Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
98 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have 18 hives, overwinter very well just north of Albany NY, been at it for 4-5 years, and while in the past I've occasionally seen some bees flying and dying when a bit cold, today I came home from work midmorning to find many hundreds of bees flying around. Many casualties in the snow too. I've read in the past how they can get confused by sun glare, and read from Nancy how to scoop them up and warm them back, but this is on a large scale and from one specific hive. No sign of unusual cleansing activity, just lots of bees on the outside of the hive, in the air and in the snow.

Is there anything I can do? I spread a large tarp out (though we have another storm in a few hours) and picked up loads of bees, but I am heading back to work so cannot be on bee rescue duty, plus many of the bees are sinking into the powdery snow so they are hard to rescue, I can't figure out why this one hive would be behaving like this. Its immediate neighbors are healthy and tucked in. In case of the usual (and usually correct) answer "IT'S VARROA" they are checked and treated as per the Randy Oliver method and I have extremely low counts.

The only unusual thing about this hive is that it was a caught swarm, but it is a section only with other caught swarms.

Any help hugely appreciated, even if it is just that some hives are a little suicidal and they'll Darwin themselves out of the gene pool.

Thank you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,645 Posts
There is most likely a problem inside the hive causing the bees to be disrupted and some of them take to the wing.

A hive near the final stages of death by varroa can sometimes act like that, but since you believe you have ruled out varroa there may be something else wrong but I don't know what.

Be interesting, in due course, to update this thread with the end result, and your thoughts on what may have been the issue.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
293 Posts
That's odd behavior. The dive-bombing behavior isn't so unusual, but the temperature seems to be the really unusual factor. I'd be freaked out. I agree that there must be something that is driving the bees out. If it's not varroa, then some other ailment? Is it possible that they have been producing brood? I have no idea what temps before the cold snap were like in upstate NY and if this would even be likely.

What were the weather conditions? Was it clear and bright light? In a thread I posted about this issue last year, a couple of people suggested that bright sunlight bouncing off the snow can draw bees out of the hive, as they think it's spring, and then the extreme cold hits them. Here is it is: https://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?343073-Bees-diving-in-to-the-snow-and-dying-again-What-to-do

See especially posts # 13-16. Little_John suggests putting something like a board over the entrance to block the light.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
98 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
very strange. do you have the bottom board closed? Do you have mouse guards on?
Yep closed and yep highly reduced entrances - all hives the same , which makes this all the weirder. Bees are pouring out of the top 2 holes in the hot box.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
98 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Is it possible that they have been producing brood? I have no idea what temps before the cold snap were like in upstate NY and if this would even be likely.

What were the weather conditions? Was it clear and bright light?

.
Thank you. Very little chance of brood, been very cold with only a few days over 25. YES clear and bright this am, which is what I thought re sunlight, but I am confused if that is the case then why wouldn't all the other hives respond the same way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,540 Posts
Hi Mark,

I was out around 8 am this morning deploying a new tarp in front of my hives. Got it in place before 9-ish, and there were already a few loopy bees taking a spin on a nice, calm, sunny morning, in the single digits F. Hopefully the dark brown tarp will give them a bit of a break. I rewarmed a few dozen that sailed beyond the tarp into the snow (and got stung a few times for my trouble), then left them to it and went inside to work. Right on schedule about mid-afternoon, I heard the wind starting to blow and heavy now squalls went through, but I haven't been outside since this morning. I'll have to the clean off the tarp before morning if we've accumulated anything.

I don't know what to make of this sort of thing. It's not all the hives, and not the same hives from year-to-year, and doesn't seem connected with any additional risk of disease or varroa or morbidity. As you know my hives are very well-insulated, and I often speculate that might make them more likely to be confused about the lethality of truly unsuitable outdoor conditions. I think that must be at least some of it, because if they were tightly clustered they wouldn't be moving about inside as much as I know mine are, even on cold mornings like today. (Tomorrow should, ironically, be safer for them as with the predicted overnight lows, even R-15 won't protect them from a Polar Vortex-driven need to stay clustered.)

Lately, I've been bugging my husband to get out and plow away the snow, down to bare grass right after any storm, which seems to help. But he was away on a business trip today, so I had to resort to the tarp. Even a few inches of snow is rapidly fatal in these temps, but the bees can perch on the dark tarp and still return inside if they are quick about it. Last evening, I also contemplated just screening them at daybreak, but I wondered if that would make them panicky, so I didn't. Your report makes me dread my belated hive check this evening.

I really hate this and I wish I could find a reason for it, and make it stop. It probably is worse for me than for the colonies. I doubt if any have perished because of it, but it leaves me distressed.

BTW, the most successful passive re-warmer I ever had was a dark green oblong plastic lid from a Pyrex baking dish, set upside down (shallow rim) against the front of the hives on level of the top entrances. I could scoop up snow-stunned bees as fast I could fill my hand, warming them briefly by blowing on them, just enough to make them twitchy. Then I dumped them on the lid, where the solar gain, would complete the job, and the majority of them would make their own way back inside their own hives. I have sketches made up of a sort of sheltered warming hut that I could just toss the chilled bees into, complete with perhaps a ribbon of warmed honey to give them quick burst on energy, and a one-way exit so they could fly home. Trying to repatriate the bees to the right hive is where I usually wind up getting stung.

Nancy
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top