well, the temperature spiked to almost 60 today and the bees were flying around so I decided to take a look inside. Of the 5 hives I have there are 2 strong hives, one medium hives and two..ummm..pathetic hives. I removed a towering mass of dead bees from both of the hives. Pretty sad and disgusting but I guess that is how it goes.
So here is the shake down and the questions.
It appears that the entrance was clogged with dead bees, moisture content went through the roof and the bees died in record number. I now have two hives with 3 frames of bees on each. There are also some moldy frames in both weak hives.
Should I throw out the moldy frames? Will the bees clean them up in the summer?
What should I do with the three frame hives? Should I attempt to combine them with another stronger hive(newspaper/queen excluder) or perhaps stick them in a nuc box and hope for the best. I really don't want to loose the two queens.
Ummm, I guess that is all the questions.
>It appears that the entrance was clogged with dead bees, moisture content went through the roof and the bees died in record number.
Partly they couldn't get out with the bees blocking the entrace. The air flow was severaly affected by the entrance being blocked.
>Should I throw out the moldy frames?
No. If they aren't too bad I'd keep them.
>Will the bees clean them up in the summer?
>What should I do with the three frame hives? Should I attempt to combine them with another stronger hive(newspaper/queen excluder) or perhaps stick them in a nuc box and hope for the best. I really don't want to loose the two queens.
How soon do you expect an early nectar flow? How soon is spring there? Three frames of bees might do fine if you get them in a nuc with five frames of honey and pollen, especially if spring is just around the corner, which it is not here.
[This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited February 11, 2004).]
yeh, I think I'll put them in a nuc untill spring. I have a couple of good frames of honey to put in with them. I also have some small hive top feeders for the nucs which I'll put 2:1 suagr syrup in.
Our spring officially starts in April but there is pollen and some nectar available in march So I guess I'll just cross my fingers and hope for the best.
Man oh man, you should have seen the amount of dead bees in those two hives.
ohh yeah, one more question, the weak hive moved up into the medium super. Can I shake those bees off into full size frames in the nuc is its 55 degrees or will the end up freezing to death?
Does daisy have any fur coats I could put on each bee while I'm wroking with them?
>ohh yeah, one more question, the weak hive moved up into the medium super. Can I shake those bees off into full size frames in the nuc is its 55 degrees or will the end up freezing to death?
At 55 you can shake them into the nuc. If there is no brood in the medium, you can put them on most any honey comb if the weather is warm enough for them to fly.
Maybe the bees are trying to tell you they want to live in a medium? That's what most of mine are in now.
Thanks Mike for the speedy reply. I think what they were trying to tell me is that they didn't want to live in close proximty to a mountain of dead bees and not that much stores.
I'm going to shake them onto some full frames, shake a little pollen substitute in there, put some 2:1 sugar syrup on top and have a beer.
Thanks again, This website is awesome!
I lost a hive last year to "humidity". I've got a new theory on that however... I don't think high humidity has a negative effect on the bees- but it does on the pollen. Humidity rots the pollen (I'm sure you saw lots of moldy pollen) and that in turn is what kills the bees- lack of pollen, their main source of food (protein). In other words, humidity causes bees to starve to death. Just my theory- I've never read that anywhere.
Sounds pretty logical to me.
I think there are as many views on ventilation as there are bees in a hive.
If you look at the physics of heat conduction, etc. The top vent hive seems to make the most sense. Yeah, I know, natural hives usually don't have top vents but natural hives are made out of 3/4" pine either.
I have exit/vent holes in most of my supers and I covered them up for the winter thinking it would be drafty. We'll after the bees opened them up a couple of times it seemed logical to me that they wanted them open and the didn't really have a problem with being cold. In the future, all my hive will have these holes to prevent this from occuring again.
It better get warm quick around here... willow and indian plum are breaking buds and the bees are quickly running out of food.
Brian,Im up here in seattle and my bees have been bringing in tons of pollen the last week. yours should be too?? it was almost 60 deg.here today, some bees were so loaded with pollen today they could bairly fly...your bees will be fine. you guys had that extra week of freezing weather then us, so probally any day now you will see pollen...................BB
Hey Beebarf (love that handle by the way)
I have been seeing pollen as well, do you know what plants they are gathering it from?
I have a huge, no, make that mega huge nursery about 4 blocks from my hives so I figured they were foraging on some ornamental.
I am East of Seattle and it wass 65 yesterday and today.
Last year was my first year. I have had my fingers crossed since fall. I just came in from checking the hives. I got a little emotional when I saw bees flying everywhere and let out a huge sigh of relief when I opened the hives. The cluster fills up the first deep and extends through the next deep and all the way to the top of the medium on both hives. It looks like I have as many bees as I did when I last checked it in early oct. found less than 10 dead bees by the entrance. They still have a ton of stores as I left all but one frame of honey for them. Which was 2 deeps and a med each. Sure is amazing how you can get attached to the success of an insect!
