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Author Topic: Stacking hives for warmth  (Read 291 times)

Offline FloridaGardener

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Stacking hives for warmth
« on: December 13, 2020, 11:28:57 pm »
Now the Northerners can laugh, but down here in the Florida panhandle we are going into Winter.   The last leaves are drifting down. This week we'll start 12 weeks of 30-65 degrees F variance, days to nights.

Being mid-December, we have about 8 weeks until Carolina laurel starts to bloom and I see new white drone comb, according to my old photos.   Because of the pandemic, a few nucs weren't picked up by the buyers, and reached a gangly teenage phase of fitting neither in a  5 frame hive nor a 10... only 6 - 8 frames now. 

I do have R-5 insulating lids.  The screened bottom boards - which have runners underneath to fit West Beetle traps - are now closed off with R-5 foam board.  The runners/cleats are taller than the foam, so stuffing some pine straw underneath keeps the foam tight, but I can pull out the straw, then the foam, and scrape hive trash into a bucket now & then.  I have to do this because I have lazy bees that never learned to take out the trash on account of their luxury screen feature.

My question is: seeing as these little colonies in medium boxes have 'too much space' for the next 8 weeks, what about stacking them for warmth? I could leave a feeder rim between them, "just in case."  We do get those brisk 65 degree days to give them a check. The runners on the bottom board will allow foam blocks to be placed at front & back, and leave the middle for heat to rise from the colony below.  This would require bring the top colony from a different yard and they would re-orient.

Is this proposed bee condo just winter angst, especially for a certain feral queen I hope to breed from? Or am I just looking for projects more creative than repainting supers? Should I just leave them bee? 

 


Offline AR Beekeeper

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Re: Stacking hives for warmth
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2020, 07:47:18 am »
I have overwintered nucs on 5 deep frames and open screened bottom boards in temperature ranges of 15 to 50 degrees with no damage from cold.  The only problem I had was having to feed in late February or early March when they ran short of food and would starve.

If the adult bees fully cover the frames, and the hives have some wind protection, I would leave them alone.

Offline little john

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Re: Stacking hives for warmth
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2020, 10:34:20 am »
If I were to be faced with this situation, I'd either not bother and take a chance (which is a pretty safe bet if they're strong enough and have an adequate food supply) - or - if your box design allows this - push nuc boxes together in pairs.
Personally, I wouldn't stack boxes if I thought there might be a need to gain regular access to the lower one in order to check on the level of fondant - which I would always have in place as a belt-and-braces measure in such circumstances.
Good luck
LJ
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Stacking hives for warmth
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2020, 12:33:37 pm »
>Now the Northerners can laugh, but down here in the Florida panhandle we are going into Winter. 

Yes.  I'm laughing that you think you have winter... what you have we would call fall or spring...  I would not worry in the least about keeping bees warm in your climate.  It was 19 F last night and that's not at all a bad winter night here.  It will likely get -10 F if it's a typical winter.  It could get -27 if it's a bad winter.
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Online TheHoneyPump

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Re: Stacking hives for warmth
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2020, 02:32:15 pm »
winter angst and project seeking, imho.  Your climate is a;  do absolutely nothing for winter, as described.

Suggestion, move all those growing nuc into single 10F boxes with solid bottoms or closed bottom screens.  Do nothing else.
Check periodically for amount of stores by weighing (tipping) the hive. Feed only if necessary to keep from dying of starvation. ... Idle and coast until there are warmer temperatures and forage appearing.  Then feed to bulk up and fuel new brood.  Same-same for the bigger hives (doubles?); do nothing other than tip them occasionally.
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Offline FloridaGardener

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Re: Stacking hives for warmth
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2020, 04:30:36 pm »
Thanks everyone for the input.  All the hives took a bit of a hit during Hurricane Sally in mid-September.  It was very warm then, and I left the screens open to drain water, in case it blew in the reduced entrances.  But the sustained winds seemed to injure them, and there were loads of dead bees after.

I'll "chill out" on worrying about the temperature/space issues.  I  put a little wind blocking in front of the Special Feral Queen.  Next week when I have time to prep photos, I'll post the story behind her capture.