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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have Two hives that made it through last winter. One swarmed earlier this year and clearly has been smaller up to this point. We had a good snow storm a week ago and I used a friends thermal and saw two decent clusters though clearly small hive still small.

Did an oxalic vapor treatment 4days ago. Today was warm (mid 50s) and noted bees from the main hive going in the reduced entrance of the smaller one.

So I just borrowed the thermal again and now nearly no signal from the smaller hive. Granted it’s not nearly as cold so the temp difference may not be as notable but I’m still concerned for the smaller hive.

I guess the best answer is wait til spring - but is there a danger of leaving that hive if it’s dead and getting robbed?
 

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Put your ear against the hive and see if you can hear them. I have a hive that is alive but is much less active than others on a warmish day in the winter. If you can't hear anything and its in the mid 50's, go ahead an open it up. If its dead, dismantle or close it up for the winter. Yes, they will eventually rob it out when its warm enough. J
 

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If bees from the other hive are going in and robbing it, then you have a problem even if it's alive. I think the least bad plan is to open it and see what's going on, once you know, you can act accordingly.
 

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If bees from the other hive are going in and robbing it, then you have a problem even if it's alive. I think the least bad plan is to open it and see what's going on, once you know, you can act accordingly.
Exactly. If it's in the 50's and the other hive is flying, it's fine to lift an inner cover and peek inside to see what's going on.
 

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If you still have a queen, put the small hive in a nuc box and reduce the space. Put on a robber screen with a reduced entrance and then feed them. You may save a hive.
 

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If you still have a queen, put the small hive in a nuc box and reduce the space. Put on a robber screen with a reduced entrance and then feed them. You may save a hive.
I would not do this!
Moving a hive to another box in mid-winter will doom it for sure, especially if it is a marginally strong hive. On a warm, sunny day (there are some in the winter), I would crack the boxes (assuming you have double brood boxes) and see what kind of activity exists in the hive. Don't remove any frames. If you see a bunch of bees and if the bees start trying to sting you, chances are the hive is still surviving. Close it up and hope for the best. If it is still unclear if the hive is dead, l would leave it alone till spring. It will be too cold for wax moths to move in and there is nothing you can do about a dead hive in the winter, anyway. If the hive is light, add some sugar bricks, just in case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks guys good input all. its been pouring and cold since then but we may hit 50 again this weekend. Going to listen and peek if its warm enough.
 

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Mid-winter temps is a location thing. It was 60+ degrees yesterday in eastern NC. Rather than lose a hive I would certainly move this little one into a nuc or at least reduce the number of frames in the brood box and add a follower board.
 

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It is nice out today here in Richmond. Hopefull NCBG will have an opportunity to check on the weak hive today and let us know what he finds. All options should remain open until we have better intel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well : dead hive. Strange though.

Tmax today 51 here.

Got out and saw bees coming and going - but closer inspection they were bees from the good hive.. Then threw a stethoscope on it and heard some buzzing, thought maybe that was a good sign. Then put my stethoscope on the good hive and uh, no comparison.

So opened it up - very strange. The only bees in there were clearly robbers. What is missing is any bees. Like none. No carcasses, no cluster. That said, no brood - which for this time of year - isnt weird right? (second winter of bee keeping and never opened a hive in Dec!).

So what happened!? My theories - maybe I was queenless and eventually they just dwindled? Is it possible they absconded after the cold and Oxalic vap? Seems like it wasnt THAT warm and cant imagine they'd do that in December. (and the other hive seemed fine.)

Regardless. Now to decide what to do with all the hive parts. The medium on top has a mix of capped honey and uncapped - and the one beneath it has a few honey frames. Figure I'll freeze those then feed back? I hate doing that - but don't see any obvious signs of disease...

Brood chamber etc : freeze for 48 then seal???

I'm planning on maybe a split and either a package/nuc come spring - so I'll have uses for the equipment.

