I had quite a large quantity of bees flying outside the hive late last week. The temps here were around 50 degrees. I looked into the hive and a large quantity of dead bees had been blocking the entrance reducer. I swept many of these out. Does it sound like all is well in this hive?
Any tips on what I should be doing to prepare for the spring? This is the second season for this hive.
George, what you are seeing sounds quite normal. There will be a dwindling of the older bees during the colder months and then in spring the hive should build up again. If you get a chance you might do an ether roll and check for mites and treat accordingly. This is the time of year varroa builds up to its max. How were the food stores? If they need help you might try feeding fondant. Steve
Steve wrote to George:
George, what you are seeing sounds quite normal. There will be a dwindling of the older bees during the colder months and then in spring the hive should build up again. If you get a chance you might do an ether roll and check for mites and treat accordingly. This is the time of year varroa builds up to its max.
Question: If there is a swindling of the older bees during the colder months prior to spring build-up, and varroa is normally in a phoretic state on the backs of adult honeybees, and not in brood cells reproducting, How is this the time of year varroa builds up to its max?????
Build-up of varroa normally happens during the active year with biggest number of varroa building-up coinciding with the last honeyflow, just before fall crashes and prior to bees going into winter.
Dee A. Lusby
WoW Dee had to clear the smoke from that one.
I think he was talking about Tracheal mites (Acarapis woodi) as they are in the older adult bees that you would have in a over wintered hive.
Now, I'm no expert here but with the scourge of Mites we need to identify which ones we are thinking about before we belittle someone who proposes to assist.
A simple peasant
I believe there is truth on both sides. What Steve said about older bees is quite true. This is normal to find substantial amounts of dead bees on the bottom board during the cold winter months, however, this does not in itself mean all is well in the hive. Maybe, maybe not. Check to make sure the bees have honey to support them.
The questioning of Dee about varroa build up is another issue. Typically varroa build up to their maximum force in late summer, early fall for us northern beekeepers, as Dee mentions. However, it is also common among those that treat for varroa, to treat both fall and spring as varroa numbers start to grow with the growing brood numbers in mid-winter and can have an effect on the spring build-up.
Spring may not be the time of year varroa reaches its max, but it is the time of year varroa is building up and to what degree it is effecting the bees can not be determined from the keyboard. You will have to make this assessment by opening the hive and testing. Personally, I never had to treat in the spring for varroa, only in the fall.