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Getting the TBH ready for winter


#1

Hi All,

I have a couple of questions about how to properly prepare my TBH for winter at the end of the summer season. I hope someone can help answer these. This is my colony’s first season and I have checked the honey stores (not much there at all…basically just some brood comb at this point). So feeding is in order, I believe.

  1. I have moved the follower board up next to the last comb to reduce the space for winter. Are bees generally still able to get under such a board to access a feeder if I place the feeder on the opposite side? I worry that it will be too crowded to place a feeder on the colony side. The hive and follower board are from Beethinking’s TBH. In other words, where to put the feeder? The feeder I will use is a ball jar screwed into a round plastic trough (i.e, small chicken feeder).

  2. If I feed the them sugar syrup through the fall, when is a good time to stop? Or do I let it continue all winter?

  3. What is the best configuration for holes and ventilation openings for winter? As of today I have just a single hole open (out of the six possible) and it is the one at the end of the hive nearest the brood. The three upper ventilation holes are open, too. The divider board is roughly at the halfway point in the hive. Is this ideal for cold weather and enough to remove moisture effectively? I want to make sure they have enough ventilation but not too much!

  4. Is there a recommended insulation method for right above the hive (above the top bars?). Right now the bars there are pretty tight and propolized, so not much (if any) air can get through. However, I was thinking that maybe a liner of newspaper or even a foam board cut to dimension might be a good insulator to place on the top bars under the roof. Are there other areas that should have added insulation? ex. the observation window, the sloping sides, the hive bottom?

Thanks for any info!

Froney


#2

…And related to my questions in the post above:

2a. Could I feed them sugar cubes instead of sugar syrup? i.e., just push sugar cubes through the entrance holes and plug them back up? And when to start feeding? (the start of fall, mid fall, late fall?)

thanks

Froney


#3

Froney,

Thanks for your posts. Sorry for the delayed response and influx of spammers on the forum.

  1. You can put the feeder on the same side of the follower as the bees. Just move down the follower a bit so it’s not too close to their combs. Or you can cut a cork-sized hole in the follower and put the feeder on the other side of the divider. We use jar or bucket feeders in our hives.

  2. You can feed until the highs are down to the low 50s, then you’d need to switch and begin feeding hard candy (fondant) if they still need feed.

2a) I wouldn’t feed sugar cubes. If you need to feed hard sugar, you can use drivert baking sugar, or make fondant. Fondant instructions here: http://www.colonialbeekeepers.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=76:how-to-make-fondant&catid=7:frequently-asked-questions&Itemid=25

  1. Your hole configuration sounds fine.

  2. While we don’t use any sort of insulation in Portland, Oregon, it may be more important in your region (all beekeeping is local!). Some make and use a small quilt box similar to that of the Warre hive. Sometime breathable.


#4

So, Froney,

How did your bees do over winter? Inquiring minds want to know! :D

Cheers,

Tom


#5

Tom,

The bees almost made it but not quite. I think they ran out of food toward the end of the winter or just got too cold. One day I noticed there was no movement in the window of the TBH. Later inspection on a warmer day revealed plenty of dead bees accumulated toward the bottom of the hive, some dead bees clustered on a comb, and a queen (dead) that appeared to have shrunk a bit. The combs did have some nectar left, so I am not sure exactly what happened – whether they starved or something else happened. There was no sign of disease that I could tell, and the smell is still fresh.

Froney


#6

Well, darn, I’m sorry to hear that, Froney!

We were supposed to get our first package yesterday, but that’s been pushed back a week. We’re excited!

Regarding sugar, members of the association I belong to do feed granulated sugar in the winter (this was a topic during beekeeping school last week.) One gentleman said he gets a bag of sugar wet so it hardens when it dries, and puts that into his hives.

Do you have a new package ordered?

Cheers,

Tom