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Thread: Winter Behavior

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Salix, Pa, USA
    Posts
    47

    Default Winter Behavior

    Hi. I just came in from outside and happened to walk past my hives. It's about 40 degress outside here in Southwestern PA and some of my bees were out on what I assume to be cleansing flights. However, after watching them for about 10-15 minutes I noticed that about 75% of the bees (maybe more) that were leaving the hives were crash landing on the snow sometimes rolling on their backs and staying there.

    Is this normal behavior. I have 5 hive and 2 of them were active in this manner with about 50 + bees dead outside in the snow and then about 1 or 2 exiting in this manner every minute and either landing in the snow as I stated above or flying around. Didn't see any returning to the hive though.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Bristol,MA,USA
    Posts
    728

    Default Re: Winter Behavior

    If you were to take one fallen bee and place it in the palm of your hand you would probably see it recover and fly off to the hive. It works at times even with drown bees. This happens with all hives, some more than others. If they were to land in grass they would probably fly back to the hive. What you should watch out for is the color of the fecal matter on the snow, not that you can do much about it in winter. Very dark brownish blackish matter on the snow or against the hive can indicate dysentery or nosema. It also might be caused by too much moisture in the hive. OMTCW

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    122

    Default Re: Winter Behavior

    I had this happen to a couple hives last year, however the temps were below freezing.
    Both hives died. Plenty of honey stores and good airflow(damp location).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Green Lane, PA
    Posts
    839

    Default Re: Winter Behavior

    I would venture to guess that most if not all the bees that were flying today were not going to be around come spring anyhow being that they were old foragers.

    Its a more noble death to forage in unforgiving weather then to simply die in the hive and fall to the bottom.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Baltimore, OH
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Winter Behavior

    Sounds normal for central Ohio. I was out yesterday and while we don't have snow there are many corpses around the colonies. It kinda freaks you out when you see so many corpses, especially in the snow. I lost 2 out of 5 last year and I knew one was weak. Don't worry.

    I've also picked up some near dead bees and warmed them in my hands to return them to the hive. More for me than the bee.

    Pife

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,429

    Default Re: Winter Behavior

    Could also be suicide flights you're seeing, natural downsizing of the winter cluster. Check some of the bees in the snow and see if the back of their thorax is hairless ( sign of an older forager bee ). If they are younger bees then it could be the temperatures that are paralyzing them and they don't make it back in time. Don't be too concerned about it unless the number of casualties appears way too high.
    To everything there is a season....

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