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Hive active in below zero weather?

3191 Views 11 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  doc25
I have one hive where the bees have refused to 'sleep'. Every time I go out there to remove snow from the entrance, they're buzzing and flying around inside the hive. My other six hives are all quiet unless I bump the hive, in which case they 'hum' for a second or two and then settle back down.

The active hive is always loud, and I can hear them flying around inside, banging against the edges of the hive, especially up at the top. They are doing this even in -10F temperatures outside.

We got busy this year with other projects and decided to leave all the honey supers on, and will extract what's left early next summer. This was our most active hive last summer, and by fall we had two brood boxes and five honey supers completely filled up, which we left in place. Has anyone ran into this before?
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I do have hives that are more active then others. Just be glad they are alive. :D
I have one in a sigle deep that came from a late swarm with a good queen that I combined with a failing split from last spring. neither had enough food so I combined all and placed a 25# sugar board on them. I also moved the to the entrance of my tractor shed so I walk by them almost daily. They never sleep no matter how cold it is out. Theres always many, many dead bee's in the snow in front of them. Last weekend i took a peek and they had eaten half the sugar board and were very active. I will have to put a slab of fondant on them at this rate or they will stave for sure.
You'll find out more in the Spring. I wonder if those are robbers that got stuck in there because of cold weather.
Hey RR
I’m curious how long since their last flying day, the noisy hive, and how many more weeks before they can fly again, roughly? Both my hives haven’t been out since mid Nov 2009 and Probably 6 more weeks before it’s warm enough to fly again. They both have noisy periods, I’m not sure why?
Here in Maine with temps below freezing for sometimes 4 months or more I find myself wondering how long a hive, with good stores can endure without getting out, considering their need to poop and their life spans.
I’d like to know more about their, Italians, winter hibernation facts in colder climates:s
Hey RR
I’m curious how long since their last flying day, the noisy hive, and how many more weeks before they can fly again, roughly?
You have a longer flying season than we do here. I'm at high elevation in the mountains of Eastern Washington State, right on the Canada border. We have snow cover for 7 1/2 months out of the year. By the first of November, we were already below zero at night. I see yellow snow in front of all the hives, so I'm sure on still days, they're coming out, although they don't linger for obvious reasons. We really have no food for them until the last week in May when the Alder trees bloom, and that's also about when the dandelions get going. After that, it's gangbusters for three months. They rarely emerge from the hive by the end of August, which is also when we light our wood stove in the cabin.

robber bees
I thought about this. We had a real problem with robbers last summer, but our bees always seemed to kick them out. The noise they're making in the hive reminds me of when a horse fly gets in the house and is banging against a window to get out. It seems to be happening faster than the bees normally fly, so perhaps it's robbers. If so, I wonder why the bees haven't killed them? Are they being wimps?
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Hey RR
Wow, you do have a challenging bee environment. What kind and how many hives?. Kudos to you and your bees. I worked on a cattle ranch in Eastern Oregon for many years and we had -40 a couple of times.
I’m still trying to figure out the “Winter Mode” problems of; life span and elimination necessities. If yours aren’t getting out from Nov. to May; that’s 7mos.and mine here from Nov. to March 5mos. That seems like a long life span for workers and for no way to poop. Are yours going out below freezing ya think?
Maybee the experts on this site have answers to “life span” and “elimination needs” in Honey Bee Winter mode.
Both my hives are indoor observation hives. I’ve noticed both my queens have started laying, small amounts, now, after shutting down the last of Nov. So Winter mode is more than just “hibernation”.
I have anthropomorphically thought when they are noisy it must mean they have been cooped up too long and gotta go. But I have to remind my self not to try to think like a bee.
I heat almost totally with wood.
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One more thing about my active colony is the there fecal spots are more brown than yellow. I have about 30 colonies. 2 out yards I wont be able to check until the snow goes down but I have a doz by my barn. All have the usual amount a bee's dead out front in the snow. This one is loosing population quickly. I'm wondering if the sugar board is causing the brown poop. It not disintary. they are not painting the snow just alittle spot here and alittle spot there
>decided to leave all the honey supers on, and will extract what's left early next summer.

If it is not granulated solid, robbed out or fermented from absorbing moisture all winter.
I would rather a pound of honey in the jar than sitting on a hive through the winter.
I think that my guess is that it's queenless and will get robbed out when the weather warms up.
Roger I'm in a similar position. I left the supers on and have one hive that seems way more active than the others. I just went out today and gave them some sugar. I am unsure if they are out of stores yet or not. I hope they survive.
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