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  1. #1
    dcromwel Guest

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    I'm not assuming the worst, but I do want to be prepared and take as little for granted as possible. Question is:

    If bees don't survive overwintering, when do they typically die? If from starvation? If from disease? Is it towards the end of the winter season with spring just around the corner and with honey/pollen supplies exhausted? Is it more typically form a severe cold snap in mid- to late-March or later when they've "reawakened" and more brood is on the way?

    What do you experienced gray-beards have to say?

    Many thanks,

    David in Baltimore

  2. #2

    Post

    The answer to your question might be influenced by what region of the country you live in and it's climate.
    For my area (north Texas), the chance of loss tends to be greatest in mid to late Spring and again, for here in north Texas, that's March/April time frame (yes, April is LATE Spring here). It's mainly due to the chance of starvation (due to fickle weather) or absconding (due, perhaps, to Varroa mites). For instance, I've checked on hives in February and they were in great shape but by the end of March, found them queenless or gone!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >If bees don't survive overwintering, when do they typically die?

    Of course the answer is "it depends".

    I assume we are talking about a hive, not a bee. Hives die anywhere from fall to spring. They can starve because there are no stores or because a long cold snap has kept them from finding and rearranging the stores. This can happen anytime, but is more likely in late winter when pollen starts coming in and brood rearing starts. Brood rearing uses a lot of honey compared to clustered bees.

    >If from disease?

    I have not seen a lot die from disease in the winter. If they have mites bad and a virus they usually crash in the late fall but maybe early into the winter, but they could hang on longer depending on how many healthy bees and how many damaged bees there are.

    >Is it towards the end of the winter season with spring just around the corner and with honey/pollen supplies exhausted?

    Sometimes.

    >Is it more typically form a severe cold snap in mid- to late-March or later when they've "reawakened" and more brood is on the way?

    Sometimes.

    >What do you experienced gray-beards have to say?

    Make sure that in the fall they don't have too many mites. In the fall, combine the weak hives. Leave them lots of stores for the winter and leave them alone and see in the spring how they did. That's what I would do. Don't worry. Good news will keep. Bad news won't go away.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    CANADA
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    I visited my one and only hive this morning to clear snow away from the entrance and to clear dead bees ....... there were several dead bees at the entrance which I expected, but what bothered me was the absence of a "hum" from the hive ...I didn't have much time, and maybe due to a cold my ears were blocked, but now I'm upset that my colony may have died ........ they were living last time I checked about 2 weeks ago ...... we've had a terribly cold January so they were likely in a tight cluster for a long time. I sure hope they're okay, but I'm worried ....... I'll have a better look this afternoon after work.
    Any thoughts ?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Raleigh, NC, USA
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    maple,
    My hearing isn't what it used to be so I use an old stethoscope to listen for the cluster hum. If your hive had plenty of stores and good ventilation they should be OK. Good luck.

  6. #6
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    Feb 2004
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    Thanks for the good words, I hope that it's just me being paranoid .........

    It was a strong colony going into the winter and I was generous with their stores , I did have trouble with shrews in the hive last winter though ...


  7. #7
    kookaburra Guest

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    maple,
    would you care to expound on what the shrews did to your hive(s)? I have shrews in the yard, and haven't had any problems, but am curious about what they will do to a hive.

    -rick

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    CANADA
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    Kookaburra,

    The shrews didn't destroy my hive, but on 2 occasions I saw a shrew leaving the hive from the smallest little crack you could imagine ..... I managed to catch one in a mouse trap (the clothespin style trap, not the regular kind). I read that shrews eat more than their weight in insects in a day, so that had me concerned .......

    I haven't seen any this year, but I still worry about them.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    Good news , they are alive ! My afternoon visit saw some dead bees that had flown out in the afternoon and fell on the snow ...... also I heard the fabulous sound of living bees this trip !

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    >>when do they typically die

    Treacheal mite infested hives tend to die early/mid winter. The bees dont seem to be able to maintain a cluster. Generally the same with varroa infested hives.
    A hive rairly starves during the winter. They usually starve on the onset of spring, when the hive starts brooding and accelerating colony activities. Very little honey is actually consumed thoughout the coldest of winter, Cluster temp is maintained at a much lower temp than during brooding. Limited stores can be a problem during late winter cold snaps.


    Ian

  11. #11
    dcromwel Guest

    Post

    Thanks all for the input, and congrats to Maple for finding live bees in there!

    Ian,is there a trick that you use to determine when one would feed the bees in the late winter to early spring timeframe to avoid starvation at that time?

