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Author Topic: Are They Worth Saving? (+ image)  (Read 3844 times)
Hemlock
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« on: February 21, 2010, 06:15:59 PM »

The cluster is the size of my fist.  I don't believe that's big enough to generate the heat they need to survive.  Stores are great but This winter is the worst in decades. 

SO, do i let them die or do I go to extraordinary measures to sustain them?

What are the Pro's & Con's?


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doak
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« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2010, 06:35:25 PM »

What I would do. If I had two or more other colonies and they had a good count of bees. I would cage  the queen, shake out two or three frames from two or more other colonies.  One from each. Shake the hand full in with them. All these in a new box with some frames in place. Take the frames the bees were on and put them in the new box. Place the caged queen in, it would be the same as hiving a package.  I have the same situation but the bee count in my other two are not large enough.
Plus the queen doesn't appear to be laying yet in this one. They are laying in the other two. JMHO :)doak

That is if the queen is there. Of course you would have to feed.  :)doak
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annette
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« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2010, 06:50:10 PM »

I have a similar problem with one of my hives right now. But I have much warmer weather than you do.  Also the cluster is close by the honey frames so I don't think there is any problem with starvation.  But keeping warm might be a problem for them as well since the temps got down low again this week.

Can you place sugar on top near them?  I think it is always worth the effort to try and save them.

Wait to hear from more experienced beeks.

Good luck
Annette
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rdy-b
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« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2010, 07:19:54 PM »



ITS very small-But if you have other colonies that are of sufficient strength -then -switch locations with a strong colony-it needs to be warm enough for them to fly for this to work-Dont add them to a good colony what ever is stunting them could ruin a good colony-never know  Undecided RDY-B
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Hemlock
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« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2010, 07:43:12 PM »

doak,
I have only one other colony.  She is a somewhat aggressive clean freak who's population is sky-high.  She also has a double deep.  Might I cull several frames from her?  Why a new box?

The weak colony's queen is not laying at all (she's there, saw her today).  But her girls probably can't get the temp around her high enough.

-

annette,  
She has had sugar on her since 1/18/2010.  They even stuffed the sugar into cells for storage.  They did eat some but not much.  She has lots of honey & pollen.  It seems the cold keeps them from moving around the frames once an area has been depleted.

I could run a shop light out to her & place it beneath the hive.  That would maintain higher temps inside the hive.  With warmer temps could they not then access all the frames and even begin egg laying?

-

rdy-b
My two hives are sitting together on the same platform.  One is very strong & this one is almost gone.  They are 3 feet apart.  BUT, if moving the weak one will not add to it's stress I could move her to the sunniest part of the yard.  A SW facing hill that shrivels the grass every August.
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kathyp
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« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2010, 07:50:16 PM »

if your other hive is very strong, you can grab a couple of frames of brood with the nurse bees on them and put them in the weak hive.  just make sure you don't move queen.  take frames that have older larvae or capped brood so that you can quickly boost the numbers.

if it doesn't work, you can always combine the hives.
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rdy-b
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« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2010, 07:56:26 PM »

swap locations with the strong hive-capture its field force -you can then swap them back in3-4 weeks -(or not) we do it all the time -RDY-B
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Hemlock
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« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2010, 08:00:26 PM »

kathyp
I thought about combining today while starring into the weak colony.  I thought I should have done it last Fall.  Now i know better.

IF I combined them now they'd be a triple-deep.  Does that mean I could do a triple walkaway split in spring?  I like that idea a lot.

-

rdy-b
I'd try it but the temps here are in the 30's & 40's.  No one is flying yet.  still waiting for the weather to break.  Today was an odd 54 F so I took advantage of it and did an inspection.  Haven't seen the girls in weeks.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2010, 08:11:24 PM by Hemlock » Logged
kathyp
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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2010, 08:19:25 PM »

i would not do a traditional combination with temps that low.  you could pinch the queen and shake those bees into the strong hive, but you must close and then remove the other hive so that they do not return to it.

your strong hive probably does not have enough brood yet to rob if you are still that cold.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
Hemlock
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2010, 09:02:41 PM »

kathyp,
Rob Brood!!  I've not heard that one before.  I'll look it up.

Well, at this point, it's only several hundred bees who are doomed anyway.  

