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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    bridgewater , nova scotia
    Posts
    678

    Question my first wintering of bees

    Hello all, i am heading into winter weather and i have done what i could to prepare the bees as best i could. i insulated all the top covers and made spacers for air flow to let out the moisture . it also allows me to add sugar cakes/fondant if needed. i have had some days with warm weather and the bees were out flying around, doing some housework/undertaking. my main concern is that i have seen about a handful of bees on some of my hives being drug out of the hive. Is this normal for this time of year? i hope i'm not losing my hives over something i haven't done .
    i didn't wrap my hives , because i took some info from other BKs in my general area, and they said they didn't wrap last year and they had better luck ect. so time will tell if i did wrong.

    some say to wrap with tar paper.

    Any information or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Ben

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Freeland, MI, USA
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: my first wintering of bees

    A handful of dead bees being brought out is nothing to worry about in my experience. A big old pile of dead bees in front of the hive might be...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,283

    Default Re: my first wintering of bees

    Ben,
    When a hive is getting ready for winter it is normal to see the workers dragging out the nonessential bees, this will continue for several weeks.
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio

  4. #4

    Default Re: my first wintering of bees

    Quote Originally Posted by codeboy823 View Post
    A handful of dead bees being brought out is nothing to worry about in my experience. A big old pile of dead bees in front of the hive might be...
    They may be dispatching with drones - I am still seeing lots of drones (!?!?) on warm days here in New England, including Saturday. I can't see wrapping with tar paper being a negative, especially if you have significant wind. I didn't wrap last year and lost two hives (to mites probably - late on fall treatment of those 2), did wrap the year before and wrapped 5 of 7 this year. The top insulation (I use rigid, foil-backed foam) is probably most critical in any case. Good luck.

    Brian

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,864

    Default Re: my first wintering of bees

    The thing about wrapping with tar paper is that it also helps stop all drafts into the hive. Wind can be a real stress on the hives. I know how windy it gets in NS, but also a lot of shelter.
    If your bees are working cleaning out your hive I think you should rest easy. Thats a real good sign
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Creston bc canada
    Posts
    52

    Default Re: my first wintering of bees

    I was wondering about this also , this being my first winter.

    I find about 40 or 50 dead bees on the deck every second day or so , but just figured that because the hives are on a deck , and unlike being on grass or dirt , I just notice them more.

    From what I've read , there are 30-50,000 bees in a healthy 2 deep hive , and this one is very healthy so far.

    So even losing 50 bees a day , it would take 100 days or a little over 3 months , to lose even 5000 bees , not a big chunk of the hive yet.

    And they may still be rearing some brood as well , and I noticed a lot of the dead ones are drones.

    I'm not terribly worried at this point , only time will tell.

    I would appreciate others thoughts on this as well.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    bridgewater , nova scotia
    Posts
    678

    Default Re: my first wintering of bees

    Thanks everyone for the replies ! I know wrapping is a unsettled issue around my area , there is larger operations wintering inside a climate controlled building with around 4-500 hives , but i don't have the quid to do that yet : )

    Ian you make a good point , i think i will wrap the ones in the windier parts , just to keep the drafts down a bit .

    I was just hoping that if the bees were strong enough that they could survive the cold like any wild bees do.

    Thanks again !

    Ben

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Monroe County, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    171

    Default Re: my first wintering of bees

    Quote Originally Posted by jwbee View Post
    I was wondering about this also , this being my first winter.

    I find about 40 or 50 dead bees on the deck every second day or so , but just figured that because the hives are on a deck , and unlike being on grass or dirt , I just notice them more.

    From what I've read , there are 30-50,000 bees in a healthy 2 deep hive , and this one is very healthy so far.

    So even losing 50 bees a day , it would take 100 days or a little over 3 months , to lose even 5000 bees , not a big chunk of the hive yet.

    And they may still be rearing some brood as well , and I noticed a lot of the dead ones are drones.

    I'm not terribly worried at this point , only time will tell.

    I would appreciate others thoughts on this as well.
    Keep in mind the average life expectancy of a bee. You will continue to see dead bees in and around your hives. On days over 50 degrees F, you'll see healthy bees carrying them off. The Queen isn't replacing the dead as quickly as during the summer and fall months. It is normal to see a decline in population over the winter months. Make sure you feed a sugar syrup around March to entice the Queen to start laying again.

    My 2 cents on wrapping hives with tar paper. The tar paper can play an important role in stopping wind from blowing through cracks in the hives, reducing stress on the bees. The bees are not working as hard to warm the hive, therefore reducing the amount of stores consumed by the bees. The tar paper also creates an air block between the tar paper and hive. Air is an excellent insulator. I close off my IPM bottom boards during winter. With the gap that I created (with popsicle sticks) between the hive and inner cover, the rising heat will draw enough fresh air into the bottom to the hive. With cold 20 and 30 degree F mornings, the black tar paper will absorb the morning sunlight and may give your bees those few extra degrees that they need.

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