Okay, I'm worried.

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by heinleinfan, Oct 8, 2012.

  1. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    I have a hive on my porch. I've got this weird gap under my porch railing so I have the hive right up against it, and their entrance lines up. All summer that's been my weak hive, even before it got moved twice and messed with by people who should have known better (long story), but it's not "weak" just "weaker" than my other. I haven't been worried about it at all, good stores for winter, good population, no mite problem (just a few) etc. They've been cozy and dry there on the corner and get a little sun.


    We had our first freeze this weekend, three nights in a row where it was 30F or lower. I put in the entrance reducers with the freeze coming on and put my new inner feeders filled into both hives. With my stronger hive there's a big hole in it, and I stuffed that with fabric, like I've done the past 2 winters with the same hole in, because I've been too cheap to buy them a new box.

    Outside my "stronger" hive there were about 10 dead bees this morning. Figured they got too cold. Outside this porch hive, there are at least 100 dead bees. I didn't see any roaming around dying, like maybe I'd see with some pesticides, only tons of worker bees dragging out bodies over and over. :sad: I couldn't see any other problems with them, no wing deformities or lots of poo like they had nosema; no hive beetles or moths or mice or anything like that.

    All the dead bees looked really young, which is of course the bees they need for winter rather than the aging lady foragers. Both hives are double deeps, the stronger has about 1/3 again as many bees as the weaker. I've just never seen this many dead bees after 1 cold weekend, this is like...after a couple months of winter and finally a warm enough day to clean numbers of dead bees.

    We were thinking to move the weaker hive back to the side of the house with the stronger one, where they get more daytime sun then they do now on the porch. But, that gets more wind and rain, and will get more snow on it, whereas the porch is fully protected from wind.

    It wasn't warm enough to go in today, it might be day after tomorrow but I'm like, rawr, in a panic. If I can get in there, what should I be looking for to try to figure out what caused this?

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Kevin

    Kevin New Member

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    Good morning from this side of the world!
    I would be just as lost had I found that, and unfortunately in no position to give you any advice. I do pity the situation though....

    Living near the coast in the desert, the temp here never drops to freezing, but we have far less food for the poor bees all year round, I guess there is always something to deal with.

    Hope it all works out for you, I lost my second hive in a month this weekend, they all left for no apparent reason, after being there for 1 week only....:(

    Kevin
     

  3. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    my best guess...
    after almost each and every cold snap if you looked directly at the bottom board before the temperature rises enough to get the workers active you would see a pile of dead bodies. these are bees that fell from the cluster during the cold snap and when it warms enough the undertaker bees will remove them from the hive (which is what most folks tend to see). you might think numbers of dead bodies would be directly related to the population of the hives but I think things don't often work out in this manner. at cold enough temperatures a minimum population is essential to maintain a cluster and some kinds of bees will loose population very quickly (I think the russians are quite known for this particular aspect of their own population dynamics).

    if I lived in a very cold place I would consider some way to stack hives where by weak hives could be overwintered above strong hives with a double screen in between.
     
  4. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    Hmm...so I've not read up on this stacking thing.

    The garden hive and my weaker hive are about equal. (Though again, only a few dead bees at the garden hive.) I'm really not worried about them, or wasn't...because they aren't "weak" just not as full as my mega hive. I was thinking of bringing the garden hive over here to my place for winter, because it would be more protected from snow and wind in my side yard than it is in the garden.

    Could two weak colonies be stacked to help them both? Exactly how does the stacking work? By double screen do you mean 2 screened bottom boards between the hives? Or is there a different sort of screen for this? Could I take one, put a screen bottom board on top instead of lids, set the second on top, then put the inner and outer lids on that top one? I guess I'd have to make sure there were two entrances, one for each hive then as well. If you don't mind, or someone else, tell me more about this stacking thing.

    Alternatively, if I do bring the garden hive over I could have the three hives and could snug them together, with the two strongest on the outside, would that work as well or be as effective?

    I had planned to continue feeding on warm days, so I'd have to figure out how to fill the bottom hive feeder, but that I could manage, I'm sure. There will still be a few warm days before full on winter sets in.
     
  5. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Two screened bottom boards would work, and yes, they each need their own entrance. The heat from the lower hive rises and helps out the weaker hive with warmth. They make a board (I think called a Snelgrove) that I got lucky and picked up a few along the way somewhere. They would work well for this.
     

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  6. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    And it's warm enough today so I went out to see about opening them up and checking on them, and the weak hive was undergoing a full on assault by robbers, and now there are even more dead bees.:dash1:



    Moved the entrance reducer so not only is it the smallest hole, but pushed in so there's *just* enough space a bee to shimmy in and out, and covered up the front with grass and the activity settled down after about 5 minutes.

    What a weekend.

    I'm hoping I can check their stores and population tomorrow, maybe the robbers won't come back now and I'll see from there what I think I need to do. *sigh*
     
  7. pistolpete

    pistolpete New Member

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    I'm not sure on the definitive answer on this, but I was told by a couple of people to stop feeding once the weather got consistently cool. This is because there is not enough heat for the bees to evaporate excess moisture from the syrup. You may want to consider candy boards, or granulated sugar instead.
     
  8. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    I am looking at making a double screen board to fit over my 10 frame lang. I have two 5 frame nucs I woudl like to stack on top of them. The nucs will each have a med of honey over them. That makes a hive 4 boxes tall going through winter holding three colonies.

    Anyone have any tips on how to make that work best?
     
  9. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Your idea should work well Danial and not be too difficult to make. Simply copy the one in the picture only provide an entrance on each side instead of one in the middle.
    Two pieces of #8 hardware cloth and some lath should do the trick.
     
  10. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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