UPDATE: Oh 'Rob brood from the strong hive'.  I get it now.  The cold is freezing my brain as much as it's freezing the bees.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2010, 10:37:29 AM by Hemlock » Logged
contactme_11
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« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2010, 12:01:34 AM »

Put a double screen on your strong hive and put the weak one's box on top with a top entrance facing in the opposite direction. That way the heat from the strong hive will warm up the weak one.
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David LaFerney
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« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2010, 08:33:38 AM »

My two hives are lopsided too - one much smaller than the other.  I've already pushed them right next to each other in hopes of needing the space on the stand for more hives, but I've been wondering... 

If you were to reconfigured the entrances so that they are right next to each other wouldn't that cause an increased amount of drift with most of it going into the smaller hive?  Assuming that you wouldn't be spreading a disease by doing this would it cause any other problems (fighting, robbing) ?  Would it even work at all?

I'm not worried about the smaller hive, I'm just thinking that it might build up faster with a few more foragers.  I'm planning to do a cut down/combine in April when the flow starts.
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rdy-b
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« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2010, 12:54:44 AM »

we change hive location to equalize or even out the hive size -you can switch them back and forth
and they will strengthen themselves -so about this cut down/combine isn't it about the same thing any way -you are just capturing the bees from the cut down and combining them  cheesy RDY-B
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David LaFerney
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« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2010, 08:56:09 AM »

about this cut down/combine isn't it about the same thing any way -you are just capturing the bees from the cut down and combining them  cheesy RDY-B

The idea is to cut one hive down (queen, open brood, stores, and enough nurse bees to get by)  And give everything else to the other hive so that it might be big enough to make some honey.  Right now they are right next to each other, when I do it I will move the small hive away, and scoot the big hive over so that all the field bees will go to it.
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JP
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« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2010, 10:00:24 AM »

I'm chiming in late here, but if this teeny little colony still has a queen, I would condense it to a two frame nuc. If there are nurse bees available to take from other hives, they would be a welcome addition.

Of course they would need feed and if the temps are too cold outside I might even consider bringing them in. They need all the help they can get.

Best of luck!


...JP
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« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2010, 10:10:42 AM »

I'd consider a package of bees with a young mated queen or a swarm if possible.

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Hemlock
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« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2010, 10:53:51 AM »

What I'm planning:

Cull brood from the strong hive if she has any to spare.
-If not I'll shake a frame or two of bees into the weak colony.

Relocate the weak hive into the garage next to the window.
-a entrance feeder and dryer vent tubing can be an access to the outside.
-add the hive top feeder with light syrup.
-keep the garage at about 50 F.

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Trot
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« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2010, 11:20:26 AM »

Don't let them die, friend.  That hive is a survivor!

Can you only imagine what hardship and terrible cold they went through, just to make it this far?  
It would be barbaric and inhumane to let them go!  
They deserve a little TLC and they will repay you in the coming year a thousand fold - if not with honey, but perhaps with pride and a feeling of "done good!?"

I had exactly the same thing happen to me, last year and in many a year long past.  That hive did not even once come out for a cleansing flight.  (Judging by clear snow in front of it)  
When it got a bit warmer, I opened them up and was about to sweep them in the snow, (an old habit still in me, that I forget, from the times when I run a commercial autfit and there time was money) when I noticed a small queen that was only slightly moving. She was not bigger than an average bee and a "younger" beek would surely missed her?
(here I almost forgot my golden rule, learned over the 55 years with bees, that bees are never dead until it is warm in the seventies, sun is shining and every other hive is flying well.)  
Only then is the time when dead outs are examined and if bees are paper dry and crumbling, or mildewy and smelly, that is the time to sweep them off.
So, I stuck the two frames with few dozen, a meagre handful of bees and small queen to the sunny side of the box.  I opened a strong colony and took from there one frame of bees, with some honey, polen and luckily, some covered brood.  (they just started to lay in our cold parts)  
I scratched the caped honey with a twig and made sure that the queen was absent from that robed frame.  I put everything back together, covered the inner-cover with a piece of homasote, put on 2" thick Styrofoam and on top of this, the telescopic cover with a 2'X4' piece of 1/4" ply, over telescopic cover, to keep snow and rain away from the hive.
(Hive was of course wrapped with black roofing paper to give them that all important "heat gain" on sunny days!) That helps them immensely in towards spring, when brood is present and expanding, but temperatures still fall sharply in the wintry nights. . .

