get the odd colony building wild comb and filling it full of brood but that is easily dealt with..it works for me and the bees and to date i have never lost a colony to starvation..