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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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    276

    Default Lots of dead bees

    Hello all,

    Hope everyone`s having a good winter. In Ottawa winters are about as long and cold and snowy as anyone would want. Anyway, I went to take a look at my hives yesterday just to see them and make sure all was OK. I was expecting to see some dead bees here and there, but I never expected this many. Take a look a these pics. I would like to know what you think would have caused such a massive die-out.

    Just to elaborate a little, when you look at the pics the pile of dead bees are on the skid. They used to be on the landing part of the bottom board. I brushed them off because they were blocking the entrance. While I was doing this I could hear them buzzing inside, so I know there are still some alive. But wow ... what does this indicate? Also... I have 6 hives. Only 2 displayed this. The other 4 showed a few dead bees scattered here and there (as one would expect). Thanks to all that reply.

    Here is the link to the pics: Dead Bees
    Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you`ll be among the stars!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Algonquin, IL, USA
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    639

    Default

    You know you can embed the pics in your post.



    Last edited by c10250; 02-16-2009 at 10:19 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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    Default

    No I didn`t know that. I`ll look into that next time I post some pics. But until then please click the link. Thanks.
    Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you`ll be among the stars!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Edmonton AB Canada
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    705

    Default

    I have the same on one hive.
    You can only find out for sure come spring when you can open the hive.
    In my case I suspect a super LARGE hive going into winter
    do have the strength an resource to clean house.




    Konrad

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Arlington, WA
    Posts
    126

    Default

    I had a similiar number of bees from my one hive but there are still a large number of bees in the hive. I opened up yesterday and there are bees on at leave 4 frames top to bottom of my 1 deep 1 medium hive. One was even kind enough to sting me for my effort.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Bristol,MA,USA
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    719

    Default

    FWIW It's not dysentery as there isn't much by way of very dark feces sprayed all over the front of your tarpaper wrap. Possibly, these hives were fall swarms that you collected composed mostly of "summer bees". I feed mine in the fall so that the queen will make and cluster with "winter bees". There's a big difference between the two as far as longevity. It also reminded me of the "spray kills" due to spraying of insecticide on crops which bees pollinated.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Arlington, WA
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    126

    Default

    I caught my swarm in mid July. Don't know if that is a fall swarm but there were a lot of bees going into winter. I think the other thing was that there was water bripping on them when it got into the single digits. I put sugar on them to stop the water but the top of the cover is still damp. I m amazed at how much condensation happens.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Bristol,MA,USA
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    Did you wrap them with plastic as is shown in one of the photos? If so, the hive cannot "breathe" and will certainly keep its moisture. Wrapping with tarpaper is different. If there is a lot of moisture, it has to be vented through a small 3/8" crack made by lifting either the right or left front corner of your inner cover. There must be a hole through the tarpaper wrap to allow the moisture out. Also, if you have a screened bottom board, pull the plastic mite catching sheet open about an inch or so to allow air to go up from the bottom to the top "vent". The air will flow in the front of the inner hive and not through the cluster. Some beeks just leave the screened bottom open during all seasons with seemingly good results. Haven't tried it and won't. A good trick is to put granulated sugar on the inner cover around the hole. The moisture is collected by the sugar and the bees consume the sugar seemingly more readily. The only problem with gran. sugar is the ants that it will draw in the spring, which in turn might make their nest on the inner cover even after you have cleaned everything. This makes for vicious bees similar to a skunk situation.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    hamburg, new york, usa
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    440

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cedar Hill View Post
    If there is a lot of moisture, it has to be vented through a small 3/8" crack made by lifting either the right or left front corner of your inner cover.
    Why is this so? Why inner rt. or lt. corner?
    Do you do both if you have SBB? (crack SBB and open inner cover?)

    I have cracked only back side of outer cover 3/8". The reason: My prevalent wind is coming from W-SW. I do not want it pushing cold air from front. So far no moisture.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord NH
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    2,665

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cedar Hill View Post
    Did you wrap them with plastic as is shown in one of the photos? If so, the hive cannot "breathe" and will certainly keep its moisture. Wrapping with tarpaper is different. If there is a lot of moisture, it has to be vented through a small 3/8" crack made by lifting either the right or left front corner of your inner cover. There must be a hole through the tarpaper wrap to allow the moisture out. Also, if you have a screened bottom board, pull the plastic mite catching sheet open about an inch or so to allow air to go up from the bottom to the top "vent". The air will flow in the front of the inner hive and not through the cluster. Some beeks just leave the screened bottom open during all seasons with seemingly good results. Haven't tried it and won't. A good trick is to put granulated sugar on the inner cover around the hole. The moisture is collected by the sugar and the bees consume the sugar seemingly more readily. The only problem with gran. sugar is the ants that it will draw in the spring, which in turn might make their nest on the inner cover even after you have cleaned everything. This makes for vicious bees similar to a skunk situation.
    I'm using Polystyrene with Screened BB's and leave them wide open all winter long.

