Keeping the entrance open

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by letitbee, Jan 21, 2012.

  1. letitbee

    letitbee New Member

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    We had 9" of snow in Illinois last night and I went out this morning to tap the hive to be sure the girls were still alive. The hive is under a lot of snow and I was wondering if I should sweep the snow off their porch and expose the entrance to let air in to diminish moisture. My inner cover has a notch in it but right now it seems they aren't getting any air flow. They get a lot of sun in the day and I painted the 2 deeps a darker color to absorb heat. Will air flow through the hive by convection?
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    You could sweep the snow off the front entrance but I wouldn't lose sleep over it if you don't. As long as your upper entrance is clear you'll be fine. Mine can be like that for days, if I am out checking them I will clear off the bottom entrance just to make it easier for housekeeping bees to clear out the dead on a warm day.

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    On another note, when tapping on your hive, especially when it's real cold, don't tap too hard. If they break cluster to investigate, those bees may not make it back. Get yourself a cheap stethoscope and you can usually hear what's going on inside without disturbing them. :mrgreen:
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    First, snow is insulation. Leave it there.

    Second, a disturbance when it is cold can be disastrous. Don't be banging on the hives. It only makes a loss more likely to happen.
     
  4. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I find that if I gently blow my breath into the top entrance a few times, often a couple of guard bees will peek out after a minute to investigate- I can see their little faces. Don't be too obnoxious and get them mad though!

    If you see a bit of frost around the upper entrance vent, that means your bees are alive inside. The live cluster is causing moisture to escape and frost around the top vent. If the bees are dead there would be no frost because the whole hive would be the same temperature as the outside and no moisture would be rising and escaping.
     
  5. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    From the "it's never to late to learn" dept.: I had always thought that I should clear the lower entrance so air could go in there and out the upper, providing a ventilation path. From what I am reading here, that is not necessary? Just the upper entrance can provide sufficient circulation?
     
  6. Slowmodem

    Slowmodem New Member

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    That's a great idea! :thumbsup:
     
  7. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Hobie, If it's solid ice, you may want to break it. If it's snow, it will let air through without a draft.
     
  8. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    I am rather a ' let them alone' weirdo. You have prepared you colonies as well as you think for Winter. When you get a snowfall such as Perrybee's, what is the advantage of going out to clear the entrances and play with your stethoscope. " If the're going to die they will die " At the end of the outside venture, you could have a cold,wet, depressed beek suffering from early pneumonia.

    Rather than buying a stethoscope, may I suggest you invest in a saw. If you saw off the alighting strip (at a suitable occasion) from the floor and tilt your hives in Winter, then snow cannot form a drift across the entrance (unless deeper than your hive stand). Manley in his "Honey Farming" (1946) has a couple of additional advantages from this modification.
     
  9. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    Actually what I did when in upstate NY--yeah know a thing or two about snow lol, is actually put my ear to the side of the brood chamber, and listen--should hear the hum of all those wing muscles moving. this is the least intrusive method I found. as for entrances the lower or main entrance woould be obstructed by dead bees ( temporarly ) untill it warms enough to have the house cleaning bees toss the cadavers over the end of landing board, alond with alot of other hive debris, but upper entrance in inner cover has to stay clear and will stay clear, air will come in through the lower entrance snow or not ice is a different matter but so long as the upper vent stays open all should be well.
     
  10. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    As your name says "letitbe". I also like, "Don't mess w/ Mother Nature". You prepared them as best you could, so now, leave them alone.
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Omie writes:
    If you see a bit of frost around the upper entrance vent, that means your bees are alive inside. The live cluster is causing moisture to escape and frost around the top vent.

    tecumseh:
    well most year we never see a flake of snow here and I hope, as a beekeeper, to never have to clear snow around hives. I do however enjoy these little tid bits of how folks monitor hives in the winter times without ever removing the top or breaking a seal between boxes. an external validation so to speak of possibilities that resides inside.
     
  12. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    Thanks, iddee - that makes sense!

    I do this, too. To me, it sounds like running water inside.

    The other thing (which I have mentioned in other threads, so please pardon the repeat) is to pull out the board blocking the SBB, if you have one. You can see the piles of wax debris below where the cluster is feeding. Brush off the board and replace, and you can "watch" the cluster move around in the hive by the location of the debris. Seeing no debris is a bad sign.
     
  13. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    "Put my ear to the side of the brood chamber, and listen"

    While I used to do this, shoving my face into the snow (seen my beard lately? The snow stains are still there! :shock: ) and freezing my ear to the box quickly got tiresome. Stethoscope for me! :mrgreen:
     
  14. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Also, if there are no signs of nosema/dysentary streaked poo, but you see a reasonable number of dead bees (say 100 or so) in front of the hive after a warm day when you weren't around, it's not a bad thing- it means the housekeeper bees sprang in to action on the warm day and tossed out the normal dead bees that had accumulated in the hive over a week or two. It probably means your hive is likely alive and functioning! :Dancing: