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Author Topic: ARG!!  (Read 933 times)
Bush_84
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« on: March 04, 2013, 08:25:44 PM »

So let me state that I started this post and my internet crashed.  So add that to my woes.  So let's start over. 

Firstly I had a terrible night in the er last night that may likely change my life.  We will see.

Secondly I have successively reached 100% winter loss.  I went into the winter with to tbhs, one warre, and two Langs.  I knew that both tbhs were weak and that even if combined they would perish.  First cold snap did them in.  Oh well I had planned on that happening.  So that left me with two langs and one warre.  The warre was a second year carniolan.  The Langs were first year nucs.  One swarmed so was essentially mutts.  The other were carnis.  The warre had eight boxes and had a good population.  At least two boxes full of honey.  One partially full and the bottom most just comb.  My langs are eight frame.  They both were in two deeps and one medium.  They both seemed very healthy and had about a couple of deeps worth of honey.  All were treated in the fall with successive hopguard treatments. 

First strike against me.  Terrible winter.  We had 3-4 runs of highs of 0 and lows of -30s.  In general it was just cold.  All of my hives had dysentery pretty bad.

 The first decent day in feb I popped the top to see that all hives were in the top box.  I tried hefting, but I used insulatin and wrapped.  So I couldn't lift the top box.  If I just simply removed the insulatin and wrapping I would have hefted the top boxes and noted that the Langs we're heavy, but the warre was light (haven't finished my post moterm with the warre but it felt light).  When I popped the top I all clustered at the top.  I tried looking to see if they had honey, but my inexperience couldn't determine that and I was in a hurry and didn't want to chill the bees.  This is where strike two starts.

So I tried to put fondant on the hives.  The first stuff I made was slightly runny, but between wax paper it seemed stable enough.  So over the top bars it went.  Well it made a little bit of a mess.  The bees did seem to take some of it, but others got mixed into the slime.  Others somehow made it on top of the fondant and froze.  That is what did in one of my Langs.  somehow a large portion of the cluster got stuck in the wax paper and on top of it.  We got a real bad cold snap in feb and they perished.  The others just lost a few bees.

Well I tried it differently.  I used a 4:1 ratio of sugar to water.  Heated up a bit warmer than what the recipe called for figuring I just didn't get it right.  Well it still didn't come out right.  Out in my garage it was hard but still a bit soft.  So in my warre I just dumped dry sugar on a piece of wax paper.  I had put a piece of fondant over that.  That was a mistake cause the fondant just slimed over the dry sugar.  In fact it slimed out of the entrance.  I should have just left it with the dry sugar, but I thought this would allow me to leave them alone for a while. 

So next I added a 15 watt bulb to the bottom of my two remaining hives. 

My next step was to remove the mess and add something.  At this point I should have just dumped in dry sugar and finished with this silliness.  Then I read this.

http://www.megabeediet.com/candy.html

Sounded awesome.  So I whipped up a few batches.  Heated up the 4:1 sugar to water mix to 265.  Then took off heat and dumped in protein supplement.  Put in my mold to harden.  Brought outside.  After a couple of hours it was hard.  I had to work all weekend so I wanted to get it in quickly.  So I removed the other mess and placed the bricks in place.  Well today I had a day off and I wandered back there.  Put my ear to the top entrances and it was dead quiet.  Stethoscope still didn't give any sound.  Knock and no sound.  So being paranoid I popped the top and you will never guess what I found.

The stupid things melted right over the cluster and did them in.  It melted and oozed between the top bars.  So I brought all the boxes back to my garage to examine.  Well the stuff was a brick.  I have no idea what I did wrong.  I have no idea how it turned to mush over the cluster and turned back to a rock when they died. 

The most depressing thing of it all is that my langs each had 4 deeps frames of honey in that top box.  If I would have just kept my stupid mitts out of the hive they may still be buzzing.  The warre would have starved, but I may have to hives still alive. 

So things I have learned.  If I am going to check for stores in feb/march I must take a flashlight and really determine stores.  I must really take my time to heft.  If they are heavy leave them alone! 

What I would like to know is what happened with the candy?  What part did I mess up?  I can understand that all of my fondant attempts weren't heated enough, but my candy was really a rock.  I had to hammer and chisel it off of my frames.  I can't say that I will try anything other than mountain camp and pollen patties in the future, but I really wanted the other methods to work.

