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Discussion Starter #1
So I've decided to try and save a weaker hive by moving the into the basement before the blizzard. They are in 2 deeps with plenty of stores and sitting on a screened btm. board. I've put a screen on top and created a screened in 8-10" area outside the bottom entrance for a place to poop and bring out the dead. They have water and the temp is approx. 60 degrees.
Anyone ever try this? What was your success rate?
I'm also thinking of experimenting with feeding them pollen to stimulate brood laying as we are only 33 days from March 1. I'd love some feedback. Thanks!
 

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I just ended that experiment.
Nothing good will happen to your hives with a temp that warm.
Move them outside as soon as you can.
Good luck, enjoy your bees.
 

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Moving them from the current outside temps in CT to your basement @60 F will really confuse them, I think.

The blizzard won't really be a problem and it sounds as if you're going to get enough snow to insulate them them very well for a few days afterward. Don't confuse the human effects of the blizard with what the bees will experience outside in it.

I truly do understand the impulse (and I'd bet that nobody here on Beesource insulates and protects their hives more than I do) but the basement, at those temps is far, far, too warm, IMO. It seems to me to be a really risky idea, so I hope you haven't already moved your bees. Moving them back outside will be stressful, but it has to be done because the consequences of being kept that warm, and confined inside, are even worse.

If you really feel you must protect them more then how about moving them into an unheated outbuilding like your garage if it is open to the air? The move will dis-orient them and soome will perish going back to the old site so the gain from the move has to be woth that loss. A better plan would be to wait until after the blizzard's snow are gone (this weekend it will have melted down enough to expose the hives again) and bungee on some foam panels on all the sides and the top? You could wrap the hives with layers of foam insulation (4" will be more than enough, but I think 2" would probably be OK).

Please don't start feeding pollen just yet. That goes double, triple, if you still have the bees inside. Move them back out ASAP, insulate them them if you feel they need it (I do, as my hives are insulated as matter of course) and feed them sugar only at least until March 1. If there are less than the optimal numbers of adult bees, then feeding to stimulate early brood when we still have very cold weather ahead could result in the loss of the hive because they will stay on the brood trying desperately to keep it warm, even if it means they perish because they can not form a cluster. Don't put them at risk in this way.

I am bemused by the thought of your basement at 60F. I live in an ancent farmhouse north of Albany, NY without any central heat - except for the space quite near one of the woodstoves I expect none of our living spaces are as warm as 60 degrees F right now.



Enj.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the input!
jvalentour, how long did you have yours inside for? Why did you do this experiment and what bad results did you notice in your experiment?

My hope was to get them to break cluster and hopefully move to a different spot. They were in the bottom box, close to the side, which I viewed as good since they had plenty of stores above to work there way through. However they have recently started dying off in large numbers, which could be due to mites as I did not treat due to what I felt was a manageable level in the fall, and the fact that this hive has been very hygienic.
I don't know if getting them to move would do any good but that was my thought...
 

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However they have recently started dying off in large numbers
Is it possible that you are just hitting a point where a lot of the bees are of a certain age and they are dying due to the natural cycle? With up to 1500 eggs being laid in a day, theoretically there could be 1500 bees that are exactly the same age and dying all close to the same time........but if the other hives don't have that then....:scratch:

Interesting though, seems like they would start to brood up and be stronger in the spring. Assuming that they have the resources they need. Has anyone ever tried to keep a colony completely closed in?
 

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I wanted to move one of my hives into the garage but the wife said that if I did that I'd be staying out there with them.
 

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Losing a lot of bees is distressing, but there's really nothing you can do to interrupt it at this time of year. (It is possible to treat for nosema by spraying the syrup mixture directly on the bees, but I wouldn't do that in the temps we're expecting for the next two weeks in the northeast. And I wouldn't do so unless an infection was confirmed by lab tests.)

If you're of a mind to, you could treat them with OAV if you can get a day when the temps are at 40F. It's only going to work on the mites that are phoretic (not presently under brood cappings), and properly should have been done between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Your bees will be just about to start (or already have) tending some small patches of brood so some mites will excape the OAV.

