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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Robesonia, Pa., USofA
    Posts
    430

    Default Colony update here in Pa

    This has been one of the strangest Winters in quite awhile.
    We've had temps in the low 50's numerous times so far and the bees have been bringing in a pale yellow pollen.

    Was checking out the three colonies my friend has and saw that one of the "stronger" colonies has finally died.
    There were many dead bees on the comb and looks like they either starved or froze to death in place.
    Recently he and I were doing an inspection on a warm day and we saw a few hundred bees and the queen in that hive along with plenty of honey stores left. Didn't look good at that point.

    What was the "weakest" colony going into Winter is now booming! Still trying to figure that one out.
    It has two deeps and a medium with lots of honey and they had eaten most of the sugar we placed on the inner cover.
    Btw, that sugar did a great job absorbing moisture.

    Earlier this Winter we removed a medium super from it that didn't have much honey stores.
    But after seeing how full the hive is, I pulled a medium super full of honey off the dead hive and placed it on the "weak" hive.
    Now they'll have a little more elbow room and more stores to chew on.

    The third colony is still alive but the population is down. Not sure if that one will make it till Spring.
    He is planning to split the "weak" hive at least once and maybe twice if things continue looking good.

    Allen

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Robesonia, Pa., USofA
    Posts
    430

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    It was in the 70's today so we decided to go into the remaining two hives.
    Winds and dark clouds started rolling through the area and we didn't go too far.

    We added a medium honey super to the colony that is booming for a total of 5 supers. Within seconds of adding it they were up in it already.
    Supposed to be in the 70's again next week so we're planning to go down into the brood chamber to see how things are doing.
    Thought I had read that bees were supposed to be reduced in population this time of year but this one already looks like the other two colonies did at the end of Summer.

    Also thought they would be getting low on honey stores but there appears to be an excess of honey.
    A local beekeeper is advising us that we can do splits between the dates of 4/15 to 6/1 in our area.

    Should we be concerned with swarming earlier than that?
    These bees are bringing in a lot of pollen too.

    How many splits can you make from the same colony in the Spring?

    thanks,
    Allen

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Lebanon.PA
    Posts
    137

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Normal swarm season around here starts in May. Will probably start early this year if the warm weather continues. Watch for drones. I'm looking for everything to be two weeks early. Only my opinion but I'm planning on being early rather than late. Depends on the weather of course. An extended cold snap could change everything. They've been brooding all winter I believe as I've got larger than normal cluster's.

    How many splits can you make from the same colony in the Spring?
    Depends on how large a colony you have, what your goal's are ,available drawn comb and your management style. There is really no straight forward answer to that. To build each to a double deep I would say four split's of five comb's and a queen cell could easily build back to a double deep by fall with good flows. Poor flow + syrup same deal.

    My Bee's were working silver Maple today. Could be the pollen you saw coming in.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Robesonia, Pa., USofA
    Posts
    430

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Thanks Dragonfly130.
    What we saw was one giant cluster with two of the top supers (10 frame) having the majority of frames covered in bees.
    Even saw a few cells with reddish pollen which looked like red food coloring.
    A few days earlier there was lots of activity at the entrance but yesterday with that wind picking up there was hardly anything.

    While looking through the dead hive we saw dead bees positioned head first into a number of cells.
    They went into Winter with a good population. I wonder if mites could have caused their numbers to dwindle and then not leave enough bees left to stay warm.

    Supposed to be another real warm day next week so we're going to try an inspection then.
    Will take some photos.
    Allen

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Slippery Rock PA
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Allen,

    I'm from the other side of the state but our winter has been about the same. I went into winter with four hives, two that were decent with plenty of stores, one that has been exceptional, and one not so much. I had one hive that never really amounted to much that started from a package. I found those ones dead a week ago, I didn't really expect them to make it. I have two that seem to be okay, they are still alive with plenty of weight in the hive and a decent amount of bees, I put some sugar on the top a few weeks ago just to see if they would take it and because I'm new at this, I get a little nervous. The good hive, which is from a swarm I collected in June from a colony in a house wall that has been there for ten years, is doing great and their numbers are way higher than what I expected. I'm hoping for another swarm from that original colony in the house this spring and then the homeowners want me to try and remove it. I wish I could just leave it there and keep catching the swarms from it.