    Many thanks,

    David in Baltimore

  12. #12
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    >>Ian,is there a trick that you use to determine when one would feed the bees in the late winter to early spring timeframe to avoid starvation at that time?

    Yes, have the hives fed up appropriately in the fall, and leave your mind at ease till you unpack your hives in spring. It is much easier to feed the bees to their needs in the fall. So it makes it very important to know how much feed your hives will consume during the winter into spring...


    Ian

    [This message has been edited by Ian (edited February 05, 2004).]

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
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    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    >is there a trick that you use to determine when one would feed the bees in the late winter to early spring timeframe to avoid starvation

    Pick up the back of your hive, if it feels light, it is. If it feels heavy, you are in good shape.

    If it is light, you need to open it on a nice day to determine how much feed they have, and if needed, start feeding.

    Generally in the fall two full supers should weigh about 120 pounds. They don't eat as much in the winter as they do in early spring when they start raising young, that is when you really have to watch it. Around here that is late Feb. to mid April.

  14. #14
    dcromwel Guest

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    Two subsequent questions:
    (1) How cold does/can the cluster temperature get in the winter without jeopardizing the colony? I had thought that the center of the cluster was maintained at ~94 deg. and
    (2) If late winter or early spring feeding is required, will sugar water alone suffice? (Or, I don't have to worry about feeding them pollen as well do I?)

    Many thanks,

    David in Baltimore

  15. #15
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    >(1) How cold does/can the cluster temperature get in the winter without jeopardizing the colony? I had thought that the center of the cluster was maintained at ~94 deg. and

    It doesn't matter. They can take cold.

    >(2) If late winter or early spring feeding is required, will sugar water alone suffice? (Or, I don't have to worry about feeding them pollen as well do I?)

    I hardly ever feed pollen or substitute. When I do it's for a weak nuc or an observation hive that I want to give a boost to.


  16. #16
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    >(2) If late winter or early spring feeding is required, will sugar water alone suffice? (Or, I don't have to worry about feeding them pollen as well do I?)

    If they are low on stores and you are trying to help them survive, feeding syrup will help. If you are trying to promote raising early brood you must also provide a pollen substitute if they are low.

    It take a suprising amount of stores to start raising brood, and if there is no nectar or pollen available to them then you have to provide it.

    I feed pollen patties starting in March, it takes forty days to raise a field bee for foraging so mark your calendar for your area.

    If you are going to try to force early brood production two elements are needed. Pollen and 1 - 1 sugar syrup to make the bees think the nectar flow has started.

  17. #17
    dcromwel Guest

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    >>(1) How cold does/can the cluster temperature get in the winter without jeopardizing the colony? I had thought that the center of the cluster was maintained at ~94 deg. and
    >It doesn't matter. They can take cold.

    Michael, Michael, Michael, it does matter. I'm curious. That's all that matters. Ian's statement (earlier in this thread) suggests that someone knows how cold that cluster can get in winter without the colony dying. Do you know?

    [This message has been edited by dcromwel (edited February 09, 2004).]

  18. #18
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    >it does matter. I'm curious. That's all that matters.

    When moisture and wind chill is taken out of the equation, they can endure extremes of minus fifty degrese for extended time periods.

    There was a study linked on here last fall that was quite interesting, sorry I don't have it bookmarked. Perhaps MB might post the link again or you could do a search.

  19. #19
    Join Date
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    >>>(1) How cold does/can the cluster temperature get in the winter without jeopardizing the colony? I had thought that the center of the cluster was maintained at ~94 deg. and

    >>It doesn't matter.

    >Michael, Michael, Michael, it does matter. I'm curious. That's all that matters.


    Unless you live at in Antarica, it doesn't matter. First, it doesn't get cold enough elsewhere to kill them and second, you can't do anything about it. But if you want numbers, they will survive -50 for 2 days. They will survive -26.5 for 35 solid days and -2.4 degrees F for 106 straight days. The point is that cold is not what kills bees. Long spells of cold are worse than short spells and long spells of really cold are harder than shorter spells, but in the end cold isn't what kills your bees.


    Days ΒΊ F.
    2 - 50
    35 - 26.8
    41 - 28.8
    74 - 3.3
    84 (1)- 11.5
    106 - 2.4


    http://www.beesource.com/pov/usda/th...lletin1429.htm

  20. #20
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    >>how cold that cluster can get in winter without the colony dying. Do you know?


    The cluster temp throughout winter will be maintained at around 20degreesC, so I have been told. They raise the temp of the cluster during brood rearing to 30-34 degreesC, hence the need for more food.

    Ian

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