One of my 6 hives is extremely small and dwindling fast (about 1 frame of bees). Over the last week (cold and rainy) there was a considerable amount of dead bees in the nuc box that I put them in last week.
Checked for mites--none, no signs of foulbrood, no signs of nosmea, so the only thing I can think of is that they are slowly freezing to death. when its warm enough for the other hives to be fying this hive is still silent.
So my question is, Can I slap a pollen substitute patty on the top bars, put a miller feeder on it with 1:1 syrup, close the entrance with screen and just keep it in the livingroom for awhile?
My thinking is it will keep them warm enough to survive and with the 1:1 the queen can start to lay some eggs.
If that seems like a crazy idea (like it does to my girlfriend) perhaps I could combine it with another hive using the newspaper method?
Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. I would hate to lose this hive.
>so the only thing I can think of is that they are slowly freezing to death.
Unless it's 50 below F they are not freezing to death. Well, now that the cluster is THAT small, maybe it wouldn't take THAT much cold to kill them. But still I doubt that it's that cold there.
>when its warm enough for the other hives to be fying this hive is still silent.
>So my question is, Can I slap a pollen substitute patty on the top bars, put a miller feeder on it with 1:1 syrup, close the entrance with screen and just keep it in the livingroom for awhile?
Not for long. For a few days, yes, maybe even a week, but if the bees go crazy trying to get out, because they are now warm and active, they may beat themselves to death trying to get out, just like a fly on the window. They need to be able to free fly.
>My thinking is it will keep them warm enough to survive and with the 1:1 the queen can start to lay some eggs.
I doubt it will make much difference, but you never know. Is there a place you can put them in the basement? It might be less hot, but still nicely warm and the dark may keep them calmer.
>If that seems like a crazy idea (like it does to my girlfriend) perhaps I could combine it with another hive using the newspaper method?
How warm is it there? How active are the bees? A combine when the bees are flying and active is a choice. If the bees are cold and clustered I don't think they won't combine well.
>Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. I would hate to lose this hive.
I know the feeling. I'd say Tracheal mites are a likely cause of the problems, but there's no way to undo the damage already done to the bees by them, IF that is the problem.
I would probably just let them be and see if they make it or not. If they are out of stores, I would feed them. Otherwise I'd leave them be. Combining is more what I do in the fall when a hive is small.
Bees aren't generally in the mood to combine in late winter.
It could be a good atart for an observation hive. You could seal it up with screen wire and keep it inside for a week while you build an OB hive and then transfer them.
It would be a lot of trouble for little gain just to get them to survive until spring just to put them back outside. Even if they did it would be unlikely that they would build up enough to give a surplus of honey.
Doing the combine is the most economical thing to do.
If you're willing to have a nuc of bees in your living room, Bill is right, take the plunge and put them in a observation hive.
Are you sure there's a queen?
That's a thought. Do they have a queen? Queenlessnes will certainly cause the cluster to dwindle. A lot will drift to your other hive with a queen if there isn't.
I have a similar situation and decided not to just watch them die.
The smallest one was made into an observation hive prior to Christmas. It has the ability to come and go as it pleases and is now building up due to the pollen available during foraging. I doubt the 300 or so bees will be making any honey this year, but they will have the opportunity to prove themselves.
Two other colonies were sized down and placed into nucs aout 4 weeks back. At the rate they were going they wouldnt have handled a cold snap very well. They have been spending the majority of the time in the basement which stays around 68F. I did not worry bout feeding them, just simply gave them frames with pollen and honey to use during the transition. They have screened bottom boards and are up off the floor for ventilation. Everything is dark, so their desire to forage is not a concern. On nice days I place the nucs out and bring them in if the weather looks to be turning bad.
This works great and doesnt take much effort. A much better alernative than letting them die.
Well I solved the problem yesterday when I went out to the bee yard with this years medications. I was planning on putting the nuc in the house and installing a 3/4" clear rubber tube between the open window and the hive. I've seent his done on an observation hive at the local bee store and always thought it was nifty.
Well, I opened the nuc and there were about 25 bees and no queen. Problem solved.
Grand total for first year overwintering.
5 going into the winter, all pretty thin on stores (6 full frames of honey)
One - R.I.P.
two - Super strength with about 8-9 frames of bees, sealed brood, pollen and new nectar!
one - Medium strength, should do well with the 1:1 syrup/oil feed, some robbed brood, and a little tlc.
one - very weak hive that was succesfully combined with one of the strong ones. (newspaper, queen excluder, syrup/oil spray)
So all in all not too bad for the first year in north america.
Keep an eye on the weight of the remaing hives and feed if they get light. Sometimes they get carried away rasing brood too early and eat themselves out of stores.