    No wrap necessary with the Polystyrene which is a big plus.

    No problems so far and I just dropped some paper/sugar/pollen patty on top inside a medium I had on top of 2 deeps today when it was almost 40 with bright sun and no wind earlier today. A couple of the girls came up to check it out....they're doing fine as far as I can see....plenty of bees.
    Milk Cows Not Taxpayers

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    196

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    I have cracked only back side of outer cover 3/8". The reason: My prevalent wind is coming from W-SW. I do not want it pushing cold air from front. So far no moisture.

    Giving the opening on the back side? Why?
    Do you have the bottom opening also on back side?

    When providing top opening/entrance it is of paramount importance that both openings are aligned! Normally this is on the front of the hives. If some insist on providing top entrance on the back - than the hive should be turned to have bottom entrance also on the back!

    Hive MUST have a chimney effect to properly went. With opening on the opposite sides, ventilation will blow across the cluster, which will be very uncomfortable for the bees and can/will kill them. It also hampers their life in summer months, cause they have to use resources to cover and heat brood that is exposed to cross drafts. . .
    At the same time one is providing Varroa with perfect conditions for better life... It is proven that Varroa prefers cooler conditions - like open SBB, cross drafts, shady locations, etc. . .

  12. #12
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    Oct 2007
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    hamburg, new york, usa
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    Quote Originally Posted by France View Post
    Hive MUST have a chimney effect to properly went. With opening on the opposite sides, ventilation will blow across the cluster, which will be very uncomfortable for the bees and can/will kill them. It also hampers their life in summer months, cause they have to use resources to cover and heat brood that is exposed to cross drafts. . .
    At the same time one is providing Varroa with perfect conditions for better life... It is proven that Varroa prefers cooler conditions - like open SBB, cross drafts, shady locations, etc. . .
    Thank you for your advice.

    However, my Russian bees in spite of open SBB all summer and fall almost had no Varroa mites on them or on capped drones.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Bristol,MA,USA
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    Some day I may try polystyrene. Just like to keep things as natural as possible. Once had an insulated hive, in which sawdust or wood shavings were placed into the outer sides. Worked well, but very heavy and consequently of little use for pollination elsewhere. Some in our area leave their SBB's open all winter. Prefer leaving them open just about an inch. Whatever works...

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    276

    Default

    Excellent posts. Thanks to all. These 2 hives were indeed "swarms" (artificially induced mind you... i.e. split hives) in early July. But I don't think that has any bearing. Summer bees live around 6-8 weeks. The carnage pictured occurred sometime in January or February. (I visited the hives after New Years and they were Ok with no more dead bees than the usual few.) So, if those dead bees were summer bees then they would have to be 6-7 months old!! I hope/think this was just over crowding in the hive. Or else something forced them out en-masse and they died before they could all get back in. I'll have to wait until spring to check it.

    Thanks France for the tip on entrance orientation. Locating the upper entrance directly above the lower one will certainly provide a sort of chimney effect. But won't that chill the bees even more? I thought if the breeze was tempered a litlle by coming in from the side bottom, then it wouldn't chill the bees as much. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Thanks.

    Luc
    Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you`ll be among the stars!

