Planning for Winter

Carol Miner writes:

I am a beginner beekeeper. I have two hives - one with a deep and two medium supers the other with a deep and three medium supers. Will it be all right to leave just one medium super on each deep for the winter and take the honey from the other supers? Will this leave enough food for the hives? Thanks - Carol Miner - Weston, VT

It is possible to winter honeybee colonies in a deep/medium configuration. Whether or not yours have enough feed for the winter is questionable. A hive of that limited size has to weigh 120-130 pounds. Do yours weigh that much? They can be fed 2:1 syrup until they do, but the question really is, would it be better to leave the extra box of honey on the hive? Extra honey left on the hive...within reason...is turned into bees in the spring. I would leave your colonies in one deep and two mediums, minimum. This will help insure the bees have enough feed to go through winter and into early spring when you can check them for feed. It will also give the bees extra comb space that they'll need come spring brood rearing time. When I winter a colony, my broodnest size is two deep, and one medium. When a colony has only one deep, I leave three mediums with it. Even then, some have to be fed a bit. You still have to check the weight of your hives. You don't mention how much honey is in those medium supers. Are they all full? Your colony will need 70 or 80 pounds of stores to go through the winter and into spring. This would be two mediums fully capped, and maybe a few outside combs in the deep full as well. You can weigh them with a bathroom scale. A hive with a deep and three mediums should weigh 150-160. With a deep and two mediums, 140-150.

 - Mike