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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Question...we have had a very active bee tree by our house for over 7 years.. this past winter was very cold and when spring arrived our bee tree showed no activity... I assume they winter-killed...CAN WE INTRODUCE A NEW SWARM TO THIS TREE SUCCESSFULLY? or will they sense the dead bees and existing honey?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yep understand being late in the season...But has anyone ever seen this happen in a wild hive where the hive dies off but is reestablished later by another one?..... this tree was used for many years and I'm sure there is honey(along with many winter-killed bees) still inside...would another swarm avoid it or would they try to remove the dead bees and consume the old honey and make new ???
 

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it will most likely get used again, it may get slimed first, and then cleaned out by ants and tree roaches etc, but it will most likely eventually get re-used, Many times this is the case when someone says they have had " wild bees" in their tree for ( insert exaggerative amount here, I have heard as high as 20 lol) What happens is at some point a colony dies out and another moves in and nobody ever noticed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Harley, That's good to know. This tree/hive is in a hedgerow just a few yards from our house.. For many years they have been 'our little workers' taking care of our fruit trees and my wife's many flower beds.. In the early spring(s) we augmented their food with sugarwater to help them recover from the winter. But this winter's terrible cold temperatures and strong winds up here on our hill must have been too much for them.. Hope we see another swarm soon.. Thank you for your guidence.
 

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One thing to consider is that there is a natural cycle with bees. Eventually, their comb gets old and nasty... the at first white comb is now black from all sorts of stuff like cocoons from the brood and such. At some point, the comb reaches the point where it is just nasty and the tree has filled up with nasty comb. Insert the horrible wax moth - if they are able to live in harmony with the bee's, these moths will remove the old nasty comb for the bees. Otherwise, the bees may run out of room and "Are you in oh F tee" (RUNOFT - Oh Brother Where Art Thou?) - otherwise known as abscond (leave). At this point the wax moths, ants and other critters move in and clean the tree out. When they are done, it will be nice and clean (relative term) and a new hive will be able to move in and repopulate. Of course, this is according to my studies, not actual experience.

It's kind of like when a city turns into a slum then goes through a cycle of urban development...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks Country Roots... That makes good sense.. We never saw them leave last fall so I'd guess they died during the winter...but I'm sure the ants, wax moths, etc. will still do the house cleaning for the next colony(we hope). BTW...Does anyone know (after a few years), if a 'beekeeper' can help introduce a new colony in this tree if it doesn't happen naturally????
 

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>CAN WE INTRODUCE A NEW SWARM TO THIS TREE SUCCESSFULLY? or will they sense the dead bees and existing honey?

Yes they will sense the dead bees and existing honey and it will be an incentive to move in. You will be more successful in the spring.

>But has anyone ever seen this happen in a wild hive where the hive dies off but is reestablished later by another one?.....

Often.

>this tree was used for many years and I'm sure there is honey(along with many winter-killed bees) still inside...would another swarm avoid it

No, they will be attracted to it.

> or would they try to remove the dead bees and consume the old honey and make new ???

Yes. They will clean it up and use the resources.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you Michael for your detailed response... Now please forgive me for a possibly dumb follow-on question...In hindsight, could we have done anything during this past winter to 'insulate' the hive section of the tree thus improving their chances for survival??
 

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could we have done anything during this past winter to 'insulate' the hive section of the tree thus improving their chances for survival??
hi doug,

chances are that the tree was much better insulated than the boxes that most bees are 'kept' in. even with lots of tlc, a percentage of colonies just don't make it through the winter, especially in the northern climates. there were higher than average losses in the colder regions this past winter thanks to that polar vortex. even in the south we expect to lose some colonies over the winter. the most common reason for me to lose a colony is when the queen becomes unable to produce new workers and/or she dies. the colony is unable to produce another queen during the winter and the old bees die off and are not replaced.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you Squarepeg and all the other folks that replied to my questions...These little critters have piqued my interest for many years...They are truly God's creation.....!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
To all that have been following this thread- Today there was a flurry of activity at the tree !!.. It appears that a new swarm has taken up residency!! NOW...Being this late in the year , should I supplement them with sugar water for a few weeks to make it easier for them to build up their food supply? < You guys really called this shot exactly when you said they'd be back... >
 

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very cool doug, looks like you've got some 'little workers' again.

there's different points of view on feeding syrup, i would tend to let them gather what they need from the field. there should be enough time for them to do that on the fall blooms and before you get your first frost.

so are some bee boxes and a suit on your Christmas list? :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Huntingstoneboy- You have a very good point,...
Squarepeg- I've toyed with the thought of geting some boxes and see how it goes...But with the bear population around here I'm concerned how much damage those eating-machines would do.... BUT the idea still lingers in my mind.... Thanks again to all that have responded to my questions..I'm sure glad I found this forum....- Doug, LeRaysville, PA
 
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