Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner
1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am a first year beekeeper. My bees died over the winter. I suspect that I didn't prepare them properly for the Chicago cold.

The hive was very healthy in the late fall and there is still an unbelievable amount of honey in the hive. The queen bee is the solitary bee on the frame (see image attached). I am assuming that since the queen is present that I can rule out CCD (but maybe not)?

I feed my bees sugar syrup with Honey-B-Healthy in the fall, so I do not want extract and eat the honey. I never treated the hive for any diseases. They were very pampered bees. :)

I will be starting a hive again next year. I have read a lot of the articles on this forum and have seen some good suggestions regarding dead out bees.

I am assuming from what I have read on the Beesource forums, that the best approach is to:
  1. uncap the frames
  2. extract and strain the honey
  3. freeze the honey to kill any possible pathogens and pests
  4. freeze the empty frames in the freezer for the same purpose
  5. feed the honey back to my next bee hive
    1. Note, is it a bad idea to put honey directly in a Dadant plastic top feeder (e.g., will it go bad before the bees can process it?)
    2. Is there a better way to give it back to the bees without inciting robbing?
  6. put the frames into the hive as starter comb
Let me know if the freezing process is overkill. It has gone through a Chicago winter, so it probably did freeze already at least once.

Thank you for any advice. I am optimistic and excited for this year, and have learned that next year my hives need insulation.

62655
 

·
Registered
5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
Joined
·
3,379 Posts
can also put the whole frame in the freezer honey and all.
take out a few days before your new bees come, give them the combs with stores for a start.
a 3 lb package will cover about 5 combs, 2-3 can be what you have shown.

can use those frames in a swarm trap as well.

IMO your first 2 assumptions are off base.
cold is not in general is not going to kill the hive, and Mites were likely your issue, you should try to have a plan for the next batch of bees where you test for mites and act accordingly.

good luck with the next round

GG
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
...is that the marked queen on a dead out frame like that?
That is correct. It is the marked queen. She was the single bee on that frame (or any of them for that matter). I would have expected the other bees to be gathered around her in a huddle from the videos that I've seen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
can also put the whole frame in the freezer honey and all.
take out a few days before your new bees come, give them the combs with stores for a start.
a 3 lb package will cover about 5 combs, 2-3 can be what you have shown.

can use those frames in a swarm trap as well.

IMO your first 2 assumptions are off base.
cold is not in general is not going to kill the hive, and Mites were likely your issue, you should try to have a plan for the next batch of bees where you test for mites and act accordingly.

good luck with the next round

GG
Thanks GG. I like the idea of just freezing the comb...I'm suspect that the bees would clean out any dead larvae.

Regarding the reason that the died, I haven't fully investigated yet. You're probably right. I didn't see any of the obvious signs in the autumn, but I'm also a first year beekeeper.

My family did beekeeping back in the 70s/80s when I was growing up and it was much easier (before all of the pests were common). I will test for mites this year.
 

·
Registered
82 colonies +/- mostly Langstroth mediums, a few deeps for nuc production
Joined
·
560 Posts
Go to the empire state honey producers association website.
In their resources area get the document titled "Wintering bees in cold climates " use the key that starts about page 12 to analyze your dead out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,380 Posts
I have never seen just the queen remaining on a frame and that is in a long life of killing bees! I have had some extremely small dead colonies though. You do not need to freeze the frames if they sat out thru winter and will be fine. If you get package bees back on the frames they will eliminate any pests like wax worms before they become an issue. Your freshly drawn equipment is very unlikely to harbor any disease. If you fed your bees heavily last fall and summer I doubt you would want to extract and east any of the 'honey' as it could be mostly just sugar syrup. It won't harm you but I doubt it will taste all that good and I certainly would not consider selling it. The earlier you get bees on the equipment the better and best of luck to you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have never seen just the queen remaining on a frame and that is in a long life of killing bees! I have had some extremely small dead colonies though. You do not need to freeze the frames if they sat out thru winter and will be fine. If you get package bees back on the frames they will eliminate any pests like wax worms before they become an issue. Your freshly drawn equipment is very unlikely to harbor any disease. If you fed your bees heavily last fall and summer I doubt you would want to extract and east any of the 'honey' as it could be mostly just sugar syrup. It won't harm you but I doubt it will taste all that good and I certainly would not consider selling it. The earlier you get bees on the equipment the better and best of luck to you.
Thanks Vance! That's super helpful. I will just install them directly. The frames are new and the capped comb looks amazing, so it should be good.
 

·
Registered
6a 4th yr 9 colonies inc. 2 resource hives
Joined
·
743 Posts
Losing my first hives weighed heavily on me. Don't judge yourself too harshly, the first year is very difficult for most people. What will separate you from the rest is deciding what to do next. You can quit or double down. I'm a fan for doubling down. The two greatest losses come from mites and starvation. After that it's not over wintering properly. If you store those frames properly you are giving them a big advantage going into next year. You are already getting great advice. Soldier on, endeavor to do better and listen to good council.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,380 Posts
Thanks Vance! That's super helpful. I will just install them directly. The frames are new and the capped comb looks amazing, so it should be good.
Just make sure that your new bees have room to lay eggs and raise brood in all that left over bounty! They will turn existing stores into bees but they need room to get going.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top