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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Sandy Ridge, PA
    Posts
    21

    Default Question about hives in shade during winter

    Hello and thanks in advance for the help. I have (had) two hives that were both dead when I checked them last week during a very brief warm spell here in PA. I keep my bees in a shed with an open front that has oak 2x4s with spikes in them to deter bears. I have had lots of problems with bears in the past. Upon inspection I found both clusters dead with capped honey in frames around them. I believe they died because of the cold and they were not able to get to frames with honey. My bees have a great wind break because of the shed but they get only morning sun. Do you guys think that the shade that the shed provides could have contributed to excessive cold in the hive? My thinking is that even in the brutal cold temps we have had, the bees could have moved to frames that had honey on them if they had more sun light to bring the temps up in the hive during the day.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,876

    Default Re: Question about hives in shade during winter

    The bees don't die of the cold unless a sudden drastic drop in temperature doesn't give them time to cluster. If they consume all the honey that they are clustered on and there is no honey directly above them, they starve to death with honey one row of cells away on the sides. Boxes completely full of honey but with no bridge comb to the box below are often not found in constantly cold conditions. I really doubt that the shading is what killed your bees.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: Question about hives in shade during winter

    My hives only get a few hours of morning sun due to suburben landscaping by neigbors and they do fine. The same trees do provide good windbreaks. If the shed is in full sun the shed would warm a little anyway. Just been too cold for clusters to move much.

    On bears, saw a Farm Show article where a guy modified an old livestock trailer to hold hives for bear protection. I have a bear or two on my farmland in Bedford, PA and I'm thinking of doing something like this. I need to start moving hives up there as I am out of room here. Plus, my survivor stock here needs to "learn" to survive there as that will be my base of operations in a few years.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Sandy Ridge, PA
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: Question about hives in shade during winter

    Thanks for the info guys! I hoped I didn't build a shelter for my bees only to hasten their demise.

    JClark-I just looked up the article for the guy who uses the livestock trailers for protection. I really like that idea but I think I would ratchet strap hives together too. Just as an extra layer of protection in case Mr Nuisance Bear sticks his paws between the bars.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: Question about hives in shade during winter

    Good idea. My concern was the limited hieght for supers. Here the flows are so big that my hives get pretty high come June. Not sure about up there but I am in the process of planting tulip poplars (if they survive), linden, cherries and such for the future. Guess you could swap supers instead of harvesting everything at once but that may mean multiple extraction runs.

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