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Discussion Starter #1
Im a first year beekeeper, and I opened my 2 hives yesterday for the first time after a very long, cold, hard winter. My first hive which happened to be my strong hive last year had very few dead, a very busy hive ( I only opened the tops but I never pulled the frames out ) I added a top feeder, removed the winter wrap and put in 2 varorra mite treatment strips, and closed it up. I then did the same to the second hive only to find fewer (much fewer ) bees.
Also, I pulled out the entrance reducer, and used some straw grass and pulled out 100's of dead bees off the bottom board
What should I do now?

very confused,

Al
 

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If you haven't cleaned the dead bees out before, I wouldn't sweat it. Lots of my bees died over the winter and I cleared hundreds of them out. (And all three of my hives are doing just fine, despute the losses.) Just so you know, though, some of my dead bees turned out to not be quite dead, only cold-stunned and they woke up inside on my kitchen table where I had taken them to look at some more. OOPS! As Michael Bush says: "Dead bees are only dead, if they are warm and dead." That cured me from taking out the bees from my hives in the winter. Now I leave it to the mortuary bees to make those decisions.

However, I note you are in Ontario. I'm in northern NY and I don't yet have temps warm enough to begin feeding or using mite strips. Don't you have to have warmer temps for that? Perhaps you have different products in Canada, but your night temps can't be that much warmer than mine which are still heading below freezing most nights. Also this afternoon as I sat out with my hives a great fat deer mouse ambled right over the entrance porches on my hives (which are all gathered tightly together). Luckily I had just replaced my entrance reducers and mouse gaurds, otherwise he'd have been able to stroll right into the hives. I had been thinking that I could remove the mouse guards by now - obviously it's too early here! I plan to keep my insulation panels on for another 6 weeks or so to avoid chilling brood on the cold, frosty nights we get until late May. I have read that chilling brood increases the chances of chalk brood disease.

I'm always amazed how much Lake Ontario moderates your temps compared to mine in eastern NY, but still the farmer in me knows it's way too early to consider cold weather over here. I would be surprised if you were that much warmer. Since you are a first year beekeeper, may I suggest you ask around locally to make sure you haven't moved a little too fast to declare winter over with? (Not that any of us who have slogged through this long, frigid winter aren't absolutely ready to see the end of it!)

Enj.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Wow .. what a huge relief to think that it is possible that the hives are still okay, and thank you both for your replies and encouraging relations to this situation. I know that what I did was start to panic, and I was worried about starving the bees. my supplier of the nukes told me to put in the strips in the spring before the blooms start to arrive, and leave them in there for 42 days and no longer, I dish there was an active bee club that meet in this area but i can't seem to come across one (it would be great to pick a few brains, and listen to a few experienced beekeepers talk about there past failures and successes. looks like i'm going back out to re-insulate those hives!

Al
 
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