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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am not advising anyone to do this but I checked a dozen colonies today to see what the state of affairs was. It has been below freezing for nearly two weeks and down as low as -34 F. There was weather warm enough for the bees to fly before that but the wind was blowing so hard, It looks like none went on cleansing flights. There was a scary number of bees freshly ploughed into the snow. Many more streaks of feces on the snow. Apparently these bees were full and had to leave the hive. Those I checked ranged from what appears to be very small clusters that I am surprised lasted thru last weeks cold to wall to wall bees chewing thru the nasty white beet sugar on the top bars. Not one stool in sight anywhere in the hives.

It was only 25 F when I arrived at the sight and the downed bees were all todays. One colony I took for dead. It was a nuc in a single deep that I had put a medium of honey on because I felt they needed it worse than I. Only when I gave the box a good kick did I hear a cluster tune up out of sight below the medium. I think she may be a breeder! Two colonies had substantially more moisture than the rest of the colonies and I am at a loss why. All my colonies have soundboards to wick away moisture with 2" Styrofoam above it and then wrap and cover. The soundboards in those two were wet while other colonies of similar strength wrapped identically were dry as the Sahara.

In the second location I checked, that is in a very sheltered location, there were only a handful of freshly dead bees. They apparently had been able to cleanse earlier. That location has a resident population of shrews. Last winter a small cluster that I think were dead first were completely consumed in the hive with no comb damage. Shrews must not have a sweet tooth. There are tracks all over around the hives where all dead bees on the ground are being policed up.

So far it looks like I have guessed right and will have more than enough bees to raise queens, take nucs and still have strong honey production hives. Even though I have lost style points for feeding, I am happy that no colonies have starved in a very challenging winter. the queens leading these colonies came from Mississippi and Florida and were VSH from one supplier and mite biting from the other. It appears that queens from the south can winter near the 47th parallel on the cold side of the mountains. Can you get style points for that even though you fed beet sugar?
 

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Small congrats are in order tho it is not May yet. I have a few dead ones outside on the snow this afternoon. It was +36 today vs -38 six days ago. Swept out the bottom board and only had about 50 dead ones per hive. I am hopeful that all survived but i am not brave enough to pop a top yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I had lots in the snow, It was sickening but I guess necessary. I am 23/24 so far though a couple are so weak I can't imagine how they have made it this far. Must be more bees than I think because we had the same low temp as you. Supposed to be windy as H (normal here) and in the forties for the next ten days. My bees are close to making it now. I have seen it -20 the second half of April though and that is hard on them too. Mine stay wrapped late.
 
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