Was able to peak in on three of the hives today and they are still alive.
Didn't bother the Nuc because of how strong they have been.
If in-Accurateweather's predictions are close, the multiple days in a row of freezing temps are almost over.
3 hives survived the Winter.
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.
Today temps got into the 50's and the girls were out flying, it sure felt good.
I know the nice temps in February are welcomed but we will pay for it in the end.
Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping
I have a large silver maple out back and the buds at the top are starting to open. Looks like the top buds are three times the size of the buds toward the bottom. Seems a little early to me ,still waiting for the robins to show up.
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.
Checked my last surviving hive today and it I'd dead. I lost all four of my hives this winter. I had 2 full size hives and 2 nucs. On the bright side, I now have lots of drawn comb.
My neighborhood has tons of silver maples. Last winter, my first winter with bees, they really benefitted from the maples. I’m hoping for a nice boost again this year. Looking forward to a warm day when I’m off work to check stores and get an idea how my NUC is doing. It still has a pulse.
I hope it warms up soon. Not just for the bees but for me too. I'm ready for a spring. I lost few so far 4 or 5 out o f twenty. No sign of nosema according to my microscope samples. I think they just must not have been strong enough. As of yesterday they were looking good buzzing around. Now new losses. I am excited for the upcoming year.
I stopped in at my friend's house yesterday afternoon. He has 5 hives in Northampton County, PA and another 10 in New Jersey right where I-78 crosses the Delaware River. He was telling me that his bees were out flying this past Saturday. I live only about 15 miles from him. He is on the southern side of the Blue Mountain and I'm on the Northern side. The difference in temperature in those 15 miles was 12 degrees. While his bees enjoyed a nice 50 degree day, mine were all snuggled up inside.
The weather outlook for the next 10 days does not look good for the Pocono Mts. area. Two of those days are calling for highs of 42 and the rest are in the 20's and 30's. I checked on my 4 hives yesterday....some loud humming going on.
I did a quick check Friday afternoon of 2 hives at home and one is looking GREAT (cluster was about 10-12" diameter in a single, 7 frame deep box with some capped stores on top of the frames) while the other seems to have a smaller cluster than I'd like to see. There were a ton of bees dead on the bottom board which I didn't like to see. I think ventilation was an issue. I didn't know that the hole on the bottom was clogged leaving next to no air coming in other than the reduced entrance on top. So we'll see how things are in a month or so.
delber....are you using IPM bottoms? I'm using them with the mite tray in all the way and popsicle sticks below and above the inner cover. The popsicle sticks give a 1/8th gap for perfect ventilation. I've had very few dead bees this winter.
I'm actually using solid bottoms that I drilled a hole in and put 1/8" hardware cloth over to give ventilation. I'm using upper entrances so if I don't have a hole in the bottom water can build up and drown the bees. The hole was blocked with a couple dead (moldy) bees. I hadn't checked this hive really except popping the top since about October or so. I think the mountain camp method may be messing up things. I am seeing now that the sugar is awfully wet on top. Last year I wrapped the hives so once I put the sugar on I never went in until I was unwrapping them. It may be that the moisture is coming in from the sides, but if the cluster is putting off this much moisture I'm amazed!!! I did spray the sugar slightly near the entrance so that it didn't roll and close the hive off, but I'm still surprised that it's SOOO wet. I think this may be the reason for all of the dead bees. It may be that the sugar dripped back into the hive on top of the bees. That could be what did all of them in. For now there's a cluster there still, but it is small. So we'll see how they pull through.
Always remember that it's not the cold that will kill your bees, it's the moisture. That is, no doubt, why your bees are dying. You may want to consider converting to the IPM bottoms. You can even convert your existing bottoms to a screened bottom by cutting out the center and adding #5 hardware cloth. Your hives need to breath and if the dead bees are clogging your vent holes, it is defeating the purpose. If the holes are clogged, you won't have any air flow through the hives and will have a dead air space which is a prime factor for mold. Plus, as you stated, you are using top entrances rather than a bottom entrance which also limits any air intake on the bottom.
I haven't been able to look inside my hives since early December because of the cold, but I am seeing very few dead bees around the entrances. Before December, I started to notice some mold forming on the underside of the inner covers. That is when I inserted the popsicle sticks. We have had some very cold temps here with whole weeks in the single digits to teens as highs for the day, but the bees are doing well.
Recommend that on the very next day that you can get into your hives that you slightly raise your inner and outer covers. If you can't change your bottoms, add a popsicle stick between the rear corners of your bottom board and lower brood chamber. This will raise it slightly enough to generate air flow. See if this rectifies your problem.
Spring is in sight. You'd hate to lose your colonies so close to the finish line.
Last edited by MaydayMalone; 02-20-2013 at 07:28 AM.
Thanks for your thoughts Mayday. I will seek to do something like this soon. It may be next year also that I won't use the mountain camp method as it seems that this has been the issue for me. (at least not until late in the winter when I know they're low on stores) I do have to agree with you about your conclusion though. I do think it was moisture that did them in. There was another hive that died early fall and I think this was the same reason. Man that's a stinky way to learn!!! I hate to loose good hives!!!
Well, my NUC with the small cluster finally gave up the ghost this week. I checked on them today. I made up the NUC much too late in the season and knew I would be lucky to get them through. This year all NUCs I plan to overwinter will be made in the Summer, no later than early July to give them time to strengthen up.
My two hives at home are still alive, will check on my other two at my brother's place tomorrow.
Another sad discovery.
The Nuc is dead.
While going through the supers I noticed there appeared to be two clusters. One in the third (top) deep and one in the middle deep.
It looked strong earlier this month and had food. They even had some sugar left on top of the inner cover.
This is a four frame Nuc with three deeps and now have 12 additional frames of comb and capped honey for Spring.
50% loss so far.
3 hives survived the Winter.