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Thread: Wintering Double Brood Box

  1. #1

    Question Wintering Double Brood Box

    As a beginner I got a Nuc 5 and 4 frames in mid July decanted into two national brood boxes. It has been doing as it should through the last few months. Later in the season , late August a 7 day mite count indicated that action was required. So I placed 2 Apivar strips in brood nest for the prescribed 6 weeks with a scratch of the strips in the third week , this showed a really good observed mite drop. I fed until mid September when they stopped taking down syrup. My question is if wintering a double brood where the stores are on top , hefting the hive left and right it seems heavy , being inexperienced I have also placed a block of fondant (this is slowly being consumed) on a QE on top of the stores (with insulation on top of the fondant ) , to be belts and braces for winter. Been keeping an ear on the hive every week and the hive sounds seems pretty active. Apart from being super cautious does this all like seem overkill? Or is there anything else I should be doing?

    Thanks from Jim

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by parkyjimbo View Post
    Or is there anything else I should be doing?
    Yes! keep worrying, like I do. What you describe look like a well prepared colony for winter. I do a mid-winter oxalic acid treatment when I think the colony is brood less and its at that point that I make sure there is fondant on top of the colony to cover Jan-Feb. I assume that you do not have a queen excluder between the boxes so no risk of Q being trapped below and distant from stores.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Feckless Drone View Post
    Yes! keep worrying, like I do. What you describe look like a well prepared colony for winter. I do a mid-winter oxalic acid treatment when I think the colony is brood less and its at that point that I make sure there is fondant on top of the colony to cover Jan-Feb. I assume that you do not have a queen excluder between the boxes so no risk of Q being trapped below and distant from stores.
    Hi FD , Thanks for your reply , no QEx between boxes only one is on top to support the fondant. As I'm an endless worrier anyway , I have even taken infra-red images (see below) with my thermal camera from below the open mesh floor looking into the hive. I can see the bundle of warm bees at about 21 DegC (was about 3 DegC outside) and even the black strap that passes under the hive floor shows up. Yes that will be the next thing the oxalic acid treatment in mid-winter. Once again thanks for the reply.
    Cheers
    -Jim
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    Senior Member Mellifera Crofter's Avatar
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    Parkyjimbo, I don't want to alarm you - but be aware that fondant can drip, and if it's severe, a colony can be lost (so I've been told - I've not experienced it). I doubt that a queen excluder will prevent dripping. The usual way of feeding fondant is to cut a few narrow strips in the bag and then place the bag directly on the frames, or to place the fondant in a tub above a feeder hole. Just keep a look-out for excessive dripping - perhaps more so in spring.

    Kitta

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mellifera Crofter View Post
    Parkyjimbo, I don't want to alarm you - but be aware that fondant can drip, and if it's severe, a colony can be lost (so I've been told - I've not experienced it). I doubt that a queen excluder will prevent dripping. The usual way of feeding fondant is to cut a few narrow strips in the bag and then place the bag directly on the frames, or to place the fondant in a tub above a feeder hole. Just keep a look-out for excessive dripping - perhaps more so in spring.

    Kitta
    Hi Kitta, thanks for the input , I did check a few times that it wasn't dripping and they have fairly burrowed into the block of fondant , will need replaced in the next week or so. The fondant is still in plastic wrapper with a good number of strips in the plastic opened up running the length and across the width of the block. This should ensure that the bees can access the fondant and also should help with reducing ooze. I have only one hive at the moment , it's worse than having children ;-) , of which I have two all grown up!
    Best Wishes.
    -Jim

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    Senior Member Mellifera Crofter's Avatar
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    All of that sounds very good, Jim. Best wishes with your colony.
    Kitta

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    Senior Member fatshark's Avatar
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    In my experience I've only really ever seen fondant dripping towards the end of the winter season if the colony has expired. A strong and healthy colony appears to be able to cope with any moisture that the fondant absorbs. I use fondant for all my colony feeding in autumn and winter.

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    Senior Member Mellifera Crofter's Avatar
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    That's intresting, Fatshark. So, the colony of the person who told me about the death of his colony by fondant-dripping, was probably already very weak. I think he said it was a strong colony, and it happened in spring - so, perhaps the usual spring dwindle of a strong colony that can't cope anymore?

    Do you take any precautions at all against dripping, or do you just put the 12.5kg fondant block, cut in half, straight on the frames?

    Kitta

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    Senior Member Adam's Avatar
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    Jim, you have treated for varroa which we can assume has been successful which is an excellent start and your bees have plenty of stores. I can understand that you don't want them to starve and as you are new to this game want to be absolutely sure, however a double brood box hive (in my part of Scotland) if pretty full of stores, shouldn't need fondant added. The bees will work upwards through winter, eating their way through their stores. What helps conserve stores and also helps the colony is to insulate a wooden hive and you are right (in my view) to have insulated them. Shade can be helpful in the summer but sun in the winter warms the hive and allows bees to break cluster and move around - and more importantly move their stores if they need, so a pleasant not wind-swept and not damp and boggy site is also beneficial.

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    Senior Member fatshark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mellifera Crofter View Post
    Do you take any precautions at all against dripping, or do you just put the 12.5kg fondant block, cut in half, straight on the frames?
    No precautions at all ... I either open a block (like a book) directly over the top of the frames or - if there's any chance I might need to go into the colony again - I open the block over a rigid wire queen excluder.

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