Posts Tagged With: overwintering bees

R.I.P little hive…

I’ve had several people ask me how the hives came through the cold snap. Thank you for your interest! I have been, anxiously, waiting for a warm day to find out what happened. Yesterday, it got to about 50 degrees and I saw honeybees flying from only one hive. We fed this hive with a candyboard going into winter because they would not have had enough food to get them through. I saw nothing happening at the other three hives. With each walk back to the hives, I grew more concerned. After much worrying at the situation, I decided to go in.

The first hive I opened was a small one and it still had a near full medium box of honey on top. Not one honeybee was alive inside. This hive went into the winter with only about 4 frames of bees but plenty of honey. In the fall, this was a healthy hive. It came from a small swarm we caught and they were really great with bringing in food. Their population, however, was not sufficient to keep the cluster warm; especially, in the severe weather. We are, endlessly, learning from our mistakes. Next time, we will consider several options:

  • Put the small hive in a nuc and on top of a strong hive which will help keep them warm.
  • Remove the queen and combine with another hive.
  • Add frames of bees to the small hive from stronger hives before they head into winter.

I moved on to the next quiet hive with a bad feeling…but, Yahoo! Quite alive, these were! They went into winter with one medium full of honey plus another medium about 1/2 full.  I saw bees working on the frames of the top medium (the one that was only 1/2 full of honey.) It was possible that they were getting low on food stores so I put the full honey box from the dead hive on top to supplement. I wouldn’t have done this if I suspected that the little hive had died from disease.

I had a bit of hope building as I went to the last quiet hive. I was very relieved to find that they, also, were quite lively. I tipped their honey box to get a sense of weight. I’m not very experienced with this but I’m guessing that there was not more than 10-15 pounds left.  I will add a candy board come the next warm day. We had a hive starve last year. I hope to not repeat that mistake.

Lastly, I peeked in at the hive that we had fed and that I saw flying. There were many bees working the candy board. They had eaten at least 2/3rds of what I put in. I will supplement their candy since it seems to be keeping them strong.

In all of the hives, I noted no condensation problems. I am feeling good about the supplemental feeding technique we used. I followed instructions from Beverly Bees.

By the time I finished; the three hives were flying and, I suspect, were not too happy. When I opened up the hives, I got a clear smell of banana which is from their alarm pheromone. I learned that from our PA state inspector, Austin Martin. I took a couple of quick, and lousy shots with my camera (after having already removed my beesuit) and let them bee.


R.I.P little swarm hive. You gave it a good go.

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