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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
During the winter in CT you don't generally get alot of days where you would really want to open up the hives due to the cold. The occasional warm 50 degree days are usually accompanied by wet weather. Anyway, I noticed alot of dead bees on the bottom board in 1 of the hives about a week ago and was concerned. I tapped on the side, no noise and did peak inside the top and found nothing in the top deep. This hive went into the winter taking in alot of 1:1 sugar syrup and the population was very good into November. Although this was a new package in the spring, I thought we were going into the winter pretty strong. Other than opening up the hive and disturbing them, are there other less invasive ways to check on this hive?
 

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If it is alive you won't do them any harm cracking them open a bit until you hit alive bees. Wear your veil. If they are dead you won't bother them at all. You could buy or borrow a Flir camera for your smartphone.
 

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I wouldn't open the hives today to explore them. Last week was a possibility, but not right now, and perhaps not again for awhile. However I would risk opening them to quickly add food, or do other urgent chores.

Sometimes the sound can be hard to hear unless you can get your ear flat against the box. I have never had any luck with a stethoscope, even though I have a good one and experience using it. Other people report success at it. But, rapping on the hive just to hear them fan is disturbing (they can't fan without opening the mantle of the cluster), so I don't do it unnecessarily. I have pretty good luck at night when it's quiet. Then, even without tapping on the box, I can hear the soft susurration inside. Even quite large and healthy hives can be pretty quiet when they are clustered.

A FLIR device will work, but that's expensive. (I did hear about one that costs less than $200, but also requires a cell phone which I don't use.)

Either way, there's nothing to be gained from risking opening them on a too-cold day. They're either OK, or not.

What's the treatment history on these bees? I ask, because sudden death in early winter is often (usually) due to varroa.

Nancy
 

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Another option is an infrared thermometer. You can get them at auto parts stores as cheap as $20. I had a hive last year that I thought was dead because I couldn't hear it like I could with my other hives, but it was fine. Like Nancy, I can't hear them with a stethoscope but I usually can with my ear pressed against the hive. Sometimes you have to check several boxes this way to hear them. J
 

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50's coming tomorrow. go out and clear the entrance. you will probably see some activity even though it will be raining. they will be walking out to poop. i use days like this to make sure the dead drops do not clog my mouse guards at the entrance and make sure they have airflow. If alive they will let you know pretty quick.
 

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I am mostly deaf (at least my wife claims I am) and can never hear anything in the hive from the outside. Rapping it has never done me any good. Take a flash light an pop the top. Look down the inner cover hole. If you see nothing, remove the inner cover and take a look at the other openings. It will take less than 10 seconds and not harm the bees. If they are there, close it back up and rejoice! The flashlight really helps me when they are in the lower box.
 

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@FiveJ,

Could you elaborate on the kind of device you got - and did it work to find a live hive that couldn't be found otherwise? I am looking for a recommendation for this type of device. I have used a similar thing to locate bees in walls, but only in warm weather.

Thanks,

Nancy
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I wouldn't open the hives today to explore them. Last week was a possibility, but not right now, and perhaps not again for awhile. However I would risk opening them to quickly add food, or do other urgent chores.

Sometimes the sound can be hard to hear unless you can get your ear flat against the box. I have never had any luck with a stethoscope, even though I have a good one and experience using it. Other people report success at it. But, rapping on the hive just to hear them fan is disturbing (they can't fan without opening the mantle of the cluster), so I don't do it unnecessarily. I have pretty good luck at night when it's quiet. Then, even without tapping on the box, I can hear the soft susurration inside. Even quite large and healthy hives can be pretty quiet when they are clustered.

A FLIR device will work, but that's expensive. (I did hear about one that costs less than $200, but also requires a cell phone which I don't use.)

Either way, there's nothing to be gained from risking opening them on a too-cold day. They're either OK, or not.

What's the treatment history on these bees? I ask, because sudden death in early winter is often (usually) due to varroa.

Nancy
I did a formic acid treatment treatment back in August. I wanted to get in an oxalic acid treatment in November but it got cold early and I wasn't sure if it would stress them going into winter and cause more harm than good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So I checked the hive in the winter an I saw some bees in there and thought I was ok. About two weeks ago I pulled the hive apart for spring clean up and found this.

IMG_7171.jpg

I guess the activity I saw was all robbing from the other hive?

Anyway I have a new package arriving. These frames were all new last year. Should they be fine to reuse? I also have about 6 of the 20 frames in there with some upcapped maybe sugar syrup....not sure what it is exactly since its too light to be late season honey.

IMG_7221.jpg IMG_7222.jpg
 
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