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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Arlee MT USA
    Posts
    548

    Default Finding small clusters of almost dead bees outside at night.

    Its been pretty cold here lately but we have had a few sunny days and for the last two or three I have been finding small clusters of dead or almost dead bees outside on the edge of the wooden platform my hives our one. Each group has about six to eight bees, with their heads together, not moving. If I get to them in time and scoop them up and warm them they revive and seem okay. Its like they are lost and cant find their hives but they find each other and try and cluster in the open for warmth.

    Any ideas? I've never seen this before.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,587

    Default Re: Finding small clusters of almost dead bees outside at night.

    Honey bees, being the social insects in a community setting will come to the rescue of other bees in a distress situation. I have
    seen this many times though not as many bees only 3-4 of them to the rescue. So they naturally gravitate toward the helpless bee
    on the edge of your hive platform. This will put them in a dangerous chilling situation without them knowing it. They will find
    each others alright trying to cluster for warmth. But we all know this is useless in a cold spell. All you can do now is to
    monitor them and help as many as you can. I would build a wood cover to cover half of the hive for an opening before
    the hive entrance to avoid the chill when they landed on the platform. If too cold then they are confused and not go inside
    their hive right away. Do you have the slanted hive platform or the flat one?
    If it were me I would make a flat waterproof heat pad landing platform for them. If they want to hang out for a while at least
    they will not be chill to death. I read that they will not move very fast below 30F.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,589

    Default Re: Finding small clusters of almost dead bees outside at night.

    Quote Originally Posted by beepro View Post


    If it were me I would make a flat waterproof heat pad landing platform for them.
    Did you forget to add one of these: , or are you serious?
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Carrollton va
    Posts
    45

    Default Re: Finding small clusters of almost dead bees outside at night.

    beepro you have a lot of time on your hands. I had this happen to my hive. It was the first warm day in a while so I think that everybody flew out of the hive to do a clensing flight. I think that some of them were too sick to return to the hive. Putting them back in is just returning sickness or pesticides back into the hive. If it is not too many bees I would not worry about it the queen will lay 1500 more today, hopefully. If it is a lot and it occurs all the time then inspect the hive to see if you can see the reason.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Arlee MT USA
    Posts
    548

    Default Re: Finding small clusters of almost dead bees outside at night.

    All together it was about 50 bees in spread out in about six clusters. Temperatures in the shade was only 42, I noticed all the clusters where on the west edge of my hive platform. I am wondering if these where just bees that where slightly weak/cold that where fine flying out in the sun but when they came back they landed in the shade and got too chilled to make it back inside the hives and eventually wandered towards the warmest spot they could find at sunset which would be the west edge of the platform. Some of them had pollen and some where drones.

    I don't have landing boards, just standard solid bottoms which leaves a 1/4 gap between the entrance board on the platform deck, from a bee's point of view I think it looks just like their actual entrance.

    I often notice bees milling around on the deck in front of the hives and running under the hives until they find and edge and can crawl back up to the actual entrance board. They know their entrance is just above them but the seem like they will walk 20 feet instead of flying 1/2"

    Anyway, to make it easier I stuck a few strips of scrap wood in front of the hives to block up that false entrance and give them a way to climb up into the hive without having to find an edge.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,587

    Default Re: Finding small clusters of almost dead bees outside at night.

    I think they are cold and the west side provide more warmth before the sunset.
    Not sure where you put the hive at. Is the hive entrance facing east?
    You think they will be much better in the full sun all day long? Maybe later on move
    them into the shade when it it hotter. I have 3 hives in the shade too. One with more
    bees that the worker bees cluster outside the hive entrance about 20 bees or so that would not
    go inside their hive. The hive is not overcrowded but with plenty of space still inside.
    If I want them to go inside I use a spray bottle to squirt some water over them. They're thinking
    it is raining so they went inside. Last night I went close to the hive cluster and blew a few
    times on them. Then one bee chased me and I had enough then went inside my house. Still not
    sure why they cluster outside just like yours.

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