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Discussion Starter #1
OK...
I checked my bees today since it made it into the 60's the last couple of days. My fist indication that something was wrong was when I removed my entrance reducer to see if there were many dead bees. There weren't many but there was about a 1/4 inch of what looked like dried bread crumbs. When I opened the top the cluster was top center and about the size of both my fists put together and there were no bees in the bottom hive body. Plenty of honey was visible in the top body. Mostly dark brown empty comb in the bottom body. As a first year bee keeper I wasn't sure what to make of this? I'm assuming I need to start over in the spring. This is my only hive...any advise?

Thanks,
Darin
 

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>There weren't many but there was about a 1/4 inch of what looked like dried bread crumbs.

Your dried bread crumbs are cappings.

>When I opened the top the cluster was top center and about the size of both my fists put together and there were no bees in the bottom hive body. Plenty of honey was visible in the top body. Mostly dark brown empty comb in the bottom body. As a first year bee keeper I wasn't sure what to make of this? I'm assuming I need to start over in the spring. This is my only hive...any advise?

All you need to do is reverse the brood boxes and start feeding syrup and pollen subsitute. Start out with 2-1 syrup to get them fed up unless you have a lot of honey left. Then start with 1-1 in a couple of weeks to start brood production.

I am pretty sure that the maples are about to break there as they are here, so your timing should be about the same as mine.
 

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I agree with Bill. I have already had to reverse deep brood chambers on 1 hive. Tomorrow I will start feeding them the 1:1 sugar water. I will probably have to add some pollen too.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
When I first saw the small amount of bees I assumed they were a loss. Can they bounce back with this small of number? I'll start feeding them tomorrow.

Thanks for the assistance,
D
 

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>Is this a normal sized cluster to find this time of year?


It's not so small that it can't survive with proper care and a little luck with mother nature.

Some breeds of bees overwinter with smaller clusters than others and expand rapidly, some don't, it just depends.

I think you are in zone six or seven, at any rate the worst of winter is about over and they are about ready to start brood rearing for the flow. Just keep an eye on them and their stores, including pollen substitute. You don't want them to run out of either and it takes a bunch to raise brood.

When you reverse, pay attention as to how much pollen is still stored in the abandoned box and the frames away from the brood.

On the next day over 55F take a quick look for the queen and the size of the brood pattern. These things will tell you much of what you need to know.
 
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