In preparation for using fgmo in the spring this year, I made screen floors for my hives in the late fall and installed them. My hives are on stands about 18 inches off the ground, and it is interesting to be able to look up into the hive thru them. In Feruary, after a mild day when the bees were flying, I noticed with dismay that there were a couple of dozen bees on the screen under the hive and unable to find there way back to the cluster.In the morning, these bees are dead. this has happened on several occasions. Has any one with long time use of the screen floor had any observations on this aspect?
Yes that happens off and on but I have not noted any drastic effect on the colony. This winter , whether the screen is closed or open a massive dying went on in some colonies . But those were not on the screens but outside the hive , mainly in front.
It has puzzled me quite a lot . These colonies were three Deep boxes high plus in some cases with a medium on top of that . At his time the colonies are still strong and appear without sicknesses. They are eating heavily . Strangely enough the prefer sugar syrup and pollen substitute over their own stores .
It is quite possible , the older bees were dying off . Lately there is no more dying observed.
I have never noticed that the SBB has any influence on die off's . Prior to 1999 , that is before the advent of SBB ,the bottom boards also had dead bees , depending on the colony. Some had and some did not . Some colonies are more inclined to clean up and some do not at all.
There will be always some larger debris on the creen rquiring cleaning . That is why I modified the original Sbb with a removable screen to facilitate the cleaning without disturbing the colony. Also , my Sbb's are fixed with removable / adjustable bottoms to vary the ventilation of the hive . I have no evidence whether open or closed makes any difference . But then I have no time to sit all day to bother to go into detailed observations .
Keep an eye on yours and report back to us .We appreciate any good input .
Thanks Jaundefuca will keep an eye on them during the warm spell. Should be seeing more activity in the next week. Yes, there are hundreds of bees dying during the winter, see them on the ground and landing boards whenever there is a warm day and they are flyin.
Make the screen removable also, that is an interesting thought. I noticed on my SBB pallets, which have a four inch open space below the screen, some bees actually leave out the front entry, fly under the hive and away. Also a lot of loitering under the hives, maybe the lazy teenage bees smoking dope or something like that.
I do not want to sound scholastic/teacher type about this, but one way or another, this has to be said. Honey bees, like any other living creature, die of old age. It is not abnormal to see lots of dead bees during Spring clean-up operations, especially if there is some desease meandering among your bees. Old bees just die and drop off all the time. Generally, we do not see them during the warm weather time because they just fly away and die elsewhere. During the winter, they may die while in the cluster and either cling to the comb or simply drop-off.
There is another situation that I have warned about in this forum, and elsewhere as well. This is about disturbing the cluster during cold weather in which the bees become separated from the cluster and drop to the bottom board or worse to the ground where they sit in a slumber-like posture and die of lack of heat and hunger.
Having screened-bottom-boards is an added advantage from the standpoint of observation of conditions that are going on in your hives but that you do not normally see until Spring cleaning. How many dead bees are too many? Not very many, would be the real answer. We do not have too many bees that NORMALLY die during the winter. To a non-veteran a few bees may seem like a lot but not a real reason to worry, especially if we are talking about very large colonies that normally would have more "subjects" dieing than smaller colonies. Again, one should not be deceived by these terms. Smaller colonies may not have enough bees in the cluster to protect themselves hence die. Severe weasther conditions/drastic changes in weather conditions may influence your death rate. So, you as the individual beekeeper who know what is going on in your apiary is the best person to judge what your sitiation is like. Be judgemental, but take it with a grain of salt. You may be worrying about nothing.
Advise: If your death rate continues to increase, it might not be a bad idea to gather some of those dead bees and send them to a laboratory with a note explaining what you have seen.
Best regards and happy beekeeping.