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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, I was somewhat worried this spring since I could see zero activity outside my five hives, today I checked the largest one I have since the weather is nice and the entire hive is dead, all my hives died, the two smallest hives seem to have starved, not unexpected since they were very late additions. I can't figure out the big hives though, they didn't even use their food stores must be more then 60lb's of honey left, seems like they died early in the winter. They are in an area that gets a lot of wind, and I didn't wrap them in anything, the wood is 7/8" thick and only one hole 7/8"d was open I closed all the top bars on the top and let them seal it up tight, could anyone shed some light on this matter for me?


Sam.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well this hive was strong, idk about mites ect, they seemed to die early winter all of them are inside the hive, whats strange is they all seemed wet, even the dead ones on the comb, I had only a single hole 2" from the bottom on all my hives. I'm wondering if a top entrance would have prevented this...


Sam.
 

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With no upper escape the heat from the bees condensated on the cover and dripped back down on the bees. Just an opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yea thats what I'm thinking to, but would it be enough to kill all my hives, these are first year hives, my first winter with bees... Not a pleasant spring. I'm using almost exactly the same hive design as the barefoot beekeeper except for a solid floor.


Sam.
 

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In freezing cold weather it is easier for bees to move up then it is to move over to access honey stores. Did you have lots of bees head first in side of the cells in the cluster of the large hives? If they were then the condensation could have froze on the cover, the bees died from starvation, then the weather got warm and the condensation(frost) melted down on top of the already dead bees making them wet.
 

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I'm beginning to wonder if its possible to have too much ventilation. I keep thinking about adding a chimney to the hives in the summer to really get the ventilation going.
 

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I'm beginning to wonder if its possible to have too much ventilation. I keep thinking about adding a chimney to the hives in the summer to really get the ventilation going.
I only have three holes 1" during the season and one opened during winter ( on the long sides at one end ). Solid floor, no chimney, ventilation, etc.
Third year and no problems at all. Cold, damp winters ( weeks with -20 celzius ) and hot summers ( up to 38 celzius ). Bush design.

Bees love it. I keep colonies in frame hives also but TBH is just, well better in my case so I am getting rid of frame hives for now and going up in numbers with only TBHs and skeps.


As far as OP is concerned. Bees were probably wet because like he said they probably died early in the winter. Maybe not much food in crucial months when queen was laying winter bees...consequence ... not much bees left for winter and the old ones just died like they would anyway ?
 

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I'm a total novice beekeeper so my opinions are worth .... but it seems like the inside of the hive should be dry particularly if the bees are not exhaling moisture (because they're dead). Maybe the problem was just some sort of simple leakage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I'm glad the design works beenovice, and condensation melting on the bees afterwords makes sense, I don't see how they could starve with something like 60lb of honey still in hive... It looks like they all died in the same spot they started the winter, idk could a week queen cause this? Zonker is right I hadn't thought of this how would the bees get wet if they are all dead, although I have seen dead hives that are moldy and soaked the living ones seem a lot dryer... I didn't see a large number of starved bees ether..
All five hives re-queened themselves half way through the year. Knowing the reason why this happened is important to me because if I get more bees and they die I'm at square one again.. At this point I'm not sure if I want to continue with this project if they will just die on me.


Sam.
 

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Well this hive was strong, idk about mites ect, they seemed to die early winter all of them are inside the hive, whats strange is they all seemed wet, even the dead ones on the comb, I had only a single hole 2" from the bottom on all my hives. I'm wondering if a top entrance would have prevented this...
Sad, but an opportunity to learn. Can your local bee inspector get samples analyzed? That would give you some hard info instead of OP's guesses.

If they really died out before winter, suspect failed queens (unlikely for 5 to fail unless all from same source), or failed supersedure, or massive varroa load, or viruses... this is why you need to get them checked.

Personally, I think top ventilation in your climate would only have accelerated their deaths. IMO insulation should be at the top, ventilation at the bottom: keep the rising warm, air in; let the cool, damp air fall out.

And IMO one hole in a big TBH is nowhere near enough ventilation.
 

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I just found this:


Bees In Winter

The Principal Causes of Heavy losses.
How to Prevent Them.

A goodly number of apiarists expressed
themselves concerning the cause and
prevention of winter losses of bees in the
columns of The American Bee Journal
recently. Professor A. J. Cook laid the
losses to poor food and severe cod and
suggested as a preventive good food
and good cellar or thorough packing.
M. Makin believes that the principal
cause is dampness and want of ventilation
He says, "since I have given my
bees plenty of ventilation at the bottom
of the hive I lose scarcely any bees."


G. W. Demaree wrote: "Long, cold
winters are the causes of loss. When
the winter is open and moderate, I never
lose any colonies, but when long, hard
winters overtake the bees some colonies
Perish." His remedy consists in protecting
the bees every season as thought every
winter was severely cold.

Mrs. L. Harrison said: "The cause of
so many bees dying last winter was
the severe long continued cold weather.
In cleaning out hives where bees have
died foul air appears to be one factor.
The weather was so severe that bees
could not clean house, and the dead accumulated,
closing up the entrance.
We hear of bees coming thru in good
condition in old hives split from top to bottom.
I cleaned out a hive that had contained a very large
colony and was well supplied with honey.
The hive was a close, well painted one, with new
muslin, and the cap filled with dry maple
leaves. The entrance was so clogged
with dead bees robbers could not enter."

J. E. Pond writes: "It is difficult to
say generally what the principal reasons
for heavy winter losses are. So many
factors enter into the problem that each
case is an individual reason for winter
losses in my own locality - Massachusetts.
1 can suggest nothing that has
not been made public in textbooks and
bee journals for years. Study them carefully,
and you will get about all the light
there is on the subject."

Mr. Dadant said that the causes of loss
are long confinement and unsealed honey.
He advised keeping the bees in a well
sheltered place where they can have a
flight at every chance. He believes that
the colonies that winter best are those
that have a flight when it seems sure
death for bees to venture out.

An apiarist writing from Canada said:
"Our losses in Canada during the past
winter were light. A light honey flow,
or a honey flow which breaks off early,
I believe, usually precedes heavy winter
losses. I have great faith in the statement
that bees will winter with reasonable
certainty if they get sufficient proper
stores, have a good queen and are kept
in proper condition during winter.
The
rules of health and life are as fixed with
the bee as any other animal."


The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette
Tuesday, November 21, 1893 Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Thanks to Historical Honeybee Articles
 

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What rotten luck. I'm sorry for your losses. When I opened my hive, for the first time this year, I noticed a bit of condensation on the inner cover. I put about 2 lbs of dry sugar on in mid winter and they had just about a softball size piece left. I say piece, since it was hard. This year, I'll put more dry sugar on if for nothing more than to completely absorb the condensation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
One strange thing I noticed was the 3 hives that were the largest had the last 1-2 combs open and I could smell spoiled honey, idk would this foul the air and cause massive death? I'm wondering if I should have left more holes open...

Sam.
 

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Sorry about your difficulties and admire your initiative. Starting 5 hives right out of the box is ambitious.

I have 5 Langstroth hives and one top bar. I hopped the TBH would be stronger going into the winter and haven't checked on them yet. I'm hopeful but bracing.

I'll give it another go if they failed, but if I were in your shoes, I'd first take a garden hose to then to see if they leak because I doubt if wet bees will make it through the cold let alone freeze.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I'm sure they don't leak, the lid is a single sheet of galv steel, the tb's never get wet. So far I'm leaning towards not enough ventilation, idk if the spoiled honey is a contributor. I have a bad feeling I will never find out.


Sam.
 
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