Results 1 to 19 of 19

Thread: Winter Losses

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Woodstock, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    110

    Default Winter Losses

    Rough winter up here in Canada. Went to check on the bees while we were in the above zeros and 75% deadouts. Something must have happened to kill em off as they were all thriving three weeks ago. This year is a combination of many things, without even going into the pesticide isssue... a very long cold winter is hard on bees, autumn was a total bust for them collecting any sort of nectar or pollen which can make it incredible difficult for them and you have to feed them sugar. There are always bee diseases, and parasite prevalent but under inspection they didnt seem to have any. I fully expect one more to die out, and hoping and praying the last one (which was the strongest going into winter) manages to pull through spring. If that happens I can rebuild some numbers. Its just very dissappointing because next year I have to start from scratch again, so im losing a year on building a business, but thats just what happens when your in business with mother nature I suppose.

    Would bring em home for a more indepth post mortem, but they are a kilometer (thats right, metric system) hike through the snow and I dont have snowshoes! Heard some more reports from Ontario beekeepers and all are reporting very high losses.
    TF - Year Two, Eight Colonies
    http://www.honeydrunk.ca

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Further south here in Chicago but we determined a total loss at our small apiary of about 20 hives this week

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Quincy, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    288

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Really sorry to hear of all you losses. First year beek. We lost two of our five colonies, one a log hive, the other thriving 4 weeks ago - all dead. Brutal winter.
    I'm not giving up though. We fell in love with these girls the first time we saw them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Woodstock, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    110

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    With the exception of one mine were all thriving three weeks ago =/ Tough winter on the bees!
    TF - Year Two, Eight Colonies
    http://www.honeydrunk.ca

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Aberdeen, Idaho
    Posts
    530

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    One possibility with the sudden death of thriving colonies, a poor fall with little to no pollen, is the colonies fail to raise a good population of winter bees. The result is a sudden de-population in late winter as the old bees expire. With cold conditions the cluster size shrinks below the point that they can keep themselves warm, and you have a total die out.
    Dave

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,365

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Sorry to hear about you losses Honey, it's been a tough winter for sure.
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio Zone 6A

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    4,266

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Were they dead up against the cover? Possibly some MC sugar would have saved a number of them. Possibly not, but I remember before and after wintering results in my case.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Brutus, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    This is my first year beekeeping and I just went to check my hives here in Northern Michigan and I think I lost 2 hives out of my 4. I am considering bring the remaining two hives indoors to my enclosed porch. Any thoughts? (Bad idea?, Good Idea?) Just looking for input. My thought is I can warm it up a little so I can feed them and change out the wood chip box I have on top of the hives that catches the moisture. Just freaking out a little bit. It is supposed to get real cold again.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    4,266

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    I would urge you not to move them inside as it can have a lot of unintended consequences. You will do little harm quickly replacing the moisture absorption material. The bees do not die from cold unless a tiny cluster. They die from starvation and can do it a row of cells away from fifty pounds of honey. A damp newspaper on the top bars, the cluster if necessary and five pounds of carefully slowly poured white sugar, beet or cane, will keep them from starving thru this cold snap. Do this on any day and temperature QUICKLY that the wind is not blowing over 10mph for a rough guide. If they are starving, have an assistant hold the newspaper in place if necessary. Just do it quick.

    Sorry if I am preachy, It just gets so frustrating listening to all these people in this hard winter losing their bees so they can maintain style points. I have some shamefully small clusters still alive because when the cold shrinks the cluster away from cells of honey, they are still in contact with a sugar roof. It won't help if you are queenless or more mites than bees. But a pound of bees or more dying of the cold is pure B.S. It just does not happen. They get wet or they starve.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Brutus, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Thanks Vance G for your fast response! I will take your advice and not move them. I really don't know about their food stores but It cant hurt to add sugar just in case. Thanks for the re-assurance.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Woodstock, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    110