Two weeks after I opened them again and to my delight, the queen was now of normal size, cause it started laying and they had a small patch of own brood.  I gave them one more frame of covered brood from another hive and that was all the help that they needed.  Except when it was plenty warm, I moved honey stores from the sides of the box and moved them close to the frames with bees.
When brooding starts, one has to be vigilant, cause stores dry up amazingly fast and often one has to help with emergency feed or colony will starve to death!

Back now:
Last year, that was my best hive!  
They seem to know that they were down and out, but they refused to die, for some unknown reason?  I firmly believe that our sweet bees are much like we are.  Some easily give up, regardless how well they are to do and the slightest variation in personal comfort shuts off that invisible switch and the end thus comes . . .  Strongest hives far too often give up and die die!
Others, weak and sickly, to no fault of their own, they tread on.  They battle the insurmountable odds.  They endure the unspeakable hardship of hunger and intestinal discomfort, cause small numbers don't allow the luxury of heat generation on demand and a short trip to the outside to take a dump.  They suffer for almost 8 months (here in my neck of the woods)  they freeze almost to death, coming out of suspended animation just long enough to take a feeble load of food and off they go again, till next time when some bursts of warm sunshine warm their surroundings, just enough to take another sip at the life sawing honey and with perseverance, cooperation from nature, they inch, day by day, closer to spring and warm days. . .
But, perhaps by command from the Higher power, they refuse or are commanded NOT to give up!
  
But, because we are beekeepers - it is our duty, as keepers, that we realize the fortitude and genetic potential of such a hive and we must give them a hand at their time of greatest need.  Such small colony is often at the crossroads, where they are too few in numbers to gather polen and nectar, plus at the same time raise their numbers to attain so much needed strength.
And don't give up men because it is cold?  Your cold is not the same cold that we get here?  In your kind of cold we wear shorts... (just kidding, but it is closer to truth that one might think!) 
Help them we must!  

I just checked mine last Saturday, they are all in the wilderness of Northern Ontario, miles from anybody.  They all survived our terrible cold in January.  (56 C below - twice!) But we are not out of the woods yet?  Although I feel that Spring will arrive early this year?
It was one degree on the sun and the bees from that survivor hive, came out through the top entrance, to greet me...  As I shoveled around my summer house and inspected for winter damage, the bees followed me around and  even took a brake on my hands, a few times, to warm up.  But too many ended up in the snow and I had to hurry to get out of there and leave them alone in peace.  
Bees need absolute peace in time of winter.  That is absolutely essential for successful overwintering.  They are supper sensitive to vibrations and they will brake the cluster to investigate.  Only those in deeper sleep, suspended animation, may be oblivious to such disturbances.  But, such colony far too often ends up in the snow, when beeks mistakenly take them for dead and clean them out.
 
I will repeat again:  The colony is not dead until it is at least 70 degrees out there and bees are flying in force.
Only last week I got a bunch of mail when people from diferent parts of our world told me that the hives look dead when it was in the sixties and all others were flying?!  Next day, the temperature went into the seventies and the hives came to life and were going gang busters. . .
Some do sleep deeper and it takes longer for them to warm up and get around - so be patient, friends. . .

So, give them a chance and if they make it - that will be the hive from which to expand, cause they are locally attuned bees and survivors to boot. That would be a hive from whic a prudent beek would do well to raise a queen or two to propagate the important survivor genes. . ?
(I will this year divide that colony and raise some queens.  Such bees are irreplaceable. . .

Good luck.

Regards,
Trot
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ziffabeek
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« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2010, 12:24:58 PM »

I think we should start calling him General Trot!  That was the best muster speech I've read here! Cheesy

I'm feeling a great need to go don my veil and save a hive somewhere!!  cheesy

love,
ziffa
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wd
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« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2010, 12:58:00 PM »

Well, needles to say, my thoughts on reserve about options was similar to what hemlock is going to do but not all of us have options of the like and not everyone can run electric to a hive. I thought rdy-b had a good approach, to me, placing a double screened bottom atop the stronger hive then the weak hive on top may change the heat and scent factors for both hives and turn into a mess for awhile, yet it might work.

I'm not meaning to come across as a person with a cold heart. Obviously there are reasons the hive is in that state to begin with that should be evaluated and taken from there but sometimes one ought to get out of the way and let nature take its course.


Hope it works out for you!
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