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Another dead hive, should I have done this?  RSS feed

 
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My bees were really prolific this year, forcing me to put 4 boxes on the hive. It was a tower! My bees are all dead now. I checked them on a warm day this winter and they were doing well. Then we had the super - temps and now they're dead. I did have them insulated. So, I'm wondering if I shouldn't have reduced the size of the hive by half for the winter. Opinion?
 
pollinator
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Did you open the hive when you checked on them? If so, that could have been it. It lets all the heat, humidity, and pheromones out. Bees balance the environment of their inner hive very carefully. Even though it was warm it's likely that they wouldn't have been able to restore their environment before nightfall and the resulting temperature drop. It also could have been something else entirely. I'm not blaming you if it was opening the hive that did it. Lots of people are taught to go into their hives; it's an unfortunate part of mainstream beekeeping
 
elle sagenev
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James Landreth wrote:Did you open the hive when you checked on them? If so, that could have been it. It lets all the heat, humidity, and pheromones out. Bees balance the environment of their inner hive very carefully. Even though it was warm it's likely that they wouldn't have been able to restore their environment before nightfall and the resulting temperature drop. It also could have been something else entirely. I'm not blaming you if it was opening the hive that did it. Lots of people are taught to go into their hives; it's an unfortunate part of mainstream beekeeping



I did not open it entirely. Just took the top off but the board under it was intact and I saw them through the hole and put it back on. They were definitely alive after I opened it for several weeks as we would see them flying about. Then it just got cold and I hadn't even checked them because...it was cold.
 
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How many of those 4 boxes were bees & how many were honey right before winter? I always remove empty boxes. They provide room for pests & are harder for the bees to keep warm due to the extra volume. Keep in mind that the queen lays fewer eggs in winter so the overall population will decrease.

Do you have a barn? Some people in colder climates move them to a barn before winter. I'm not that keen on moving bees but if it keeps them alive ...

Added a similar thread about overwintering bees below. Michael Palmer (the speaker) does it different than many keepers but I really like his way of doing things. It makes sense to me & seems to work well. He has many other related videos on YouTube.

This year I had a marginal small colony outperform my strongest full sized colony. Sure wish that one had been split prior to winter. Now it is gone. Have gradually been experimenting with his methods the past few years & definitely like the results. This year I intend to split every colony at least once.

Pic shows some nucs that were started shortly before the sourwood trees bloom in the mountains. There was about double that amount by winter. Most, if not all, survived that winter exactly as shown in the pic. I had a full sized well established hive insulated by hay bales on the other end of that pasture. It died of starvation. There was plenty of honey. There was a late hard freeze that spring & the bees did not break cluster to get to their food just an inch away. It was a perfect textbook cluster except they were all dead.



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elle sagenev
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Mike Barkley wrote:How many of those 4 boxes were bees & how many were honey right before winter? I always remove empty boxes. They provide room for pests & are harder for the bees to keep warm due to the extra volume. Keep in mind that the queen lays fewer eggs in winter so the overall population will decrease.

Do you have a barn? Some people in colder climates move them to a barn before winter. I'm not that keen on moving bees but if it keeps them alive ...



I do have a barn. I did place the bees in the tree line so they would be protected from the wind. Here is a pic before winter. It's a bit taller and I did wrap a water heater blanket and a tarp around it for winter.
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Did you do an autopsy of the deadout? What did it look like in there? Were the bees just gone or was there a big pile of dead ones at the bottom of the box? Was there the remnants of a cluster on the frames, in the middle of the hive? Was there still honey in the box? Any visible signs of disease? Visible signs of robbing (honey cells messily chewed up and ragged looking comb, with wax remnants at the entrance and on the bottom board)?

It's possible they froze, but a lot of other stuff could have happened to. I've read successful accounts of people overwintering single deeps in Minnesota, so it may not be an issue of cold.
 
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There are many possible causes for a deadout. You need to do a frame by frame inspection.

If you want to take photos of each side of each frame through the brood nest and post them here, then we can probably help. Also, what is you climate like? You mention wrapping, but in many climates that is unnecessary and can potentially cause condensation issues.
 
elle sagenev
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George Bastion wrote:Did you do an autopsy of the deadout? What did it look like in there? Were the bees just gone or was there a big pile of dead ones at the bottom of the box? Was there the remnants of a cluster on the frames, in the middle of the hive? Was there still honey in the box? Any visible signs of disease? Visible signs of robbing (honey cells messily chewed up and ragged looking comb, with wax remnants at the entrance and on the bottom board)?

It's possible they froze, but a lot of other stuff could have happened to. I've read successful accounts of people overwintering single deeps in Minnesota, so it may not be an issue of cold.



I haven't opened it up. It's been cold and now we are expecting 12-18 inches of snow. As soon as it's warm enough I'll head out and open it up.
 
elle sagenev
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Michael Cox wrote:There are many possible causes for a deadout. You need to do a frame by frame inspection.

If you want to take photos of each side of each frame through the brood nest and post them here, then we can probably help. Also, what is you climate like? You mention wrapping, but in many climates that is unnecessary and can potentially cause condensation issues.



I did drill holes on both side of the hive at the top, straight through the wrap, to help with airflow.

My climate is weird. Horrendously cold one hour and short sleeves the next. I was worried about wind chill, as we have really bad wind. We did get to -30 for a week.
 
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Elle, You could try to contact Michael Jordan who is a master bee keeper there in Cheyenne. I am sure he could help diagnose the problem.

 
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