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Author Topic: Two Dead Hives.. Discourged.  (Read 6268 times)
Shep1478
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« on: January 24, 2011, 05:47:25 PM »

I've had a feeling something wasn't right the last week or so. I haven't even seen the slightest movement in my reduced entrances whatsoever.  I posted Yesterday that I'd like to take a peak to see how things were.. Some suggested to wait until it was a bit warmer, so I waited till today.  I opened my 1st hive and there was no movement at all.  I removed two frames and found nothing but dead bee's.  Well, that put me in an awful mood to say the least.  I removed the 2nd deep, which for the most part still had lots of capped honey; I'd say maybe 5 of the 10 frames were capped.  Anyways, I got into the 1st deep and the same thing; just dead bee's.  There didn't even appear to be a cluster attempted.  Many of the bee's looked like they were working the cells and died right there in the middle of their work. The screened bottom board is covered up with dead bee's. 

What to do now? I'm extremely discouraged as I take stock and ponder my options.  I had considered ordering three 5-frame Nucs to start up more hives, but this really hits me to the point that maybe I shouldn't try.. I dunno..

What should I do with the frames that have the capped honey? What should I do with the other frames that were brood cells? I'm at a loss as what I need to do now.

Here's a bit of info: 

These are my 1st years bee's.  They were 3lb packages installed May 14th, 2010. 

I've not had any problems with them.

I've not had to treat them for any disease or issues such as SHB, etc.

I didn't "winter them" by stocking up on stores etc. as we believed they had enough to get through the winter.

I didn't remove the screened bottom board as it was told to me the winters in North Ga shouldn't be to harsh (we have been in the teens's though).

Here's the link to a few shots I took earlier today:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/14718672@N05/sets/72157625899106940/



       
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Jim Sheppard
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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2011, 06:01:14 PM »

If i were you id find out why they died get someone in your area to help you if needed. Maybe they had tracheal mites you need a microscope to check for them.  Im not as experienced as some on here so maybe they can give you some insite.  Once you find out why they died i would freeze all the frames then come spring if there is no diseases get packages and install your drawn out comb into the hive and you will be up and running dont get discouraged lots of us have been losing hives due to the weather and all the pests that reduce hive strength.
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kathyp
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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2011, 06:10:45 PM »

we all lose hives.  you had an unusual winter.  don't know where you got your bees, but they may not have been able to take this winter. if the bees were head into the cells and stuck there, they may have starved.  this can happen even when they have stores.  if there was to much space in the hive, and the food was to far away from where they clustered originally, they may not make it to the food. 

if you haven't torn it all up, take some pics for us.  pics of the dead bees, frames with dead bees on them, etc.

all your equipment is fine to reuse if there is no sign of disease.  freeze the honey frames and use them for your new bees.  evaluate your set up for moisture, size, temps in winter, etc. 

it's a learning process.  it is discouraging to lose hives, but it's part of beekeeping.  i have lost two already and a 3rd looks pretty iffy.  i just have enough that the loss won't bother me.  grin
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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
bailey
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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2011, 06:57:21 PM »

i saw 3 or so of those last year but there was no stores in those young weak hives that i had.
did this cluster of dead bees have honey in its box near the group?

if no honey in the box with the bees then it might be starvation.
cold temps keeping them in cluster long enough to bee to far from food can kill em
if honey was within reach of the cluster they should have been able to eat. then i would look at possible moisture /condensation problems as well as possible mite problem.

condensation in the hive on these cold wet days = rain from the top cover if not allowed to escape.
that can kill a small hive quick.

sorry it happened, it does happen to all of us though.

bailey
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scdw43
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2011, 07:06:55 PM »

It was probally a moisture problem. Did you have an upper entrance for ventilation?  A notch 3/8 by 1 1/2 inches cut in the inner cover rim, turned down toward the brood chamber is good for ventilation.  The SBB open, is good but does not help ventilation, without top vent. How do I know this, I learned it the hard way, the same as you. If bees get wet and cold from condensation they can't move to honey and starve. The advice in the previous post is good about the frames, freeze them and put more bees on them.  You can send a sample to beltsville, link below, it is free.


