Wintering in Montana
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    7,798

    Default Wintering in Montana

    We had no real winter until February. On Feb 3, it was 58F and the bees were flying as they had been most of the month. Then the temperature dropped to 3F the next day and it was far below zero the rest of the month. Some colonies used up all their winter stores flying in the open winter and those not supplementing feed had losses from starvation. Those who hadn't controlled their mites saw colonies dwindle below the cluster size needed at -32 F air temperature to cover honey, froze out.

    The warmup started in early March and by mid March the bees had a lot of flying days again. My losses were a couple queen failures and a half dozen hives singled out by skunks and depopulated in late October.

    Within the last week, reports of pollen in the area. My bees are still in insulated wraps, receiving pollen patties and supplied with sugar bricks to prevent starvation. If my colonies were in my back yard it would be baggies half full of warm 1:1 syrup. Queens for splits coming end of the month.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Deep Brook, NS, Canada
    Posts
    599

    Default Re: Wintering in Montana

    I had an old bee inspector tell me if the entrance is up off the ground a few inches (mine are), the skunk has to stretch to get there and is vulnerable to attack under their arms. Two years ago, a young skunk bothered one of my hives, but only the once, and never touched any of the others. He's still around - you can see where he digs out grubs, so maybe the old inspector was right.
    I want bees that make up for my mistakes.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    7,798

    Default Re: Wintering in Montana

    What you say is true as far as it goes. If the skunk has to stand up his soft nearly hairless belly is open to attack. I still eliminate every skunk I can. they are not native to this prairie and eat entirely too many bird eggs to suit me, They also are the largest vector and overwinter source of rabies. Here on the prairie, every skunk in the area comes together and turns an old fox or coyote den into winter quarters. They haul a prodigious amount of straw and stuff the interior leaving a cozy insulated space to semi sleep the winter away biting and scratching each other in their sleep and if one goes in with rabies, they all come out with it.

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