New beekeeper.First year with two colonies. One fairly strong with good stores. Second colony weaker with less stored up. Bees arrived after spring honeyflow and were fed almost all summer.
Concerned now that bees will not survive winter. Finding dead bees at entrance. Have entrance reducers installed. A "tap" on the hive doesn't get a BUZZZZZ from the inside. Weather has been too cold to open hive with temps not above 40. Low temps have been to 25.
Can I or should I put a hive top feeder on for the bees?
If they have adequate food, will they live the winter? I'm finding dead ones at the entrance.
I don't understand anything about treating for mites. I'm sure it isn't as complicated as I'm making it. But, how do you treat? with what? I heard you had to remove treatments if you were harvesting honey? I'm confused and need some guidance. Thanks in advance to those who can help me.
Learn to use the "SEARCH ENGINE" on this site to answer your questions. Lots of good info using the SEARCH.
Thanks RUSS. That sure was helpful.
How heavy would you estimate the hives are? Have you tested for mites? How many dead bees are you finding?
You Have come to the right forum!
I think Russ was trying to be helpful in the sense that there is a ton of info available but it takes some time to search it out.
Being a little more specific...
"Can I or should I put a hive top feeder on for the bees?" If the bees are clustered it would do you no good to put any kind of feeder on them. They will not be able to get to the sugar until it warms up a bit.
Your thinking is correct in that this is not a good time to do any kind of inspection. Even at 50 degrees you can chill the brood if the hive is left open for more than a couple of minutes. I believe you are going to have to "wait and see."
When you say "I'm sure it isn't as complicated as I'm making it", you have said a mouthful. I wish beekeeping was as simple as when my grandfather kept bees. The mites and hive beetles have added some interesting twists to "keeping" those bees.
Be patient and read some good books this winter on Beekeeping.
If possible you should join a local beekeeping association. Check with your local agricultural extension service to find out what is available. Stay with Beesource and we will help you through the process.
Most of all have fun and enjoy your bees!
Can I or should I put a hive top feeder on for the bees?
If the bees are down a ways and the temps are not too bad (30s or 40s) you could just pull the top off and put on a feeder if you want. But the bees won't use it unless it warms up anyway. I'd wait for it to warm up into the 50s and then add it if you want. Some sugar on the inner cover (with a box to make room) can work also. But the bees won't use it unless they get some warm weather either way.
>If they have adequate food, will they live the winter?
As always, it depends. If the you have a feeder out and the weather gets warm often they will probably do great. If you don't have feeder and the weather gets warm often they will burn up a lot of stores LOOKING for food. If the weather gets REALLY bitter cold for a long time and there aren't many bees they often starve with food in the hive because they can't move around. The more bees, the warmer the weather the more they can rearrange the stores. The less bees and the colder the weather the less they can rearrange stores.
>I'm finding dead ones at the entrance.
It's normal to find dead bees in front of the hive. Are then ON the landing board? Can you see them on the bottom board in large amounts? How many dead bees is normal is dependent on how many bees there are and how cold it's been since the last time they could carry out the dead. Obviously a LOT of dead bees is a bad thing. A lot of overwintering is also dependent on if the bees are already damaged from Tracheal mites or Varroa mites.
>I don't understand anything about treating for mites. I'm sure it isn't as complicated as I'm making it.
It probably is.
> But, how do you treat? with what?
There are a lot of opinions. The "mainstream" answer is you treat with Apistan or CheckMite according to directions for Varroa. ALWAYS FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE PACKAGE FOR THESE if you use them! First, it is bad for the bees if you don't. Second it is against the law not to! You treat with grease patties (for prevention) and menthol (to kill them) for Tracheal mites.
A lot of us are using more organic methods and are trying to avoid the pesticide methods. These are FGMO for V and T mites, Natural sized cells (small cell), grease patties (also mentioned above) Screened bottom boards (SSB) Thymol and Oxalic Acid.
>I heard you had to remove treatments if you were harvesting honey? I'm confused and need some guidance.
Basically any treatment that involves pesticides or antibiotics should only be done when there are no supers on the hive. The theory is that the chemicals will only contaminate the brood nest. Of course the brood nest is the most important part of the hive and I don't really want mine contaminated. Also the bees will take honey and move it out of their way so there is no guarentee they won't put it up in the supers later. But the general concept is you don't treat with Apistan or Checkmite or (for AFB) Terramycin when the supers are on or you will contaminate the honey you harvest. To treat with the supers on endangers your customers and is against the law.
My philosophy on Varroa is you need to monitor. make a mite board out of some white cardboard (poster board, plastic etc.) and put it down to see what your mite fall is. If you have a screened bottom board this goes under it and doesn't have to be sticky. If you don't have a SBB you need to have a sticky board. Put some #8 hardware cloth on a sheet of contact paper or buy some a sticky paper from a bee supplier and count the mites that drop naturally in 24 hours. There are different ideas of what is an acceptable mite count, but if it's two or three a day you don't have a problem at all. If it's 60 you probably need to do something. This time of year, however, the mites have probably already done their damage. You should plan to monitor the mites in the spring and use something for treatment if the numbers are high.