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Discussion Starter #1
have confirmed with stethoscope that one hive is in fact dead. question is do i leave it till spring then clean or do it now? and i am ordering nucs should i re-use the frames from this hive or start them from scratch. this hive wasnt the strongest going into this winter anyway so i dont believe it was diseased but wont know till i can get into it to be sure....whats everyone think?
 

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In spring I have started tearing apart hives I thought were dead and SUPRISE there would bee a small cluster way down in the bottom.

To answer your question you can leave them (make sure a mouse cant get in) or clean them out now.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
in comparison, i tapped the other hive and easily heard the bees stir...i did this multiple times while listening at different points of the hive and heard nothing....the main point im looking for is should i re-use the drawn frames when i get the nucs or start from scratch again?
 

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i would pop open the hive and take a look. i look in my hives every two weeks or so. i am feeding with the mountain camp method so it is easy to see the bees up by the sugar. i doesn't seem to have hurt them even taking a quick peek when the temps are in the 20's.
 

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in comparison, i tapped the other hive and easily heard the bees stir...i did this multiple times while listening at different points of the hive and heard nothing....the main point im looking for is should i re-use the drawn frames when i get the nucs or start from scratch again?
unless there is an obious problem with the hive (AFB etc) then reuseing the drawn frames will give your starting nuc a big head start as the queen can immidately start laying and you dont have to wait the first few days to have some workers draw fresh comb.
 

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The very best method of finding out if a hive is dead or not is to wait until spring and open it up then. :rolleyes:

Honestly, I've given up on hives that hadn't yet given up on me. Then again, I've had hives cold starve that were wonderful going into the winter. I don't trust my own ears so I'm never certain until all my other hives are flying and the one(s) in doubt are completely quiet.

If you suspect disease, worry about the frames. If you think that they just starved out, certainly use the frames over. This time of year, there's no great hurry to pull the hive apart unless you want to rehab the boxes or something.
 

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If you check the Screened Bottom board insert you can see whether the hive is alive or not.
I pull my inserts occasionally (once a month or so) and look at the debris on the insert.
I then rub the "dirty" side on the surface of the snow to "clean" it and return it to the hive.

Live hives drop debris (cappings, etc)
Live hives backed up against one side drop debris on one side only. (center them on a warm day 50+- we get those even here once or twice per winter...
Hives with mice drop even more debris (bee parts, mouse poop)
dead hives don't drop anything.

Just one more good reason for screened bottom boards.
 

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I scan mine with a small infrared camera, but I do have access to a stethoscope with some medical people in the family. Whenever a hive showed no signs of a temperature, I culled it, took it home and cleaned it out immediately. My thought on early cleaning is that if I wait until spring, then I'll probably find moldy piles of dead bees and moldy frames to deal with. I'd just as soon avoid mold if at all possible. Got all mine through late Jan. last winter, then lost a number of them in Feb.- starved with frames full of honey nearby the clusters. If I was positive that they starved out, I had some honey frames to share with a surviving hive to help them through the rest of winter. Lost my first hive already this year, but it was a late season swarm I did for the animal control officer with no hopes on them making it... and they didn't. We've had a nasty (record breaking cold) October and so far, Dec. hasn't been kind at all weather-wise.
 
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