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Author Topic: Winter pack down  (Read 2041 times)

Offline Honeycomb king

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Winter pack down
« on: April 12, 2016, 08:10:40 am »
So the season is winding down.cool nights, short days.I'm packing hives down on Thursday and Friday then finishing on Monday and Tuesday. Every year I doubt myself on how to pack them down. I suppose I've never been completely happy with all the hives coming out of winter, particularly since the hives have to be ready at the end of July for almond pollination. Therefore some of our decision as to how we pack Down is influenced by the timing and transportation in preparation of pollination. Every year is different and every hive is also different as to is  the locality and even the spot that each hive is positioned. Just that variation makes it hard when people ask how they should pack down their hive. Some years I've feed some I haven't. I've feed sugar dry, syrup at varying formula, protein powder foundant etc etc. I've put feed on the floor above the frames in feeder/lids  frame holders etc. Perhaps this is the year that I settle on a great technique as I'm continuing  with a few things I've been happy with. I'll let you know when I've worked it out. Anyway just writing this to....we'll I'm not sure. I just know that it's something that a lot of beginning beekeepers struggle with and don't get the answers that they are searching for from their mentors.
Good luck with yours and bee good.

Offline SlickMick

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2016, 08:46:10 am »
I find it interesting that whilst you are getting ready for winter that I should be wondering where the next blossom will come from. You must be in pretty high country to have to wind up your season by April.

I hope that we continue to read your comments on our various concerns. Hoping you have a good off season

Mick

Offline Wombat2

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2016, 05:56:24 am »
Honeycomb do you use winter mats over your brood box under the excluder? They keep the temperature high so the queen keeps laying and when spring starts you have a hive full of bees ready to go.
David L

Offline Honeycomb king

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2016, 08:07:59 am »
Yeah our home base is 530m above sea level.cool temperate zone. The next few days will have temperature upto mid twenties. I would think that will be the last time we have Temps that high until mid to late September. From here on even if it gets warm (say 20?c) it won't get that  warm until about 2.00 pm and then start to cool down again by about 3.30 pm. Cool moist foggy days. Most winters we get some snow. Year before last our dam froze for about a week.
So I don't often keep hives here. Some down In the wimmera at the moment. It's dry  there and the yellow gum is flowering well with some banksia too. Winter temp down there is similar to melbourne, except the days warm up quicker, so the hives are warmer longer etc. Other hives will be in the diamond valley which is close to melbourne it stays dry there and rarely cold (say 5?c would be a cold night). The hives in the diamond valley will get some long leaf box but they are the hives I'll feed fondant and or pollen supplement.  Not that they should need it as such it's just more of what I've been working on so as to have bees in peak condition for almonds.
I have loaded bees in sleet, and driven in snow to get them to almond pollination.  So yeah its cool down here.

Yeah wombat2 we use hive mats. I use a plastic damp course material comes in rolls and is 250mm wide or in 300 mm width. We put the 250 mm width between the brood and second box. This piece  has a 90 mm hole drilled in the center. The top hive mat is 300 mm wide. All works well.
Remember that the days down south here are short in the winter so brood rearing is not as easy as up north.

And that's probably the thing every site is different as is every year.

Offline Wombat2

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2016, 08:07:06 pm »
Don't mean to be picky but if your 90mm hole is in dead center it will act like a chimney and the heat will rise straight up - center of the brood box being the hottest spot. We cut ours leaving 25mm front and back and to the edge of the second frame in on both sides. That way the heat is kept in the brood and the workers can access the upper levels
David L

Offline Honeycomb king

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2016, 07:29:17 am »
The bees cluster around there, that blocks the heat loss. I've used smaller some times and in fact they maybe 70 mm. This works well for us it stops the moisture building up then dripping on the cluster. It's the cold and moisture that is a real killer for us down here.
Yeah I've tried other mats and other bits cut out at the side etc etc. This seems to suit us.
I think that the mats are 200mm not 250mm as I said in last post.but I'm sure you know the product I mean.
No offense at all wombat2 that's what the forum should be, putting different ideas and techniques up.

