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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    kansas.. The Great Plains!
    Posts
    66

    Post

    can anybody tell me the right way to winterize hives? so far I think we have lost about 3 coloneys so far this year out of 25.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Round Top, New York - Northern Catskill Mtns.
    Posts
    1,895

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    That is the question that has many answers, and most of them are right depending on where you are.

    There are many thoughts on wintering hives and what preperations are needed. This is usually dependent on where you are, and what are acceptable winter loses.

    Some winter loses are going to happen regardless what preperations you do. But, that does not mean that you can't help your bees along.

    With regard to the (3) hives that you have lost, do you know what killed them?

    Depending on what killed them, you may or may not have been able to have some influence on the situation.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    kansas.. The Great Plains!
    Posts
    66

    Post

    Well..most of the hives are backed to the north for wind block. however the wind still blows full steam here in the flat lands. Also noticed snow pile up around entrence. Could they suficate? when the snow was seen it was removed. but could have been there for a few days

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,316

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    I always try to have the bottom entrance either closed off (mine were closed off all year) or at least covered in #4 hardware cloth to keep the mice out. I always try to have a top entrance to let the moist air out to prevent condensation on the inner cover or cover. Also this helps when the snow is deep so they don't suffocate. I always remove the queen excluder (if there is one, which there usually isn't because I don't use them). I always remove empty boxes and try to consolidate so the frames in the hive are full of stores.

    That's all I do here in Nebraska. You could wrap with either the wraps they sell or with roofing felt, but I've never done it.

    That long sub-zero cold snap was probably the problem. They get stuck in one place and can't rearange the stores or move to the stores, so they starve in one place. I lost six nucs (3 10 medium frame boxes and 3 8 medium frame boxes) during this last cold snap. It's not bad if it's just a few days but when it lasts for weeks it's a killer.

    The 3 ten frame nucs were in foam hives which are much warmer than a wrapped wodden hive. The other 3 eight frame nucs were wrapped in 2" of styrofoam in a cluster with 8 eight frame nucs. So I don't think wrapping would have helped mine any.

    There is also the possibility of Tracheal mites or Varroa mites being the cause of losses. This late Tracheal mites seem more likely.

    And, as mentioned, sometimes you lose a few no matter what.

    But to give an educated guess there are other things I'd need to know. What did the cluster look like? Died in place? Heads in cells? Was there honey around the cluster but not in the cluster? Are there a lot of dead bees on the bottom? Are there a lot of Varroa mites on the bottom? Is the hive just pretty much empty with no clue where the bees went?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    kansas.. The Great Plains!
    Posts
    66

    Post

    Can tracheal mites live in the cold weather or do they live off the warmth of the bees? I will have to antalyze them a little closer when I have a little more light

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,212

    Post

    There are 3 requisites to overwintering bees and a few other things that may or may not be needed.

    1. A strong hive of bees but remember that strong for an Italian colony is much larger than strong for a Carniolan or Buckfast colony.

    2. A healthy hive of bees with special emphasis on varroa. I haven't had problems with tracheal mites in 15 years.

    3. Lots of honey and pollen properly arranged for the bees to eat.


    Now that the basics are covered, here are some of the other odds and ends.

    Wind protection either from the landscape or from a wind fence should be provided.

    Exposure to the winter sun so the bees can move when the temperature moderates.

    Ventilation in the form of an upper entrance. Its amazing how much damage condensation can do inside a hive. Prevent it with proper air flow.

    I don't wrap my hives but I am pretty far south.
    You might benefit from one of the black felt or cardboard wraps.


    A wise man takes his winter losses in the fall. I consolidated 3 colonies last fall because they were not in shape to overwinter.

    Fusion

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    kansas.. The Great Plains!
    Posts
    66

    Post

    Ive seen hives have upper entrances the size of bottom entrances and some with 3/4 inch holes. what would be the proper size?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,316

    Post

    I haven't had tracheal mite problems either, but that one possibility with losses this time of year. You can't see the T-mites (at least not without a microscope). You CAN see (once you know what they look like) the Varroa mites. Barely.

    Judging by the recent sub zero weather I'd guess they got stuck in one place and starved with stores left.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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