MickBBKA wrote: ↑
29 Oct 2020, 01:08
This year I have several stupidly large colonies going into winter, double brood and 4 supers crammed with bees. I know they are going to be in trouble come February no matter how much they have stored. What I need is advice on going forward is what to do next year as its too late now. Should I split them and unite parts to other colonies ? I was thinking of transferring a super of bees at a time. What do you folk think ??
Around 1875, Elisha Gallup and D.L.Adair collaborated to create a 4ft Horizontal Hive which was both non-swarming and produced enormous amounts of honey. It's performance was so extraordinary that A.I.Root, who had initially dismissed these claims as being fanciful, upon testing it for himself immediately decided to market it as the
Standard hive for the US (and eventually the world) to replace the Langstroth hive. (In typical Root fashion he was far more concerned with profit rather than a hive being 'fit for purpose' and so made the hive length 30 inches instead of 48 - this being one reason why it failed to live up to expectations)
However, Doolittle made and tested two 4ft Gallup-Adair long hives, and the one which he ran for extraction returned over a quarter of a ton of surplus honey - but he wasn't at all impressed by this.
The main reason he gave was that after the main flow, all 32 frames in that hive contained brood (which was exactly what he didn't
want), and that the hive produced 'only' 166 lbs more honey than existing hives of his own design.
Doolittle's system of beekeeping management was predicated upon over-wintering a relatively small colony (on just 6 frames): large enough to survive (obviously), but no larger than necessary. He then enlarged this colony in the early Spring by a gradual step-wise process of brood-nest spreading, to ensure that there were an abundance of foragers available for work immediately prior to the main flow - at which time he reduced the brood-nest size in order to ensure that excess foragers were not created after the main flow was over, as these bees would then have been idle mouths to feed, and thus consumers rather than producers.
So - it sounds as if you need to generate some means of regulating your brood nest size. One obvious method would be to make-up several nucs for this purpose earlier in the season, and then swell their numbers from your uber-large hives prior to the onset of winter. Or - regulate brood-nest size during the season by use of a QX.