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Bee recovery after bear attack (November 21)

2873 Views 8 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  McBee7
I came home at night on Nov 21 and found my single hive entirely destroyed. All my fault.

I put up a strong electric fence but was obviously not as smart as the bear. The sneaky bear figured out that the 8x8 post near the enclosure could be climbed and he/she could jump into the enclosure without touching the fence.

At this time of year, we don't get sun on our property (won't return until March). Nighttime temps have been just above freezing for the previous few days. I rescued the bees I could & brought them into the cabin to warm them up after I realized they survived. I don't know if I have the queen as some of the bees are active but most are balled up. There might be a quart of bees.

After talking with bee friends, we agreed that the best course of action (out of 4 possible scenarios) was to re-assemble one super with the remnants, place it inside of a shed, insulate the exterior of the hive well, feed them over the winter (as the bear took all their honey) and hope for the best.

Here's my question: If I use the gallon bag method for feeding (don't have a feeder), how often will I need to open the hive to refill/replace the bag? Or perhaps a better question is: how often should I check?

I'd like to minimize exposure to the cold as there isn't a heat source in the shed. Leaving them inside the cabin in covered tins or terrarium is also not an option.

It's possible we could get a warm spell (over 55 degrees for multiple days) but unlikely before March.
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Welcome to Beesource. Sorry to hear about the bear attack and that your first post had to be about such an awful event. See if one of your bee friends can loan you a 4 or 5 frame nuc to put the bees in. Even a super is too much room for a quart of bees. You will need to feed them sugar brick and pollen patty, as they probably will not be able to take from the baggie feeder except on the warmer days. A five pound brick and half a patty should get you through till March. Make sure the bees can easily get in and out of the shed for cleansing flight on those few warm days.
I don't know if I have the queen as some of the bees are active but most are balled up. There might be a quart of bees.
If you dont have the queen, then it's a lost cause and not worth any effort to try and save them. If you do have the queen, then a quart of bees can survive, we winter colonies of that size as a matter of course, I winter bees in mating nucs. I wouldn't put them inside, and I wouldn't use bag feeders, you dont want to be feeding liquid in winter. Dry sugar above the frames is all you need, be it in the form of sugar bricks or just a pile of sugar, both ways give them something to eat.

If my maps are correct on where your stated location is, you are on the coast, so similar climate to what we have here on the island, probably a bit warmer as you are farther south. I would NOT put the bees inside, you will get to many days where it's warm enough they want to fly, we get at least one or two flight days every month all winter. Unless you can keep it absolutely dark, and dont let it warm up inside, you will be far better off leaving them outside.
Grozzie, I was hoping that the ball of bees described indicated that the queen may still be there. I think wrapping the hive to conserve heat and leaving it outside would be a far better solution than placing it in a shed, but that was not what the OP asked.
Well, in my opinion it's always worth the effort if it's all you have to work with. Get the warm and fed and protected. Plan your next year and hopefully, they'll start it for you. If not, they'll have left you valuable lessons.
I wintered a small bunch of bees in a spot that stayed at 45 degrees sugar bricks on top it can be done. hope you saved the queen in that bunch of bees. PS that spot was in my closet. I had no problem taking off the lid to check and add sugar bricks.
Did you address the fence weakness? If not, all your efforts will be in vain because its likely the bear will be back. Call your game warden and ask if its legal to bait your fence. If it is (or if not worried about the game warden), wrap raw bacon strips in foil and attach to fence every 4 feet. The bear is likely to go for the bacon and get a good jolt to the nose and decide your apiary is a bad, bad place that should be avoided at all cost. It worked for me this spring. J
Sorry to hear of your bad luck OP.
I had 2 hives knocked over in 2 different yards this year. 1 in july which was reassembled within a day but it was weak and seemed demoralized ( possibly from no surviving queen).
It was robbed out by stronger hives in the yard and it died out.
The other was a real scrapper, and had laid broken up for 3 weeks before I could get to it to salvage what was left. When I got there I picked up the brood box which was open on both ends and laying on its side, and reassembled the stack and they are wintering just fine now....
I hope yours survive the winter and I would just find a small nuc and put them in it with a frame or 2 of honey or maybe put sugar bricks on top and close it up trying to eleminate drafts (tape the cracks)
They sound like a long shot but you never know and what have yoou got to lose :}

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