  http://ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=7472
« Last Edit: January 24, 2011, 07:23:53 PM by scdw43 » Logged

Winter Ventilation: Wet bees die in hours maybe minutes, no matter how much honey is in the hive.
Dange
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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2011, 07:18:33 PM »

I'm new and not an expert by no means but I have to agree with the previous statement of your rather unusual and harsh winter. Just mark it up as a learning experience. Plus if your frames are okay for use you will be a step ahead for the next batch. I wish you the best.
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leechmann
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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2011, 07:22:37 PM »

Hey Shep, sorry for the loss of your bees. Don't bee discouraged. I lost all 7 of my hives last year. Just keep rolling with the punches. With the gained experience and the help from the folks on beemaster, you will have success. It's a learning process. You just have to keep after it.
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hardwood
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« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2011, 07:46:50 PM »

Sorry to hear of your loss shep, but please don't let it run you off from beekeeping! We all have our losses and try to use them as learning experiences.

Scott
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"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

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kathyp
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« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2011, 08:12:44 PM »

gotta disagree with top and bottom opening.  one or the other.  if you have a screened bottom board, don't use an upper entrance.  all you do is suck the heat out even with the slider in.  if you have a bottom entrance, see the above.

if the hive is tipped forward a bit, that takes care of most of what rolls off.  if you live in a really wet place, as i do, try some dry sugar on the top.  sucks up a lot of excess  moisture and give them emergency food if you gauged the stores wrong.

anyway, hope you don't quite.  chalk it up the leaning and consider putting yourself on a swarm catch list.  it's a cheap way to increase your hives if you have the time. 
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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.....

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« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2011, 12:57:57 AM »

You need to keep it in perspective.  Commercial beekeepers wintering hundreds or thousands of hives sometimes lose huge percentages of their colonies overwinter.  When you only have two, the odds are better that you may lose both.  I know you have a bad taste in your mouth right now, but if you enjoyed your bees, you need to try it again.  You have a valuable thing in those frames full of honey to start new packages on.  Find a mentor in your area and listen to the people on this forum who keep bees in your climate.  It is too much fun to give up on!
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Yuleluder
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« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2011, 01:10:19 AM »

Sounds like starvation to me.

Either way when you start beekeeping it can seem like you are taking one step forward followed by two steps backward.  It can be very discouraging at times, but with a little time and effort, you will have more good times then bad.  Long term beeks have learned to accept failure, learn from it and become a better beek because of it.  Don't give up, look at it as a challenge and make an effort to prove to yourself that you can successfully keep bees.
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scdw43
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« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2011, 08:55:24 AM »

As far a sucking out the heat, it sucks out the moisture also. Cold does not kill bees in winter, moisture does, ask the beekeepers in the far north. Sorry to disagree.





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Winter Ventilation: Wet bees die in hours maybe minutes, no matter how much honey is in the hive.
VolunteerK9
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« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2011, 09:36:43 AM »

It sucks as a beginning beekeeper for any hive loss. I hated to lose the 1 hive out of my 7 and wouldnt want to imagine losing all of them like you did. On the bright side if there is one, you have plenty of drawn comb to start your new ones out. I'm replacing mine this year with nucs-I did order one Russian hybrid package from Walter Kelly to give them a try, but other than that, I think I'm done with packages. Your not that far from Fatbee. Give him a holler.

My vote is that your bees starved though. It's been unusually cold in our area and they probably couldnt break cluster to move to the food stores.
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Shep1478
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« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2011, 02:22:48 PM »

Thanks y'all.. The word of encouragement helps.  Someone posted that if I enjoyed them, then I shouldn't give in; that poster is correct! I did enjoy them!  Smiley

It's a learning process I know.

That being said, I DO want to continue!  I still have those frames that are all drawn out. I have a deep thats full of capped honey that I can freeze (along with the other frames). So why not put them to use..

Okay, so here's my question: What next?  I know to clean everything out. I know to freeze the frames.  But do I now consider ordering packages or go with Nucs?
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Jim Sheppard
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« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2011, 03:42:55 PM »

Frames were frozen last night if they are still outside.   Order a package now.   Bag the hive up on a dry day til spring.  Drawn frames will do a package good.
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kathyp
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« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2011, 03:54:25 PM »

a nuc is hopefully better established.  a nuc from a good supplier might be worth the money.  this would be especially true if you were going to go treatment free and could find a supplier who had not treated the bees.  they cost more.

packages take a little longer to get established but they catch up quickly if they are properly  managed.  they cost less.

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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
Trot
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« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2011, 08:12:48 PM »

I usualy don't like to stick my nose in other people's business, but here I will risk it, cause, I for a longest time read, the same thing over and over.

If one has had a bad experience with upper entrance - that does not mean that the same will happen, or not, for all others?  
Personally, I don't have a clue where this people live that are so against upper entrances?  I gues that, if you live in hot and arid regions, than there is no fear from moisture?  That said; in such areas the upper entrance is a WERY good thing to have, especialy in heat, don't you think?  Otherwise an enormous labour force is lost when hot bees must gather up to two gallons of water a day to cool the hive. (Amount of watter of course varies with intensity of heat)  
In my 56 years with the bees, I DO KNOW that I would not even attempt to keep even one hive of bees, without upper entrance, no matter where I was.
One can go into old bee books, as far back as one wants to?  Forever has been mentioned; a cut in the rim, on inner cover, is a must.  It has been a part of beekeeping practice as long and as far back as I know it and/or care to remember.
That cut is not only needed to get rid of moisture, that cut will get rid of many a other thing that can be deadly for a colony, especialy in winter.  (and if you have no winters?  Prepare for it anyway, as whether of late shows us.  Snow fell so far this year in all 50 states of your great nation!)
 
A strong colony can ventilate in other times of the year and save the bacon to a careless keeper. They thus use a lot of power and labor, for this task, which could be avoided by simply placing a small cut in the rim of your covers.  Are you are afraid of one extra opening?  Bees will propolise it, they know if they don't need it?  But when they need it, they suffer because it is not there, they sure can't go, grab a saw and cut one in!  
When we take the bees, force them to live in boxes of size and colour that suits us - the least we can do, it is our duty as keeper of Gods creatures, to provide them with suitable, if not premium places to live!

Bees in winter burn food and create moisture (a few diferent kinds of moisture, by diferent means, I mean) and gases which must exit, or trouble will befall the colony.  You all find, I'll bet, in Spring, that side combs are black and covered in mold?  I bet that more than just #1 and #10 frames are moldy?  Right?  With upper entrances all this will be, should be eliminated.
Another important thing about survival in cold is, that for bees, to get out and poo, or do whatever?  They have to crawl all the way down and out.  Not many, if any, make it back to the cluster!
A monumental feat in cold weather, don't you agree?
With upper entrance, all that is eliminated.  Bees have only a few short steps to get out, poop and are back before the cold slows them down, so much that they can't move and than must die.

There is a lot more to this, but I think that it should be enough for a person, with an open mind, with sense of care for bees in one's heart, that would come to reasonable conclusion about the importance of upper entrance.  
I have traveled in warmer regions, not in US, I agree, but the world over...  Such is the way with this issue, that one can find upper entrances in most places in most hives on our globe.  At the same time, one can also find those who are against it, also in all those places.
Why do you think that so many swarms freebuilds their combs?  Builds outside, not in a box?
One more thing; a piece of homasote, on top of inner cover is a good idea and on top of that a piece of Styrofoam.  The humid air only condenses on areas where it comes in contact with cold surfaces.  #1 such surface is on top of the hive. Others are of course the sides of your boxes, but, there some water won't bother your bees per se, it will run down and out if the hive is tilted forward.  But, on floor it comes again in contact with cold and there will most likely frieze, turn to solid ice.  This will frieze your bees and if ice is allowed to accumulate, plus the rest of stuff that ends up on the floor?  That will block the bottom entrance, guaranteed, and your bees are again gone!
If it does not block the entrance, it will surely chill your bees and slowly release moisture right through the whole cluster - especialy so, when this ice starts to melt.
So, insulate it and bees will love you for it.  One can also sleep better at night, when one knows that everything has been done to the best of our ability.   Insulate at least the top, so it wont condensate there, turn into frost and ice and chill, eventually, in a day or two, kill the cluster.  But, when it thaws, than the danger is the greatest, water drips on bees and wet bees suffer much before they die.  
Remember: "Cold don't harm bees - moisture does!  Every wet bee is a dead bee - guaranteed!"

I also have SBB which are closed, for the most part of the year.   Yes, closed also in Summer!  I open them only about an inch, when they start bearding.   They must also be closed for some WERY important 'other' reason!  (But that is another story)
I also insulate under the bottom board with Styrofoam!   This is that important to me, an old man, that I crawl down, lay in the snow and insulate the bottom, every year.  On top of that, my bees are in total wilderness and I must drive for two hours to get there, at the end of season that is.  Spring, Summer and Fall, I live there...  I mentioned this only for the reason to drive home the idea that it is important for me to drive that far and fix it right!  And if winter starts early, than I snow-shoe in, cause the road is not plowed.


On the pictures above, I did not see any caped honey over - say, under the top-bar?  
Your bees had starved to death.  It sure looks so to me...
Don't falsely think that if you found a honey-frame, or perhaps two, on the sides, that they had enough to eat?
What is below them - might as well not be there.  Bees won't touch it.  In fact; some on this forum even think that bees don't have a clue that honey is/was there?  That they forgot?  
Well; to each their own?
Side frames, with honey, are not of much help either, if it is cold out and bees can not move on the other side of the frame, they are gonners.  Look at each frame as a huge, impenetrable wall.  Bees have to break the cluster and one by one crawl all the way around, below or over, to get on the other side.  If queen is not able to follow - they will not move!  God forbid that queen-excluder is left on?!  Those things are not much good in the Summer, they are down right dangerous in winter!
If they have a few cells of brood, they will not go - they will die first, rather than to abandon brood!

Another falsehood I read/hear about, far too often.  About loosing all that heat through the upper entrance?
I don't know how to write it down, that people will comprehend?  
Bees don't heat the hive!  Air around the cluster, even the surface of the cluster is just as cold as it is outside.  In our parts, the inside the hive is often colder than outside.  Inside the hive, it takes up to two days, often much longer, for the temperature to equalise, for the hive to became as warm or cold as the outside.  Small change in weather and/or temperature are thus for bees less noticeable, if at all?  
Bees only heat its own cluster, in the Winter - diferent story in Summer, and that heat stays/escapes only at the top.  Only the top area, immediately above the cluster!  Therefore, they will most likely, in colder regions locate right away at the top - to block/recapture this escape of wital heat.  
Don't you people wory about this loss of heat from the cluster.  That will happen, entrance or no entrance, period!  That very heat that escapes from the cluster is exactly the bad stuf that kills them.  In there is their breath, their gas!  There is also all this moisture (breathing, burning fuel to stay warm, muscle flexing, etc...)  which is the most dangerous - cause it is that warm moisture that will, at point of contact with cold surfaces, condense and kill your bees!

Well, I will now end my rumblings and hope that, those with open mind, make intelligent decisions based on those rumblings.  
Remember: "It is better to learn on mistakes of others, than on ones own!"



Where I live, last winter we had temperatures down below -40 C for 3 weeks.  It was usualy down to - 46 in some regions much, much colder.  People are freezing to death here, at times like this, especialy if they make foolish decisions!
This winter is the same.  Only today the weather broke.  We had temps below - 50 C !  Other regions still do.  
I hear it is not too nice in the US either?  Only for us - your weather is for us - almost time to pull on the shorts and short sleeve shirts.
But, I never lost one colony in a looong time.  Hope to God that is the same this winter, which will last here until May and can even stretch in to June. . .

I, for last couple of years, winter my bees in all new way.  Bees are changing their ways, I keep discovering, just to keep up and survive with this crazy weather.
They don't start winters in lover box no more - no matter what I do.  Right away they start under the inner cover.  So, all those 130 pounds of honey that they have is no good to them.  They simply starve before Christmas.  When food, that they sit on, is gone - so are they.  They will die if I give them 10 honey supers of the nicest honey possible, cause they will move through all those boxes and start at the top.  
So, to save them I have to give them food right over their heads. This is now in a form of 'sugar candy board!"  Tried dry sugar but they made the hole, got on the top, got cut by the cold and that was the end.  They will and are always able to move straight up, no mater how cold it is.  If they are nice and dry, of course.  The slightest humidity and they stay put and die.  Too many a keeper forget that bees are cold blooded...