    Two hives have been bringing in pollen, from maples I'm guessing, since February 22nd and one just started, I'm interested to see what the good weather next week brings. I'm going to try and split my strongest hive into four around mid may unless I need to do it sooner. The other ones I'm waiting to see how they take off. I'm interested in hearing your results and looking forward to what you decide to do.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Lancaster County, Pa, USA
    Posts
    48

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Same thing here. After a very rough fall with all the flooding and the hive floating in the water. It was quite a learning curve. I've been able to pop the top many times this year to check stores (alot of 2:1 feeding in the fall and hoping for the best). They have been very active recently. During my last quick look last week it appeared the population doubled and they have taken about half the sugar I placed on the top bars. Hoping to rotate the hive bodies next week and start light feeding but, knowing Pa weather and the way this winter has gone we'll get a foot of snow in April.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Monroe County, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    140

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    Be careful of what you say. Some would consider those pitiful hives, 10 pounds per hives.
    Yeah...LOL! Considering I left two 40-pound supers on each hive AND whatever they crammed into the deeps...I'd say the girls did pretty darn good for first year hives.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Downingtown, PA
    Posts
    210

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    My Nuc with the small cluster ... I stapled some 1/8 hardware cloth over their entrance and carried them into the basement until we start hitting the 30's again. I'll probably take them back to the shed on Sunday afternoon. Until then, at least they will not freeze. Been getting down to around 10 degrees here the last couple days. A few more to come.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Coatesville, Pa, USA
    Posts
    797

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    PAHunter Some thoughts for you. . . if your basement is as warm as mine is you may be starting a problem. If it's too warm you could stress them out causing them to die for not being able to get out to relieve themselves. If your basement temp is around 40 then you'll be fine. Perhaps instead of having them in doors as you do, you may be able to wrap them w/ some insulation and / or blankets to give them the edge?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Downingtown, PA
    Posts
    210

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Good points, maybe moving them into the garage is a better idea for now. It will be warmer than the shed until this weather breaks. I plan on putting them back Sat/Sun. Just wanted them out of the 11/12 degree temps.

    My garage is about 15 degrees warmer than the outside temps. I moved them there for now and had some old blankets laying around that I wrapped them in. Should keep them a little warmer, but still in a cluster. My basement was in the low 50's.
    Last edited by PAHunter62; 01-23-2013 at 08:27 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Coatesville, Pa, USA
    Posts
    797

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    I totally understand your concern!!! I wrapped a blanket over 2 of my hives also to try to "help them out" also. I do think the garage is a better option.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Coatesville, Pa, USA
    Posts
    797

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    One more thought. . . Make sure you still have ventilation. When I put the blanket over my 2 hives (the hives are pushed together currently) I left the entrance side of the hive open. (I'm using upper entrances and I have a hole on the bottom boardd w/ 1/16" hardware cloth over it so they have plenty of ventilation.)

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Monroe County, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    140

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    GLOCK...Could you give some tips on wintering nucs? I don't have any this year, but I plan on having at least two next winter. How are you feeding them? Are they just five frames?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    SNOW SHOE PA USA
    Posts
    1,042

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Quote Originally Posted by MaydayMalone View Post
    GLOCK...Could you give some tips on wintering nucs? I don't have any this year, but I plan on having at least two next winter. How are you feeding them? Are they just five frames?
    This is my first year at wintering nuc so i know nothing but mine are alive and strong right now. One thing i used 3 deeps{15 frames} and theres sugar one the top 5 frames i wraped them allso as of 2 weeks ago they where not up at the sugar yet but they are a humming . This year i want 15 nucs going into winter. .
    Say hello to the bad guy!
    year five==== 15 hives==== T{OAV}

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,196

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Actually, Ace lost his hive well before spring.

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...368#post753368
    Regards, Barry

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    4,954

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    Actually, Ace lost his hive well before spring.
    Ehhh, whats a few months here or there ....

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    Most / many people are not detailed oriented.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Robesonia, Pa., USofA
    Posts
    430

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Now inaccurate weather is saying 50 on Tues and 61 on Wed.
    Some rollercoaster of a temperature swing and then it goes back below freezing.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Monroe County, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    140

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Should be out flying on Wednesday.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Monroe County, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    140

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    I am in envy, Allen. We hit 40 today with rain and fog. Based on how loud the humming is coming from the hives I would say they are doing well.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Big Stone Gap, VA
    Posts
    792

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen View Post
    This has been one of the strangest Winters in quite awhile.
    We had a winter as well. Despite not being very cold, a lot of beeks, including our area's experienced beeks, lost a lot of hives. Last year was a bad honey year. Periods of drought and then periods of heavy rain during our main flows.

    We noticed a lot of hives the populations dwindled to the point it appears they could not generate enough numbers to keep warm, and then could not move to stores. Don't know if the queens could not get mated properly or they shut down brood very early and just didn't have enough young bees going into winter.

    We also had problems with robbing in the fall. I will say this, my nucs with Carniolan queens from Tim Service, made it through the winter, despite being robbed heavy at times.

    Shane

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