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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
It is 2019, and so time for a new "Front Range roller coaster - 20XX" thread.

For those not familiar with Colorado geography and its large weather extremes, "Front Range" refers to the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains, as located in Colorado, and is the boundary where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains. "Roller coaster" refers to how we can go from 50F one day to 6" of snow the next. Turns out the juncture of the mountains and the plains can produce rapidly changing weather, thus the "Front Range roller coaster," which us beekeepers in this area are forced to ride each year. Not surprisingly, these extreme weather excursions are hard on the bees, especially in late Winter and early Spring when they are trying to brood-up and trying to create mated queens. And this is all before the long drought of Summer hits. Uhg!

Anyway, my queens typically start laying a small patch of brood in mid-January, when temps can still plunge below -10F. They are indeed tough little ladies. I am hoping for one or two warm days before then to do an OAV treatment while the hives are still broodless. I'll will also do my first hive count of the year at that time to see who survived and who didn't. I am expecting big losses this Winter because I did not treat my hives in the Fall.

Here's to starting 2019 with close to zero mites!

--shinbone







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I am hoping all 3 of my hives make it and that we actually get some snow around here. It has been really dry near Ft Collins and we could really use some snow. I think I have pulled out the shovel once this year for 2 inches of snow. 2 of my hives look good, but the other one has been struggling, but was still alive a few days ago.
 

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"I am hoping for one or two warm days before then to do an OAV treatment while the hives are still broodless." Looks like your hopes will be granted this weekend;)
 

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We have the front range in Montana too! We have had four separate small bites of cold weather but it is already too late for it to be a long winter here. It is near fifty here today with forty in the forecast for most of two weeks. It is time for me to head out loaded up with sugar bricks to Supplimentally feed any colonies deranged by the weather into over eating. My winter broodless OAV cleanup was done around Thanksgiving when it was in the forties. It is nice the bees get to fly and void. I grew up in North Dakota when bees last liveable flight was in the first two weeks of November and the next didn't come until late March or early april. The roller coaster is better!
 

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It was 45 degrees F here in Mid Missouri today. Forecast is to be above freezing for next 4-5 days. This will be a very short winter. I love this "Global Warming".
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
It got up to 62F at my house, today. I opened 3 hives. The first one was dead, and had about 150lbs of honey on it. I didn't do a post mortem examination, but it is most likely mites that killed a hive that was large and vigorous just a few months ago.

The second had a grapefruit-size cluster, with about 50lbs of honey.

The third one is 1 deep and 5 mediums tall. I pulled off the top two mediums, which were packed with honey and bees, and . . . oh boy . . . the bees were not happy! It turned out to be one of the more defensive hives I have ever opened. Lot'sa bees pouring over the sides of the boxes and swarming over my veil. I decided to close it up without OAV'ing since I was really stirring things up. Triggered some mild robbing, too. I'll leave them be till Spring, at which time it will get split and re-queened if it does not mellow some. I've never before pulled a hive apart this time of year, so I am not sure whether that was normal defensive behavior.


I've got three more obviously-alive hives, which I didn't get into, today.




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Pretty sure that is normal behavior for a strong hive this time of year. I inspected a couple of nucs the other day and the first three were nice and calm, but also only a few frames of bees. The last nuc was a double deep with nine frames of bees. As soon as I popped the inner cover, the girls let me know they were not happy. Had 30-40 bumping the veil the whole time. As soon as I closed it back up they calmed down. A hot hive would have stayed on me. This hive also had a lot of capped sugar syrup so I can understand their desire to protect it.
 

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A few years ago I had a hot hive that stayed hot all winter! Any flying day, anyone in a hundred yard circle got harassed and stung. Order queens to split as there is no future in mean bees. Your case is illustrative. Here is a hive that won't be OAV'd because they drove the beekeeper away. I would still armor up and treat them as you aren't going to make friends with them anyway! Keep them alive so you have the bees to split, which may mean going in to add sugar bricks to keep them going in this open winter when the bees are consuming a lot of feed. I opened up a half dozen colonies to check feed consumption of my MC sugar. Did not have a single bee lift off to complain about my presence. Did see a lot of tails with wet little stingers pointed sky ward. I will take that as just prudence on their part! Temp was in the forties and howling wind. With my wraps, they didn't get much of the wind though. I would not be so cavalier about opening hives in the winter and breaking propolis seals but the wrap eliminates that. Still way to early to be lifting boxes here in the not so white North.
 