About the new start in Spring?  
Friend, forget about packages.  
Where do they come from?  Australia?  Texas?  
Don't take strange/foreign bees if somebody gives them to you for free!  Those bees are good, maybe, in location where they come from?  To successfully overwinter the bees have to be acclimatized on the place where you keep them.  And believe you me, that don't happen the first year?  The chances in the second year are greater - only they have to get there first.  
Spring money for a good nuc!  More bees the better.  
I am amazed at how many beeks don't get advice to go with established colonies?  
What?  Is everybody nowadays selling packet-bees and are afraid that some people won't buy?
Here, in my parts of the woods, packages just don't exist.  Beeks learn to be self sufficient.  Queens are worth their weight in gold, if you can get them.  Of Course, when they are available - everybody has them then.
Nuc cost here 175 dollars in a cardboard box.   This year the price could be higher?  Depends on how bees overwinter?  What kind of demand will be - come Spring?  
Even nuc is questionable?  One gets two frames of bees, who knows what kind of queen and two empty frames?  They don't even give you full frames as they are supposed to!
But, for a 200 and up to 300 dollars, I can buy an established colony.  Two boxes high, bottom board, inner cover, homasote and telescopic cover and cause I am up in years, they will even deliver and set it up on my stand.
Do you get it?
The difference between nuc and established, overwintered colony is enormous?  I get 20 frames of bees, brood, polen, honey/food everything - for a price of an nuc, or a bit more if the equipment is new or almost new!
Such a colony could be split in four and still give you a honey crop.  What is even more important is; they are local bees, acclimatized, used to weather, forage and winters.  They can't be beat!

But, it is you buying, not me and you will do as you will, right?

Regards,
Trot



  
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BlueBee
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« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2011, 08:57:24 PM »

Trot,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful post.   I for one always listen to what you and Finski say, even though I can be stubborn at times Smiley 

Like you say, it’s best to learn from other peoples mistakes.

Personally I have followed most of what you and Finski preach!  Thank you so much for sharing.
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kathyp
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« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2011, 10:32:22 PM »

man, you wrote a book!   grin

i will take issue with one part.
Quote
Another falsehood I read/hear about, far too often.  About loosing all that heat through the upper entrance?
I don't know how to write it down, that people will comprehend? 
Bees don't heat the hive!  Air around the cluster, even the surface of the cluster is just as cold as it is outside.  In our parts, the inside the hive is often colder than outside.  Inside the hive, it takes up to two days, often much longer, for the temperature to equalise, for the hive to became as warm or cold as the outside.  Small change in weather and/or temperature are thus for bees less noticeable, if at all? 


if this were true, the snow would not melt off the top of the hive.  it's a great way to know you still have a strong colony!  it is not possible for the surface of the cluster to be as cold as outside, or the bees would freeze. 
i am not against upper entrances, although i do think that in winter more heat is lost that way that with a lower entrance.  i am against both a lower and an upper entrance.  you don't need a PHD to understand the chimney effect.  heat is retained inside the hive.  sucking it out the top by having two entrances is not necessary. a little early preparation will reduce moisture issues. 
people say that moisture kills bees, not cold.  this is untrue.  both can kill.  grab a few bees and stick them in the freezer for a couple of days. 
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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 #19 on: January 25, 2011, 11:21:46 PM »

grab a few bees and stick them in the freezer for a couple of days. 

But yet when they have stuck a hive of bees inside a freezer at -60 for a month, the bees were still alive...

From the pictures, it does not appear that moisture was an issue.  When moisture is an issue, dead bees will have a wet greasy appearance.

Do you use white plastic foundation, or is that granulated honey in the cells in the first pic?  Bees can starve on hard granulated honey.  For example, Canadian beekeepers know that canola makes a very poor wintering feed.  It crystalizes hard and the bees can't use it. 
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