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The circumstances around the recent lost of one of my observation hives has me thinking; “What really is the life span of a worker girl during long winters?” I’ve heard every thing from 10 weeks to 9 months.
I had not checked this hive for weeks and when I finally did it spoiled my day “all dead”. This hive (single wide; 4 deep frames) was strong, perhaps overcrowded, had a good laying queen and the equivalent of 2 frames of capped honey in Sept. (and I feed Syrup then on). At the beginning of Nov. there were few fly days and no fly days from mid Nov till now, late Jan.; totaling about 10 weeks with no fly days and with temps from 30 to 8 degrees, suicide for any outdoor flying. I had noticed earlier, in that hive, that dead bees were piling up around the exit route in the hive case but I was to busy to do anything then.
So here’s my thought, relevant to this hive and regarding life span in long winters with no fly days: “In a packed hive the workers ability to clear dead bees and debris was prevented by a blocked exit. The pile up of dead became critical and probably toxic, leading to more dead and eventually all dieing”.So this instance causes me to look for a more definitive answer to worker life span in winter. There of course can bee other explanations to the demise of this hive but I’m adding a debris port at the bottom of the hive for when and whatever reason, the exit becomes blocked the build up of debris and dead bees can be mitigated by emtying the port.

My question is: Life span in winter??
Anybody?

Mark
 

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My bees are still alive and they haven't hatchet out any new brood of any significance since late fall.
I also haven't noticed them take a cleansing flight on which they made it back to the hive yet either.
I have read six months is life span for winter bees but can be drastically shortened if their body temperature drops bellow 40 degrees. I didn't know you could keep an observation hive out side over winter in Maine.
 

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The life span of a wintering bee depends on the nutrition it was fed from egg and on. Poor feed= short life, excellent feed= long life. Optimum wintering bees consist of starting winter with late fall brood hatching from well fed eggs/larva.
 

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have you overwintered bees in this O-hive before?
there are a lot of ways the design can be wrong and cause problems
I know mine tend to make it through winter and then abscond in the spring (I wanna watch em swarm)
in adding to MikeJ's question, are they totally outdoors?
Might be too chilly for that in Maine

I'll show you mine if you show me yours:)

http://drobbins.net/bee%27s/oh/

Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Gentlemen
Thanks for your input. Indeed my hives are indoors.
I’m going to investigate more closely the circumstances here. Indeed they may have been short of food but I rather suspect some kind of toxicity created from the dead bees in combination with syrup and pollen substitute created a problem. I have redesigned the feeding station to the top of the hive and added a debris port to the bottom of the case. My other hives are fine.
I’d like to get more replies on; WINTER LIFE SPAN and HIVE DEBRIS in areas with long cold winters. It still troubles me that when temps are in single numbers exiting is problematic. I have noticed that debris are dragged to the lowest spot in the hive.
Here is a video of one of my hives: http://s918.photobucket.com/albums/ad21/bonterrabees/?action=view&current=ObHpromo.flv

Thanks again for your info,
Mark
 
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