Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,030 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
...at this time of year, what is normal to see? It has been cold (highs in the 20's F) and snowing for several days. I can not hear them inside. When I went out to brush snow from the entrance, I looked in and saw about 20 or so dead bees on the SBB.
(First winter jitters...)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,833 Posts
Dead bees on BB is normal. The bees will clean them out next time it warms up. Then you'll find dead bees in front of hive


Cant hear them? How did you "listen"?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,584 Posts
Well Hobie, to quote a local beekeeper here in Maine, don't bother checking your hives in mid-winter, if they're dead, they'll be just as dead come spring.

Of course, last winter- my first- I checked my hives almost weekly. This year, not so often. I was last up looking at them in late December when they were flying around. I haven't been up since. The next day it gets up to 35 or so I'll probably go look at them.

If you can look in the entrance and see some dead bees on the bottom, that's OK. If the hive was dead you'd probably see LOTS of dead bees on the bottom. 20 isn't anything to worry about. House keeping falls down during the winter.

As for hearing the bees.. my hearing is lousy I guess. I usually can't hear the bees during the winter without using a stethoscope and at that, it's a pretty faint hum. Try listening to an empty box and comparing that with what you're hearing. I wouldn't crack the lid if I could help it- they've no doubt got it glued down, for a good reason. Do they still have stores? Is the hive heavy?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,604 Posts
>> (First winter jitters...)

Nothing wrong with that. Winters up here can make you a little nervous when everything seems to get eerily quiet. More than likely they are just fine... huddled up tight now.

I'll echo George's suggestion to fight the temptation to open it up ... especially with single digit lows on the way in a day or two. Try to wait until you get into the high 30's and then take a quick peek.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,711 Posts
We have had a "normal" winter here recently with temps in the 20's and about 7" of snow; southern Wisc. I have scraped out about 60 bees from the bottom entrance of my one "Carni" hive and about 30 from my 2 Italians in the last month. I am concerned about that Carniolan hive because I did not treat for mites in the spring: treated in fall with 3yo. Check-mite. When I put my ear to the hives,. the Carniolan sounds weaker. Is that because Carniolans have a smaller winter cluster? My Italians sound always a little louder. I hope my one Carniolan will not be dead in the spring. Good luck with your hives!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,711 Posts
I will "vote" with with Mike and Geaorge and that you not "open" or crack the propolis seal that the bees made for their survival during the winter. If we, as "beekeepers" have done our best to insure our bees have everything they need for the winter then all we can do is "pray", "if you are so inclined", or have hope; if not. Wow!, What a struggle to be "politacally "correct".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,030 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the advice. I don't dare open them up, I'm afraid they will freeze. I tried to listen by putting my ear to the boxes, but maybe the wind drowned out their little humming. There were a few buzzing around on those 60 degree days in December, so I guess they are still in there. I tried to lift the back of the hive (3 deeps) and it didn't move. I was afraid it was frozen tot he stand and if I pulled harder it would let go and take a header. Maybe I'll try again with tools. And in daylight.

George, I've never met your fellow Maine beekeeper, but I like him already! Ah, I miss Maine!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,414 Posts
Your bees will not freeze.

The temperature inside your hives is within a
degree or two
of the outside temperature.

If it is not raining/snowing, there is no
problem in taking a quick look, taking care
to not pull the cluster apart.

Cold alone does not kill bees, wet and cold can.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,085 Posts
Your bees will NOT freeze... I'll echo what Jim said.

I popped the top an several of my hives at 31 deg here the other day. A couple were light of stores and right up against the inner cover. One hive had bees ON the inner cover. Its better to pop the inner cover off and put a super of honey on top than to leave them in that condition.

I didn't lift frames out. I just popped the inner cover off knocked bees off onto the cluster. Laid a super of honey on top and closed it up. Took me 30 seconds max.

Bees will be fine. I check my bees every month of the year. I DON'T tear them apart though in cold temps. Pop the top... look listen for a minute and then shut her back up. Again...Bees will be perfectly fine!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,030 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Thanks... this is all good information to know. Sadly, I do not have any honey supers to offer, but that's because I left everything (except 2 frames)to the bees. Hopefully they have enough. Will try to heft the hive this weekend.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,030 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
No, I didn't. How much does knocking upset them?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,833 Posts
>How much does knocking upset them?
Some. That’s the sound you hear for a second or two before they settle down.

When your unsure if they are alive, a sharp knock (before you place your ear on hive) won’t hurt.
I just wouldn’t do it every day
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,514 Posts
Knocking every now and then will disturb them less than opening them up will any day.

Usually they will give a small roar and then buzz a little louder for a few seconds. It can still be hard to hear, depending on where the cluster is. If you can't hear anything then, maybe listen at some different places in the hive before opening it up.

And for the most part you just want to know that they are alive, you can't tell much from the strenght of the sound.

-rick
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
72 Posts
I often opened mine years ago but now I prepare them well, feed them a lot and spend the winter in Florida. You don't do them any good by opening them (unless they didn't have enough food)so resist the temptation to check on them. Last year I prepared a number of nucs and standard hives in two yards and they all survived. When I got back in mid april they already had lots of drone cells capped. Another 3 weeks and they would have swarmed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
438 Posts
One day I saw dead bees on the SBB,I could not see the bees any more, the next day all the dead bees had been thrown on the ground. Good housekeeping.

When I saw all my dead bees, I panicked thinking my hive was dieing, when the weather warmed up I found out different.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,030 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
I knocked, they buzzed. Later I noticed 3 dead bees on the veranda. I also lifted the hive, only to realize that I have absolutely no idea what 100 lbs feels like.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,711 Posts
Hobie. Most of the larger sporting goods stores have weights for weight lifting. I tried an 80# dumbell this fall to get an idea how my hives weighed. Only problem is I wasn't able to use two hands for lifting. A "barbell" would have been better. Don't hurt yourself!
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top