Thoughts?

Thanks all - good to be able to chat all this out.

(edited grammar)
 

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late season queen failure is a good possibility.

if that happened some of the bees may have drifted over to the other hive while the rest simply aged out and flew off to die.

it wouldn't hurt to check your brood comb for mite frass.

your plan to freeze and store for next year's bees is good. the honey can be used to bolster the other hive if needed.
 

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Don't fret about using the leftover honey and disease. The robbers would have already carried the disease over IF YOU HAVE ANY DISEASE. Yes freeze everything before you move it anywhere. the honey will be excellent present to your other hive in January. You are having the same problems most of us has in the first couple of years as a beek. I lost winter hives 2 years in a row to robbing... then wised up... put on robbing screens just before the flow ended. Now screens are in place year round. Mites were the problem in getting the hives weak so the robbers could take over. Now I treat with OAV 4 times a year; every quarter with a sticky board underneath for 48 hours. If I get a 5-10 mite drop I treat again in 5-6 days, If I get a mite drop again I treat again. I may treat 4-5 times until I get 0-2 mites. My treatments are by calendar, March-June-Sept-Dec. and the duration/intensity depends on how many drop. You probably can't kill them all but you can knock them back to allow new bees to be healthy.
Two years ago we had a hurricane and I had 8 feet of water under my swarm traps for a week. Three weeks after that I got them out and they were water logged; now my traps come out the 1st of August so they can be in good shape for the next season which by the way is just around the corner. Don't get discouraged, it's a learning curve. Read Randy Oliver's scientificbeekeeping. All of his articles are good; he's a beek and a scientist. One of the best things I can tell you is to try making a couple of nucs. Use them as resource hives to feed resources into your main hives. If you lose a queen mid-winter then combine a queen right nuc into the queenless hive and keep going. Nucs can be fun and this is a good place to use swarms. The main thing is to enjoy your bees and don't be afraid to try out an idea. Watch the comings and goings from the front door and learn to recognize problems. Swarms have mites too, treat them. Good luck in the new year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Don't fret about using the leftover honey and disease. The robbers would have already carried the disease over IF YOU HAVE ANY DISEASE. Yes freeze everything before you move it anywhere. the honey will be excellent present to your other hive in January. You are having the same problems most of us has in the first couple of years as a beek. I lost winter hives 2 years in a row to robbing... then wised up... put on robbing screens just before the flow ended. Now screens are in place year round. Mites were the problem in getting the hives weak so the robbers could take over. Now I treat with OAV 4 times a year; every quarter with a sticky board underneath for 48 hours. If I get a 5-10 mite drop I treat again in 5-6 days, If I get a mite drop again I treat again. I may treat 4-5 times until I get 0-2 mites. My treatments are by calendar, March-June-Sept-Dec. and the duration/intensity depends on how many drop. You probably can't kill them all but you can knock them back to allow new bees to be healthy.
Two years ago we had a hurricane and I had 8 feet of water under my swarm traps for a week. Three weeks after that I got them out and they were water logged; now my traps come out the 1st of August so they can be in good shape for the next season which by the way is just around the corner. Don't get discouraged, it's a learning curve. Read Randy Oliver's scientificbeekeeping. All of his articles are good; he's a beek and a scientist. One of the best things I can tell you is to try making a couple of nucs. Use them as resource hives to feed resources into your main hives. If you lose a queen mid-winter then combine a queen right nuc into the queenless hive and keep going. Nucs can be fun and this is a good place to use swarms. The main thing is to enjoy your bees and don't be afraid to try out an idea. Watch the comings and goings from the front door and learn to recognize problems. Swarms have mites too, treat them. Good luck in the new year.
awesome info all around. I'm on exactly that wavelength - reading about nucs now, and the more frequent OAV is a great idea - I dribbled last year, and did the vape this year and man - way easier.

thanks - its a bummer to lose a hive, but motivating to get better at this..
 
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