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Author Topic: General observation... and question about dead bees  (Read 840 times)
dfizer
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« on: December 04, 2012, 06:52:58 PM »

Hello -
Today I was out in the nice weather 54F/12C and the bees seemed to be enjoying it too.  Each of the three hives had activity at the doorstep however one (the strongest) had a lot of dead bees being drug out by other perfectly healthy bees.  I have to assume this is normal however there were a lot (50+ or so) so my question is what to make of this?  Should I be concerned?  If so, what should I do?  For now i'm going to enjoy my glass of Cabernet and wait for you guys to tell me what to do....
David 
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BlueBee
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« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2012, 09:52:26 PM »

Bees die over winter and will be drug out and dumped by the healthy bees.  This is a normal process.  Iím really not sure why the bees die.  Maybe they were summer bees (too old), maybe they got too cold at the outer shell of the cluster?  Maybe they got stranded away from the cluster?  I donít normally see 50+ in front of my hives this time of year, but I do have grass/weeds in front of my hives, so who really knows.  I wouldnít worry about 50 dead bees in a hive of thousands and thousands.  

However I WOULD worry about the dead bees clogging my entrance if you only have a bottom entrance.  That can kill a hive in my experience if you donít catch it soon enough.  If the bees canít get out, they panic and eventually die in large numbers.  The cluster becomes smaller and more bees die from cold and this spirals down to a dead hive.  If you have only a small bottom entrance, monitor it for clogging and poke a stick in there to unclog it if it gets clogged.  

OK.... so how many glasses of wine between your post and the first reply?  Smiley  Might need to switch to beers; lower percent alcohol  grin
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Vance G
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« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2012, 10:44:43 PM »

What shocks me is sitting and drinking Cabernet.  How tasteless, bees go much better with a zinfandel or even a liefermilch.  Seriously you should be drinking mead and supporting your industry.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2012, 12:10:02 AM »

Michigan grows some descent drinking wines too.  I like the semi sweet to sweet stuff.  Grape juice with a kick. Smiley  Although, if I kept drinking glass after glass waiting for consensus from a bunch of beeks I would be drunker than a frat house on Saturday night.

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BjornBee
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2012, 06:43:46 AM »

It should be noted before a bunch of folks translates the comments about blocked bottom entrances as some justification to run out and put in top entrances, that this is the reason that the old style wood entrance reducers always came with the suggestion of making sure the slot was "up" for the winter.  Wink

With a little thought being used, issues can be overcome as they have been seen many times prior by other beekeepers. It is amazing to see basic wisdom such as rotating the slots on the wooden entrance reducer to the up position (which they can be left all year long) simply forgotten by so many.

Many of the newer metal reducers with staggered holes take into account dead bees and it would take a massive deadout to clog the entire bottom entrance area. If that were to happen, you got bigger problems than a clogged entrance.

BTW.....I have never seen a hive have problems with dead bees completely clog a entrance to the point that it could not be overcome by the bees, except with massive deadout by starvation or disease.
I have however have seen dead bees actually be piled up at the door, with the placement of so few bees, it made you realize it seemed that the bees clogged the holes on purpose maybe in attempts to block off air flow or for some other reason. I also have some boxes with screened holes, and for some hives that do not propolize the holes shut, they will sometimes plug them full with dead bees blocking off any air flow.

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T Beek
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« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2012, 07:30:11 AM »

Yep, with the temps you've described, what you have likely witnessed was "undertaker" bees doing their job and removing the dead (or even sick) from the hive.  Sometimes the dead are dropped right in front of the hive, sometimes they are taken to places unknown (to me anyway  Wink 

Bees naturally want a clean hive, some colonies are more able (genetically equipped?) to keep it clean than others.

The more you observe the more you will notice  Smiley.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2012, 03:59:08 PM »

BjornBee is right.  If you utilize the bottom board as he described dead bees blocking the entrance shouldnít be an issue.  I certainly didnít intend to promote ďtop entrancesĒ in my remark, Iím just saying that dead bees clogging the entrance isnít an issue with a top entrance; but it has other problems.  I run some hives with top entrances, some with mid entrances, and some with bottom entrances.  Each config has its pros and cons in my opinion.  All will work.

Something else I often notice this time of year is the bees pulling out some undeveloped brood.  Maybe some of the brood from early Nov that got too cold; I donít know, but I see that on numerous hives.  No mites or deformed wings, just normal brood that was pulled for some reason.

It is fun to watch the undertakers flying around with a dead bee!
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