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I have some bees at a remote yard and the property owner showed me a picture of the inside of the hive, from a warm day. The entire hive's worth of bees are piled up on the bottom board inside the hive. This was a happy hive that I did not extract any honey from this year.

I guess the bees will not mind the cold if I go out there one day when it is not raining and check the hive. I wonder if I need to collect bees to determine the cause.
 

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I had a hive that the entrance got blocked on. Nasty mess on the bottom board. I'm sure something messed with them; it couldn't be beekeeper error...

I had another that the entire hive decided to swim in the feeder. It was quiet at the entrance, popped the top and there they were with the queen floating on top. Definitely not beekeeper error on this one; all the other feeders were dry. Therefore it must be mites...
 

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Whenever I had a dead hive in December, it was mites. Pictures of the frames would be nice and could be an easy diagnosis.
 

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This was a happy hive that I did not extract any honey from this year.
Starvation, mites or an overabundance of happiness. I’m betting on excessive happiness. ;)
 

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My first warning bells in early December was a big hive with maybe 4 or 5 lbs of bees on the bottom board and in the cells all dead, could not find a mite, they must of eaten them all as there was nothing else in the hive to eat, never took any honey off them either but starve they did. All my other hives are now piled up with fondant. Some colonies will not cut back on brood rearing when times are tough so they just go on and eat up all their stores.
Johno
 

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Sugar is just so much cheaper than spring bees! I am a firm believer in MC insurance and I check in early January to find the hogs you speak of. I pile in those homemade sugar bricks and buy queens to split them three or four ways in the spring. The queen definitely dies. Sugar brick recipe. 10 lbs sugar and 2 cups water stirred until all sugar is damp. Pack in forms and let dry on the unheated shop floor. Add a little protein or other unnecessary angel farts but works fine naked. I use dixie paper soup bowls. They hold a pound and a quarter. just lay them on top of the bees sugar side down and replace as required. I put about four at a time on.
 

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Regardless of the weight of the hive at the start of fall, I always add a sugar brick to each hive. I check each hive every 3-4 weeks and replace the brick if necessary. It is cheap insurance to make sure the hives don't die from starvation.
 
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