Up here, we went from reasonably warm to cold very quickly, so I probably didn't prepare my bees the way I should have.
In fact, I though they were surely dead when I realized I hadn't reinstalled the entrance restrictor (it was about 20 below freezing, and around X-mas). I had to tap it in and heard a loud buzzing and thought "hey, they're still alive".
Yesterday was the first above freezing days we've had for about 2 months. When I got home from work, my family told me 'all the bees died', so I went out with a flashlight to look.
There were corpses starting about 20' from the hive. Quite a few at the base, and some sort of dead near the entrance. I figure it was a hundred or so dead bees.
I guess the good news is, there were some alive yesterday morning, but maybe these ones were the last survivors. On the other hand, it could be that these are the ones who 'had to go' and couldn't make it back.
There's not much I can do about it now anyway. It has been a very productive hive, and I can hope for the best.
How does this sound to y'all? Was it the last of the last, or a natural attrition?
A strong hive goes into the winter with tens of thousands of bees. A hundred or so is just normal winter "losses". I'm not sure losses is really a good term. Some of the bees are old from last falls foragers and will not make it to spring no matter what.
Thanks - I was hoping thats what you would say!
(plus, its what I kinda said to the wife & kids )
Speaking of winter deaths...
How many hives of your total do you expect to lose over the winter months?
I realize that there are an endless amount of factors associated with this question; weather, experience, stores, etc. I'm looking more for individual averages...
I lost all six hives, two looks like they did because the queen died, they have qeen cells formed in the hive, other four hives not sure, plenty of honey in the hive, did not see any mites before when I checked them, but I am not ruling that out.
From what I hear at the locale beekeeping meeting others have experienced the same losses.
Well this has been by far the worst year as far as winter losses. Went into winter with (22) colonies and have lost (8) so far. Early season was not bad, it was too warm to wrap, so did not get the hives ready as usual. Then it got cold and stayed cold. This is the first ear that I have not wrapped. I figure that on average, about 10 - 20% is not unusual.
The hives that I have been able to look at, basically look as if they have cold starved. They had good clusters, several of the later ones had brood started, but they pulled back away from stores.
>>it was too warm to wrap,
I dont believe this to be true. I know a beekeeper who leaves his wraps, insulated wraps, on all year long. Commercial beekeepers wrap well before the weather breaks cooler. Otherwise you give yourself a very little window to wrap when the weather breaks for winter
Ian, I would have to say that I won't wait in the future.
This fall I installed an outdoor wood furnace and a complete heating system, which took longer than I figured.
I put the system in in November, and went right to work at the mountain for ski season.
I figured that October would have been too early, but in the future, they will get wrapped before deer season.
[This message has been edited by MountainCamp (edited February 23, 2004).]