Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 20 of 35 Posts

·
Registered
6a 4th yr 7 colonies inc. resource hive
Joined
·
551 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
After reading extensively and watching countless video's my first two hives have died. You can try and do everything right *varroa control throughout with none going into fall *queens bred for winter *fall feeding in September*winter protection which included a moisture board right over the feeding shim and the advice of no upper entrance to prevent heat from leaving. This last part from a bee supplier was terrible advice and I take responsibility for following it. The beekeeping community doesn't make this easy on new people when they themselves can't agree.

I really don't care to hear "cold doesn't kill bees" dialogue. And yes I know that the best in the world will disagree with me on this. So be it. My hives died when it was consistently in the teens at night. My emotions started out as sadness to pissed off to developing the action plan for next year.

There are reasons why feral colonies are in old buildings and walls of unsuspecting houses. People are using terrarium heaters and heat tape and home made configurations and such with success. Next year will be different for me. I'm breaking from the conventional wisdom and creating more ventilation alongside providing 40 degree direct heat for the cluster. WarmBees has a product that I'll be trying next year. And it's a shame it took me to this point to even find it. Challenging a current belief system in any field always sees a degree of resistance. The bees appear to like it and that's evidence enough for me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,822 Posts
Ba dump bump, that was clear. Sail on then and Godspeed
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,306 Posts
Can you describe the "moisture board". Also exactly how much insulation above it and on the exterior of the feeding shim.

The proposition of trying to absorb the moisture produced by metabolizing 50 lbs or so of honey is far more than most people can envision. It actually amounts to something in the neighborhood of 4 US gallons! If you can prevent it from condensing to a liquid in the upper part of the colony it is a non issue. You must however prevent it from icing shut the bottom entrance.

I have used 5" or so thick shavings quilts to top the hive but they slowly dissipate all the moisture while still providing excellent insulation factor: the lower surface immediately above the bees remains above the dew point temperature so no condensation can form to drip on the bees. With a high enough R value insulation above the bees, no condensation can form regardless of the humidity level. This is the principle enabling the styrofoam hives used extensively in Europe. Virtually no upper ventilation but a high R value.

Perhaps the advice you received was not all bad; the devil is in the details!

I have 6 colonies this winter for a trial with 4" foam insulation on top and no upper ventilation. I know that the deep shavings quilt is 100% effective but it is far more involved and entails extra equipment compared to the thick foam slab.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,909 Posts
Cold will kill honey bees, but first the adult population must dwindle down below the number of bees required to maintain the cluster temperature. You should first "Round up the usual suspects" that cause colony death, and then determine what was the cause of your colonies death.

Actually, your post sounds like the beginning of a plug for a particular product, not a request for guidance or a statement of probable cause for colony death.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,453 Posts
sorry for your losses and understand the rant.

how are the folks near you keeping many hives for many years dealing with the cold and moisture issues?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
509 Posts
I certainly don't have all the answers and very likely few. I can offer help in sharing how I do my best to cut cold related losses. I went to Lowes and purchased a 10 sheet bundle of Johns Manville R-9.3 1.5-INX4-FTX8-FT AP FOILSHT:

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Johns-Manv...ft-x-8-ft-Actual-1-5-in-x-4-ft-x-8-ft/3851109

and cut it up into various sized smaller pieces that were 18.25" x 14.6875" for 10 frame boxes and 18.25" x 7.75" for nucleus colony boxes. This size allows on my hive boxes a perfect fit for the sheet of insulation to slide into the inside of the box and create and insulation layer on top of the hive. Since it is still not too cold to feed sugar syrup at my latitude, I use 1 gallon syrup feeder buckets on top of the inner cover. I place an empty deep box around the feeder buckets on top of the inner cover and then place 1 or 2 sheets of the cut to fit insulation board inside the deep box around the feeder buckets on top of the buckets. This creates a nice air pocket under the insulation boards that aids in limiting heat loss through the top of the hive. I do the same thing with my nucleus colonies with the only difference being that I use 2 half gallon glass jars with the punched hole lid to feed through the top of the nuc using a feeder box made out of a medium nuc box. I try to give each hive 2 sheets of this insulation which in theory provides nearly R-19 insulation.

