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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Queensbury, NY 12804
    Posts
    23

    Default Question about Cleansing Flights

    I was away last week while we finally got a day above 40 degrees here in northern New York, so I was not privy to seeing the girls taking their cleansing flights. However, I did see some dark poop markings on the landing board in the front which would indicate they made it thus far and did go for a flight. I did also notice maybe a hundred bees or so scattered about within a ten foot radius of the front of the hive...all head down into the snow...sadly these girls had perished...perhaps gone to make their final flights alone out in the cold. Is this normal..and when can I lift the top to take a peak to see if they are in there?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,045

    Default

    The bees in the snow are probably ones who died in the hive that undertakers were finally able to remove on a flight day. The warmth of the sun makes them melt into the snow, quite normal. You can peek under the lid anytime you want, but better to put your ear on the side of the hive and tap with a knuckle; you'll hear the buzz increase for reassurance. If you want to open the lid to see where the cluster is or how big it is, wait for a 50+ degree day. At any rate don't disturb the cluster by removing frames unless it's a good flight day.

    It's tempting to open up to be reassured, but it helps your state of mind not the bees. If you think they're light on stores, put newspaper on the top bars with some dry sugar on that for emergency feed. Search on "Mountaincamp method" for more info on this technique, or just feed syrup/fondant/what have you for peace of mind.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Bristol,MA,USA
    Posts
    728

    Default

    When preparing them for the winter, did you raise one front corner of your inner cover with the placement of a 3/8 " twig or something of similar thickness? Because of the dark colored feces mentioned, one might presume that your bees might have dysentery caused usually by too much moisture. It's important that the moisture that rises from the bees not condense on the inner cover and fall back down upon the cluster and freeze. Bees usually have light colored yellowish droppings.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    276

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Cedar Hill View Post
    When preparing them for the winter, did you raise one front corner of your inner cover with the placement of a 3/8 " twig or something of similar thickness? Because of the dark colored feces mentioned, one might presume that your bees might have dysentery caused usually by too much moisture. It's important that the moisture that rises from the bees not condense on the inner cover and fall back down upon the cluster and freeze. Bees usually have light colored yellowish droppings.
    Cedar,

    Dysentery is caused by nosema as far as I know. Also bad food and feces in the hive can apparently cause dysentery. Excess moisture on the other hand can cause mold, ice in the hive, bees chilled, fermenting stores (honey is hygroscopic and will attract and hold moisture). Water running down the sides and then freezing and blocking the bottom entrance and suffocating the bees. Ventilation is very important but I never heard the lack of it would cause dysentery.
    Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you`ll be among the stars!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Bristol,MA,USA
    Posts
    728

    Default

    You may be right. Here's a quote from Wikipedia about dysentery "Occasional warm days in winter are critical for honey bee survival; dysentery problems increase in likelihood if there are periods of more than two or three weeks with temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. When cleansing flights are few, bees will often be forced out at times when the temperature is barely adequate for their wing muscles to function, and large quantities of bees may be seen dead in the snow around the hives.Colonies that are found dead in spring from dysentery will have feces smeared over the frames and other hive parts.

    In very cold areas of North America and Europe, where honey bees are kept in ventilated buildings during the coldest part of winter, no cleansing flights are possible, and all honey is removed from the hives and replaced with high fructose corn syrup which has nearly no indigestible matter. "

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