Is individual bee suicide normal in winter?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Lindsay, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    27

    Default Is individual bee suicide normal in winter?

    So I have seen this happening for the last couple weeks that even with cold weather of -10 to -15 Celsius (5 to 15 Fahrenheit for the American friends or some old-timers here) that I have bees dead in the fresh snow in-front of the hive. (this is my first winter by the way). Today for example it is sunny and calm but -10C (15F) and it snowed last night but there is about 30 bees dead in the snow already today and as I stood there for about 5 minutes I watched a healthy looking bee fly out and circle around for 20 to 30 seconds and then plummet into the snow and freeze up. This happened with the next 2 bees that followed as well all in this 5 minute span. I can only assume this will continue throughout the day, I am not sure why they would come out when it is so cold and this started right from when it first got cold so they should not be in desperate need of a cleansing flight yet and they have lots of food, treated for mites in the fall and a new and health queen in late summer.

    Some idea's would be helpful,
    Thanks,

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Lassen, California, USA
    Posts
    656

    Default Re: Is individual bee suicide normal in winter?

    My bees have done the same, I always find plenty of dead bees on the snow in front of the hives. I've no idea why they do that, maybe they think it's warm outside, then get the shock of their lives. I wouldn't worry about it. Welcome to BS
    Some days it's not even worth chewing through the restraints.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Grand Rapids MI USA
    Posts
    1,485

    Default Re: Is individual bee suicide normal in winter?

    Randy Oliver sums it up pretty well in this article. The bees in the snow have nothing left to contribute to the hive’s survival.
    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/old-...o-bees-part-1/
    Rod

  5. #4

    Default Re: Is individual bee suicide normal in winter?

    Reducing cluster size to survivability number the super organism expels his old bees in an altruistic way.
    As long as those bees are able to come out and fly away into the sky they are healthy if dying bees.
    As long as they are able to do this the entrance is not blocked.
    A diseased hive acts actively to expel the weak bees down to a certain temperature but the moment they canīt break cluster the weak bees just fall down and freeze. So the bees in the snow are a good sign.
    Even better would be no bees on the ground but not much dead bees on the floor.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    3,729

    Default Re: Is individual bee suicide normal in winter?

    Fascinating article. Thank you for posting the link.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Rib Lake WI
    Posts
    1,705

    Default Re: Is individual bee suicide normal in winter?

    When you have 5 or 6 a minute then you have a problem.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Geauga, Ohio
    Posts
    431

    Default Re: Is individual bee suicide normal in winter?

    For a hive of mine (in 2016) that died due to receiving a massive varroa bomb (they went robbing) - they had bees fly out about 1 time a minute. Died last Jan. This year, one of my hives (1 of 4) that I did not get to OAV in fall had high fly-out rates in cold weather - stopped since I did an OAV (they are still alive). I think the fly-out rate is an accurate indicator of hive stress or illness, so if I see that again, I will know that likely varroa is pressuring the hive too much.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Lake Forest Park, WA
    Posts
    577

    Default Re: Is individual bee suicide normal in winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan the bee guy View Post
    When you have 5 or 6 a minute then you have a problem.
    My nuc did that in a sunny, cold day in mid January. Nobody was flying the next day and when I opened it a few days later I found less than a cup of dead bees and the dead queen on the bottom board, a bit of brood and lots of honey. Very depressing. The colony had persistent varroa infestation during early to mid fall (eventually cleared by OAV in late fall but I guess it was too late).

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Yuba County, California, USA
    Posts
    6,546

    Default Re: Is individual bee suicide normal in winter?

    How many eyes does a bee have?
    How does a bee keep track of where the sun is?
    Can bright snow confuse a bee as to which way is up?
    Where is the sun when the snow is so bright?
    Live real time bee chat, most evenings...
    https://www.rumbletalk.com/client/chat.php?4%40HY_hmJ

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Keene, New Hampshire, USA
    Posts
    205

    Default Re: Is individual bee suicide normal in winter?

    Bees have five eyes. Two compound eyes in the front, and three ocelli on the top of their heads. From what I understand the ocelli are used to orient themselves to the azimuth of the sun, so they can find their way back home.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    34,541

    Default Re: Is individual bee suicide normal in winter?

    FarmerDave, bees are dying all the time and they usually do it away from the hive. If you kept your hives on a parking lot you would see all of the dead bees that you don't see dead in the grass in front of or near your hives. So what you are seeing is natural bee mortality.
    Mark Berninghausen

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