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Thread: Winter Kills

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


    I have read a number of different accounts of winter kills this year. Many of these accounts said the hives were pretty clean and free of bees / mites on the bottom boards.
    The clusters were smaller then expected, since the fall checks showed good numbers. Bees were clustered, but pulled away from food.
    My thoughts are that there maybe two factors at play here.
    #1) This summer / early fall was very dry in many locations. The lack or reduction of nectar may have reduced the queens egg laying rate or stopped it all together for a time.
    During the fall inspections there would have been a number of field workers toward the end of their life span and would have died later the fall. These bees would have been cleaned out when possible.
    So, the actual population of young bees for winter was smaller then desired.

    #2) This winter came early and hard in most locations. With temperatures that have been consistantly cold.

    The combination of lower population and colder weather has caused the cold starvation of many of these hives.

    It's just a thought. Any ideas or comments?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Spencer Ia 51


    Hi you all, Been reading all the topics and enjoying the discussions. Question----I'm wonder if the winter kill was in certain locations---say more southern than northern and this would give us a clue to why so many colonies died? It would be nice to hear from both north and south and even east and west to see if there is a reason to this madness. Just a thought. Darrell

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany


    We are fighting against the Varroa since the end of the 70th. If someone discover a clean and empty hive and sometimes still all the winter food left, this is almost 100% the work from the Varroa.
    It’s starts in late summer and early fall when hives high infected.
    Varroa mites sucking blood from bees and there bodies have henceforth many tiny holes. As soon bees flying out and the wing muscle working bees “bleeding” through this tiny holes.
    Lots of bees going lost and that’s the reason why those colonies getting smaller in fall. This can be one reason why clusters smaller than normal.
    If the hive is empty and the food gone, ask beekeepers in your neighborhood. His colonies died probably also!
    Other bees cleaning a weakly colony in now time and taken most Varroa’s with in their one hive. Those colonies are the next victims!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA


    I agree with Axtman. From my observation this is almost always primarily Varroa. If there is plenty of honey and lots of dead bees, you will usually find varroa once you know what they look like.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003


    I checked my bees today and it was really upsetting seeing hive after hive of dead bees but heres what I found.We had several weeks of near 0 to -10 weather in january before that dec and nov it was too cold for any cleaning flights so alot of my die-outs were due to the freezing conditions.The only hives to make it were all buckfast-crosses which id had for several years and had been trying to breed with isolated feral colonies everything else died.I don't think mites played a very big part in these die-outs because a few of my untreated hives made it and were right next to treated hives that didn't.Ive noticed this for years and this year kinda confirmed it, in almost every case the hives that died had brood, some even capped and almost ready to hatch.This early brood raising works great in the southern states but leads to death during a harsh winter further north.The drone source seems to be the important deciding factor in winter survival.IMO ...I guess I'll be raising queens from the survivors

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Neodesha, Ks


    Interesting reading about the Winter kills. I recently found a swarm of Bee's on the north side of a vacant house here in S.E. Ks. They have 13 combs from 5" - 22" long under the overhang of the roof.These combs are from 3" wide to 12-14" wide. This is out in the open with no protection from the winter weather. Checked on them Tues. and some of them were flying. The cluster seems to be in the center of the combs with a lot of dead bees around the outside of the comb.

    This just shows that Bee's can survive with human intervention. It has been down to 0 Deg.F a few night with a north wind. I will try to get them in a better home when it warms up some. Will keep you posted. Dale


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