Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
151 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Here's a question I haven't seen addressed. My bees seem to be doing well, as their humming is audible when I place my ear to the hive. But I haven't seen any evidence that they've taken any cleansing flights all winter. Yeah, it's been cold here in southern Maine, but how long can they hold it before they have to poop? The bottom board is clean so they aren't going inside the hive. But no yellow snow whatsoever. My belly hurts just thinking about it. :D Any ideas? Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
667 Posts
I too have noticed the same thing with my hive. . . . and just TODAY, I went out there to check on them, and saw quite a bit of yellow. I haven't seen any all year except for today.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
151 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
c10250, how warm did it get in your area? We hit 38 here, and I saw ONE lone bee flying outside the hive for a brief time. But I think she went back in and let the other girls know that it was still pretty chilly out.

Thanks for letting me know that I'm not the only one with bees that haven't pooped!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,425 Posts
I wouldn't worry too much about their bathroom breaks. I'm about an hour northwest of you and I've spotted the girls out flying at least twice this winter. We had a sunny day around 40 a few weeks ago and they were out and about then. (Some of them were down and out, judging from the scattered bees on the snow.)

Wayne
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,176 Posts
They can hold it a long time. Don't sweat it...there's nothing you can do to change things!
 

·
Vendor
Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
Joined
·
54,108 Posts
How long is directly dependant on how much brood they are rearing at the time. They may be rearing none, in which case they can last six months if they have to. They may be rearing some in which case a week is difficult and a month is torture.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,290 Posts
It also matters how active the cluster is. If you look at bees in the winter, in the North where is stays cold, you'll see that different colonies cluster differently. Some form tight clusters and are so quiet that you'd think they were dead. Others are loose and humming loudly.

I think that those colonies that have the ability to withstand long periods without cleansing flights are the colonies that maintain tight, quiet clusters.

Many things will cause the cluster to break and the bees to be actice. Mice in the hive or a branch scraping against the hive all winter will. Tracheal mite infestation will. Sugar on the cluster will. Nosema will. Bad genetics will.

Long winters with no cleansing flights take their toll on our bees. Those not able to fly at least a couple times in their 5 month confinement suffer the worst damage. Here in Vermont, when we have a winter like that, there will often be a few days that are almost a cleansing day. Bright, sunny, calm, and just a bit too cold.

That's where wrapping in black tar paper helps the most. After an almost flight day, you'll see that the wrapped bees have flown out in front of the hives, and returned home. There are no dead bees or yellow poop stains anywhere 10 feet or more away from the hives. In a 4' wide strip in front of the rows of hives is the evidence. The bees were able to fly out in front because of the slightly elevated temperatures in and around the hives. They cleans, and are able to safely return to the entrance. When the sun begins to fade, and the temps drop, they reform their cluster.

Where I keep bees, that alone makes wrapping worth the time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
123 Posts
hit 31 degrees here today. I had seen a few dark spots in snow earlier this winte, but today they were everywhere around hives. tramped through the 23" snow on the ground to check hives, and had several fly around me and even got stung by one. was good to see. this time last year all hives were dead. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. PP
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
151 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
By gum, it hit the low 40's today and finally, out came the girls. :applause: What a nice sight to see!

Thanks for your replies/help. :thumbsup:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
68 Posts
I saw a Michael Palmer photo in a different thread about TM - he said note the dysentery in the snow - I am wondering, how can I tell the yellow cleansing flight poops from dysentery? I have found yellow spots in the snow quite a bit away from the hive. Yesterday we had weather in the 40s and the girls were out, but I didn't see yellow spots as I had on an earlier warm day. When the weather is above 32, I can look in the hole in the second deep and see bees walking around, so I guess my bees are not in a tight cluster - they are wrapped with black tar paper which really adds warmth and the hives get lots of sun.

Thank you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,618 Posts
Dysentery is an unscientific term for excess crap all over the place. A lot of yellow spots in the snow is normal and to be hoped for, since long term confinement is what hurts bees the most.

If bees are confined too long, there may be brown crap all over the tops off the frames, and down the front of the hive below the upper entrance. This has been associated with nosema infection in the past, but I think it's fairly accepted that dysentery and nosema are not directly connected.

Bees get pretty well backed up if they are confined and these bees may also have large numbers of nosema spores, due to inadequate trips outside, etc.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,290 Posts
Notice in that photo how the poop is all over, not just yellow spots in the snow. Consider...the temperature is down around 20, the colony is flying out and dying in the snow. No other colonies in the yard are doing that.

That's how I would tell. Most colonies have a bit of spotting and some yellow spots on the snow. A colony with dysentery has, as Peter has so eloquently said, "With crap all over the place."
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Top