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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I check my hives on a 75 degree San Antonio day. I checked 3 of my hives that are about 25 mins from my house.i have been doing beekeeping for about 2 years but last winter was not so hot. I have all feral hives that I rescued last year and they produced rapidly last year. When I opened the hive I noticed that the bottom brood box had nothing in it, no brood, and no honey. The super still had honey and the bees where about the size of a soccer ball! I need to know what I should have expected or if they will lay on the bottom brood box come spring. I will take any advice on a winter hive check that you can give. The check date was Jan 30th I believe.
 

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Sounds like they may have gone queenless??? Did you see any brood, eggs, larvae, etc? I know it has been a harsh winter, but you should not have gone from two boxes to a soccer ball of bees.... You mention 3 hives... what did you see in the other 2?
 

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What about the food supplements? Did you check if any piece of honey was crystallized? Also, it is good to know what level of dead bees did you recognize.
 

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We have had warmer that usual temps for the month of January. as February came along it has gotten cooler and we have been having snow and rain off and on. I have not done inspections but I expect the bees got there first start at raring brood during the warm spell. that will reduce now with the cooler days. We have strange weather. It is snowing now but by noon it may be warm enough for bees to fly.

I am attempting to anticipate brood raring and more importantly queen cell production but this weather is causing just about every possible consideration to be in the mix. length of day average temp high and low temp available forage. presence of drones and i still consider it to early to open the hive to inspect. If this weather holds I expect to see the bees in full build up and possibly making queen cells by the end of this month or early next month.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Not queenless. I check, saw a queen in 1 and eggs in all. She just layed, they where 1-3 days old. Good pattern in middle super frame. One hive had more bees than the others but it was a larger hive also. I read that feral bees reduce numbers during winter greater than say Italians? I can't always believe what I read!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
There was capped and uncapped honey. Nothing out of the ordinary I don't think! It has been a colder winter here in San Antonio but still warm enough days where I would thing she should start laying. If that's the case then I may need to supplement food. Would it be bad to just doit just I case. So they won't starve?
 

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Sounds like your hives are fine and ready for build-up. Definately feed even if you are not sure. If there is no nectar available for the bees it doesn't matter if they are flying.

Just put an empty super on top, lay some papertowels on top of the frames, add a pollen patty and dump some sugar on top. Bees will do the rest. When the boxes look like they are getting full of bees put the empty box on top instead of waiting for them to move down. If temps are in the 60s everyday you can do this regardless and feed syrup w/ whatever feeder you use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Sounds like your hives are fine and ready for build-up. Definately feed even if you are not sure. If there is no nectar available for the bees it doesn't matter if they are flying.

Just put an empty super on top, lay some papertowels on top of the frames, add a pollen patty and dump some sugar on top. Bees will do the rest. When the boxes look like they are getting full of bees put the empty box on top instead of waiting for them to move down. If temps are in the 60s everyday you can do this regardless and feed syrup w/ whatever feeder you use.
JClark, thanks. I was thinking of feeding and should have my pollen patties Saturday!!!! Hopefully early. It is supposed to be 70 that day so it would be perfect. Should I feed a sugar patty instead of granulated?
 

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If you have a sugar patty you can use that instead. If those temps are normal for this time of year I'd plan to put that bottom box on top in the next week or two. You can add new patties if needed at that time too. With the patties just put on top of the cluster--you don't need the paper towells and extra box like you do for the sugar method. Also, if it is that warm you can feed 1:1 syrup and that may help stimulate brood production. Only risk with this is they get too stimulated and expand the brood nest too much, then a cold snap hits and they can't keep all the brood warm or get to food (they can still get to patties right on top of them but not syrup in a feeder--and they won't take it if it is below 50 F). Then brood dies and possibly the hive if no sugar or sugar patties on top.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
"Winter" and "inspection" are words I don't generally use in the same sentence... but then I don't live as far South as you...
Mr. Bush it is a little colder up there I can imagine! February is our coldest month although I expect the cold snaps to slow down a lot toward the end of the month. We have had 3 icy storm days which is quite rare in one year. It has been colder this year than many of the most recent ones. I guess it's that global warming thing they keep talking about :scratch: I usually see some good activity with the bees the 1st week of March, no later. I look at them to judge my garden!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
If you have a sugar patty you can use that instead. If those temps are normal for this time of year I'd plan to put that bottom box on top in the next week or two. You can add new patties if needed at that time too. With the patties just put on top of the cluster--you don't need the paper towells and extra box like you do for the sugar method. Also, if it is that warm you can feed 1:1 syrup and that may help stimulate brood production. Only risk with this is they get too stimulated and expand the brood nest too much, then a cold snap hits and they can't keep all the brood warm or get to food (they can still get to patties right on top of them but not syrup in a feeder--and they won't take it if it is below 50 F). Then brood dies and possibly the hive if no sugar or sugar patties on top.
I will wait about a week to feed 1:1 on the hives. Still cold for some reason down here. I fed some syrup to one but it was thicker than 1:1. I will set the patties on there and switch the boxes at the end of the month. A week and a half or so!!! Thanx for the info. I feel better about how they are doing
 
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