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Author Topic: My Bees - R.I.P.  (Read 2549 times)
UtahBees
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« on: January 25, 2008, 07:48:47 PM »

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.

Regards,

UtahBees (Scott)
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Understudy
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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2008, 08:24:27 PM »

That sucks.

Go ahead and bring it home and clean it out.

Next year wrap the hive with Styrofoam or similar.

Sincerely,
Brendhan

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Frantz
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2008, 08:43:58 PM »

Scott, Dude I am so sorry to hear that. I am proud of you admitting that you loved your bees though.. It is a little sad how attached we get to them isn't. This is my first year as well with the bees and I have lost a lot of mine. I started with 12 hives that were abandoned on a large parcel of ground that a developer had. I had to move them quickly and did not have time or experience to really explore what was inside them before it got cold. I have lost six of them so far. I still have six that are alive and I am crossing my fingers. I am hoping that a few of them make it so that I can split them come spring, again fingers crossed. If enough of them make it I would be happy to do a split for you or something. I am still reading and learning about how to do that.
Are your brother in law's girls still ok?? I know that this year has been a little crazy with all the snow and temps and such, but I thought that the cold doesn't really kill them, they die of moisture and or starve??? I am still learning but I have heard that the cold shouldn't kill them?? I would love to hear more. I have built a couple of sugar boards that I am going to put on a few of them this weekend. Should be warm enough... What do ya'll think??
Again, sorry to hear that Scott. Lets cross our fingers that the rest of my girls make it and we can get you a split!!!
Frantz
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bluegrass
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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2008, 10:06:53 PM »

You should take the hive apart and see if you can figure out why they died. Usually winter kill has more to it than just cold.
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UtahBees
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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2008, 10:55:31 PM »

Brendhan - I'll do that tomorrow then. Thanks for the advice.

Frantz - We found out that my bro-in-laws was all gone as well 2 weeks ago. So I've been worrying about mine. I think that they did get wet, now that you bring that up. The girls that I saw on the sides were wet, and  I think that's from the type of top cover that I was using (migratory type - all wood, no metal top). I was going to do a split with this hive in the Spring because going into winter they were very strong. The hive was full of girls for 4 medium supers.

Bluegrass - What kinds of things should I be looking for? When I photographed them today, they were still in a cluster formation, but in the same location as when I saw them in late November.

Overall - I think they got wet and cold and then starved or froze. I'm bummed.

Regards,

Scott
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JP
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« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2008, 12:15:11 AM »

Scott, sorry you lost them. Sad I second what Brendhan suggested, clean your equipment and have it ready for another hive or two. Spring is just around the corner.

Best wishes, JP
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UtahBees
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« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2008, 12:20:41 AM »

Thanks JP. Will do. I can't wait until Spring.  Cry

The top super is still full of honey too. I'll wrap that up and keep it cool in the garage until I can extract it.
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Angi_H
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« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2008, 12:49:16 AM »

I am so sorry for your loss. But to me there looked like there was to much room for them to properly keep warm in your unexpected weather. If you get snow I would have warped them in the black felt paper.  I am still learning to and I have not yet recieved my girls. I have read about 40 books since Sept on bees and bought 5 of them and one on DVD. Again I am so very sorry. I would have never thought of going to a big hive in the winter with that much space. I was told that that many supers was to many. Is it? Like I said I am still learning and I am only saying what I have read and have been told. So please dont get mad at me. Please.


Angi
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UtahBees
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« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2008, 12:56:14 AM »

Thanks for the advice Angie. Maybe you are right. They had room and lots of honey when I looked in today. But like I mentioned, the hive was completely full going into winter. I took off the 5th super to make them cram in at the end of Nov.

But again, you could be right. The cluster was very small when I looked in today. I will keep that advice in mind this next year. That is great that you are reading up so much. Keep up the great work.

Thank you for posting.

Scott
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beebalm
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2008, 02:05:04 AM »


       GOING TO HAVE TO AGREE WITH ANGIE. I READ SOMETHING LIKE THIS IN
  ANOTHER POST. BEES CANNOT MOVE TO HONEY, MORE SO WHEN COLD.
       I WONDER IF SOME OF US, HAVE TO MUCH VENTILATION. THE HIVES
  I HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH, HAVE OPEN MESH ON BOTTOM. I KNOW THIS
  IS DISCUSSED OFTEN. BUT I HAVE REMOVED AND BEEN AROUND MANY
  FERAL HIVES, AND NEVER SEE BIG OPENINGS. USUALLY ONE SMALL HOLE.
  I KNOW MOISTURE IS AN ISSUE. I THINK NEXT YR MAY TRY SOMETHING.
  SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS.
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reinbeau
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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2008, 05:29:06 AM »

I don't think there's such a thing as too much ventilation.  Bees die from being wet, not cold. 
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Cindi
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« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2008, 09:58:44 AM »

Scott, rats, I feel awful for you.  I know that feeling of losing colonies.  I lost 8 last winter (2006), but that was due to a varroa mite infestation.  Don't give up, and try again next year, like you have intention of doing.  We learn hard lessons through our mistakes, I am the biggest maker of mistakes, I have learned many lessons, but I have learned by them too, so I consider these lessons that shake me up, all OK.  Hard to take, but learned lots.  Keep your chin up, you are doing the best that you can, and yes, it is a painful process.

I think that your bees plain and simply had too much room, this caused them to be too cold to move around to get to the stores.

