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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Placer County, CA
    Posts
    14

    Default I don't think my bees are going to make it through winter

    I'm in Northern CA and new to beekeeping. I installed a NUC in May. In the fall, I had a very strong hive. I noticed their stores were getting low, so I started feeding them sugar syrup again. (I stopped during summer because they quit taking it with all the blackberries in bloom) Then I began reading here that you should not feed syrup when it gets cold, and switch to either candy or pollen patties. (and brood patties in Jan/Feb) While I ordered the brood patties, I also bought some winter patties from Dadant - since it only changed the shipping by $5.

    I opened up the hive on a warm afternoon to give them the winter patty and I was shocked at how few bees there are in the hive. We are in the low 40's at night/60's in the daytime and January/February are our coldest months. I saw the queen, but I'm worried they are not going to make it once it gets really cold. I have no idea what I did wrong. Is there anything I can do now?

  2. #2

    Default Re: I don't think my bees are going to make it through winter

    Did you do any mite testing/treatments? (I know...I'm beginning to sound like a broken record....for those of you who might remember records)
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,686

    Default Re: I don't think my bees are going to make it through winter

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    (I know...I'm beginning to sound like a broken record....for those of you who might remember records)
    Scratched CDs sometimes repeat themselves also.
    -- Victor Hugo -- "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.”

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Placer County, CA
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: I don't think my bees are going to make it through winter

    Not any treatments other than putting the plastic in the screened bottom board. I don't have it in now though.

  5. #5

    Default Re: I don't think my bees are going to make it through winter

    Mites sap a bee colony’s vigor. The heavier the infestation the greater the price paid. Parasitized colonies produce less honey and often the overwintering population declines rapidly resulting in a small cluster…which in turn doesn’t have enough mass or energy to survive. While the outward appearance frequently indicates starvation or hypothermia, the underlying cause is mite parasitism.
    Mites are, hands down, enemy number one.
    Good luck.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,690

    Default Re: I don't think my bees are going to make it through winter

    Where you at in Placer Co?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
    Posts
    1,918

    Default Re: I don't think my bees are going to make it through winter

    What kind of bees do you have? For many years I had Italians and then one year bought some NWC queens. I was shocked to see such small clusters during the winter. I was convinced that they wouldn't make it, but they all did and caught up with the Italian hives by the time the honey flow started.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Placer County, CA
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: I don't think my bees are going to make it through winter

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    Where you at in Placer Co?
    Near Auburn.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Placer County, CA
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: I don't think my bees are going to make it through winter

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    Mites sap a bee colony’s vigor. The heavier the infestation the greater the price paid. Parasitized colonies produce less honey and often the overwintering population declines rapidly resulting in a small cluster…which in turn doesn’t have enough mass or energy to survive. While the outward appearance frequently indicates starvation or hypothermia, the underlying cause is mite parasitism.
    Mites are, hands down, enemy number one.
    Good luck.
    Should I put the plastic back in the screened bottom board and see if there are any mites? Any other ways to check?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Creston bc canada
    Posts
    52

    Default Re: I don't think my bees are going to make it through winter

    In your current weather , I would treat with oxalic acid vapour , just to be safe , it may help.

    Just did mine a week ago , it is cheap and easy , and is effective in cold weather.

    Google it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,686

    Default Re: I don't think my bees are going to make it through winter

    Well, pollen patties are not equivalent to candy (or sugar). Pollen is needed to raise brood, but sugar/candy is a substitute for honey. If you need to feed, sugar/candy should be your first priority.

    Michael Bush's site is quite useful for a new beek. Here is a page on feeding:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm


    EDIT: Oops, I misread the original post about Dadant winter patties. I didn't realize that there were some patties that were little pollen substitute and mostly carbohydrate. This must be what I assume you are referring to:
    http://www.dadant.com/catalog/produc...oducts_id=1281
    Last edited by Rader Sidetrack; 12-10-2012 at 09:18 AM. Reason: update with winter patty comment
    -- Victor Hugo -- "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.”

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Placer County, CA
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: I don't think my bees are going to make it through winter

    Quote Originally Posted by Rader Sidetrack View Post
    Well, pollen patties are not equivalent to candy (or sugar). Pollen is needed to raise brood, but sugar/candy is a substitute for honey. If you need to feed, sugar/candy should be your first priority.

    Michael Bush's site is quite useful for a new beek. Here is a page on feeding:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm


    EDIT: Oops, I misread the original post about Dadant winter patties. I didn't realize that there were some patties that were little pollen substitute and mostly carbohydrate. This must be what I assume you are referring to:
    http://www.dadant.com/catalog/produc...oducts_id=1281
    Yes, that is what I bought. I didn't do a complete hive inspection, so I don't know if they are rearing brood or not. As this is my first winter, I don't know what is "normal".

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Summerfield, NC
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: I don't think my bees are going to make it through winter

    I don't know about your specific area of California, but my bees are foraging just like it's midsummer, when the temps are up for a few days. Is it possible you just had a lot of bees out of the hive at that moment, maybe on cleansing flights?

    I've actually had problems with warm winters, moreso than bitter cold. Bees aren't clustering and reserving honey, and they are rearing brood when nothing is in bloom. I had to start feeding at Thanksgiving; one hive had already starved out.

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