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Author Topic: What are the chances I just killed my hive!!!!  (Read 1418 times)

Offline annette

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What are the chances I just killed my hive!!!!
« on: January 01, 2009, 07:59:35 PM »
OK dear friends. I like to share the good, the bad and the ugly.

Today I have the ugly.

Went up today to do a powdered sugar dusting on my hives. We have had temps into the mid 50's all week.

The hives have been doing a very good job of cleaning the mites off themselves because I have found hundreds of mites on the bottom trays this week.  So to help them along I got good advice to give them a powder sugar dusting to really get the rest of the mites off before the queen starts to lay again which could be soon since we usually start to warm up here in January.

OK went up to the knoll to powder sugar dust them today. It was around 1:15PM  (I thought that would be the warmest part of the day). The thermometer said 50 degrees outside just before I walked up to the knoll. When I got up to the knoll, the bee hives were already in the shade, not a good thing I thought, but since I was all prepared to dust them and had all the equipment up there and the smoker going I decided to proceed. Opened up hive # 1, my very strongest hive and found the cluster right on the top and I thought that was great as I would be able to dust them and get most of the bees. I smoked them, closed up the hive for a few seconds and when I opened it back up, found the bees had not moved down like they usually do. Very unusual behavior and my instincts told me not to go any further, just to leave them alone,but I did not follow my instincts. I took the flour sifter and proceeded to dust them with about  1 cup of powdered sugar and the bees never moved down like they usually do, but sort of rolled around in the powdered sugar like they were drunk. I took the bee brush and kept sweeping the sugar on the frames to get the sugar down like I always do, but the bees never moved. They just got  caught up in all the brushing and there was just a big pile of sugar and bees. I knew this was trouble. I kept brushing to try to get as much sugar off of them as possible and down into the frames. I just closed up the hive and watched. A few bees just fell out of the top ventilation hole and onto the ground and looked dead.

Bad feeling inside of me. By time I got all my equipment into the car and got ready to go, the bees were moving around inside the ventialtion hole on top and it looked more normal. I decided to wait about 1 hour and then remove the tray on the bottom to see how much powdered sugar fell down. Well after 1 hour there really was not much sugar on the tray. Usually there is about 1/4 inch of sugar piled up on the tray from all the cleaning they are doing. Not much on the tray after an hour.

So my dear friends, what do you all think. Obviously I killed a lot of bees in that powdered sugar, perhaps the outer ends of the cluster, but what about all that powdered sugar down inside clogging up the frames. Do you think the rest of the cluster will move down to the super down below to keep warm. Do you think I killed the queen??? 

What are the chances this hive will survive now???

Not feeling very happy about this.


Offline 1of6

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Re: What are the chances I just killed my hive!!!!
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2009, 09:33:50 PM »
Sounds like they were clustered tight?  Either anchored on brood or the cluster size had dwindled down far enough that they wanted to stay put and not move?  I've seen my smaller clusters not be active at 50F or below, when some of the stronger hives may be more active.  How large did the cluster look from the top?  Were any of the other hives lethargic like this, or was this the only one you opened up?

We'll hope that they pull through for you.  Maybe leave them be until a warm day when they're quite active.  We're keeping our fingers crossed for you.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: What are the chances I just killed my hive!!!!
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2009, 10:09:45 PM »
At 50 F I can't imagine that you did any harm.  They can move at 50 F if they were acting lethargic, that's kind of strange at those temperatures, but then they are California bees and probably spoiled as far as cold weather?  My guess is that if they are not ok, and I think they probably are, that you didn't do any harm.
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Offline tlynn

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Re: What are the chances I just killed my hive!!!!
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2009, 10:31:33 PM »
Hi Annette,

My bees here in Florida start breaking out of their ball and heading out by 50F or so, definitely by 55, especially when the sun is starting to hit them.  And I think a question in the test on this site says you can do a full inspection at 60F+.  It's not as if you spread them apart and pulled out all the frames.  I watched an instructor at our beekeeping group show us how to "roll" bees to test for mites.  He shook a frame of bees onto a metal funnel and then poured them into a mason jar.  He dumped a quarter jar of powdered sugar onto them and put a screen cover on the jar.  He rolled them around in the jar and then shook it like a salt shaker to get a mite count.  The bees were totally powdered and when he dumped them out they tumbled around for a while and seemed very disoriented.  I thought for sure they were just going to lay there and die the way they were acting.  Eventually they crawled off and flew away.  I'll bet yours are fine.


Offline rdy-b

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Re: What are the chances I just killed my hive!!!!
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2009, 11:10:53 PM »
They probably didnt get much sun on them that day-it has been overcast here for days -they never broke cluster that day -remember if they are not flying in and out the entrance then maybe another-day would be more effective-it is possible the bees in the top box where on honey and that the main cluster is in-between the boxes-dosent matter they go where the warmth is generally up anyway your bees will be fine they will clean it out on a fly day- 8-) RDY-B