If you've taken our advice and left the hive outside, it will likely stay pretty warm and snug under the snow during the blizzard, and even through the wind storm after it stops snowing. This weekend, I'd insulate them and begin feeding them sugar for the next month. Any step you take to give the walls and top a higher R-value will help retain the heat of the cluster, lowering the energy cost to the bees of maintaining the cluster heat. My bees move around a fair amount inside their cozy boxes. I wouldn't worry too much about where the bees are.

When you say your bees are "pretty hygenic" - how do you judge that? Do you do the frozen brood patch test, or some other method?

Enj.
 

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Is it possible to screen off the entrances, so that they will not fly? The screen would keep them in the hive, but still allow air to pass through. They would be fine for a little while I think.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Enjambres,
"When you say your bees are "pretty hygenic" - how do you judge that? Do you do the frozen brood patch test, or some other method?"

I just base it on my observing the front porch activity. All year they would have a large number of bees 'sweeping' the area outside, keeping it clean and neat. They were extremely productive, not aggressive and seemed to have no serious problems with pests.
I had already moved them in before I posted but plan to wrap them well and move them back out today if I'm able to. If not then right after the storm. I've put a feeding shim on & sugar bricks on top as a precautionary measure.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Is it possible to screen off the entrances, so that they will not fly? The screen would keep them in the hive, but still allow air to pass through. They would be fine for a little while I think.
I screened off the top & created an area outside the bottom entrance that is approx. 8" by 8" & the full width of the entrance. If there is not much evidence of them using it as a place to relieve themselves then it will not work as I hoped. I believe this does provide them with good ventilation.
They do not like the fact that they can't get out of the cage and turning the light on only makes it worse. I was planning to see if they would settle down eventually but I'm thinking now I should get them back outside. I just wish it was a warmer day..
 

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Jonny,

I'm glad I asked about your use of the word hygenic. Because it does not mean what you think it does, in this case. All bees keep their froont porch tidy (and the repetitive sweeping thing is called washboarding, no one knows why they do that.) So a tidy hive, with dead bees being carried off, and debris removed is just normal bee behavior.

"Hygenic" in the context of bees these days means that the bees recognize pupae that are being parasitized by mites under the cappings and open and remove them (and the mites attached to them) from the hive. In effect, they sacrifice their own brood in an attempt to suppress parasitization. It also means that the bees may groom off mites from each other. The tests for this behavior trait usually involve going into an area of capped brood and uncapping or freezing the cells of a fixed number of pupae and then coming back after a certain period and checking to see if the bees have removed the dead bees. This trait isn't a long-lasting one, meaning that the open-mated grand-daughters (and subsequent generations) of the original hygenic bee don't show strong tendencies to do this. Most regular and nuc package bees are at least the F-1 generation, so unless you are sourcing a special VSH queen, the hygenic behavior is pretty weak. And it doesn't have anything to do with keeping the hive generally tidy, which almost all bees do quite well.

I'm not trying to bum you out, just clearing up something that I, too, was confused about. It's important because if you were observing their ordinary behavior and interpreting it to be "hygenic" in the sense of being mite-resistant, you may have assumed that your bees would be less affected by varroa than they actually are.

And even VSH breeder queens need regular mite monitoring all season long, at least April to November.

I'm glad you are planning to get the bees back out. If the storm prevents that get them to the coldest place inside that you can and keep them in the pitch dark. It's a good suggestion to use a window well, or even open a window.

I often joke about my bees being so-called "survivor" bees, not just because they are all from unmanaged swarms. But because they survived my best efforts to help them, when I probably could have/should have left well enough alone in most cases. But bees are tough little bugs so they will probably survive winter and their brief indoor sojourn. Because they will have gotten warmed up, when moved back out I would give them some extra shelter, if you can, so that they can reform their cluster before getting too cold. I, um, have been known to wrap my hives in thick layers of wool blankets, in a pinch.

Hope the storm isn't as bad as the news people are saying - up here we're only expecting a bit more than a foot, but CT looks like it's going to get slammed. Good luck, all around.

(And hey, you may the only person in CT who will be pleased if you lose power - it will keep your bees cooler!)

Enj.
 
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