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I understand that only 1/4th will stop the pygmies' in Canada.
From what I have read, that is right. Thankfully the bees don't have a problem with the 1/4 inch. I put it on early to test their ability to move thru the holes. I noticed that even those bees with pollen seemed to get thru they just needed to learn to go at an angle. I even watched some drones move thru.


Today at +4C they were out and flying in the sun looking for water. I filled a tray and they sure spent time filling up.
 

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Hmmm, I've read that the 1/4th inch wears away at the bees wings, and the pollen thing too much - but with pygmy shrews what choice does one have?

If it were me - I'd remove the 1/4th inch in Spring.
 

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If it were me - I'd remove the 1/4th inch in Spring.
It does not stay on after the winter, but those shrews are out and about the hives now and I don't want them disturbing the cluster especially when it gets cold at night. During the day the bees are moving enough that I don't think it would be a problem as the shrews take advantage of clustering bees and bees that are active can defend themselves.
 

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Yes, they are out right now - today I'm putting on all the shrew guards.

Warm enough so I don't cause them to break cluster and fly around in 30F weather.
 

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Well, I'm just about cleaned up and ready for the winter-maybee. Looks like we hit 70 F today, last warm day, possible until spring-high 20's to mid 40's for the next ten days or so. I OAV'd 29 hives today in 5 yards and have 3 more to do before night. Figured I'd take a lunch break, clean the ProVap and re-organize the truck. All of the hives were flying as the day went on and it warmed up got very active so I'll get the last three hives (yard 6) later on as it cools down. Going to finish cutting the pink foam insulation board, get the hives insulated and swap out top feeders for quilt boxes if weather permits. After all, it's Jersey and even with colder weather predicted, it could change to 65 F + before the end of next week-maybe 1 more round of OAV could be instore!
 

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6a 5th yr 9 colonies inc. 2 resource hives
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Update on the 9- opened the top of the stack and refreshed their sugar slurry. Winter config working well. No losses. Warmish day so they will be flying. Heard they are frequenting Dutch Brothers in Sisters. They had to put up a screen. So apparently they are taking a coffee break through the day.:D
 

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Well, maybe this isn't actually IN the Apiary but I guess it's part of the job. Drove up to Mann Lake in Wilkes Barre, Pa, about a 100 miles, beautiful late Autum day, considering it was the day before Thanksgiving, light traffic through the Pocono Mountains. Leaves are pretty much gone now, the mountains looked cold and gray with splotches of green from patches of fir trees. Winter can't be far away. I wanted to make up some more quilt boxes and looked at the prices of 1 x 5, along with the time to get the wood, cut and miter, square, glue, nail....nope, drove up there and bought 20 knock down shallows. All good, even fit in a country breakfast at an old school roadside diner. It's deer season in Pennsylvania and the boys were drifting in, some coming, some going. Didn't see any deer in the pickups, it's not like the meadows at my farm in New Jersey, up there you gotta earn your deer. Got home before noon, threw the knockdowns on the jig, used the nailer, got a coat of primer and a top coat of paint on them. I'm ready for dinner, a shower and bed. Just a simple good day with a start and (shortly) an end.
 

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I wrapped my hives with 1" styrafoam insulation tonight. We have a cold snap coming so it was time to get it on. A few of my hives made noise at me, so they seem to be doing fine.
 

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Stopped out to look at the hives. It is about 25F, but the bees are crowding the top entrance. Pushed back my top insulation to get a better look. I like it when I can see them.
Liquid Twig Tints and shades Wood Windshield
 

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It's been a warm Christmas week here in western NJ-today looks like 52F and the girls have been flying. I made sure they have a water source, but it been raining with fresh rainfall last night and they're flying around the two yards I checked. watching the landing boards, it seems like a mix of cleansing flights, orientation of young bees and a bit of foraging around some top feeders left out that must have some dried residual syrup that washed down to a small puddle in the tanks. Not a mad rush or frenzy but they're interested. Watching each hive from what I'm seeing on the landing boards they look good, strong, the few dead don't show any signs of DWS or mites. If the weathers hold's out (looks like a week ahead is warm) I may get some OAV done.

Well, we are past the winter solstice so it's all downhill from here. in NJ, our first pollen sources start producing in late February with the trees starting in early March. I'm wondering with nothing to really forage at this point if I should keep the idea of some winter feeding if the activity levels keep up. Not really sure which is a bigger drain, clustering in the cold or flying in warm winter weather.

I'm guess the rest of the day is Christmas dinner leftovers and to start tightening up my plans for Spring!

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all!
 

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I picked up a couple of the colonies, the weight seems OK.

No shrews this year so far.

I saw a skunk by one of my apiaries, the hives are up like 18 inches, so IDK what that little creatre has been up to - but I can see it's scratch holes around the apiary - Is it eating the dead bees?
 

