Worse month for colony deaths

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Ernie Beeboy, Oct 20, 2012.

  1. Ernie Beeboy

    Ernie Beeboy New Member

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    My understanding is that when we discuss winter deaths in hives that the worse months are usually Febuary and March. Where many hives that die make it through the worst of the winter just to die in very early spring/late winter. Any information, experience, opinion etc on the subject would be greatly appreciated.


    Ernie
     
  2. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    It's hard to generalize as to which months are the "worst" since conditions are so different depending on location. However, what I have found to be particularly problematic is this: Early spring, after the winter has passed, and the queen is in maximum laying and the hive population is rapidly expanding, when food demands are growing and reserves are dwindling, a spell of several very cold or rainy days keeps the bees inside the hive, shutting off access to new nectar and pollen. During this period the hive can rapidly exhaust all its remaining reserves and either suffer a major setback in development, or even worse, die of starvation.
    This is one reason why going into winter with a hive that is too strong may not be advantageous. In Israel, many beekeepers do their splits in the fall, rather than waiting for spring. This way, (in our relatively mild winters) the family can maintain itself well without overtaxing the food reserves, and move into the spring with adequate reserves. However, nothing is a guarantee. Checking the weight of the hives by lifting them from the back, to estimate their reserves, is a simple but very important job for the beek. If found to be too light, then feeding is necessary.
     

  3. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Ef's answer is pretty much right on. I have "heard" hives alive in January and February, only to find them quiet by the end of March. Not necessarily because of starvation or lack of stores. Several times it is because of sudden cold snaps and the cluster didn't have time to re-form. Here you sometimes find small clusters of bees scattered throughout the hive. :sad:
     
  4. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    My experience would indicate that as stated above the coldest month's weren't the issue, rather as late winter and early spring come--brood rearing starts in ernest without adequate food reserves both pollen and honey, a colony will rapidly consume modest reserves unless a major nectar flow is on. Starving in early spring is common for the above stated reason. In areas with harsh winters, larger clusters of bees will generate enough heat to get through the coldest weather, and will consume correspondingly large amounts of stores, along with the inrush of brood being reared. Feeding becomes necessary. With that said better to have to feed large clusters of bees and have them survive, rather then trying to overwinter small clusters and have them freeze out.
    Barry
     
  5. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    This is my first year with bees. I have spent all summer with my share of concerns. mainly checking on the hives more than I should. but coming into winter I am more nervous than a nine tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. It seems liek i have spent the last year reading about anything and everything that is out to do my bees in. And now I may be buttoning them up for all that bad stuff to take over. No experince to tell me if I got them treated for what they needed treating for. I tend to not just treat but I do know I have or had varroa mites. No reliable to way to test for Nosema so I gave them something just in case. Otherwise I am going with. "If the bees are strong enough to chase me off when they don't want the hive open. they are strong enough to make it through winter" Philosophy.

    It does seem to me that if the bees do not get wet a freeze. If they don't outright starve. and I can keep myself away form peeking in on them. then any bugs they have will blossom in early spring and get them. So I suppose my greatest concern is late winter, early spring. not so much mid winter. Mid witner is more of a food stores and moisture concern and I am as confident as I can be on those.
     
  6. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    bees will not consume a lot of stores when brood rearing has stopped. It is late Febuary when they start preparing spring and they startt to rais brood as the day time temps rise. This is when they will blow through the stores and starve if not watched.
     
  7. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Find some local beeks with whom to talk things over. Let them reassure you that all is well. Listen to them for advice about local concerns. Try to contact the Nevada state beekeeping services. I'm sure every state has someone in such a position. Google them to track them down or turn to a state university department of agriculture.
     
  8. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    A " wet freeze" is of no consequence o bees, as they are not actually exposed it from inside the hive--they will stay home. What kills bees weather wise is cold and wind--both cold won't kill a strong colony, wind strips away the heat that's why in many areas beeks erect windscreens to re-direct the wind a bit.Moisture inside the hive from respiration/ condensation can be corrected by ensuring adequate ventilation, remember cold doesn't kill bees moisture inside the hive and wind will in short order.
    Barry
     
  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Ernie writes..
    My understanding is that when we discuss winter deaths in hives that the worse months are usually Febuary and March.

    tecumseh...
    my thinking parallels Efmesch EXACTLY and all I will add to this conversation is that the months you specify would vary somewhat.
     
