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Discussion Starter #1
This afternoon we hit a high of 19 degrees (but at least it was quite sunny). So I pulled off the mouse guard from my one hive and ended up having to sweep off about 175 dead bees from the bottom board. I checked them for signs of problems and found no mites, deformities, etc. They looked fine, except dead. ;) However, a few of the bees were small, indicating they were quite young. Also counted four drones, too.

Is this normal attrition for this time of year? The hive sounds great....I can easily hear them humming away in there. They seem to be clustered where they should be (midway up the hive).

Just looking for reassurance, I guess. This is my first winter and I worry about the girls. :eek:
 

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You didn't say how long it had been since you last looked at the bottom board. If you lost 175 bees in a day, your losses are too high. When was the last time you checked?
 

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Swede,
At the end of December in Central Indiana, I'm pretty sure none of my hives have 75,000 bees in them! You must have Mega-hives!
 

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Trying to get a ball park figure. 75k may be a lot. Mine started around 10-12k with a 3lb package and figure that at the rate the queen lays eggs, around 20-30k by end of brood season. Even at 20k, 1% would be 200 bees. Those bees could have been laid the same day or had some brood issues. What length of time between "Sweeps" ? 2 weeks, 4 weeks, first of winter ? A few every day is normal.
 

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Yes, I understand. 175 bees is not a high percentage of the winter cluster but what I was trying to get a feel for from treeoflife was the time period of the loss. Losing 175 winter cluster bees a week is no big deal, but I would be concerned if I was losing 175 winter cluster bees a day. It doesn't take many 1% days until you've got such a small cluster that they can't cover/warm the new brood.
 

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This afternoon we hit a high of 19 degrees (but at least it was quite sunny). So I pulled off the mouse guard from my one hive and ended up having to sweep off about 175 dead bees from the bottom board. I checked them for signs of problems and found no mites, deformities, etc. They looked fine, except dead. ;) However, a few of the bees were small, indicating they were quite young. Also counted four drones, too.

Is this normal attrition for this time of year? The hive sounds great....I can easily hear them humming away in there. They seem to be clustered where they should be (midway up the hive).

Just looking for reassurance, I guess. This is my first winter and I worry about the girls. :eek:
These numbers are not abnormal. Did you put the mouse gaurd back? I recommend that you leave the hive alone until late March. By removing the mouse gaurd and scrapping the bottom board you may be doing more damage than good.
 

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Swede,
At the end of December in Central Indiana, I'm pretty sure none of my hives have 75,000 bees in them! You must have Mega-hives!
I'll bet that none of Swedes do either. If his hives have that many in June or July that would be impressive, but not in December.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you all for your replies. It's been at least 2 months since I checked the bottom board (when I winterized the hive). The dead bees I cleaned out accumulated since then. I have a gut feeling that all is well, but being my first year, I just needed to make sure this was normal. I seriously doubt if I had anywhere near 75,000 bees going into winter, though! But it was a nice, healthy robust colony. And yes, I did replace the mouse guard. One of the reasons I peeked in there in the first place was to make sure a little mouse didn't somehow sneak in. And no mouse was found. Just 175 dead girls.

sqkcrk, I'm curious why scraping out the bottom board might do more damage than good? It was just a quick sweep with a thin wooden stake. :s

Thanks all! I feel better. Cindy
 

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In my opinion, once you have done everything that you need to to ready your hive for the winter, you should leave it alone. Any manipulation of the hive will disturb the colony. It may not do any damage at all, but why take the chance. Those bees will be there in the spring, so what are you accomplishing by removing them now.

Otherwise, no big deal. I just don't see the need to do what you did.
 
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