Offline Wombat2

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2016, 09:23:51 am »
There was a thread on the main forum about condensation - I commented about applying the techniques developed in the States in the 30s for timber kilns. They found instead of allowing hot air to rise and vent out the top thus drawing in cold moist air at the bottom to condensate one the way through it was better to reduce the ventilation at the top allowing the heat to build up and push down and out the bottom so it pushes moist air out rather than drawing it in. The Bees wont mind they will be warmer as a result.
David L

Offline Honeycomb king

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2016, 04:23:52 am »
Yes I think I read that. That was months ago.  Had my head in hives today, those "omats" as I call them, are 230mm wide or 310mm for the larger size.which makes sense as they are made for brick walls. House bricks are 110 mm wide etc etc.anyway the mats I saw today were all 50 mm holes in the Centre, so not all that different from your set up. Moisture down south here when it's cold, little sun light and wet, are hard even for good hives to deal with if the hive is not quite in the correct place. To the point that a thin nectar say like yellow gum will cause lots of  trouble as it's too cold and moist for the bees to evaporate the water out. Hives are better to be on nothing than a flow that will kill them.

Offline PhilK

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2016, 01:22:28 am »
Excuse my rookie question, but what is 'packing down' exactly? I've been reading and seeing a lot of that phrase and don't quite know what it entails. I am in Brisbane, the days are still in the 30s or high 20s recently and the bees are busy as ever. Pretty sure I don't have an off season or need to 'pack down' but thought I'd double check

Offline Honeycomb king

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2016, 10:54:40 am »
Pack down is pushing the bees into a tight cluster so they can keep warm during the shorter days. As the day length shortens the bees reduce the amount of brood.  Then as the days start to lengthen, with all things being right they will start to expand the brood nest again. Down south here in Australia the shorter days mean colder days and for some wetter. It's the cold that means the bees have to eat honey stored to create energy. So the tighter the cluster the warmer they are all huddled together and therefore don't eat as much honey because they are warm enough. So to push or pack your bees down to one box or 2 the hot air that rises of the brood nest stays close and then they stay warm. If your hive was left at say 3 or 4 boxes high and the top boxes were empty the heat would be lost into the void etc etc. The brood is kept at approximately 35?c a cool day in Brisbane is say 20?c, that's a difference of 15?c.a cool day down here might be 5?c.it's hard for a bee to warm up the 30c difference. So yeah its not as important for you situation to get it right. Here in the mountains that cold can be 5 month. The bees may get it warm but after 100 plus days they will be out of feed and warn out. It's probably easier warn it very cold as then they don't leave the hive.when it's cool and they take flight they can burn even more food they they return with.etc etc.

Offline PhilK

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2016, 01:12:47 am »
Thanks for the explanation - I thought it was something like that! Do you just  put clearer boards on to get them down into the umber of boxes you want? What do you do with the frames of honey/brood that are left in the boxes you're removing bees from?

Offline Honeycomb king

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2016, 04:15:25 am »
Leave all brood and pollen. Leave as many full frames of honey as possible. Good opportunity to weed out old combs etc. I try to turn combs over every three to four years, although I often find some old ones that have missed a few years. Usually shake bees down so as can have a good look, but yes clearer boards too.
How's that a short answers from me. Amazing!

Offline PhilK

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2016, 04:19:36 am »
So the boxes you remove form the hives - they are honey only?

Offline Honeycomb king

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2016, 07:24:27 pm »
Yep, full, part full empty etc what ever is surplus. Extract honey, cut out old combs etc.
My yard is as messy this time of year as ever, start to sort and stack them all on Wednesday.
Honey still flowing for some of the hives so May will be a bit busier than most years.

