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Advice On Over-Wintering

 
Jerry Ward
Posts: 188
Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
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Welcome Christy,

As a frustrated new beekeeper that has had my hives die out in late winter each of the last 3 years I'm looking for some advice on what to do so the bees survive into a second year.

Details:
I live in S.E. MI
Currently working with 2 Langstroth Hives
Have tried both nucs and packages
left all the honey for the bees
This last year still plenty of honey and lots of dead bees in the hive.
Putting out swarm traps/bait hives this year
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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It helps to try to diagnose the cause of bee death in your hives.

  • A very cold spell can prevent the bees from moving around the hive to find more food, so they can starve with food reserves still present
  • Condensation is known to cause problems - using a quilt box full of shaving can stop moisture dripping on bees.
  • Warm weather in winter can break hibernation too early and lead to the bees using their food faster.
  • Diseases or pests can weaken the hive going in to winter - eg varroa
  • Bad luck - if the queen suffers and accident over the winter the colony cannot replace her as they don't have any eggs to make queen cells.


  • You'll know your conditions, so it is a case of working out which is most likely. Hive bodies made of thicker wood are more insulating and protect the bees both from extreme cold and condensation issues - see the thread on Holzer Style Log Hives, and info for top bar hives which recommends wood of 1 inch thickness for construction.
     
    Cj Sloane
    pollinator
    Posts: 3646
    Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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    Michael Cox wrote:
  • Condensation is known to cause problems - using a quilt box full of shaving can stop moisture dripping on bees.



  • I see lots of condensation on the inside of the window of my Perone hive. It disappears later in the day after the temps have warmed up. I don't see any condensation from the top. Do you think its OK on the sides?
     
    tel jetson
    steward
    Posts: 3356
    Location: woodland, washington
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    Cj Verde wrote:
    I see lots of condensation on the inside of the window of my Perone hive. It disappears later in the day after the temps have warmed up. I don't see any condensation from the top. Do you think its OK on the sides?


    condensation is pretty normal when they're evaporating a lot of nectar. windows tend to accumulate more condensation, because they are often not as well insulated as the wooden sides. that can cause problems if it's extreme enough, but probably not until winter. it might be wise to make sure your window shutters are doing the job.
     
    Martin Miljkovic
    Posts: 55
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    Hi,
    we will need more detail in order to know exactly what is going on with your hives.
    Were there dead bees in front?
    Did you see a lot of bee-poo on the frames?
    Did they have enough food?
    Were there animals disturbing your hives?

    Every detail no matter how small may help
     
    Ludger Merkens
    Posts: 171
    Location: Deutschland (germany)
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    I see lots of condensation on the inside of the window of my Perone hive.

    pretty normal - in early spring, thats usually an indication they are breeding. In summer - as tel already mentioned...
    But condensation and missing insulation on the windows is the main reason, I don't like windows in boxes I plan to winter.
     
    Ludger Merkens
    Posts: 171
    Location: Deutschland (germany)
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    This last year still plenty of honey and lots of dead bees in the hive.

    some problems come to mind.
  • not enough open cells in winter - is often a problem for the bees, because they have to heat the honey also
  • wrong type of honey (especially the dark varieties) can cause diarrhea
  • varroa mites infections will kill your hive usually during winter


  • but thats guesswork as long as we don't have more information.
    Good luck for this winter!
     
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