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Hello,

I went to my hives today and noticed bees cleaning the hives and some taking to flight with dead bees. Now I know this is not unusual for some locations, but with snow on the ground, cloudy and -5°C (23°F) it is unusual.

BTW, I used the ashes from my wood stove in front of the hives, thank 'you yukonjeff' it makes a big difference on 'kamikaze' bees.
 

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A few years back I had bees out and flying in significant numbers in 25F (-4C) weather from one hive. It was cloudy and snowing. I think it was December 23rd. Most of them perished on the roof of a shed that was in front of the entrance a few feet away. The bees were Italians, and the colony was very large. They were in 2 10-frame Langstroth Deeps, witn no insulation or wrapping except for a 1 inch piece of foam incorporated in the telescoping cover. The colony right next to them, which was quite similar, never showed face unless it was 40F (5C) and sunny. They both made it through winter just fine, and I split them the following spring.

Bees will be bees.
 

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My Saskatraz hive flies in the 30's, I am not sure what they are doing. Probably cleansing. The other 10 hives show no activity at those temperatures.
 

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Hello,

I went to my hives today and noticed bees cleaning the hives and some taking to flight with dead bees. Now I know this is not unusual for some locations, but with snow on the ground, cloudy and -5°C (23°F) it is unusual.

BTW, I used the ashes from my wood stove in front of the hives, thank 'you yukonjeff' it makes a big difference on 'kamikaze' bees.
For sure, these bees are wasting lots of energy and resources over nothing.
I would not call these "hardy winter bees".
I'd call these - idiots.

The hardy winter bees are very stingy and not wasteful.
 

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I can remember commenting that those were senile bees! All I know is that I was having good wintering success despite many fly outs into the snow. All kinds of thoughts about up / down direction reversals because the ground is lighter colored than the sky. Also that they are flying out looking for water because we insulated too well and there is no condensation in the hive for them to sip on to dilute their honey for consumption.

If nosema counts are high they will do a lot of flying to poop but they dont make it far from the hive before they let loose and it shows on the snow and hive fronts. Donno:scratch:
 

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Hello,

I went to my hives today and noticed bees cleaning the hives and some taking to flight with dead bees. Now I know this is not unusual for some locations, but with snow on the ground, cloudy and -5°C (23°F) it is unusual.

BTW, I used the ashes from my wood stove in front of the hives, thank 'you yukonjeff' it makes a big difference on 'kamikaze' bees.
My Russians and Carnys are flying at 29 and sun. They are clearing their entrances of dead bees and look very robust. Just depends on the bee and genetics.
 

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I find this topic fascinating, and made this infographic last year using a couple difference sources--namely an ABJ article that discussed cold-weather flying. As best I could tell, there are a few key numbers. A bee will bring her thorax up over 93°F in the hive. In cold weather, that temperature starts dropping while she's flying. As long as the ambient temp is over 50°F though and as long as she's got fuel, she should be able to generate enough heat while she's static to get her thorax temp back up over 93°F. BUT if the ambient temp is below 50°F and if she has to fly for too long, her thorax temperature will fall below 77°F--essentially paralyzing her flight muscles. So it's all about a bee's ability to re-warm her thorax and for her to make it back into the hive before her thorax falls below that critical 77°F.

How_Bees_Fly_in_the_Cold.jpg

I did a short blog about it too if you want to kill a few minutes: https://www.mitecalculator.com/bee-yard-blog/2018/3/24/how-bees-fly-in-cold-weather
 

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My Russians and Carnys are flying at 29 and sun. They are clearing their entrances of dead bees and look very robust. Just depends on the bee and genetics.
This is different from:

....with snow on the ground, cloudy and -5°C (23°F) it is unusual.
As always - give context.

IF you hive is in a wind-less, well-protected, southern-most location AND the sun is hitting (IF the hive is dark, that is helpful ) - the ambient 29F is not that important.
Nothing wrong with some cleaning/cleansing done in that context.
Good, worthwhile opportunity to reset/regroup.
 

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It's hard to say since taking a cleansing flight could be a good thing, but Brother Adam's rule is that bees that are dormant in winter are bees that winter well.
I agree.

In hard winter climates it is always a bad sign if bees start moving in the middle of winter, even just inside the hive, not to speak flying outside. The hive which comes last out in spring gets highest scores.
 

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Hello,

I went to my hives today and noticed bees cleaning the hives and some taking to flight with dead bees. Now I know this is not unusual for some locations, but with snow on the ground, cloudy and -5°C (23°F) it is unusual.

BTW, I used the ashes from my wood stove in front of the hives, thank 'you yukonjeff' it makes a big difference on 'kamikaze' bees.
what is the scoop on wood stove ashes??
 

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Ashes smelt snow and form a warmer landing surface in winter conditions, used in Finland specially by hobby beekeepers and just before cleansing flight
Ashes are easily substitute-able by wood chips, straw, brush, etc (now days who has the ashes?)
Anything dark that the bees can land onto and NOT get hypothermia too quickly (as if landing on the snow).
Most any dark materials on the snow will melt it quicker.
 

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Ashes are easily substitute-able by wood chips, straw, brush, etc (now days who has the ashes?)
Anything dark that the bees can land onto and NOT get hypothermia too quickly (as if landing on the snow).
Most any dark materials on the snow will melt it quicker.
Since I heat my home with firewood from 6 am to 10 pm, seven days a week, except when it is 50 and sunny, I think this trick is for me.:)
 

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Since I heat my home with firewood from 6 am to 10 pm, seven days a week, except when it is 50 and sunny, I think this trick is for me.:)
Sure.
This was what we did when I was a kid - burned wood and had lots of ashes to dispose of.
Now I burn natural gas.
:)
 
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