Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 21
  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland County, AR
    Posts
    1,076

    Default I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    Newbee here; first winter, central Arkansas. Entered winter with good stores, I was told. One deep and two supers full, 8 frame. SBB top and bottom. Italians. Huge number going into winter.

    It should be about 66 today; cloudy, looks gusty. I've been doing lots of reading and lots say to check the hive on a nice warm day, so this was my intended day, should the forecast prove accurate.

    Hubby wandered out and did a visual; saw about 30 dead bees clustered on the WET landing board. I have 2 hives. Same on both. I pulled out the entrance reducer on one. The other is stuck. Cleared away dead bees after examining. Read that tongues sticking out meant they were starving. Lots had their tongues out.

    Came here to do some reading and I'm seeing as many "leave alone" as "check." So I'm just beside myself. I had tried the "lift" method - couldnt budge them. I lifted the lid on one just to see if I could tell if they had moved up but it was very quiet. Tapped on both hives - good strong hum, I felt.

    Do you think the bees were just doing a cleansing flight and it was just their time to go? Why are their tongues out? Should I leave off the ER (have all mice found their winter homes already?)

    Should I put sugar in "just in case"? Or do I just assume my winter stores were enough? And if lots of bees are out flying, does this mean the cluster has broken, so I can pull frames?

    Sorry to have so many questions - I've got lots more! I really am trying to contain myself!

    Thanks so much!

    Addendum - just went out to check again; lots more dead bees, but they ARE being dragged out. It's misting; they are still coming and going.
    Last edited by Seymore; 12-30-2010 at 08:15 AM. Reason: Addendum

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,230

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    Finding dead bees on the floor of your colony can be an indicater of how the colony is, but from what you have reported, it sounds like they are doing well. Therefore, nothing more needs to be done to them at this time. In my opinion.

    Think about individual bees as tho they were cells of an organism. New cells are being produced to replace old/dead cells. The dead cells must be removed from the environment in which the organism lives or else bad things can happen. That's why, during one stage of a bees life, bees are seen removing dead bees and other trash from the hive. That's why you found dead bees on the landing board and inside the hive on the bottom board.

    So, if you can't stand to leave them alone, periodically remove the entrance reducer and pull what dead bees you find out of the hive. Otherwise, you can leave them alone for a while.

    What do your fellow Arkansans tell you? Quite often beekeeping can be quite local.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland County, AR
    Posts
    1,076

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    Have made a few calls and an email to the state inspector. No replies yet. . Thought this avenue might be just as quick - as it has proved.

    A favorite quote - "Don't just do something! Stand there!" Sooooo hard!

    Thanks for the input.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,230

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    Some of my favorite quotes are: "When in doubt there is no doubt." "The best time to do something is when you can, not when you want to." "Bees make better beekeepers than beekeepers make bees."

    I say, if you are going to go into a beehive, do it for a reason. Curiosity can be a reason. But is it worth it?

    Enjoy.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Warrior, Alabama
    Posts
    1,067

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    I asked an old coot once if it was too cold to check the bees.
    I will never forget the response.

    "Drop your pants for a minute. If it freezes your butt, don't freeze theirs."
    Old Guy in Alabama

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Manhattan,Montana,USA
    Posts
    358

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    dont worry about them so much. If you want to take a peek. i have looked in my hives when the temps are in the mid 30's. it didn't do any harm i dont think. make it quick and only lift the lid and look down dont move the frames etc. I think that lifting a hive could disrupt the cluster quicker than poping the top for a second. I have finially come to the fact that once they enter winter cluster here there is nothing i can do to save them other than put a little dry sugar on top of the frames. anything else will probably hurt them more. i really cant go through my hives from october threw march so i have a long wait. the time to look is in the late summer and make sure they have plenty of stores and a large number of bees.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Ripley, WV, USA
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    Make a pie pan size circle of cake fondant on waxed paper, thin enough to fit under the inner cover. When the temp. gets above 55 lift have hubby lift off the outer cover, then up, tilt, and hold the inner cover. Your hands are then free to gently lay the circle of fondant on the bars above the center slightly to back of hive leaving ventilation hole open. Take off the waxed paper before inserting. If too tight, insert 2 kitchen match sticks at each corner of the top box front between the inner cover and the corners of the box for ventilation. Close back up. Team effort, get in, get it done, get out.


    If they don't need it they won't eat it and you can take it off for later use. If they do need it, you have taken care of them for awhile.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland County, AR
    Posts
    1,076

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    This first year of not knowing SO much is very difficult! Thanks for the quick responses! I feel a bit better about the situation. Seems like they are just doing housekeeping. I'll look up some fondant recipes and have that on hand for the next warm day. Thanks again, all!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Benton, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    211

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    I bet your bees are doing ok. I am in Central Arkansas and I am going to take advantage of this warm weather and put some candy on my hives and grease patties. I am new this year also. I have a screened bottom board that is open and an upper entrance for ventilation. I like to look at my bees when I can in the winter (every few weeks), when the temps are above 50. My bees like sugar syrup, and will take it even when its below 50 degrees. With the mid 20's forcast this week, I am not going to put the feeder out, as I would have to take it back in tomorrow. Also, I would like to let you know about the Central Ark Beekeepers meeting on Monday night. They are going to build frames and make lotion bars and lip balm. I would imagine that you know about the beekeepers meeting in Hot Springs, the one in Little Rock is the 2nd Monday.
    Best of luck with your bees. Enjoy them!! It will not hurt to look inside the hive if its above 50 and not real windy. Just dont pull alot of frames, and be as quick as you can about it. If you need any more info, just let me know.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,230

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seymore View Post
    This first year of not knowing SO much is very difficult!!
    Kinda like having kids. You can do all the reading and take all the advice available and it's still a crap shoot.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
    Posts
    2,367

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Kinda like having kids. You can do all the reading and take all the advice available and it's still a crap shoot.
    I could not agree more. I don't know why but that really amused me. I guess i had visions of holding a crying baby and having no clue what I was supposed to do.