  10. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    In Late winter when the bees have eaten a hole in the top of there stores (consumed all the stores in the frames above the cluster) the bees end up with honey on both sides of the cluster so the cluster will move in one or the other direction. The cluster is also diminishing in size at the same time through natural dieing off of the bees The cluster will lose contact with the honey on the other side of the hive and can starve with frames of honey 1 frame away. If the weather breaks at the right time the bees can move across to the honey.
    Bees that emerge in the fall need to be able to survive long enough into the spring to raise the replacement bees to carry the hive into spring and summer. The first trigger to stimulate the bees in to starting to raise brood is the days getting longer, this will only happen if the bees have [FONT=&quot]adequate[/FONT] stores of pollen and honey. If the bees don't sense they have enough stores they won't start brood rearing. The temperature also has a major influence on the amount of brood being raised. As the colony gets farther into the new year the die off of the old bees becomes quicker and the hive will get to a point in time where the die off is exceeding the replenishing of the hive with new bees.
    To get back to your question of worst month for colony loss? The truth is any month you lose a colony in is disappointing. It seem the longer your into winter their are more things that can effect your wintering success. Be ready to intervene to assist your bees in to survive.
    Candy boards ready to place on top of a colony as emergency food or to provide a food source so the cluster can move back over to honey on the other side of the hive.
    Feed pollen and sugar in syrup or candy board to stimulate early brood laying.
    Wrapping you hive with building paper will prove more beneficial to warming the hive and promoting brood rearing earlier in the spring, than getting the hive through to the 1st of January.
    Mite and pest control, the healthier you bees are going into winter the longer the bees will live. Winter bees can live for upwards of 6 months things that can effect the length of time the winter bees live can effect you wintering success. The hive slows down brood rearing earlier in the fall because or dearths. The bees are over active in the fall because unseasonably warm weather, but not raising brood. Mites. Cold wet spring effecting the colony buildup.
    Bees are resilient to survive some of these things but the more they are afflicted with lessens their survival success.

    Sorry for rambling on. On the bottom of this box is a tab -Post Quick Reply- = Fail
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    an apis snip...
    Sorry for rambling on. On the bottom of this box is a tab -Post Quick Reply- = Fail

    tecumseh...
    no need to be sorry... sometimes what needs to be said cannot not be reduced to a 3 second sound bite and I would guess for most new beekeepers more elaboration is better than none at all.

    ps.... on more than one occasion I look at one of my post and think how in the world did I write all of that since in the 'non virtual' world I am really a person of few words.
     
  12. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    We all have much to learn from Iddee when it comes to being short and to the point.:thumbsup:
     
  13. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    I know Iddee can be direct at times, but having never met him I cannot verify if indeed he is short. Either way, he still has good information despite being apparently vertically challenged.
     
  14. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    My biggest problem is typing. My one typing finger gets tired quickly.
     
  15. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Perry, You forgot your smileys: :rolling::rolling::rotfl::rotfl:
     
  16. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    "Sorry for rambling on. On the bottom of this box is a tab -Post Quick Reply- = Fail"
    :lol:

    apis, thanks for rambling on......:grin:
     
  17. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    I didn't mean to hijack the tread by posting one line about verbal d[FONT=&quot]ysentery.
    Worst month [/FONT]or time of year could be quite different for beekeepers in different regions and not only death but loss of hive from absconding also.
     
  18. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    Is there a good month for colony deaths?
     
  19. kebee

    kebee Active Member

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    We are getting some colder weather tonight and the winds are up to 25 mph so I though I would help my ladies out so I put the bottom slide in board in to keep the wind out I hope.

    kebee
     
  20. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    Apis, Not everything can be said in a sentence or two. Pretty good summery of an important subject. Like you said. Loose your bees in March and you will not be thinking of much about what you had done in January. It is probably not what you did In January anyway but a lot more about what happened in October and November. January for me is one of those months that if I noticed something that didn't get done. I can't do anything about it anyway. Maybe catch a good afternoon and slip them a candy board.
    Prevention not Cure is what comes to mind.