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Preparing a small hive for winter

3015 Views 7 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  bushpilot

Just a quick question about one of my hives. This hive is struggling with European foulbrood (I have been trying several natural ways to do deal with EFB). There is currently about 2 frames of brood and about 4 frames of honey, but that is all. The other frames have wax cells, but are empty. I have been feeding the hive sugar syrup for about 1-2 months with added "Fat Bee Probiotic Mineral Supplement", but the honey frames have only increased a little. I have always found eggs, and usually see the queen.

How would one go about preparing a hive this small for winter? I am going to put on a candy board but want to know what else I can do. It is getting much later in the year, so it may be too late. I would like to be treatment-free as much as possible.

Also, when the state inspector inspected my hive, there were no varroa mites. (I have done an oxalic acid treatment about 2 months ago.) I live in northern Utah.

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Deep or medium frames? 8 frame or 10 frame hive bodies? I would put foam board fillers either side of the brood and honey frames to minimize the amount of space to heat. Foam board will have to be wrapped in heavy poly and taped to prevent chewing. For certain you should put top feed of sugar on top of frames. That would require a feed rim or lift about 1 1/2" high. Needless to say, insulate and wrap and be sure to have at least a small upper vent and exit a few bee widths opening.

What are the natural ways of dealing with EFB? Is is still aborting a high percentage of open brood?
Thank you for your help!

Deep or medium frames?
1 hive deep box.

8 frame or 10 frame hive bodies?
10 frame hive body.

What are the natural ways of dealing with EFB? Is is still aborting a high percentage of open brood?
It was, but it seems to have slowed in the last month when I started lightly spraying the bees with a sugar/water/colloidal silver spray. I tried essential oils, but that did not seem to work.
The outlook for winter survival is not good. If it is confirmed European Foulbrood it will be in the stored pollen and honey. Colloidal silver does have bacteriostatic effects but I dont know whether it would selectively attack just the Mellissococcus bacteria without also harming the new larvae. The contaminated comb is commonly considered to be infective for up to two years.

If it were springtime you would have more options but if you have ongoing brood with slumped larvae at this time of year, destroying the frames and scorching the boxes might be the wisest.
i agree with frank about the poor prognosis for this colony making it through winter.

given the highly contagious nature of efb the greater concern is allowing the bacteria to be spread from this one to any nearby colonies, and then potentially from those to even more... this is how it ended up in your hive.

extremely virulent strains of efb are evolving that are proving resistant to all interventions. one such strain has claimed 20 out of 28 my colonies this year there may be more losses to come.

as frank has pointed out the bacteria is persisting in the beebread and the in honey. short of irradiation there is no way to remove it.

the responsible approach would be to euthanize the colony, burn the frames and bury the ashes, and scorch the inside of the boxes.
Thank you for all your suggestions.
Good luck, I too am a Utah beekeeper, struggling with overwintering my bees, hopefully this will be the year.
I have no experience with EFB. That said, I do have experience trying to get colonies sucessfully through winter, and I would give up on that one, and do as squarepeg suggested.

If you decide to give it a go for overwinter, please check back and update in the spring, as I would like to hear it if they survive.
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