    Dan
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Littlerock, California, USA
    Posts
    940

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    <I will open a hive in upper 40's and low 50's if I really need to, but I don't remove frames with temps that low.>

    That's good advice.

    Personally, I don't see what opening the hive up in colder temps when they are flying accomplishes. By watching the flying activity, you can get just about everything you need to know. If they are making it, there will be activity. If they arn't, there won't be. If they are strong, there will be alot of activity. If they are weak, just a little. By spending a few minutes watching, I got everything I needed to know, without the possibility of damaging them from cracking it open.

    The only thing it might tell you is if it's a dead out that other bees are robbing from. In that case, it often looks like a weak hive. But figuring out you have a dead out in January really doesn't help me. I still lose a hive. It's too late for me to order a replacement (I put replacement orders in December) and it's too soon for me to figure out how to do a split to make up the numbers. Any losses I find out about in January are just as well found out in the end of Feb or early March.

    But, that's how I work. Minimal intervention. I don't see how cracking them open would harm them too much.
    I just read this in another post, good advice if you can follow it. Personally I check my hives often in the winter when the bees are out flying and the sun is out. I look in but do not remove frames. However, I am in a different climate than you. I have freezing temps but not for days long.
    “Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end”

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland County, AR
    Posts
    1,076

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    Thanks for the info on the Little Rock meeting, acownbeegirl. I had forgotten which day. I will definitely try to make that. One a month just isn't enough for me!

    I didn't open them up today, too drizzly. And I wanted to be ready to give them something if I did. A local told me it is unlikely they used up all their honey this early, so that helped..... But there was a big mess of them going into winter... So who knows!

    Hey Mark - no wonder I avoid craps!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland County, AR
    Posts
    1,076

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    Ccar - very good info and logical! Thanks for sharing that!!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland County, AR
    Posts
    1,076

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    It's 67 here so I went to see how much more collateral damage there was today. VERY LITTLE! Both hives are teeming with bees and even bringing in a bit of pollen, would you believe! From what, I don't know! But they do! I'm taking this as a great sign and I am sooooo relieved! Since I was told stores should still be okay if I went into winter strong - and I did - I am passing on my MAJOR urge to open them and will wait for the next good opportunity. But.... There IS still this afternoon.

    Thanks again to you all for holding my hand and getting me thru yet another anticipated crisis!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Littlerock, California, USA
    Posts
    940

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    Good news Seymore! For me this is the most tedious time of year wondering if things are ok. If I only had x-ray vision, what's going on in the big white box would not be such a mystery
    “Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end”

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland County, AR
    Posts
    1,076

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    Ain't it the truth, ccar! I was actually thinking of one of those scopes like the Docs use - or plumbers! Lol! I think I see an invention on the horizon!!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Battle Ground, Wa
    Posts
    198

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    Glad to hear your bees are doing OK, but its a bit early to celebrate. I know a few years back I lost a couple hives to starvation after the fruit trees started blooming. They were fine near the end of Feb, but were trying to expand the colony size rapidly and during several rainy days, simply ran out of stores & starved. I was really upset because it was one of my best hives that died out. In my experience early spring is the time to really worry about how much feed your bees have.

    The other important item is ventilation. One year I lost the only two hives I had even though they were nicely closed up with entrance reducers and should have been snug it their hives. Opened the hives up & they were wet & moldy inside. The very first swarm call I got that spring was in a squirrel house. Turned out that it wasn't a swarm, it was a booming colony that had survived in a squirrel house that had a large entrance hole up on one side and the bottom completely open. Home owner told me that he had opened the bottom to clean out the leaves in the fall & gotten more than leaves, so left it figuring they would die out over the winter. Anyway, I now use screened bottom boards & never close them up.

    A quote I always liked was from my father. "If you're not going to learn from your mistakes, don't bother to make them in the first place."

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland County, AR
    Posts
    1,076

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    Thanks for the reality check, reneal, but I was just celebrating this ONE small victory. I know more trials and tribs are to come! But I do take pleasure in each victory - they actually seem so huge!!!

    I'm with u on the SBB. I did a bunch of reading - of course everyone has a reason for the way they do it, but the condensation issue started me thinking of how they live in the wild. I haven't seen too many painted trees, and they are living in hollows, and you just gotta know those trees "breathe." I figure we are bout near closing out every bit of breathability by boxing them in and tripple painting everything, so I went the ventilation route. SBB top and bottom. Seemed most logical to me. THIS from an inexperienced green newbie - did i mention inexperienced???! - beekeeper, you understand. So, fer what it's worth.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland County, AR
    Posts
    1,076

    Default Re: I'm so confused- check; don't check.

    Oh yeah.... Just WHEN is early spring? What does that mean? When certain things are blooming? Or when temps begin to regularly hit a certain temp, or a certain date for my area? Is there a way to determine when to start feeding other than "early spring"?

    Did I mention inexperienced???

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads