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Author Topic: BEE'S FROZEN?!  (Read 1593 times)
GLOCK
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« on: December 30, 2010, 08:05:57 AM »

Well i had one strong hive going into winter and being a new beekeeper  i was going to my hive weekly checking to see if i could hear them buzzing.
Well all was fine till last week and i could hardly hear them buzzing i figured they where just clustered up and  then this week  we had a nice day so i looked under the top cover and there was dead bees every where.
So i couldn't hear any buzzing so i looked deeper any well there all dead .
Looks like they froze. I live in PA. north east it's only not a month in to winter what do you all think went wrong?
I had Italian bees package bees first year.
The hive had to 2 brood box's of honey and everything looked good.\
I guess I'll try again this spring.
So can i take the honey that's left theres like 40 pound or better.
My first year of be keeping was fun but very disappointing.
I sure hope i have abetter year this year.
Now i have to learn what to do to get my hives cleaned up. some thing to do this month . thank you
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BjornBee
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2010, 08:36:40 AM »

Bees that freeze out, are usually clusters that dwindled down to a point that they could not handle the cold, many times from a lack of brood production in September. How many frames of brood did you see in September?

Bees also do not properly maintain cluster if they were dealing with pesticides or had to deal with disease.

While mites, disease, and pesticides are something that can go undetected from a lack of close observation in the fall, a beekeeper must ensure a full fall brood cycle to even give a hive a chance at overwintering in the north.

I would think of three items to consider....

1) Lack of fall brood production.
2) Lack of healthy bees from mites
3) Partial cluster death from late season field spraying (especially no-till operations)

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Acebird
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« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2010, 09:50:53 AM »

Quote
Well all was fine till last week and i could hardly hear them buzzing i figured they where just clustered up and  then this week  we had a nice day so i looked under the top cover and there was dead bees every where.
So i couldn't hear any buzzing so i looked deeper any well there all dead .
Looks like they froze. I live in PA. north east it's only not a month in to winter what do you all think went wrong?
I had Italian bees package bees first year.
The hive had to 2 brood box's of honey and everything looked good.\
I guess I'll try again this spring.
So can i take the honey that's left theres like 40 pound or better.
My first year of be keeping was fun but very disappointing.

Last year we had a very similar circumstance except we made it all the way to the end of February.  However based on this year’s hive compared to last year’s hive I would say that last year’s hive was weak in comparison.

Anyway, the local experts all agreed that our problem was moisture not freezing to death.  Their logic was if there were honey for them to eat they wouldn’t have froze no matter how cold it got.  We did have evidence of moisture and mold growing around the outside edges of the box.  Our plan this year is to pop the lid and ventilate as soon as the weather gets to 40.  The forecast is to hit 40 this Sunday.

We were also told by the experts to take the honey before everything else does.  Reuse the frames in the Spring that has residual honey from the extraction process.  It is best to keep them refrigerated though.  I can tell you this made a heck of a difference in how fast the second hive grew in numbers and fill out the combs.
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iddee
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« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2010, 10:29:03 AM »

I would add #4 to BJ's list.
Constant disturbance every week.
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kathyp
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« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2010, 11:09:16 AM »

i question the wisdom of "popping the lid" in winter.  you break the seal on the hive and then get cold and wet weather again, you have done them no favors.
moisture issues should be dealt with before winter comes.  once winter is here, they should be left alone. 
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Acebird
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« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2010, 11:49:17 AM »

1. I have never witnessed the lid of our hive ever being sealed.  As a matter of fact this year our bee supplier (50 year + guru) cut a notch in the inner cover so it can’t be sealed.
2. People up here have propped the lid open all winter long and have not suffered a loss because of it.  We chose not to do that during below freezing weather.
3. I have read numerous articles that say outside the cluster the temperature is near ambient (within 2 degrees).  Two degrees is not going to make or break a hive.
4. As an engineer I understand the effects of heat loss due to moisture.  A dry animal (or bee) can withstand tremendous periods of cold weather.  A wet one is doomed.

I don’t know what else to tell you.
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Acebird
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« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2010, 01:06:31 PM »

Whoo hoo heat wave!

While I was sitting here typing my wife notice the thermometer at 48 in the sun on our deck.  The air temp has got to be in the thirties or low forties but the bees are buzzing around pooping in the snow.  What a beautiful sight it is.  Lesa is a very colorful gal with her pink boots and turquoise coat attracting the bees to land on her, stay for a minute and then fly off.

She wouldn’t let me pop the cover, but if we get the high forties weather they are predicting this Sunday it is going to happen.

Got to run,
Talk to you later.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2010, 01:50:27 PM »

i question the wisdom of "popping the lid" in winter.  you break the seal on the hive and then get cold and wet weather again, you have done them no favors.
moisture issues should be dealt with before winter comes.  once winter is here, they should be left alone. 

I agree Kathy.

My best yards every year are those I stopped visiting probably in July or August.

I'm not convinced that bees have moisture problems from eating honey. From beekeepers feeding syrup...yes. Bees eating honey....no.

And I'm not convinced bees die from moisture alone. Yes, perhaps a dwindling colony who for whatever reason, is too small to deal with the dynamics of ventilation and lack the power to provide adequate heat. But moisture was a result from a cluster to small or sick to deal with it. A healthy cluster handles not being provided upper ventilation just fine.

As for the ambient temps and all the comments of years past from 50 year old guru's and local bee experts, I heard much that we now know to be wrong. Prophylactic treatments, cutting out queen cells to stop swarming,.....the list is endless.

At one time, it was openly commented that bees do not heat the hive. And while that may be true, it does not mean acceptance of being ignorant of the dynamics of what happens in the hive. Bees eat themselves to the top of the hive through the first part of winter, where they are programmed to raise brood in the coldest part of winter, allowing them to benefit from the trapped heat in the upper chambers of the cavity. Thermal imaging has shown that heat is trapped and is significantly higher in the upper chamber as compared to the box below the cluster.

While taking away this benefit from having upper entrances may not result in colony loss, it does drastically reduce the hives ability to build up in late winter early spring. Of course, I'm convinced most beekeepers do not really even know what a 60,000 strong colony actually looks like.....  rolleyes
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Acebird
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« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2010, 09:18:07 AM »

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a healthy cluster handles not being provided upper ventilation just fine.

Can't you say that about everything that could harm a hive?  I have read a story where a cover blew off in the dead of winter and the colony survived.

We believe, right or wrong, that a healthy hive doesn't need anything, no chemicals, no sugar, no peppermint patties, and certainly nothing produced from the monoculture giants of the world. 

In my search for knowledge about bees one site explained that what happens to a hive in the winter is the moisture produced by the cluster condenses on the cover and forms frost/ice in cold temperatures.  Then on a warm day this frost/ice melts and essentially rains on the bees.  We all know a wet bee is doomed.  Since we have lost a hive to moisture (experts consensus) I would like to witness this phenomena to see for myself if it happens.

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Bee-Bop
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« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2010, 09:41:51 AM »

"I would like to witness this phenomena to see for myself if it happens."

Look in a poorly insulated well house during the winter, most likely you will see all the frost you want to see, not really a phenomena tho, and when it warms up it drips all over.

Most every farm boy/girl has seen this.

Bee-Bop

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Robo
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« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2010, 10:26:27 AM »

i question the wisdom of "popping the lid" in winter.  you break the seal on the hive and then get cold and wet weather again, you have done them no favors.
moisture issues should be dealt with before winter comes.  once winter is here, they should be left alone. 

I also agree with Kathy. 

Despite all of the beekeeping wisdom about needing ventilation and moisture kills bees, not the cold, I have a hard time ignoring what feral hives show me.   When given the opportunity,  bees will attempt to seal the nest except for the entrance.  Why do beekeepers insist the bees desires are wrong?   I know some will claim the insulated value of a hollow tree is different than a hive, but I'm not just talking about feral bees in trees.  Among other places, I have seen sees thrive for decades in abandoned dwelling with no protection from the elements other that clap board siding.  The other interesting part was that the whole cavity was pretty much covered in propolis which leads me to believe Ed Clark may have been onto something with his claim that bees rely on condensation, not ventilation.

I believe it was BeeWrangler that had some pictures showing how the bees would use the condensation off of a plexiglass inner cover.

With that said,  I do believe the strength of a colony has the most to do with it.   I don't want to get into the whole quality of the queen debate and the use of emergency queens,  but I am a firm believer that a lot of winter losses are do to poor queens.  Even poor queens can perform when conditions are ideal,  it is when Fall comes that the good are separated from the bad.
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Acebird
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« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2010, 03:27:20 PM »

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Why do beekeepers insist the bees desires are wrong?

I don’t think they do.  I think the beeks don’t really know what the bees desires are and make assumptions.

Quote
I believe it was BeeWrangler that had some pictures showing how the bees would use the condensation off of a plexiglass inner cover.
That is an interesting concept but so is the fact that for all the honey that is consumed by the bee there is better than 8 parts water that has to go somewhere.  It wouldn’t seem as though they would need anymore water from another supply.  From what I gather bees breath like we do and in so doing they expel water vapor.  We need 8 glasses of water a day, more so in the summer when we sweat.

All that moisture that you breathe out has to go through the walls of your home, minus what leaks through your windows and doors.  It doesn’t matter how much insulation you have in the walls of your house it matters where the vapor barrier is relative to the warm air space.  If the dew point is before the barrier then you will have frost in the walls.  If the dew point is past the vapor barrier than frost will not be present in the walls of your home.  If a house is left unheated than the inside of the wall will be nearly the same as the outside of the wall except in sudden weather changes.  I have never seen a moisture problem on a house that isn’t heated.  Of course that usually means nobody is living in it to produce the moisture in the first place.

Wood in a hive would have a better insulating value than that of a live tree due to the water content maintained by the bark of the tree.  As is with all R-values for insulation, thickness matters.  If the natural hive had an advantage because of insulating qualities than all you would have to do is make the box out of thicker lumber.  But as I said, I think the standard hive box has a better insulation value than the natural tree does.

Quote
but I am a firm believer that a lot of winter losses are do to poor queens. Even poor queens can
perform when conditions are ideal, it is when Fall comes that the good are separated from the bad.

I hate to hog tie you and real you in but are you suggesting that you should somehow make a judgement in the fall on requeening the hive?
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kathyp
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« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2010, 03:33:41 PM »

you might want to consider getting with someone in your area that does removals.  i have learned more seeing what bees do on their own than any book or class could ever have taught.  if you really want to do natural beekeeping, it involves more than medicating or not.  the environment is extremely important and you can't see that until you see what they do on their own.
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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
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« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2010, 05:18:43 PM »

I hate to hog tie you and real you in but are you suggesting that you should somehow make a judgement in the fall on requeening the hive?


No,  I don't believe in propagating emergency queens.  Another thing that a lot of beeks believe is natural.  Sure it is easy (and cheap) to make a hive queenless and let them raise a new queen, but just because they can make a new queen doesn't mean she is a good one.  Heck, bees will attempt to create a queen from unfertilized eggs.

http://robo.bushkillfarms.com/can-you-afford-emergency-queens/
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