Tightening Up in Late Winter

February 26, 2018

This time of year, when the 65 degree days give us a short window where we can safely open the hives without damaging their winter cluster, is the perfect time to TIGHTEN UP and make sure that the hives still have enough honey to make it to the dandelion.  

Often, the bees have moved up in their hive body, from the bottom deep where they had a nest all last year, up towards the honey stores in the upper deep and supers.  We go into these hives on the warm days and remove the old dark combs, which are not being used by the bees anymore.  Old dark comb that is not being tended collects humidity and moisture, and then it can begin to mold, creating an atmosphere within the hive that is not ideal.  When the bees’ warmth cannot penetrate all the corners of the hive body, mold and other issues can come in.  This can often be seen by taking a look at the debris tray (see picture below).

We have observed that healthy warre, top bar, and round hive forms do not have the same mold problems as the langstroth. Even a healthy langstroth hive can have mold.

From Gitana (langstroth hive)–perfectly depicting the relationship of the winter cluster to the langstroth hive body, where the outside edges that are furthest from the cluster become “cold corners” where moisture and humidity accumulate and mold begins to form.  After seeing this tray, we went in and removed the bottom deep.  The cluster is now sitting in one deep and one super and can fully penetrate their whole hive body.  She will not have any more trouble with moisture build up and mold.