When to unpack my hive

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Biermann
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When to unpack my hive

Unread post by Biermann » April 8th, 2017, 3:37 pm

Hello,

The weather is nice now, the bees are humming and good brood is in the hive. Brings the question when to take the insulation off and when to add a third super with a queen excluder? Thinking to use a sheet of newspaper between like Allen had mentioned.

We still can get cold, -6 to -8C is still possible, so don't want to see cold brood coming out on morning.

Cheers, Joerg

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Allen Dick
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Re: When to unpack my hive

Unread post by Allen Dick » April 8th, 2017, 4:27 pm

You are south of me, but I would not take off the wraps until May unless I had to for some reason. In my experience, the hives need protection at this time of year as much or more than any other. Only unwrap and consider supering if the hives start hanging out and bearding.

If you plan to split, placing a brood box under never hurts and makes the job easier later.

I doubt you'll need to add more boxes until May, but assess the hive now by tipping it back on the floor and glancing under. If all the bottom bars are covered with bees at noon on an average day, then you need to split or super. Chances are that is not the case. Often people decide they need to remove an empty box from under at this time of year if the cluster is small.

If you have bees covering the bottoms of several bottom frames, you have a strong hive that can wait a bit longer.

If there are few or no bees standing on the bottom bars, then the hive is not as strong as you might think looking in the top and unless the hive is plugged with feed, it can wait.

Heft the hives and judge the weight compared to some empty boxes. If the hives are light, then start feeding. If they are very very heavy, you may need to remove feed.

Otherwise, just leave them alone or feed patties and light syrup.

Remember that a hive that looks huge when wrapped and warm will shrink to half that size when unwrapped.


Also, often hives dwindle a bit at this time of year as the old bees die off and the new brood has not hatched.
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BadBeeKeeper
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Re: When to unpack my hive

Unread post by BadBeeKeeper » April 9th, 2017, 7:00 am

Allen Dick wrote:
April 8th, 2017, 4:27 pm
You are south of me, but I would not take off the wraps until May unless I had to for some reason. In my experience, the hives need protection at this time of year as much or more than any other. Only unwrap and consider supering if the hives start hanging out and bearding.
Allen is right (of course). Last year, 1/2 of my hives had the insulation removed in April. The other 1/2 did not get their insulation removed until the end of May, when they started bearding outside the boxes.

Here is what I found- all of the hives that had the insulation off in April had six frames of brood in each box (12 frames total for each double deep). The hives that had the insulation left on until later had eight frames of brood in each box (16 frames total for each double deep).

I kind of suck at math, but that looks to me to be about a 25% improvement in brood build-up and it didn't cost me anything extra to get it. (Actually, I kind of think it might be more than 25%, if someone with a numbers brain were to do the math?)

At any rate, this unintentional experiment showed me that insulation left on later allows them to expand the brood nest faster and further than those without insulation. When I saw the amount of brood in the first late insulation removal, I thought it was a fluke, but the results held true for *every* hive that still had insulation on. The uninsulated hives were also uniform in their numbers of frames of brood, which tells me that it is the insulation that makes the difference.

I wish I could say that I thought of it on my own, but the fact is that it came from laziness and bad beekeeping that turned out to be good.

....................................................

On another site where it is sometimes difficult to wade through the BS, there were some folks recently who were poo-poohing the idea of insulating hives here in cold country, saying stuff like "I don't insulate, it gets to 20 below and my hives make it just fine, there is no need for it."

Well, they may make it, but they are closer to the verge of failure, and any extra stress, mistake or mishap could result in losses that could have been avoided. (Plus, they are likely to be significantly behind the curve when it comes to Spring build-up.) This was shown to me this past December when I got hit with an early cold snap where the temps went sub-zero (near -20F) very suddenly, and were coincidental with high winds (plus 60mph). I had not yet got around to insulating at that time since I generally don't expect it to get that cold until Jan/Feb. Most of the hives survived, though many of them suffered from condensation issues. But I made a mistake with one of them, in that I missed putting in an entrance reducer- that one additional factor killed that hive, with sub-zero winds into the wide-open bottom entrance.

I'll be insulating earlier from now on, and leaving it on later.

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Re: When to unpack my hive

Unread post by Allen Dick » April 9th, 2017, 7:38 am

"I don't insulate, it gets to 20 below and my hives make it just fine, there is no need for it."
Yeah. It's Russian Roulette. Just because the bullet wasn't in the chamber one time, or two times...

Every winter is different. Also the colonies are not always in good shape in fall.

This BS is a favourite fallacy in beekeeping circles. Just because someone can do something all the time (or says so) or some people have done it once (or say so), ergo everyone can do it.

Not really, but the suckers fall for that 'reasoning' every time. A great deal of what beekeepers believe is the product of similar flawed reasoning. A lot of bee science is not much better.
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Re: When to unpack my hive

Unread post by Allen Dick » April 9th, 2017, 9:04 am

Yeah. If the frames of brood were comparable in brood area, that is a 33% increase.
16-12=4 4/12x100=33.333%

FWIW, "Frames of brood" is a term that is bandied about when meaning "Frames with brood". Everyone does it, but it is (almost) meaningless.

One frame full wood to wood has an area equivalent to three frames pulled from a small broodnest -- or greater, but each is called a "frame of brood". Gotta watch that when buying frames of brood.

Also.when buying, what is the stage of maturity? A frame of emerging brood is priceless compared to a frame of open brood. The latter may well be neglected or torn out by the recipient colony.

Even if the larva survive, the recipient colony has to cover and feed it and wait three weeks for any benefit whereas the emerging brood goes to work almost right away.
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Biermann
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Re: When to unpack my hive

Unread post by Biermann » April 9th, 2017, 11:53 am

Thanks All,

My setup is a little different and I show some pictures from today, overcast and cooler again. Yesterday it was nice and warm with some wind but the girls were just going nuts on the first flowers.

This hive is in good shape, 2015 queen.
9-4-2017-3.JPG
This is a dead hive, honey still in it for later, but the front and rear 2" insulation removed. Entrance closed.
9-4-2017-2.JPG
Inside temperatures and humidity in B1 & B2
9-4-2017-1.PNG
Cheers, Joerg
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Biermann
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Re: When to unpack my hive

Unread post by Biermann » April 9th, 2017, 11:58 am

This is what the are feeding on, Buffalo Berries, Sea Buckthorn gone start in a few days:
9-4-2017-4.JPG
Cheers,
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