  15. #15
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    Jan 2009
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    Bristol,MA,USA
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    FWIW You missed my point. "Summer bees" would be dead just as in the picture. Suggest unwrapping and looking into the hives on a warm day esp. if the bees are not flying. You might find a very small cluster, if anything. If a small cluster, drip honey right onto them and start the gran. sugar. Hope I am wrong.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
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    Luc,
    Top entrance is traditionally located on center, in the lower rim of your inner cover. Location of bottom one is not important, it can be centered or to either side. But MUST be on the same side as the top one!
    My bottom entrances, are in winter, set on the smallest opening. Meaning, that the opening is only 3/8" high and about 6 or 7 inches wide. I usualy restrict this width to about 4 inches and this also places the opening somewhat off center.
    Don't worry about chilling the bees with openings in the same side? This won't happen, cause bees on cold days move the cluster away from the opening, thus escaping the chill if there is any. On sunny days they will move forward. This back and fore movement was observed to be almost daily occurrence.
    The chimney effect works directly up and down, along the outer wall. This "upward draft" if you will than draws very slowly the surrounding moist air which naturally drifts upwards, only now it is drawn to the front and away from the bees - instead up and through the cluster.
    Also winter sun is low on the horizon and it warms the hives later in the day. In my location it warms them on the back and there is where the cluster is, and most of their winter stores.
    With the top opening being in the back, they have no place to go - cold/moist air will go right over/through the cluster no matter where they locate themselves.

    Another very important fact about the upper entrance is, that bees without top entrance almost never come out for a cleansing flight - except only on very warm days. (If they survive the wetness that long???) The distance to bottom is too great for them to make this journey and stay alive. If they are forced out, for whatever reason, they are too chilled to make it back to the cluster. (one should check the top openings for obstructions)
    One must remember that bees do not heat the hive, but warm air produced from heating the cluster and their breath, does go up and collects under the inner cover. This may be negligible for us, but for a tiny bee it is significant and they do make use of it - or not!?

    And Luc, don't worry about it, as long as there is an opening at the top and the humidity is dissipating, your bees are happy. If the top hole would bother them they would propolize it!?

    I just yesterday repaired one spare bottom board wit build in screen and drawer under it. (My SBB are opened in summer only about half an inch) Yesterday I noticed that they propolized the screen and left 3 - 3 inch holes, evenly spaced from corner to corner. Bees know best, what suits them!? All we can do is listen to their needs and only try to help - not dictate/force our ways on them.

    I have hives on a side of a hill, about 100 meters/yards from a lake and prevailing winds ofcourse blow across the lawn and up the driveway to the hives. There is no getting away from this fact, cause wind blows where is least resistance - no trees/forest.
    Last two winters, two of the front hives propolized the top entrance almost shut. They left only a small hole, the size of a pencil. (I even cut this out twice - but they built it back) This winter they did not cover the top entrances?
    Bees do have the ability to sense the severity of winters ahead of them and they prepare accordingly.

    To those who have open SBB?
    Perhaps it works well in the locations where you people keep your hives? Here, we get temps down to minus 50 and strong winds that clear the snow almost to bare ground in places or pile it up to the tops of roofs on our houses.
    I keep the bottom drawer closed at all times. SBB is not an ventilation device!? It is a device designed to trap fallen Varroa and give us the ability to pull out the drawer and check for them...)
    I crack it open only a bit if they beard. In the fall, when I wrap them, I install under the bottom board a 1 inch Styrofoam which is fitted - nice and tight. I do not want the air to penetrate the hive - nowhere from the bottom - cause if it does - it will make bees very miserable and on damp days and/or extremely cold ones, it will kill them quick.
    Cold they can take - dampness and God forbid, ice, which will later start to melt and drip - they will be goners - at least here in my parts of the woods...
    To prevent ice and later drip - a 1.5" or 2" piece of Styrofoam must be placed over the inner cover. Under it should go 1/2" piece of Homasote, to absorb moisture that escapes through center hole of your inner cover.
    With such set up, the warm air from the hive can not get in contact with cold and it won't condense - but will harmlessly escape through the top entrance. . .


    Regards,
    France



    Quote Originally Posted by MichelinMan View Post
    Thanks France for the tip on entrance orientation. Locating the upper entrance directly above the lower one will certainly provide a sort of chimney effect. But won't that chill the bees even more? I thought if the breeze was tempered a litlle by coming in from the side bottom, then it wouldn't chill the bees as much. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Thanks.

    Luc

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    hamburg, new york, usa
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    France what kind of bees do you have? Italian, Russian... ?

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcelar View Post
    France what kind of bees do you have? Italian, Russian... ?
    Mine were originally Buckfast bees but were bread with Caucasians and Carniolans. They are now well adopted to the area where I keep them.
    They are Italian looking with some emerging quite yellow while others are dark. I have only one original colony which is a real survivor and I hope that they make it this year, so I can split them and keep the strain going.
    Last year I went almost 200 kilometres further north-east and got two nucs, just to bring in some new blood.

    Regards,
    France

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