Hey, that sounds terrific!!
I ran out to the hives today (absconding from the office) and two of the hives were pulling in tons of pollen. Those two hives take up about 9 frames total. The two weak hives are about 3 frames each. I put one in a nuc and put some additional stores from another hive in the other one. My 5th and last hive was really mean so I decided that they were just fine.
Winter really isn't over yet but my hive have gotten by so far on about 6 frames of honey. So you can definately pull some honey off this year. I would probably split one of the hives into 4-5 seperate ones as well.
I didn't have many stores because I essentially turned 2 hives into 5 and had a slew of queen problems with one of the originals.
At times I wonder why I expend all this time and energy fooling with the bees, but your right about getting all kiddy when you see them flying around after winter.
Hi, the one of the local bee gals told me they are getting pollen from filbert trees right now, and their necter from heather. but ive seen 4 distinctly different color pollens, and about 10 different kinds of trees budding out, so there is more sources then those 2 right now.
I have filbert trees and Heather. I have not seen the bees on the heather that is bloomed as of yet( pink and purple). I also have a huge Rosemary plant that is in bloom they are all over it( Purple Flowers).
Oregonbeekeeper, I am SO glad to hear that your bees made it. It was the same story with ours, but I guess our hives were weaker, or it was colder out here (SW of Hillsboro) but ours all died.
Interesting theory about the pollen. The pollen in the hives was moldy on some frames. But there was lots of honey still, and not all the pollen was moldy. Maybe a combination of things.
BTW, we did have our top vents open (although I think that the ice sealed them for at least a day). The beekeeper who sold us our hives said that when things get really bad like that, you actually need to crack open the top of the hive a bit or they have no hope of overcoming the moisture. Wish we'd known that before... oh well! New year, new bees, and the farmer next door has acres of clover coming up and is very good about telling us when he'll be spraying anything (and really he only sprays herbicides and is very conservative with those). Lucky us!
Hope your nuc hangs on!
Indeed ventilation is super key in the pacific northwet. In addition to top venting I believe that next year I am going to put some newspapers or something to soak up some moisture in the top of the hives. I'll probably just fill up my feederws with newspapers. I leave my miller feeders on all year round instead of having a top board. (just one less thing I need to build I guess).
Good luck next year!! Where are you going to get your queens/packages or nucs from? Check out the local supplier--Ruhl's bees. There queens ROCK!!
I drilled four 2" dia holes near each corner of my inner cover and used caulk to cover them with fiberglass screen. I put a empty deep over the inner cover then my top cover.
I have a board or a syrup can over the oblong hole of the inner cover most of the tiem so I felt this 4 holes would give me better air flow. The holes are not much bigger in area than the standard oblong hole so I did not increase voulume that much. Kinda like haveing attic vents on your home. I thought about the newspaper but felt it would just pick up and maintain ambient moisture content just as wood will. So I saw little long term benefit. I do not have the mold and gunk on my hives and frames that some people that I have talked with.
Hmmm. NICE to actually see a few PacNW beekeepers talking to each other here!
Am I the only one here a bit nervous about why a hive died full of honey? You didn't mention the condition of the brood or whether there were any other signs of disease but under those circumstances I would be a little worried about the possibility of foulbrood- many possibilities but that one will affect you again, not to mention any neighbors who might have bees.
I'm up here north of Bellingham, and although we've got some pollen (filberts) I have only seen the bees out a handful of times d/t the RAIN... Also attended a bee class taught by a former WA state bee inspector who gave an example pretty similar to yours in a demo hive that died over the winter (this winter) - of AFB... in one of our local beekeepers...
yeah, perhaps foulbrood was the source of the massive die off in two of the hives but I can't remember if those were the two that showed signs of foulbrood this summer.
Ohhh yeah, I have AFB and have been treating it with good results. It only rears its ugly head when the hives are really weak. Where it came from I'm not really sure but its just something I have to live with at this point.
I really think the moisture was the problem in my hives due to the amount of mold on the comb/pollen and the fact that there was a pile of dead bees blocking the entrance. A few dead brood but not so many.
Pray for the sunshine!!!
>yeah, perhaps foulbrood was the source of the massive die off in two of the hives but I can't remember if those were the two that showed signs of foulbrood this summer.
If you are going to treat AFB,then you should mark the hives so you can give them extra inspections to keep it from sneaking back and biting you.You dont have to put AFB in big red letters,but you should mark it so YOU KNOW what it means.Just a friendly tip.