In my neck of the woods, the maximum number of boxes that are used for overwintering is 2 deeps.  I have been also taught from a bee insturctor that 2 deeps is too much and to winter in one deep only.  The bees will fit into one box, once they have had their summer and fall bees die off.  The winter cluster is actually not that big.   I am sitting on the fence whether to winter in one or two deeps.  This winter will tell that tale.

I wintered my one colony in only one deep last winter (but then I only had one colony left to deal with) and thank goodness I did, because that colony cluster over the winter was only the size of a baseball.  Two deeps would have definitely been too big for it.  It grew to astounding numbers this past season and is still going strong.  An aside.

This past winter I have housed my 9 colonies in two deeps each (except for the swarm that was cast on September 6, they are in one box).  I will see how things go using two deeps.  The winter stores that the colonies had most of the food in the upper brood chamber, the lower chamber had minimal stores.  I made sure of that and arranged their food in this manner.  The advantage of the two deeps in winter, as far as I can see, is for swarm control measures, and assurance that there is enough food for the winter.  I could be wrong with this train of thought, but that is what I am thinkin'.  I will invert the boxes in early spring (the bees right now will be in the upper box, so I understand, hee, hee), and after this manipulation the bees will be in the lower box.  The intention is that the bottom chamber right now should be fairly low on stores and lots of room for the queen to move up, where she likes to be, where it is warmer.  We'll see.

Scott, keep on learning, keep on lovin' the bees, and have a wonderful season for this year upcoming.  AND....have an awesome day.  Cindi

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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2008, 10:47:31 AM »

Oh gosh, so sorry...that really sucks...I have no idea of my lil hive will make it through...I would be extremely sad should they perish...
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randydrivesabus
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« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2008, 11:36:56 AM »

sorry about your bees scott. but i'm  glad to hear that you'll not quit.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2008, 11:58:15 AM »

If it's quiet on a warm day then they probably are dead.  I wouldn't put any stock in anything on a cold day.  You never know what might happen when things warm up.

Post Mortem things to do:

Look for Varroa feces in the cells.  Little white specks.  While you're looking in there it never hurts to look for scale which might indicate AFB.  Look for dead Varroa on the bottom board with the dead bees.  Look how the cluster is situated and if there is brood.  Are there stores sitll?  Could they get to them?  Is the cluster tight or scattered?  Bees with deformed wings?  Bees with "K" wing?
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« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2008, 06:02:28 PM »

Scott,
Sorry to hear about your loss. It gave me a shudder since I'm sure our bees are just hanging on.

I took a picture of the hives this morning while it was 45 F and there was no sign of anyone out. It is 52 now, so I thought I'd better go take a listen and see if they were still alive. While one of the hives seems a bit weak and sickly, they were out today soaking up some sunshine when I returned. So far they have survived.
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« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2008, 08:22:06 PM »

I had bees in Fruit Heights in the 70's.I remember tramping through the snow
and shoveling the snow away from the hives.I found the hardest thing to do when I first stsrted Beekeeping is to let the bees do there thing.You know it gets pretty cold there around your neck of the woods if I remeber.I looked at some bees with Dee Lusby last March in Arizona she opened a hive that she had put a swarm in I thought the were dead (it was early morning) I said they look dead. She said nahhhh held the frame up cuped her hand around blew some warm breath on them bugs they move she said there cold.They warmed up.They were buzzing by noon.I when I had bees in Fruit Heights I made sure they were in two deeps and honey bound.My bees up there were in the top when winter came.I didn't use inner covers at all.I learned not to mess with those bugs when it is cold and snow on the ground.

good luck
kirk-o
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2008, 11:59:48 PM »

Just a few thoughts:

1. I have yet to see awaywhere in the USA (including Alaska) that needs more than 2 boxes of stores for over wintering.
2. Open bottoms have little, if anything, to do with death due to cold, moisture (condensation) does.  Closing up a hive to tightly will drown the bees in condensation who then die when wet bees get cold.
3. Venting a hive at the highest point for moisture to escape is important.  Holes in the boxes don't do any good if they are too low to allow the condesation to vent.  That means the vent must be higher than the top bar of the frame.
4. The colder the temperature the less movement from the bees.  In my area we're in the middle of a long cold spell (for the area) of about 10 days with highs around 32 degrees.  The bees can't and won't leave the cluster and can starve if insufficient stores were brought back into the middle of the cluster from the corners of the hive during warmer temps.
5.The more boxes the further bees have to go to transfer stores which requires more energy and increases the likelyhood that worker bees will be caught away from the cluster when the weather drops.
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« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2008, 12:44:07 AM »

    I lost a bunch of bees in one of my yards this year too I had 21 boxes in one of my yards and ended with only 6 due to nosema I treated the whole yard but it was to late everybody I talked too said that we don't get nosema out here in northern california but I sure did seeing bee feeces splattered on the side of your bee boxes makes you sick to your stomach because you know the're already sick and it's cold so they won't break the cluster to take up the medicated feed the only thing you can do is hope you get a warm day and they move around enough to take up some feed  my other two yards are fine I already moved them into the almonds alot of guys took advantage of  the weather last week and started moving in all we can do is find out what causes our losses and not let it happen again I can guarantee you that I will treat everything early this year.      Good luck to you this year .   Metzelplex
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Cindi
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« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2008, 01:16:59 PM »

2-Wheeler.  I had comments to make here, and deleted them because I saw the other post of the pictures of your hives.  Brian said that you do have nosema, I would take that he knows what is up.  Now.....what can you do?  I would love to know that too.   Have an awesome day.  Cindi

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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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