Offline Lancej

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2016, 08:39:36 pm »
Checked the hives yesterday to pack them down, the bees are still bring in nectar and pollen, one hive, a single deep with a super  which is mainly empty, but the brood box is full. Do I leave the second box on or push them down. I was wondering if I remove the second box they will back fill the brood area.

Offline Honeycomb king

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2016, 04:48:13 am »
Push it down, it's better that they pack it full of honey in the lid than have an empty space above. If it's going to back fill the brood they probably have already or are starting to. If it's warm enough you could manipulate the brood and add a frame but if this is up at trentham it's cold up there from now on. (Telling you nothing there).
It's hard to pick this weather though. The hives in the northeast are also still bringing in nectar and pollen, but maybe this is the last of the warm weather for them at that altitude. If we get another week of this then their next move will be up to the northwest of the state so as they are ready and close for the almonds. The hives down past horsham may make more honey for April than for November.

Offline Lancej

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2016, 10:15:27 am »
That just means I have two more hives to pack down, one in the burbs which is still expanding and I will do later, one up bush which will have to be done before I bring them some where warmer.

Offline Lancej

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #17 on: May 14, 2016, 11:00:30 pm »
A week ago I relocated a few hives too over winter in a warmer area, two weeks before that the hives had been pushed down and mats installed. When I was picking the hives up, two of them had chalk brood, one quite bad, the pile below the hive was an inch or more deep. I removed the mats. Inspection yesterday after a week in the warmer weather, no chalk brood, also looks like they have decided to increase in numbers with full deeps covered in eggs. The question is, the mats or just the weather becoming damper and colder caused the chalk brood? Also, they now have access to tea tree which is starting to flower, don't know if that would help?

Offline PhilK

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2016, 01:43:55 am »
Inspection on three high 10 frame deeo hive (1 brood box, 2 honey supers) yesterday showed very little activity in both honey supers. About half of the frames in both boxes were not drawn fully or plain foundation. Also saw more beetles than usual.

Is this a good sign that I should be consolidating my honey supers into one super for winter?

Cheers

Offline Honeycomb king

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2016, 08:42:10 am »
 Phil.Yes. Brisbane is warmer than down here, but the days are still short.  Better to have them fill the lid if they get busy than die out because they couldn't get warm.

Lance. A few questions.  How long since your last inspection? What's your mat made from? Do you have a centre hole in it? How old was the tossed out chalk brood?
It may have already fixed it self.

Offline Lancej

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #20 on: May 16, 2016, 06:45:19 pm »
HI HCK, did a quick inspection when packing down the hives, looked good that I noticed, just over 2 weeks later did the relocation and could see the chalk brood out front. Inspected on the weekend, 1 week after moving, all the hives looked to be doing well with a large number of eggs in the frames. The warmer climate has kicked them along. The material used on the mats was a nylon sheets about 1mm thick, but no centre hole. Could not say how old the chalk brood was that was tossed out, Trentham weather, finally got rain, and plenty of fog, it had all been soaking in water. 

Offline PhilK

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #21 on: May 16, 2016, 08:53:10 pm »
Have been seeing some chalkbrood in the taller hive we have too, so might be another sign they can't keep warm enough. Will pack them down on Monday then

Offline Andersonhoney

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #22 on: May 29, 2017, 07:22:36 am »
Beenic, I thought I'd awaken this thread from last year. Similar to your thread.
There is a few things I have changed, I think I'm getting better at this aspect of the job.

Offline Lancej

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #23 on: May 29, 2017, 11:47:39 pm »
This time last year I was watching everything slow down at one site and still going at another. This year it's the other way round. A few hives that I packed down were going to run out of room.  I am finding this a very slow learning process.

Offline Andersonhoney

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #24 on: May 30, 2017, 06:20:10 am »
Every year is different.

Offline Beenic

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Re: Winter pack down
« Reply #25 on: June 08, 2017, 07:40:31 am »
Thanks Andersonhoney. Certainly some light reading there. 😉