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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Eugene, OR
    Posts
    51

    Thumbs Up Winter End - Weak hive has lost many bees and a small cluster remains

    New to the forums: Hello everyone!

    Back history:

    First hive, it was transplanted from the inner wall of my shed into a hive box June 2013. The beekeeper who extracted the hives, was able to build 3 frames of partially drawn comb. Since that time, the bees grew and built another 2 frames worth of comb: totaling 5 filled frames. I fed them most of fall a sugar syrup since they were a weak hive (numbers and frames wise). Going into winter they were obvious weak, half of a deep frame hive filled, and fed with syrup through until winter due to a nectar dearth and late start.

    We've had a brutal winter. The hive was sitting behind a shed for all of winter, pretty well covered from the elements.

    I inspected the hive 2 days ago, and found mold + a nice pint or so of dead bees on the bottom board/strewn about around frames. There is a cluster of bees still alive, but i haven't pulled them to see if the queen is still there. It doesn't look like that many bees, maybe 50 - 100 bees.... I threw some honey on the top of the frames the bees are located to feed them, i think their stores are empty because they took to the honey right away. Hopefully waiting for warmer weather to inspect and see if I still have a queen, queen cells, or any brood/general status of the combs. Condensation might of also been an issue over the winter, as we've had 5+ inches of snow and ice storm, twice this winter - along with weather in the minus, and a steady 30 - 40 degrees most winter long.

    Question: Is it possible the queen is dead and these workers are all that is left? (hive is essentially dead now)

    The last time I saw the bees fly was maybe 3 weeks ago on a sunny day at 55 F.

    I welcome any advice or suggestions I should follow.

    Thanks in advance!




  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Ringwood IL
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: Winter End - Weak hive has lost many bees and a small cluster remains

    I'll be following this thread, as I have a very similar situation. Pretty much the same size going into winter, similar feeding, etc. I moved them inside my pole building in late December before any of our lovely polar vortices dropped down, and I'm pretty certain that's the only reason they are still alive at all. I have been feeding them dry sugar all winter, and lately they have increased the amount that they are eating. I am so hopeful for this hive, mainly because they are underdogs.

    Good luck with your mini-colony

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,835

    Default Re: Winter End - Weak hive has lost many bees and a small cluster remains

    If there is no queen there is no hope and I don't think you have a viable amount of bees if the picture shows them all. Store that drawn comb for your next bees. It is precious. If you had/have a stronger colony to steal some bees from that would be the best thing. I have a couple small clusters that amaze me by still being alive thru last weeks -35 actual temperature! If they make it til I can pull frames, I will place a large #8 hardware cloth cage over the queen and as many of her bees as are around her on the frame. I will steal a pound or so of bees off a strong colony and dump them in the weak one. They won't be able to harm the queen and several days later I will release her if she has laid a pattern. If she has not, I will combine this sad little group with another colony.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Eugene, OR
    Posts
    51

    Default Re: Winter End - Weak hive has lost many bees and a small cluster remains

    Pioneer: Do you know if you still have a live queen?

    Yeah. I think you're right about this hive being kapoot... I've talked to a few guys that have lost many hives this year.

    It might get warmer this week - if I get a sunny day, i'll try to get in there and see whats left. If the hive is toast, i'd like to freeze the comb and use it for spring. I should of picked through the bees i scraped off the bottom board, but they were moldy and i didnt want to leave the hive exposed for too long. Maybe I would of found the queen in there. Time will tell.

    I think condensation, and low stores contributed to their demise. They weren't strong going into winter, and were lacking comb, stores, and numbers.

    I also read that feeding a lot of sugar water also fills the hive with water, and that can lead to issues in winter.

    Thanks for your response!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Winter End - Weak hive has lost many bees and a small cluster remains

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    If there is no queen there is no hope and I don't think you have a viable amount of bees if the picture shows them all. Store that drawn comb for your next bees. It is precious. If you had/have a stronger colony to steal some bees from that would be the best thing. I have a couple small clusters that amaze me by still being alive thru last weeks -35 actual temperature! If they make it til I can pull frames, I will place a large #8 hardware cloth cage over the queen and as many of her bees as are around her on the frame. I will steal a pound or so of bees off a strong colony and dump them in the weak one. They won't be able to harm the queen and several days later I will release her if she has laid a pattern. If she has not, I will combine this sad little group with another colony.
    Vance, I have almost this exact scenario. Late yesterday afternoon I put in a bar and a half worth of bees from another colony that is doing well but that I needed to add honey to. Afterwards I realized I should have caged the queen. Argh! What a rookie mistake! Here I was trying to saved her and may have just killed her. It was already dark by then and getting colder so I left it alone and hoped for the best. Today it is supposed to be in the upper 50s. I can't get in there until late afternoon, do I try going in and caging her if she is still alive by then or just leave it alone? She was a valuable queen or I wouldn't have risked taking bees from the other colony trying to save her.
    3rd yr - 1 KTBH & 4 KTBH nucs - TF - USDA Zn 6b

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Ringwood IL
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: Winter End - Weak hive has lost many bees and a small cluster remains

    Wags--I requeened the swarm in late July/early August and all was going well, then that hive started getting robbed in late September. The queen made it through that, so I went into winter with a SMALL colony with a young queen. It has been far too cold all winter to do more than peek under the cover and add more sugar for the bees. I've just been feeding on the inner cover, with an empty medium to allow for space for the sugar.
    Today was the first warmer day we have had, upper 30's. I took apart my other hive that died out over this winter, and was going to give the little bees some honey. I had peeked in and rearranged sugar this morning, and there were the usual 20-30 or so bees eating sugar at the inner cover opening. This afternoon, the upper area was filled with bees! I didn't get to give them a frame of honey, I was concerned that they would all fly out and get lost trying to get back to the hive. But, all those bees lead me to hope that the queen is still there, doing her job!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Mitchell, NC, USA
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: Winter End - Weak hive has lost many bees and a small cluster remains

    I did the same thing today hope I didn't kill the queen. let me know how yours turns out.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Winter End - Weak hive has lost many bees and a small cluster remains

    Quote Originally Posted by bee hunter View Post
    I did the same thing today hope I didn't kill the queen. let me know how yours turns out.
    If you mean the same as me for her majesty it was a fatal error. Within two days they killed her (found on the bottom of the hive). I ended up recombining the bees with the original colony which is doing well. One more lesson learned!
    3rd yr - 1 KTBH & 4 KTBH nucs - TF - USDA Zn 6b

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,835

    Default Re: Winter End - Weak hive has lost many bees and a small cluster remains

    Make an 8X8" push in cage of #8 hardware cloth to have around. The absolute best way to install any valuable queen. Only problem is you need to be quick and sure to pull the queen cage and trap her on the comb before she can run away. The area of comb she is released on is capped brood who will become her court of attendants and will be sure to protect her from aggressive older workers. Maybe with top bars that would be a tall order though

    Quote Originally Posted by Colleen O. View Post
    If you mean the same as me for her majesty it was a fatal error. Within two days they killed her (found on the bottom of the hive). I ended up recombining the bees with the original colony which is doing well. One more lesson learned!

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