Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
25 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm worried. Today where I am (near DFW, Texas) it was calm, sunny, and 67 degrees. No activity at my hive. No friendly buzzing when I rap on the side, either. Last week when weather was about the same, there WAS activity -- looked about normal to me based on what I've been seeing so far this winter. I want to open up the hive and take a look, but am unsure if this would be harmful.

Weather the next few days is suppposed to be around 60 ... can I pop the top for a few minutes and take a (quick) look, without harming anything (assuming there is still anything left to harm)? The hive has one deep brood box then two shallow supers on top of that (started winter with one of those 100% full of capped honey and the other one partly full). It's a first-year hive but I thought it did great, last year, and was pretty strong. Had some SHB issues towards September, but put a trap in the bottom and thought that helped (found a bunch of dead ones in it, anyway).

Assuming the answer is that I NEED to see what's going on, so even if it a little harmful I must do it ... Would I pop the inner cover then remove each super in turn until I (hopefully) find a cluster in the brood chamber? I just hate to bust all those air-tight propolis seals they have built between the supers...

Related question: every time we have a spell of cold weather (around here, that means nights below freezing, daytime highs in the 30's ... or colder) I find about a dozen or so dead bees on the front landing area. They build up slowly but surely during the several days when the temp is cold enough for the bees to cluster. I assumed they were just part of the normal attrition, and crawling out there to die when the time came. All told over the past two months there may have been 70 - 100 die like this. Is that normal?

Thanks,
Adam
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,425 Posts
I'm worried. Today where I am (near DFW, Texas) it was calm, sunny, and 67 degrees. I want to open up the hive and take a look, but am unsure if this would be harmful.
Around these parts, we call that Summer. Last Saturday, it was in the 40s and sunny, Bees were flying and I popped the tops for a quick peek inside. You should be able to take a more leisurely look at those temps.

Wayne
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,487 Posts
You can look around in 60's. You won't need to tear things apart to see if the bees are in there or not.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,691 Posts
I'm anxiously awaiting a clear 55+ degree day for me to take a peek at mine. You should be able to peek at yours without any ill effects from looking at those temps you're having.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
358 Posts
Adam my bees have been flying for a week now. If the bees are not flying they are dead. P.M. me as to your location. I do cutouts and collect swarms in the area and we could maybe hook up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,711 Posts
If it was 67 degrees and there was no activity,.no buzzing, I would be worried to. Can you use a flashlight to look down between the frames to see if there are any active bees? This would be so you don't have to pull the boxes apart right away. If there are active bees between 4-6 frames at least, they should be OK. for now.

The 70 - 100 dead bees on the landing area over a two month period is normal. Did you look closely at those bees? Did their wings look normal or were they deformed? This is because you thought they had,. "crawled" out to die.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
25 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the replies. Tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer, so I'll go take a look then, and let you know what I find.

Oldbee, the wings are normal - not deformed. None of them are even frayed on the ends (the way the older bees get before they die, in the summertime). I don't see any V. mites on the bees either (not sure if I would see them on bees that are dead, though - or at this time of year).

There is one strange thing I notice, though. There are very tiny "spots" of debris or something on the front lip of the SHB trap. These "spots" are sticky -- rather like that fine mist that some trees (pecans, for example) drop in the summer when a certain kind of bug (aphids?) sucks the sap from them. This trap is plastic and sits on the bottom board, within the hive (it came with little "spacers" I had to install around the edge of the bottom board, to give enough clearance for the bees to crawl in/over the trap. The top of the trap is a kind of grille that the bees cannot fall through but the SHB can. Cooking oil in the trap. I think you call it a "West" style trap. At any rate, the "spots" to which I'm referring would never have been there in the summer -the bees kept it scrubbed clean. So either they haven't been cleaning, because it's been too cold. Or they are dead. I'll find out tomorrow.

I wonder if leaving the trap in there during the winter was a bad idea?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,253 Posts
Adam:
If there was activity last week and since we have not had any intervening weather, you will probably be ok. I suspect what you have is that the queen has started laying again. You probably came through the winter with a small cluster, and therefore requires the cluster to tend to the larva and eggs and keep them warm and tended to. A small cluster tending brood is hard to hear as usually it will be located in the middle frames. I would just do enough inspection to confirm that this is true, but also lift one part of the colony to be sure that they have adequate stores remaining. Let us know how it turns out.

Kindest Regards
DRU
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,711 Posts
You are right, probably not young bees with deformed wings would have been emerging over the last two months.

The tiny "spots" of debris could be bits of wax cappings that the bees remove to get at the honey. Well,..todays the day! :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
359 Posts
Adam-

I'm in the panhandle. My bees have been flying for nearly three weeks now whenever the temp warms up above 55. Like others, I suspect the specs are capping debris. At least, that's what is on the bottom boards of my hives.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
25 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The hive clearly starved to death. Many are still clustered ... many other are head-first in a cell, looking for one last drop. I'm so sad ... and I feel like a dummy. I thought I left them enough honey for the winter -- the better part of two supers (for one deep hive body that wasn't completely full). But a couple of weeks ago we had the coldest weather we've had in 15 or 20 years -- several days of sub-freezing high temps, with lows in the low teens. Clearly this would cause them to consume more than normal. I should have at least realized this and tried to give them some help. Lifting up on the hive now, it's so easy to tell, too. I wasn't paying close enough attention.

I have questions about salvaging the comb ... but I'll put those in a separate thread. So sad...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,526 Posts
I'm so sorry, I know how you feel. It's tough to lose them when you have only one or two colonies.

Your next hive will not starve though, that's a safe bet, since you'll be watching that like a hawk.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
203 Posts
Pop the tops in the 60s if winds not blowing,don't pull any brood frames till about 80. The bees have to keep the brood at 93 degree.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
98 Posts
Sorry for your loss man. It happens. I think that is a tell-tell sign if it warms up and you don't see bees. I have a pretty large beard on the front of my hive it gets anywhere near 50. I find it odd that what you left wasn't enough. I trying to not feed this Winter myself and only pulled one super frame out this year for me. I want to see if they can make it through the Winter on a full hive (1 super, 2 deeps) and see what's left come Spring.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Adam

Sorry to hear about the loss. Not sure what your level of experience but you can never have too much help.

I would like to extend a offer you to come to our monthly meetings. I am the President of the Metro Beekeepers club.

Here is our website that will let you know all the info.

http://www.metrobeekeepers.net/


Any questions I would be glad to help. We are in your neighborhood so we can help as best we can.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,425 Posts
"Pop the tops in the 60s if winds not blowing,don't pull any brood frames till about 80."

That would give me a few days in August perhaps to work my bees here in Maine. :lpf:

Obviously we work bees at a much lower temperature. I peeked in on the bees last week on a sunny day when the temp hit 40 and the hardy bees were out flying. All was well.

Wayne
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,425 Posts
I'd say the same about people that follow some of the bad or silly advice offered here.

Experienced beekeepers know when it's safe to open their hives in their areas.

Wayne
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top