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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Chatham, NY, USA
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    Default Cluster size and staying warm

    Just because Im curious, how small can a cluster be before bees die from cold on a night like tonight? Tonight it will be almost but not quite freezing.

    I ask because since I removed the queen from her cage, and broke up the large cluster during cold weather (45-55F) they reformed in 3-4 smaller clusters per hive body.

    There are even smaller clusters outside the hive of 2 to 100 bees, but I assume they will die of cold.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Ennis, TX USA
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    I'm wondering way they are not clustering all back together, and forming so many small ones.

  3. #3
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    Aug 2007
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    Chatham, NY, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek1 View Post
    I'm wondering way they are not clustering all back together, and forming so many small ones.
    I think its because I busted up their large cluster during cold weather to get the cage out. It hasnt been real warm today. I think they havnt gotten back together yet.

    I'll check at least one of the colony's tomorrow. I've got a non-intrusive observation window that opens.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    They usually are pretty quick to get back into one cluster.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Chatham, NY, USA
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    Indeed, there was a warm afternoon today. They formed a single cluster again, and looks like they waxed the lips on my top bars as well (looking through observation window).

    They sure were in a frenzy as well, more bees flying about than I've ever seen from 2 hives (including the bear attack I helped clean up the day after).

    Also, many of the "dying" bees seemed to warm up enough in the sun and make their way home -- looks like it didn't get cold enough to kill afterall.

    There was still a small mass between my veroa screen and bottom board on one hive, should I make this inaccessible?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Ennis, TX USA
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    I thought they would cluster back up. Thats good. I looked at the 5 day forcast for your area and it looks pretty nasty for the next few days. Here is what I saw for tomorrow.

    Tomorrow: Partly cloudy in the morning. Increasing clouds with periods of showers later in the day. Thunder possible. High 62F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.

    That was the best day of the 5. If you get a chance early tomorrow before the rain hits, you may want to put in a baggie feeder so they have something for the next few days.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Chatham, NY, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek1 View Post
    I thought they would cluster back up. Thats good. I looked at the 5 day forcast for your area and it looks pretty nasty for the next few days. Here is what I saw for tomorrow.

    Tomorrow: Partly cloudy in the morning. Increasing clouds with periods of showers later in the day. Thunder possible. High 62F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.

    That was the best day of the 5. If you get a chance early tomorrow before the rain hits, you may want to put in a baggie feeder so they have something for the next few days.
    Friday/sat/sun look good, zip 12075. http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick...ield2=-73.6487

    Today is spotty rain afternoon, should I attempt to refill the feeders before noon? It'll be only 55F. I guess I should at least check the feeders.

  8. #8
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    Mar 2008
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    Ennis, TX USA
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    Fri-Sun do look good. Did you check the feeders? If not you may want to check tomorrow. Come fri-sunday I bet they will be out and busy.

  9. #9
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    Aug 2007
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    Chatham, NY, USA
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    Is this something I want to do when its cold and rainy? 60% rain during the day, and 40-55F -- though theres a chance I'll see some surprise sun/warmth.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Ennis, TX USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by mfisch View Post
    Is this something I want to do when its cold and rainy? 60% rain during the day, and 40-55F -- though theres a chance I'll see some surprise sun/warmth.
    Not without a bee suite. They might be a little grumpy. But if your using a front entrance on your tbh with one follower borad on the back end. You can put a baggie in less than 5 minutes tops. And thats opening, install, and close. Then on those nice days if they are flying about. Watch the entrance and see if they are bringing in anything.

    Post some pics of whats going on.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Chicago, IL
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    My girls have filled up about half of their allotted space with comb and hang out in one big clump at night and on colder, rainy days.

    They've stopped buzzing around the hive -- during the warm, sunny afternoons it now looks like O'Hare with the fast arrivals and fast departures. About 2.30 in the afternoon it gets insane with about 50 or so coming and going at once. I called a friend to see if she thought the hive was getting robbed. We looked in the window and she saw how well it was going and said no, this is a very happy hive. Makes me want 50 more.

    They've stopped drinking from the ziploc full of sugar water. I put it in over a week ago and it's still pretty full.

    Thanks to all of you, no terramyacin, plenty of dandelions and soon my tomatoes will be blossoming.

    It's weird -- there are very few in my yard (230' lot), all the pollen seems to be inbound from further away.

    I'll try and get some photos together.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    VENTURA, California, USA
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    3,604

    Smile Cluster size and staying warm

    Large clusters can modify their internal and external temperatures a lot more easily than a small cluster.
    Which has more surface area in relationship to the size of the cluster? A 4 frame nuc or an 8 frame colony.
    There has been a lot of work done on the clustering of bees and how they adjust their temperatures. The small clusters will perish on a cold night because they can not generate enough internal heat and hold it in the outside insulating shell.
    Regards,
    Ernie Lucas apiaries
    Ernie
    My websitehttp://bees4u.com/

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Ennis, TX USA
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    All good things come to those who wait. You must have a pretty good flow coming in. Thats why they have stopped taking the syrup. They probably won't work your tomatoes. Tomatoes are self pollanating. They have never worked mine.

    > It's weird -- there are very few in my yard (230' lot), all the pollen seems to be inbound from further away.


    I find that weird too. But from my own experience. I have 5 acers full of wildflowers, mesquite trees, ect... And I have never seen a bee on anything yet. But they are bringing in pollan like crazy. But, they do cover a 2 mile radius or so.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Chicago, IL
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    I need to learn what they like and don't like, really. I've got:
    Pepper plants
    Peas
    Greenbeans
    Tomatoes
    Lilacs
    dandelions
    creeping charlie

    In Mrs. Mxr618's shade garden she's got:
    butterfly bushes
    hosta
    lenten roses
    bluebels
    astilbee
    bleeding heart
    ferns
    lady's mantle
    bee balm
    jacobs ladder
    sweet woodruff
    honeysuckle vine
    sedum
    hydrangia
    baloon flowers
    iris
    lilly of the valley
    joe pie weed
    wild garlic
    flox
    trumpet vine
    eccinecia plants
    coral bells


    ...and I have no idea what the bees would like or not like to pollinate. Should get a book.

    Derek, you and I started right about the same time. Can you post up photos?

    I'm taking photos and video for an autumn presentation to the Cook Dupage Beekeepers Association, a little comedy of how a total newbie tries to take care of bees in the first year.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
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    Default

    Here's something else, Derek -- I've got 5 acres in the Mississippi river valleys in SW Wisconsin. My research tells me I could maintain up to 100 hives -- in fact, the president of our local association has 100 about ten miles from me.

    Wildflowers, my 150'X35' garden, apple trees, raspberry in July, all the fauna that brackets the trout streams at the bottoms of the valleys...such a rich place to raise bees! Unfortunately, I started too late to get going up there properly. I'll be making hives througout the year to do it properly for next year.

    About 1/2 hour away is the town of Gays Mills which is famous for their apple orchards. We stop every year and load up on apples of all kinds, cheese, Lanjager sausage, apple orchard honey, and jellies.

    Of everything, the honey is fabulous.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Ennis, TX USA
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    Default

    Click on my name, and search all post from me. On pages 3 and 4 I have a bunch of pics I posted.

    These are supposed to bee good books.

    American Honey Plants
    by Frank C. Pellett
    A Dadant Publication

    &

    Newcomb's Wildflower guide

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