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After a 2 1/2 week cold snap how many bees do you expect them to haul out of the hive?
I collected about a cup and a half from the front of one hive. No DWV and the other bees were out on cleansing flights (covering the opening and milling about on the front). This hive shut down it brood production and kicked out the drones in late Sept. They have plenty of capped honey in the top body, so I don't think they are out of stores. This hive had plenty of bees to start out the winter so the amount I found does not alarm me.
I am a first year bee keeper and am not sure what the normal loss rate for winter is. It’s been pretty cold here at night, down in to the single digits many times.
If you can help me understand what you consider "normal" I would appreciate it.

RKR
 

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After a 2 1/2 week cold snap how many bees do you expect them to haul out of the hive?
I collected about a cup and a half from the front of one hive. No DWV and the other bees were out on cleansing flights (covering the opening and milling about on the front). This hive shut down it brood production and kicked out the drones in late Sept. They have plenty of capped honey in the top body, so I don't think they are out of stores. This hive had plenty of bees to start out the winter so the amount I found does not alarm me.
I am a first year bee keeper and am not sure what the normal loss rate for winter is. It’s been pretty cold here at night, down in to the single digits many times.
If you can help me understand what you consider "normal" I would appreciate it.

RKR
These are likely just the last of the fall foragers dieing off, and not likely to be bees that could have overwintered anyway. In terms of volume to expect, it depends on how many foragers this hive had at the end of the season. The more it had, the better off the hive will be, but the more you'll find dead out in front of the hive. The bees that didn't go foraging will last all winter barring some sort of ailment or disturbance.
 

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Seeing a few dead bees on the landing board during winter is a good sign that the colony is still alive. The queen will stop laying eggs in November and will not resume until late January or early February in northern areas. So the winter cluster will continue to dwindle until that time. This is also a survival method for honeybees as they don’t need a large population to endure the rigors of winter, and preserves winter stores until it’s time to start rearing brood.
Start to worry when you no longer see dead bees on the landing board or in the snow.
 
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