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Hello all,

This is my first winter with bees and I am hopeful they will come through okay. Today, I looked out at the hives, as I often do, and noticed a good number of bees on the landing board and in the air directly in front of one the hives (a swarm from my main hive). I understand that it is common for them to take cleansing flights when possible but I didn't think they would with it so cold: 36 degrees. It was sunny but windy. Of course, I couldn't get out there quick enough to see the action. There were bees scattered on top of the snow, seemingly everywhere. The snow in front of the hive was covered with yellowish polka dots of droppings….lots, and a fair amount of bees in various stages of freezing. Although I certainly saw plenty come out and either fly or drop into the shoveled pathway, I didn't see so many actually returning. All was quiet at the main hive about 100 feet away.

So…I guess I am wondering if this is a good sign or a bad sign?

Thanks,
Julie
 

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I think they are desperate to poop but it's to cold to fly. I'd say not a good thing if they can't return but then again if the are sick maybe better they don't come back
 

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The bees strung out in front of hives are dead bodies they removed from the hives, If they havn't flown in a while it can be alot of bees. Usually in cold weather they just drop them at the doorstep rather than flying them off like in warm weather. The stains are poo. If its on the hive that signifies they didn't fly far, simply out to poo and back. Sometimes the ones flying don't make it back, but in my experience most do. In my area they won't fly in that cold of weather, snow and very sunny conditions may fool them into believing the weather outside is warmer than it actually is or they were desperate to poo from something like dysentery. Here if its sunny, they will fly in 45-50F for about an hour. Those up north may be able to better relate.
 

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The Doc…...Thank you for your feedback. I guess if they are sick I would rather they didn't return! It was a small swarm that was weak going into the winter; I had crossed my fingers that they might make it through.
 

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The bees strung out in front of hives are dead bodies they removed from the hives, If they havn't flown in a while it can be alot of bees.
Thank you for your feedback. It makes sense that they would clean out dead bees and need to drop them in front of the hive. There were quite a few bees crawling on top of snow banks in our yard. It surprised me to see so many out and about; I look forward to temperatures warm enough to see inside!
 

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I think they are desperate to poop but it's to cold to fly. I'd say not a good thing if they can't return but then again if the are sick maybe better they don't come back
I noticed the same thing as JTW….today there must have been cleansing flights, there was poop droppings on the snow and because dead bee's were littered out on the snow quite a few feet a way from the hives; some dead ones behind the hives, too. It was only about 28-30 degrees F today, but very sunny. They could have dysentery? or were they fooled into thinking it was warmer than it truly was?
 

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I am finding the same thing you are! Since January the fronts of the hives have gotten so brown stained I'm concerned they do have dysentery. I heard that too much aster honey can give them digestive trouble, and they were all over aster all of September/October. Also wondering if the pollen/sugar patties in there might not agree with them or be too old.

And now that the sun is direct and warm during the day, glaring off the snow, yikes a lot of dead bees all over the snow. But what I feel uncomfortable with is the incredible amount of bee poop, dotted all over the snow plus on the fronts of the hives. It's been so cold, there hasn't been an opportune time to check inside, altho maybe during tomorrow's snow I should take the opportunity to run a stick behind the mouseguard and wipe out the layer of dead bees piled on the bottom board. The bottom entrance might be clogged.

This winter has been long, cold, and snowy, and if the bees survive, I will be so happy (and surprised).
 
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