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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I'm Nicki and I live in Gunnison Colorado. I have been a beekeeper for 5 years and I live in subzero temps. My current hive has made for 3 years in subzero (-20 at nights) I have not had troubles at all. Until today, I went outside by the hive and started seeing frozen bees everywhere in the snow. We have not had warm weather definitely not anywhere 50 degrees. It looks like they went in all directions and froze. It also looks like they pooped ( we have snow on the ground so you can easily see them and the poop) right before they died. The circle of carnage is up to above 12 yards for the hive. Any ideas why he change in behavior from past years? Or why they would just leave?
 

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Nicki: I am going to let a cold-weather beekeeper tackle this one, but from what I follow on this board, what you are seeing is not necessarily a bad thing and may often be viewed as a product of a healthy hive. So don't despair just yet.
 

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Thank you for the positive input. It's heartbreaking to think after all this time they would just fly out into the cold, a couple hundred. The queen was even from a hive that split a couple years ago so I thought they would be accalmented to this climate. I feed them spring and fall so I thought they had a great chance this year, they had lived thru colder. I can't do much until it warms up...waiting game now. I just don't want to make the same mistake again. Thank you again for your input! - Nicki
 

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Hundreds of bees dying in the snow, while upsetting to see, may not mean the hive is lost. Several thousand dead bees, would be much more worrisome. If you focused on treating for varroa mites in the late summer and fall and made sure they have enough food, they are probably just fine.

When you get a slightly warmer day, you might see if the the entrance is blocked by dead bees. if you find that the floor is completely covered with dead bees, that might be more ominous. Try to get out to observe the hive in mid-day if the weather breaks even a little bit

But as you said, there's little you can do about it, although if you have the capability of doing so, and any doubts about your early winter mite levels, a round of oxalic acid vaporization won't hurt them.


Nancy
 

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Nicki:

While I haven't much to offer in terms of advice being that I live in the relatively mild Mid-South, I did want to extend a hearty welcome to our forum and best wishes on your continued success in beekeeping.

If you were concerned about mites, you could consider gathering up a handful of the dead bees and do an alcohol wash to see what sort of mite drop results you get.

Here's hoping the colony in question comes through with flying colors.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hundreds of bees dying in the snow, while upsetting to see, may not mean the hive is lost. Several thousand dead bees, would be much more worrisome. If you focused on treating for varroa mites in the late summer and fall and made sure they have enough food, they are probably just fine.

When you get a slightly warmer day, you might see if the the entrance is blocked by dead bees. if you find that the floor is completely covered with dead bees, that might be more ominous. Try to get out to observe the hive in mid-day if the weather breaks even a little bit

But as you said, there's little you can do about it, although if you have the capability of doing so, and any doubts about your early winter mite levels, a round of oxalic acid vaporization won't hurt them.


Nancy
Nancy,
That's what my husband said, but I think he was just trying to make me feel better. There are a lot of bees in the doorway, but it doesn't look blocked. I will take a closer look tomorrow. My hive is on a high point in the back yard with fencing, so the surrounding area has really deep snow. There is no chance of opening until March at the earliest. We rarely make it to 25 degrees a day in the winter. We hive inspected in the Fall and NO mites. Thanks for your time and information. May your hives live long!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Nicki:

While I haven't much to offer in terms of advice being that I live in the relatively mild Mid-South, I did want to extend a hearty welcome to our forum and best wishes on your continued success in beekeeping.

If you were concerned about mites, you could consider gathering up a handful of the dead bees and do an alcohol wash to see what sort of mite drop results you get.

Here's hoping the colony in question comes through with flying colors.

Russ
Russ,
Thank you for the welcome! Good to see this kind of forum. I will keep high hope until I can actually look inside the hive. Thank you again, Nicki
 

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Welcome, I am in a colder climate but certainly not sun zero. As others have ill used too, a few hundred dead bees are nothing to worry about. The snow makes them seem like a lot because they are easy to see.

What method do you use to detect mites? Alcohol, sugar, either wash etc?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Even here in Richmond VA where the temps have not dropped below 25F, I have 20 or 30 dead bees in front of a nuc that is on dirt where I can find them. I would not worry unless the numbers keep growing daily by large amounts.
 

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Hi, I'm Nicki and I live in Gunnison Colorado. I have been a beekeeper for 5 years and I live in subzero temps. My current hive has made for 3 years in subzero (-20 at nights) I have not had troubles at all. Until today, I went outside by the hive and started seeing frozen bees everywhere in the snow. We have not had warm weather definitely not anywhere 50 degrees. It looks like they went in all directions and froze. It also looks like they pooped ( we have snow on the ground so you can easily see them and the poop) right before they died. The circle of carnage is up to above 12 yards for the hive. Any ideas why he change in behavior from past years? Or why they would just leave?
Hi Nicki,

I am in Central Alberta (definitely subzero). Based on what you have described, my guess is that the bees desperately required a cleansing flight and were overcome by the cold temperatures. I would be less concerned about losing a few hundred bees than the pooping; the possibility that their food source is causing gastric dilation (high solids in food) resulting in a greater need to take a cleansing flight, or a brewing case of nosema apis/ceranae. Here in Alberta we feed fall sugar syrup with fumigilin to reduce food solids and prevent nosema and thereby reduce the need to evacuate during the long winter. If bees are left on honey stores (some sources worse than others) the bees do not do very well during the winter.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Some honey stores are bad too if the ash content is high. Goldenrod and aster honey is not good for the bees to overwinter on in colder climates. Pure sucrose is best in those situations.
 

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That is interesting. So if you have a late fall flow of something that is not conducive to winter survival, do you have to harvest all of that off and load sugar syrup back on?
 

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Beekeeping really is local. I rely on the aster and goldenrod to get my bees through the winter. Supplement sucrose when I have to (which is more frequently lately). But my bees are never confined to the hive by weather for more than a couple of days at a clip.
 

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LOCATION, location, location. It means everything. 2 hives get morning sun and the girls are flying in 47 degree wx at 0900.
1 hive gets afternoon sun and at 47 degrees not a peep in the AM. Nikki, your bees are fine! Don't stress over what you cannot control. If you treated for mites and got enough sugar on them you will see spring bees (if your queen is OK). You know your husband would not lie to you!
 
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