Lost 1 of 2 hives. Should I add food to the remaining hive?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Savage, MN
    Posts
    5

    Default Lost 1 of 2 hives. Should I add food to the remaining hive?

    Last year was my first year with bee's. I live in Minnesota and I expected my biggest challenge would be the winter. My two hives had activity on warm days up until recently. Last weekend we had high 30's/low 40's so I had a look. It appears I may have assisted in their demise. I wrapped the hives in roofing felt and a large amount of bee's on the failed hive were stuck between the felt and the hive body. Never made it back in the hive. Thought I was doing a good thing. Live and learn.
    The 2nd have must have been wrapped better. Not nearly as many bee's between the felt and the hive body. I removed the felt to be safe. I took off the quilt box and was met by a lot of girls and some started flying out. I quickly put the lid back on without being able to take a good look.
    I took the failed hive down and examined it. They had gone through most of the lower box but the top box was still quite full of capped, and some uncapped, honey.
    I'm wondering if I can expect the same stores left in the hive that's still going? Should I add some kind of winter patty, sugar, fondant?
    We had had a pretty mild winter so far this season. Only a handful of times in the below 0's. I find it remarkable how the bee's can keep going in such an environment.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Northern Colorado, USA
    Posts
    633

    Default Re: Lost 1 of 2 hives. Should I add food to the remaining hive?

    Have you tried picking up one side of the bottom of the hive to try and judge how much food is left in int?

    What killed the first one? That may be what you want to focus on first since the second hive is still alive and make sure it does not suffer the same fate.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Woodbridge, VA (But planning to move to NW Louisiana soon)
    Posts
    296

    Default Re: Lost 1 of 2 hives. Should I add food to the remaining hive?

    You don't mention the size of your hives, the size of the cluster, how much stores they started winter with, etc. There's a lot of variables to be considered in order to answer your question.
    If it were me, and I had any question at all if they had enough stores, I'd drop a sugar brick on top for insurance. In fact, I put a sugar brick on top even if I am confident they have enough stores. It's easy enough to get rid of left over sugar brick in the spring.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    5,074

    Default Re: Lost 1 of 2 hives. Should I add food to the remaining hive?

    It gets old asking about it, but what were the mite levels Aug. thru Oct.?

    Yes it is necessary to provide a snug nailer strip or a ring of plywood to tightly press the tarpaper (or Reflectix bubble wrap etc.) to keep the bees from getting lost under loose covering. Usually only necessary immediately surrounding entrances.
    Frank

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Savage, MN
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Lost 1 of 2 hives. Should I add food to the remaining hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greeny View Post
    You don't mention the size of your hives, the size of the cluster, how much stores they started winter with, etc. There's a lot of variables to be considered in order to answer your question.
    If it were me, and I had any question at all if they had enough stores, I'd drop a sugar brick on top for insurance. In fact, I put a sugar brick on top even if I am confident they have enough stores. It's easy enough to get rid of left over sugar brick in the spring.
    The hives are 2 deeps. Both hives had most of the top box completely full of capped honey. The frames on the bottom boxes were about 60% full with the exception of the outside frames. The outside frames had less than 25% capped honey. I'll get a sugar brick in there the next time it's warm enough to do so.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
    Posts
    2,297

    Default Re: Lost 1 of 2 hives. Should I add food to the remaining hive?

    It doesn't seem that lack of food is what killed them. Also, some bees will find their way in between the tar paper and the hive, but it would be highly doubtful that they all got trapped there. Like Crofter asks, what were your mite levels? Winter prep begins in the summer. If you do not have healthy winter bees going into winter by late summer, the die has been cast. Certainly will not hurt to add a sugar brick to the remaining hive, but I suspect that is not the issue. J

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Savage, MN
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Lost 1 of 2 hives. Should I add food to the remaining hive?

    I'll be honest and say I didn't do a mite count. I did a Apivar mite treatment on both hives last fall. Being my fist season with bee's, I didn't expect to get as far as I have. A friend has had bee's 4 years and never had a winter survivor.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    4,304

    Default Re: Lost 1 of 2 hives. Should I add food to the remaining hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by TinyTim View Post
    A friend has had bee's 4 years and never had a winter survivor.
    Not exactly the person I would be looking to for beekeeping advice.

    Chances are your hives got reinfested after the Apivar treatment. But there are other possibilities.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    5,074

    Default Re: Lost 1 of 2 hives. Should I add food to the remaining hive?

    When, (last fall), was the Apivar treatment applied? Placement in regard to brood area is also important. Reinfestation can be an issue too. If mite loads are high, along with accompanying virus levels it can take 2 or 3 rounds of clean brood AFTER killing the mites in order to produce the healthy winter bees; thus the reason for getting mite numbers controlled (and maintained) early.

    Not trying to persecute you Tiny Tim but I think you are looking for reasons, not condolences. The stores levels you describe should have been quite adequate; normal consumption prior to the start of late winter brood up, should only be a pound or two a week. It sounds like you had them well set up food wise. Commonly a single round of Apivar does the trick for the mites but that depends a lot on how many colonies surround you and how well they are treated. Sometimes you have to figure you are treating your neighbors bees too! I am relatively isolated from other bees so mite control is pretty easy for me. Some method of mite counting helps take the guess work out.
    Frank

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