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Well, starvation was not the issue.. they had plenty of stores. A few had larger then softball clusters, and the rest had basketball sized clusters. We did have a particularly cold long winter (its still going on), and -30C for months on end might have done them no good.
    TF - Year Two, Eight Colonies
    http://www.honeydrunk.ca

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    4,266

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Bees don't just lose the urge to live. All it takes is for the cluster to become pinned to brood or inadequate honey stores they are clustered over and no feed above. IF the cluster shrinks one cell away from capped honey in the cold, they do not go vertically back to stores in continued cold. When keeping bees in four month no flight country, I saw colonies chimney up thru two full boxes of fine honey and starve when they hit the top. The two deeps would still weigh 120 pounds but starvation was the cause of death. I learned to make candy boards. Now I use dry sugar and bricks because simpler works better. If the cluster is of adequate size, not mite riddled and queenrite, they seem to make it no matter how cold it gets.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    I am seeing increased losses in this area as well, however not at the 75% mark.

    I have been told that "bees don't die of cold." I don't believe that. From what I can gather in my own experience and from others, when bees get cold that they are not well acclimated to, they will die of things like starvation in a hive full of honey. But not all of them do, there's an ability deal with the forces present which not all hives have in any given area. Some hives survive with tiny clusters barely touching their honey. Some hives starve within millimeters of honey. And some will eat through hundreds of pounds and still starve to death in an empty hive. I see a trimming of the far ends of the bell curve every year, and the colder the year, the more trimming there is. This winter was very cold, colder and longer than usual, here at least, with several times the number of snow days and lower temperatures than I have seen in my entire life.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,269

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    The veteran beekeepers in this area say that this is the most dangerous time of year for bee losses, because of them starving on brood. I would guess that in the south where brood rearing started earlier the cold weather has been been more of a risk than usual.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    1,318

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Often when you find bees locked on to brood, or clustered inches away from food, it is caused by going into winter with an adult bee population that is too small. Some queens, for whatever reason, will fail to keep laying in August - October and the winter cluster is then too small to maintain itself.

    The way to prevent this is to slow feed one or two gallons of thin sugar syrup to keep the queen in laying mode in August.
    37 years - 25 colonies - IPM disciple - naturally skeptic

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    4,266

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Wrapped hives. Clusters of all sizes, some way small, queens from Florida and Carolina's, Cold bad cold winter. 23/24 still alive with a roof of beet sugar---Not dying of the cold because they aren't starving to death.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Woodstock, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    110

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Well more reports from around the province, everyone is at about 30%-100% losses with months more of snow left. Going to be a rough year up here in Ontario!
    TF - Year Two, Eight Colonies
    http://www.honeydrunk.ca

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    >Some queens, for whatever reason, will fail to keep laying in August - October and the winter cluster is then too small to maintain itself.

    The reason in my location is usually a failed fall flow and the reason for that is usually a drought or a very early freeze.

    >The way to prevent this is to slow feed one or two gallons of thin sugar syrup to keep the queen in laying mode in August.

    They often have no pollen if the cause is a drought or even an early freeze. Mine usually have enough honey that they could raise some brood if they had pollen. If the fall flow fails you see them gathering sawdust and coffee ground and bird seed for pollen. Providing some pollen can make a huge difference.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Woodstock, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    110

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    That is what happened here, zero fall flow. According to some old timers around here this is the worst they've ever seen it, so its no surprise. On top of that winter up here has been particularly bad, long, and cold (yes even for Canada!). Talked to a few beeks, and there is really nothing I can do to help em at this point so it will be a coin toss this spring if I have any bees at all left. Pretty much everyone is already sold out of early nucs (may), so I might be boned until June. I have a few queens coming at the end of March, and a fellow beek buddy might help me out with a few two frame nucs so Im not at a total loss - but that is dependent on his overwintering success.

    I was advised against putting in some pollen patties as starting brood rearing this early might be more harm then good. Still a little early for that, theyll likely starve out, and opening em up wont do them any good. Its currently -20C.
    TF - Year Two, Eight Colonies
    http://www.honeydrunk.ca

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads