Newbie question(s): Winter Drones? Cleansing Flights?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by cougarnyc, Jan 1, 2011.

  1. cougarnyc

    cougarnyc New Member

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    We're from the Hudson Valley New York Region and although we had a major snowstorm a few days ago, today was a nice sunny day and in the low 40's. We decided to check on our hive to clear any snow from their entrance and were surprised to see a number of odd things:

    1. there were a bunch of dead bees clogging the entrance. Some of them appeared to be male drones. Shouldn't they have been tossed out of the hive months ago?

    2. after clearing out the entrance, I counted over 30 worker bees flying out towards the sky and not returning. Are they goners? What would make them do that?

    3. other workers were dragging out dead bees. It seems like the bee doing the dragging was stuck to the dead one and they both wound up on the snow covered floor. Some eventually detached and would fall over on their backs only to die we assume from the cold. What's going on with them?

    Other than that, when I put my ear up against the hive itself, there's a nice buzzing going on in there.
    Thanks, Frank
     
  2. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    Sounds about normal for this time of year.

    1. I will take a small long twig and rake out the dead bees from the entrance to try and help the girls out. As for the drones, well I saw some just two weeks ago flying around.

    2. The bees that fly off maybe just taking a cleansing flight, did you see any bee poop on the snow?

    3. It is very hard for them to move another bee that is the same size and weight as them, plus throw on the cold weather which slows them down even more, yep they could be goners but they are working for the betterment of the hive as a whole. Think of it as you trying to drag another person the same size out your front door and tossing them off of the front porch, not an easy task.
     

  3. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Hi Frank,
    I'm in the Hudson valley too. The description of your hive activity sounds normal.
    It's normal for many bees to die every day throughout winter. Remember there are thousands of bees inside the hive going into winter and in the early Spring the colony will be substantially smaller, before they start building up their numbers again come Spring.
    Look at it this way- Bees only live a few weeks, and if the cluster is smaller in number they'll have more of a chance to not run out of food over the winter. Some of those bees you see collapse in the snow & die may well be older and ready to die soon anyway. The stronger younger ones will more likely make it back to the hive after their cleansing flight.
     
  4. cougarnyc

    cougarnyc New Member

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    thanks for the response. This colony I have was strong over the summer/fall and I'm keeping my fingers crossed they'll survive through the spring. Thanks again for the response.
     
  5. milapostol

    milapostol New Member

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    I've seen the same thing recently except for the drones. I saw some drones getting kicked out early November, poor guys.

    I just like to keep my eye out on days that seem to permit flying and make sure the girls are still around.
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    snip...
    today was a nice sunny day and in the low 40's.

    tecumseh:
    hate to be the spoil sport here but that does not really sound normal to me and neither do the drones. given you location I would guess about your only option now is to wait for some spring time weather.
     
  7. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    Is your hives wrapped or dark in color. Remember we paint our fume boards for honey removal black for a reason. it absorbs heat. on a 40 degree day if the hive is wrapped in black tar paper it can warm to a much higher temperature inside and fool the bees into thinking it is warmer than it is. causing them to fly off and die from the cold We dont have harsh enough winters here to prevent the bees from getting a few days each month for cleansing flights and cleaning the hive. I must say i have never seen a hive clogged up with dead bees here they will fly off with them and dropp them away from the hive which is normal bee behavior to help with the prevention of spread of disease within the hive. Kind of think of it as humans do we bury or people when they pass away for the same reason. I would venture to guess condensation or maybe a hive went into winter with older bees as being some of the problems causing the high amount of dead bees coupled with long term cold could produce a lot of dead bees. AS for drones Its not unusal for a few lucky men to make it thru the mass killing off of there fellow man in a hive and live within the hive for the winter especially if it turns cold early and quick for a long period of time preventing the girls from getting there honey do (pun intended) list completed