Winter Hive Fail Pattern

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Crofter, Aug 19, 2011.

  1. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    Are there typical patterns in the spring in hives that fail. I see mention that hives with more stores have failed next to ones that survived on less. Is it typical to find the cluster has moved to one side of the box and cannot seem to move back across to stores on the other side?
    I see some amazing stories of survival in 5 frame nucs either one or two high.
    We will have a few late splits and swarms that we will have to consider perhaps combining into 10 fram deeps or would the odds be better to put them into separate 5 frame double deep nuc boxes pushed together side by side?
     
  2. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Yes, I am sure there are, depending on what killed the colony and why. As you said, up the side and couldn't get to the honey next to themselves. Up the middle is just as common.

    If you currently have bees in nucs, having a nuc super above them full of honey would be good. But, you would also want to have a bunch of them beside each other to help keep each other warm.

    A friend of mine has 1500 such set ups. When he gets them to SC, he will put an insulating blanket on them. It's a heavy black plastic quilt w/ insulation for batting. It's long enuf to go half way down one end of a pallet of ten nucs, across the top and half way down the other end. When you put your hand underneath the quilt in Jan. or Feb. you can really feel the heat.
     

  3. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    crofter writes:
    Are there typical patterns in the spring in hives that fail.

    tecumseh:
    I am glad Mark stepped in here to give some advice that is based on experience a bit closer to you than myself.

    my two bits... the pattern may depend on the kind of winter you experience. the movement of bees during the winter is totally depended on the kind (wet, dry, windy that sort of thing) and the duration of winter you experience. the problem you mention is highly depended on not only how cold it gets but how long an extreme cold spell persist.
     
  4. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    Cold, wet prolonged winters, and small clusters here in SW. Mo. is a death sentence. I run mostly Carn's and what i've thought was a decent cluster going into winter turned out wrong. :roll: To many times i've had hives starve out with 60# of honey just 2 inches away(to the sides) from the cluster.( a small cluster just won't move in cold weather)A good cluster of young bees, good stores, and ventilation, is the best chance to survive a harsh winter. Just my two cents worth. Jack
     
  5. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    I wondered if the age of the bees might be crucial to survival in really long winters. If the time lapse were long enough some of the fall bees would have to be replaced by successful rebreeding some time during the winter. Perhaps actions by the beekeeper in the fall could either ensure or prevent the hive being topped up with young bees just at the time local conditions shut things down.

    Lots of things to get your head around! Thanks,
     
  6. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    "rebreeding"? Not sure what you mean. Requeening, perhaps?

    Mike Palmer, of VT, has a saying I try to keep in mind when I think I know enuf to manipulate a colony so it will do what I want it to.
    "Bees make better beekeepers than beekeepers make bees."

    So, what I would say to your question about ages of bees going into winter is that, ever since spring, the colony has been preparing for the future all along. So, the "right" age of bees are present at all times, in my opinion.

    Our job, as beekeepers, if honey production is our goal, is to super the colony so it will put up more honey than they need. And then, at the right time, take that honey off and let the colony fill in the top of the brood nest so the colony has enuf honey, in the right place, to survive the winter.

    One has to pay attention to know if they need to supplement a colony's winter stores thru feeding, of course. Having enuf food in the right place is crucial to winter survival. But there are other things which will kill a colony too.

    We can do everything correctly and still loose a colony. Oh,well.
     
  7. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    Mark, yes rebreeding would not be the term. I was thinking that in a really long winter that some event that caused the hive to have a high proportion of older bees at shut down, could result in failure that would have been avoided had they started with high numbers of young fat bees. Could they perhaps be dependant on a few cycles of new bees emerging late winter to replace the old duds that were dropping before they got to the starting gate? Maybe over thinking that though.

    Yes I guess it would be easy for us to unknowingly get in the way of or disrupt the well laid plans of the bees.
     
  8. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Yes, maybe so. Bees live alot longer during the winter. They don't have to do any flying, which really wears bees out.

    Some bees die during the winter and the queen lays eggs to replace them too. But, according to Dr. Tom Seeley, some live until spring and remember where sources of nectar were last fall. Don't ask me how he knows that.
     
  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    mark writes:
    So, what I would say to your question about ages of bees going into winter is that, ever since spring, the colony has been preparing for the future all along. So, the "right" age of bees are present at all times, in my opinion.

    tecumseh:
    not sure I could go there. can't say I totally disagree but 'the season you experience' likely plays a great part in the question of 'right' or 'proper' demographic composition of a hive. in most years I stimulate hive with feed early to get a lot of worker bees on board when the flow arrives (never did this year) and imho a lot of beekeeper would likely profit from fall feeding (with a bit of medication for nosema) to generate a flush of young healthy bees in the fall especially if those bees were going into some long sustained period of winter cluster. both of these 'manipulations' are designed to purposefully mess with the normal demographic composition of a hives.

    just my two cents...
     
  10. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I think Mark brings up another good point here in that rather than look at a bee's life as so may days or weeks or months old it is more accurate to look at a workers bee time here as 'how much time they have spent flying'. I think my reference here is Wilson's Bee Biology that states that a worker bees life is about 800 km (might have been miles but I think it was km).
     
  11. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    I think it is written somewhere that the maximum lifespan of a worker is 140 days over winter, but I cant find the reference. I see a flock of unsupported mentions of 4 months so nothing definite to base the longevity issue on. Good sized lakes here freeze over mid December and ice out is end of April. It would be interesting to mark a bunch of workers in the fall and see how many of the originals are around to smell the flowers in the spring.
    Some of the planned supercedures knock out a few reproduction cycles and I think some of the mite treatments do too. I wonder if a study has ever been done on the age of bees found dead, head first in cells. Maybe they died of old age not starvation.

    I'm just groping for a connection other than luck in what makes some hives survive and others with apparently similar assets, die.

    "The idle mind is the devils playground"
     
  12. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    I don't know if or how anyone could tell the age of a dead bee.