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Forties and fifties and twenties at night here in the north end of the front. Reports of bees finishing up their MC sugar and no natural income until April. I would imagine my bees are starting to raise a little brood, not that I am going to look! I need to make up a pile of sugar bricks, a chore I have let lag badly. I am getting ready pollen pattie requirements and asked if anyone wants to piggy back on my queen orders. Time to prune apple and pear trees?
 

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It has been raining/drizzling here all day. Getting rain in January near Ft Collins is weird.

edit: We are at about 3/8 of an inch of rain here today. The weather is a bit confused but we really need the moisture.
 

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Got about 4 inches of wet snow here in Broomfield and happy for it. Going to be right back into the 50s next week. I wish it would just stay cold already, hives are getting pretty light. I made up a bunch of sugar bricks just in case today.
 

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We just got 11 inches of snow last night. The low was 32 degrees F.
 

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So, up on the northern fringes of the Eastern Slope we are having a steady but generally ok Winter. Snow came in with some cold and bees are still in total shutdown. No chance of checking in next 10 days at least. We had about 0C today, forecast to be -20C by weekend.
Generally, not a rollercoaster this year, just slow relentless move to Winter. Hopefully it will be brief and mild, but....
All the best to all the southern cousins.
Brian
53 N, 115 W, El. 850m
 

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Discussion Starter #15
"As soon as I closed it back up they calmed down." That is what I experienced with that defensive hive, too. Good to know that observed behavior is most likely normal mid-Winter defensiveness. Still, I'll keep an eye on it.

We got a nice dump of snow a few days ago, and then moved right back into unseasonably mild weather. So far, at least, this is by far the mildest Winter I have ever experienced in Colorado. If this weather pattern continues for another handful of weeks, beeks in my area will be experiencing high winter survival rates, plus hives coming out of Winter with relatively high populations. This Spring could be a good year to do some aggressive hive splitting, if one wanted to grow their hive numbers.
 

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I wish we would start getting some snow on the flats. The snowpack is normal or better in the mountains which is great for the irrigators, but moisture on the prairie is lacking here. We have an inch or so total on the ground which may not even be frozen.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Vance - I know what you mean, snow on the prairie is vital to good nectar production for us Front Rangers.
 

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beeks in my area will be experiencing high winter survival rates, plus hives coming out of Winter with relatively high populations. This Spring could be a good year to do some aggressive hive splitting, if one wanted to grow their hive numbers.
I hope you are right. I threw some sugar on one of my hives yesterday because they were nearing the top, even though they went into winter reasonably heavy. Hopefully the warm weather is not resulting in larger hives that are eating more.
 

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I actually think this warm weather is going to be rough on the bees. Mine are flying most days and eating honey like crazy. I'm going to have to add sugar here pretty soon. I think there are going to be a lot of hives starving out in March when the brood rearing ramps up. In years past I would notice next to zero honey consumption by this time of year and then they would truck through 30 or 40 pounds as soon as they started to try to flip the population. I'm not going to have 40 pounds of honey left by then at this rate.
 

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I am not commercial or even a sideliner, but for all those of us who run fifty or fewer colonies, allowing spring starvation is a management choice or laziness. What part of mathematics precludes pouring a $5 ten pound bag of sugar on the top bars of a spring colony, the strongest starve!; that is worth hundreds of dollars. I have pulled a sled full of sugar a half mile to keep that bargain with my bees. I did not enjoy one step of it, but it needed done. If I had more hives It would justify renting or owning a snow machine of some kind. I have already saved one and maybe two. What are six strong spring splits worth? Being an old fart gone soft in the head, the autopsy on that strong starved hive disturbs me more than I can say. That more than the money is why not allowing my bees to starve is a fetish.
 
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