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Winter storm- 12 inches. Dug around the colonies and refreshed the sugar slurry in the resource hives. All still eating and appreciated the spritzes of water since no one is flying. Put the clear greenhouse plastic on the chicken coop to keep out the wind. It really works. I lost my head hen Skipper on Christmas Eve. Hand tamed and loads of personality. I miss her.
 

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Sorry for your loss. I haven't lost any of mine yet, they stopped laying eggs for the past month. I have a strategic reserve, but I'm going to be in trouble in 4 weeks if they don't resume egg laying soon.
 

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-30C for a week and still counting, it is not supposed to warm till Jan 12/22. My hives are buried in snow, The Langstroth is two 6x6deeps then a deep full of insulation. On top of that there is 2 feet of snow on the insulated roof. The snow is half way up the very top deep, the covering I propped over the upper entrance is buried in snow but I see this morning a very tiny hole in the snow where the frost has built and moisture is seeping out of the igloo.

The two Ukrainian hives are covered in the same way, two feet of snow on top and only about 6 inches of the top 14" of upper insulation is to be seen. The upper entrances also have a piece of scrap propped so they don't get blocked but all is covered up with snow and no moisture is escaping anywhere. Either they are dead, or like Pederson apiaries showed when they covered their hives, they have melted an inner pocket. One of the hives seems to be venting a little moisture out an upper crack in the quilt box. Still, I am tempted to peak under the board and look at the entrance but in all my previous attempts everything was fine so I wonder how helpful it would be anyway, maybe I should just let them alone.
 

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The snow would keep them at 32F, which is the best metabolic rate.

But I've read colonies suffocating to death from snow.

My colonies are up 2 feet, if we ever got more than 2 feet of snow to last around here it'd be interesting.

I've never seen 6 feet of snowpack before.

If you start digging around the snow to find the entrance it'll scare them, and the metabolism will skyrocket - but they could also be in desperate need of air.

Do they have upper vents?
 

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My colonies are up 2 feet, if we ever got more than 2 feet of snow to last around here it'd be interesting.

I've never seen 6 feet of snowpack before.

If you start digging around the snow to find the entrance it'll scare them, and the metabolism will skyrocket - but they could also be in desperate need of air.
To be clear the snow is not 6 feet deep, I have piled the snow up around the hives, per instructions, but the subsequent snow has buried them even further. I have a bottom vent with a board propped to keep it clear under the snow and an upper entrance that is now protected with a piece of hard plastic leaned against the hive to keep the upper entrance from freezing over, as it has been doing simply because the shrew screens provide a place for the condensation to gather into ice, which then backs up over the round entrance holes. The plastic creates an air pocket that is warmer than the outside air that keeps the entrance ice free.

But I've read colonies suffocating to death from snow.

From the experiences of commercial Sask. beekeepers who bury their entire hives in snow, the information is that they do not suffocate in the snow but when ice builds up over the entrances. Snow at -20C is dry and fluffy thru which air does move, snow at warm temps is heavy and wet and compacts into an icy mess, not all snow is equal. To add, we don't usually get a melt until March/April so the chances of that snow melting and creating ice is also very small and if it does, I have an upper entrance that will not be affected and is easy to clear.
 

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What a difference a day makes! Sunday was 59F and the girls were flying! They were quite interested in stacked equipment and a few 5-gallon jugs that might have had some residual syrup in them. I took one of the jugs and shook out a few ounces of liquid on a 5-gallon pail top and when they found it, they sucked it all down in 5 minutes! Then today, 17F and not a sign, maybe a few dead bees pushed out on the landing boards. Well maybe winter has settled in-time to inventory all of the toys and figure out my equipment orders-like to get all of that committed early so there's no supply issues (Let's go Brandon!)

Apiary Purple Rectangle Wood Natural material
 

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Went out today, it was warmed up from about 2F yesterday to 29Ftoday.

Still getting a few bees (maybe 20 to 50 per day) coming out of one hive, mostly dead on the snow. They seem small (but dead bees do) and are very fuzzy. Saw a couple come out, they flew around like bees doing orientation flights, or "play flights" as AI Root refers to them. When they hit the snow, it kinda messed them up, though. I caught one and returned it to the entrance. It went back in like nothing happened.

Found a drone on top of the hive. It looked dead, but I warmed it in my hand, and after about 5 minutes, it started moving. I got it fully warmed, so it could walk, and then I gave it to my son to feed Slick the salamander. In the summer, Slick gets a steady diet of drones, but in the winter he mostly gets crickets. Such is the life of a drone.

BTW, I pretty much always have drones in my hives all winter. Not a full complement, but enough so you can count to 20 pretty easily on one frame.
 
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