You can cut a half inch hole in the foam board for ventilation of moisture or install an Immerie Shim under the inner cover for the same thing.

The outsides of the hives I use either a Bee Cozy, on some I am experimenting with the Easy-On Beehive cover, and the nucs get pushed together and wrapped with layers of Reflectix bubble wrap insulation.

I have Broodminders is a number of my hives and I noticed an immediate stabilization and a gradual increase of about 10 - 20 degrees of the daily temperatures inside my hives once I added the above insulation.

Something to consider when treating for varroa mites in the Fall.......as a precaution, I treat my bees for tracheal mites as well with Mitathol. Although tracheal mites are not near the problem varroa mites are, they can cause a hive crash during the Winter if left untreated in more than a few cases.

Another option to consider depending upon how many hives you have is to move them inside an insulated storage building to get them out of the wind, rain, and bad weather. During really cold snaps, you can close the building up but onces the temps begin to get into the 40's you will need to open the building up so the bees can get out to do their purging flights and forage.

Sorry to hear of your hive losses and hope this helps.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
...
This last part from a bee supplier was terrible advice and I take responsibility for following it. The beekeeping community doesn't make this easy on new people when they themselves can't agree.
...
.

Don't be discourage. Beekeeping is very regional. An approach work for an area doesn't mean it works for another. Example: my friends are 1/2 hr away from me, the queen was shutdown in mid November but my still have plenty of capped brood and eggs couple days ago.

I have this top feeder https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qziRf3FkBYc so when I build the housing for it, I drilled 2 1" hole covered with mesh screen. During fall/winter I covered the main hole (for the feeder) and the bee will seal the 1" hole leaving small opening to hot air to go up. I threw in a used towel in the housing and all the moister are trapped in there. Whenever I go out (couple of weeks), I would check to see if the towel needed to be replaced. Prior to this there are lots of moisture in the hive and mold would grow inside the hive. After this, I don't see much moisture and no mold at all.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
973 Posts
In loss, there is knowledge. It is good that you are angry at the loss and are looking for something that you can "change or correct". I suggest you find a local club and attend some meetings. That is where you will learn what works. Sure, you can go about beekeeping without reaching out to local beeks for input but the learning curve is greater and more expensive. IMHO, your problem is not caused by lack of heat for the hive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,531 Posts
I would suspect moisture or maybe a blocked bottom entrance. Both good reasons to have an upper entrance. I run a 2 1/1 inch feed shim that has a 3/4 inch hole on front side that serves very well as a to entrance.

Due to your high humidity I would add a ventilation box above. Use a cloth underside or a 1/8 mesh on the bottom and place a piece of burlap on top. I would recommend 4 inches of pet shavings. Make the quilt box 5 1/2 inches deep so you can provide end holes or a screened slot so there is good ventilation on the top side of the shavings.

Attached is a link to a video with some ideas on insulation and ventilation box(substitute shavings for the burlap and make a large, 6 inch or more, screened hole in the center of the box and cover screen with burlap or totally screen the bottom.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaidqYALcaI
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,955 Posts
lalldredge>> Keep collecting the pieces of the puzzle and then learn how to put it all together, piece by piece.
Beware there are extras and some pieces may be left over as they are useless.
Your bees, your game plan.
Oh yeah, keep an open mind :rolleyes:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,888 Posts
I have the units from Warmbees.com. I even bought the expansion boards and use them in my tiny nucs. Not much of a winter here in coastal VA but they come in handy for the colonies that don't have a large enough cluster of bees to survive when the temps stay in the teens for a few weeks. I've never had to use them on my full size hives, but then I'm running topbar hives, so the heat and moisture distribution is different than in a Lang hive. Send me a private message if you want more insight on the boards.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,275 Posts
LAlldredge, I would like to know what you mean by "varroa control throughout with none going into fall". In my experience, almost every time a hive dies in December, it died from mites. In my area, going into fall means summer and there are very few issues with varroa in summer. As soon as fall comes, varroa totals skyrocket. Late fall is when the hives die if varroa is not under control. My first 2 years of beekeeping, every hive died in December. The inside was wet and moldy and I was positive they died from moisture problems. It turns out, a pile of dead bees releases a lot of moisture and with no living bees left, the air stagnates. Because there is no circulation in the hive anymore, everything gets wet and stays that way. If you can, please post a picture of some of the brood frames. It would be interesting to do a mini-autopsy.
 

