Today at approximately 3:25 pm and with 45 degrees I went to listen in on my beehive with a stethoscope, as discussed in an earlier post (http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php?topic=12425.0
(My hive is the one on the right. The one on the left is by brother-in-laws)
After placing the stethoscope carefully all around on the hive, I decided that I wasn't hearing anything. I mean, I thought I heard something, but it was so faint that it could have been anything. The stethoscope is a pretty sensitive instrument.
So, I lifted the top cover to look into the super of 10 honey-full frames and found no movement and a few dead bees. I then lifted off this top super and the inner-cover to find more dead bees at the edges in the 3rd-from-bottom super and plenty of honey still in the frames.
Last, I slid the 3rd-from-bottom super over a bit to reveal more dead girls in a tight cluster in the 2nd from bottom box, empty cells in 1/2 of it, and 1/2 still with honey. Unfortunately, no movement, no sound, and I even touched a few to be sure.
(Sorry - the exposure was wrong here and I used the flash. But you can still see the cluster of dead girls)
I didn't want to lift the 2nd-from-bottom box off because if any were still alive, I'd rather let them alone, hopefully not exposing them to the winter for too long. I put the hive back together as I had found it, and came back home.
So, I believe I'm 90% sure that they are goners. No cluster buzzing in the middle keeping warm, lots of dead girls. They must have gotten too cold to move to the other honey stores to eat or just froze.
We've had some record lows and lots of snow - but I thought they'd be able to stick it out. Coming Spring, I'll clean the hive out and buy another package to start over again.
I loved my girls. This first year of life, they produced 5 gallons of delicious honey, and I'm grateful for that. I'll let you know if I was wrong here if I see a different sign between now and Spring.
I think this year, I'll change the top to a telescoping cover, and wrap them at the end of the season for warmth. I don't have any access to electricity where they are now - so no night light or heater available. So, maybe I'll put them on my back porch like Tillie has, so that I can use electricity for a warmer.
Would you advise that I bring the hive home and clean it out now, while there are no critters to get in there? I don't want the hive to get moldy or anything weird.