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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Terre Haute, Indiana USA
    Posts
    128

    Default Winter hive loss what to do.

    OK so I lost one hive already. I went in to winter with a 8 frame double deep and 10 frame 3 medium and a single deep 8 frame. It was 60 degrees today and I wanted to to check on the girls. My 8 frame had struggled after the august dearth, but it seemed to be strong going in to the fall. I opened it today and found dead bee cluster in the top medium. One layer down I found no bees. There appears to be a lot of stores. My question is what to do now. Do I leave the hive and di-assemble in the Spring? Do I try to store the useable frames? Let me know your thoughts.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,672

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    Disassemble the hive and freeze the frames. If you plan on trapping swarms and find the queen put her a bottle of alcohol.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    vicksburg mi usa
    Posts
    35

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    Sorry for your loss. I've lost two already. I'm going to leave the dead outs alone till spring, then use any left over stores to boost other colonies.

    Regards
    Willie

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Athens, OH
    Posts
    2,721

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    It was 60F yesterday and walking by a hive I noticed a suspicious lack of activity. Suspecting a deadout, I popped the top to take a peek. My mistake, got lit up pretty good.
    Go to Heaven for the climate, go to Hell for the company. -Mark Twain

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,457

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    As soon as it warms up enough, you should brush out as many dead bees as possible. You won't get those buried in the cells but getting the bulk of them out will lessen the chance of mold and comb decay. All your frames are reusable just keep them dry and away from rodents. Start your new hives on your best combs and don't ask a small, newly started hive to do the work needed to clean up those with dead bees buried in the cells.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Phoenixville, PA
    Posts
    579

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    I'd clear out the dead bees and either seal it up or leave the deep open on it's side and cover for rain. An empty hive is wonderful winter protection for mice.

    I came through a winter with one survivor out of five hives. From splits I build back up to four at no cost and still managed a small harvest from the original. First split was walk away in April. Next two were in May by grabbing frames with queen cells during the typical swarming season. Out of laziness I split directly into single deep hives and added the then spare deeps later.

    If they just starved out, your gear is likely fine as is and the new girls will clean house better than you will.

    Mike bush has great info on splits and queen rearing. Between swarms and his guidance all my girls are from the first package a decade ago.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Pleasant Shade, TN
    Posts
    454

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by captwillie View Post
    Sorry for your loss. I've lost two already. I'm going to leave the dead outs alone till spring, then use any left over stores to boost other colonies.

    Regards
    Willie
    I'm not telling you what to do, but I would clean it up ASAP! Robbing WILL occur, and you won't have any left over stores to use in the spring. It may also set off a robbing frenzy among your other hives, if there are any, but certainly with feral colonies.
    A man is worth just as much as the things about which he busies himself- Marcus Aurelius

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Terre Haute, Indiana USA
    Posts
    128

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    Thanks for the insight. I will clean it up this week end. I have a well sealed garage near by, I will store frames in there. From my quick look there is a lot of honey in the hive, so it does not appear to be a starve out. My single deep from a small swarm was my insurance this year. I hope it makes it. So I can start the year with two hives, make a couple of nucs, or trap a swarm to keep 3-4 hives going for next winter.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Pottstown, Pennyslvania, USA
    Posts
    378

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    I would freeze the frames for a couple of days before you store them. If not, you'll likely be shocked when the wax moth eggs hatch and the larva destroy your frames.
    Dan Boylan, At it since 2007 in Pa Zone 6B, 13 hives, 7 nucs, treat when needed.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Pleasant Shade, TN
    Posts
    454

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by DPBsbees View Post
    I would freeze the frames for a couple of days before you store them. If not, you'll likely be shocked when the wax moth eggs hatch and the larva destroy your frames.
    Yep.
    A man is worth just as much as the things about which he busies himself- Marcus Aurelius

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,778

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    I picked up a little used freezer for $35 and that's where the frames from my absconded hive are. SHB and wax moth can make you cry
    Time to be a gypsy again, 2014 will be my prep year, my bees want a better area with actual rainfall.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    Absolutly no need to freexe your frames. Your 40 miles from me. They have been frozen outside and will be again very shortly. Brush off the dead bees to prevent mold. Tap on the frames to dislodge any stuck in cells, block the mice out and relax. they are PERFECTLY FINE outside until mid May in this area.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,778

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    yup, beekeeping is local. I almost didn't freeze mine as I lost the hive during a deep freeze, but we have these warm waves like the last week, and I saw a moth and that was it, popped in the freezer
    Time to be a gypsy again, 2014 will be my prep year, my bees want a better area with actual rainfall.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Terre Haute, Indiana USA
    Posts
    128

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    I did a.complete tear down today, and basically I had no bees in the dead hive. Lots of stores, a few queen cells and maybe a few hundred bees. I am guessing here but it looks like I lost a queen late, did not notice due to my inexperience. I have a bunch of drawn comb and honey stores at leaste. If I can keep my small swarm alive this winer, it should be a killer start in the spring or a good way to start a new captured swarm.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,505

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    How much pollen was there in the hive, and were there any tiny white specks on the sides of the brood nest cells?

    No pollen means they died from protein starvation, white specks are mite droppings the bees were too weak to remove, indicating severe mite predation. Check for the common diseases, too, although most likely it was starvation or mites.

    Peter

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,212

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    As a suggestion, put some of the frames of honey on the single you are overwintering. It will be insurance against an erratic spring and will help your single build up rapidly when the time comes. This would also give you a good starting point to split the single in April or early May.
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Terre Haute, Indiana USA
    Posts
    128

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    Psfred, tons of pollen. A lot of frames are honey on the edges and the middle is all pollen. I will look for the white specs, but no sign of a dead queen at all. A late swarm???? That seems pretty un likely, even though we had a late warm fall. I will look at what I v
    Can add to the single. It has a candy board on it now. Our last warm spell had the single flying with a lot of bees. Fingers crossed. Thanks for the input.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Terre Haute, Indiana USA
    Posts
    128

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    Psfred upon further review, I think it was mites. In the top medium, under the very smal cluster, there were brown an white specs or flakes. They were on top of a couple of frames below the cluster. There were enough of them to brush away. Again I only saw them under where the cluster was. When I took the bottom deep of, I saw more all over the bottom board. That makes more sense to me, mites, weak hive, killed on the first real cold snap.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,691

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    Absolutly no need to freexe your frames. Your 40 miles from me. They have been frozen outside and will be again very shortly. Brush off the dead bees to prevent mold. Tap on the frames to dislodge any stuck in cells, block the mice out and relax. they are PERFECTLY FINE outside until mid May in this area.
    Ditto. Have beekeepers contributed to the increase in freezer sales? Maybe I'll buy stock and push the "freeze those frames" agenda.

    If you have a compressor and a nozzle that can blow compressed air you can clean all of the bees out of the combs by spraying compressed air at the comb that bees have heads buried in.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,505

    Default Re: Winter hive loss what to do.

    The bits all over the bottom board are wax flakes from the bees uncapping stores. Mite feces are tiny bright white specks stuck to the sides of the brood nest cells, they do not fall out.

    If you have plenty of stores where the cluster could reach them, either the queen was failing (or was poorly mated) and the hvie shrank too far too fast to stay warm, or something else caused the cluster to be too small -- mites, pesticide poisoning, etc.

    It happens, no way to avoid some hive loss. Do check for the worse offenders in terms of disease -- AFB and EFB, but if there are no signs of those, it's just bad luck this time.

    Peter

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