·
Registered
6a 4th yr 7 colonies inc. resource hive
Joined
·
551 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Can you describe the "moisture board". Also exactly how much insulation above it and on the exterior of the feeding shim.

The moisture board is exactly like MannLake's moisture board on their website although it was not purchased from them. Here was my sequence-
1) August Sequence of oxalic dribble followed by early November Apivar strips- weekly sticky board testing (if not daily) and sugar roll testing- very low to no mite counts going into winter config.
2) September Fall feeding- both in hive and open away from the hive. Open feeding is really fun if far enough away. Bees love being bees.
3) October- winter config begins. Bee Cozy's and wind break built with pallets. Some yellow jacket predation on white hive- took them out with Fipronil. Thanks BeeSource- Harry. Bees happy still but white hive smaller.
4) November- 2nd winter config added- shim-winter patties and mountain camp sugar-moisture board no upper entrance- wintering inner cover with quilt. Added Apivar early November after Oxalic treatments in August.
My autopsy revealed no dysentery, bees left on the comb were all pointed towards a center, there were bees dead on the moisture board above. Honey, sugar and winter patties in abundance. Our weather started getting cold 11/8th and stayed in the teens for about 4 days. Whatever happened happened right after 2nd winter config given how much food was left on the top bars and no flying after that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,819 Posts
1) August Sequence of oxalic dribble followed by early November Apivar strips- weekly sticky board testing (if not daily) and sugar roll testing- very low to no mite counts going into winter config.
An August oxalic dribble would be useless. By the time Apivar was applied the colony was already doomed.
Sorry but it was mites.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,955 Posts
Not directed at me but a question for you, what is meant by sequence of oxalic dribble?
Do you mean oxalic acid vaporization?

If not, multiple OA dribbles and the timing may well be the cause of your troubles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
481 Posts
Apivar in November could be too late. I prefer September. I have never got consistent results from OA. Too many variables.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,955 Posts
Apivar in November could be too late. I prefer September. I have never got consistent results from OA. Too many variables.
tough to treat with OA in late summer/early fall in our neck of the woods due to brood being present into October and at times early November.
if the only late season treatment is apivar in November in our location it is certainly too late.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,604 Posts
If not, multiple OA dribbles and the timing may well be the cause of your troubles.
That was my first thought as well. A series of dribble treatments at that time of year could have been extremely hard on the brood and really disrupted the colony building up later with winter bees.

How many dead bees did you find in the hive? Did it appear the overall population was lower than it should have been?
 

·
Super Moderator
Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
Joined
·
6,517 Posts
LAlldredge, sorry for the loss of your bees. In reading your posts it appears that you have decided that the "culprit" is lack of external heat on hives that you insulated with a bee cozy. I strongly suggest that you look to other sources for the cause of your hives demise as you seem to have fixated on the one that is the least likely. The repeated OAV dribbles, late application of Apivar, and the use of Fipronil anywhere near a beehive are all much better candidates. Last year our temps here in VA dropped to -8°F for a day and remained in the low teens thoughout the week. I lost one nuc that was treated too late, Apivar in Nov. at an out yard. The other nuc and both colonies at my home yard survived in uninsulated hives with screened bottom boards. Cold did not kill your bees. Best of luck next year.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,965 Posts
You are correct that beekeepers can rarely agree on much of anything, but if they do would you have an open mind about it? I ask because I think the vast majority would disagree with your conclusions, especially people who successfully overwinter bees in very cold climates. It appears you are reading a lot, trying to learn and are vigilant about keeping your bees. I think you misunderstood a few things and your timing was off like others have mentioned. We have all been there so welcome to the club. J
 
1 - 20 of 35 Posts
Top