So now i may try to acquire a few more packages.  I guess the silver lining is that my packages will have honey to start off with!
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kathyp
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2013, 08:44:43 PM »

sometimes the hardest thing is to do nothing.  don't feel bad. we have all done it.  i am kind of lazy and don't bother with candy and stuff.  can't help you there.  every fall i dump dry sugar on the hives. our weather is so wet that it absorbs moisture and kind of makes it's own candy. 
 first warm day, right about now, i check the sugar, and if i can the amount of honey left.  other than that, i don't mess with them.

now...we had some dry and warmish days this month.  when i popped the top i found that a couple of the hives were very strong and had eaten all the dry sugar.  i have been putting syrup on the hives every day that it has been warm enough for them to fly. 

that's it.  my entire effort  grin
it just takes time to figure out what is going to work best for you.  and K.I.S.S.
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Joe D
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2013, 08:58:36 PM »

Sorry for your losses Bush-84.  We have all done things we wouldn't have as a after thought, but we did.  I don't have to deal with the cold like you guys do.  There are just a few days at a time when our bees aren't out flying some.  And usually can find a day every few weeks that is warm enough to check the top of hive.




Joe
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BlueBee
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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2013, 10:40:23 PM »

First, I’m also sorry to hear about your losses, it’s always a bummer to lose a hive.  Losing them all is just downright depressing. Sad  You do have a brutal climate up there.  If your bees survived up to now, I think you take some solace in that.

I don’t do candy or fondant.  I’m not a chef and it’s too much work.  Honey balls have worked for me in emergencies, but I rarely need them.  If your boxes are warm (insulation, electric heat, indoors, lots of bees) the bees can get to most of the honey inside and don’t require additional feeding.  I winter in singles.

What I would have done, (and what I have done in my own bee yard before with weak hives), is give them more heat and skip the food.  15 watts is not enough heat for double deep weak hive IMO.  I’ve never had a hive die when sufficient electric heat was added.  The warmth for the electric lets them move and consume stores from all over the hive.   Some will argue that electric is not natural, and I would agree with that.  But until you have a reliable wintering system in place, I would sure keep electric as an option in your tool box. 

Was your light in contact with the candy bricks?  Could it have melted them? 
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Bush_84
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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2013, 11:15:48 PM »

My light covered in aluminum foil was on top of the bottom board and the candy was two deeps and a medium above it.

My game plan was to aggresively split my survivors.  So it will need to drastically change.  I will have to see if I can find more packages.  I may avoid hiving any more packages in my warres.  I will try to fill my Lang equipment first and warre later.  Who knows maybe the comb in the warre boxes will attract a swarm.

So you winter in a single deep?  Cripes!  I still want to try to winter nucs or singles.  So I will still have to find a way to feed, but dry sugar over newspaper is sounding safer ATM.  I will have to come up with some ekes with an upper entrance and divider so I can have a sugar compartment and upper entrance compartment. 
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BlueBee
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« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2013, 01:00:33 AM »

Your climate is much harsher than Michigan.  It’s been years since we’ve dropped to -20F at night where I am in the Lower Peninsula.  -5Fto -10F is more typically the coldest we get in a “normal” winter.  But we’ve been having less and less “normal” around here.  One thing that is clear to me is if the hive is warm, the bees don’t seem to have much problem moving to, or moving stores.  My focus has been on achieving that to limit the losses that I can control.  I have little control over things like varrora, pesticides, queen failures, etc.  Always going to have some losses.   I’ve got at least 6 small 4 frame medium nucs that have survived winter.   Despite all the belittlement from know it all beeks, it’s possible to be successful doing things a little differently. Wink
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Bush_84
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« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2013, 01:37:10 AM »

Ok so,we are deviating a bit, but I always read on here that 15 watts was the magic number.  So is there some ratio of watts per deep comb?  I can understand that two deeps and a Lang are different than a 5 frame nuc, but how do I know what to do?  Is 15 watts standard for any single story hive?  I just don't know...I may be rambling because I have been drinking.  Look what bees have done to me!  evil
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T Beek
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« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2013, 06:07:18 AM »

"look what "we" have done to bees"
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edward
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« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2013, 06:41:38 AM »

Don't give up!

The safest bet is to winterize strong big hives, they should have 16-20kg of food, then they will take care of themselves.

Get a feel for how much a hive should weigh and you wont need to disturb them in the winter, just carefully lift a hive and feel if its light.

good luck, with you new bees.


mvh edward  tongue
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Intheswamp
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« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2013, 09:16:05 AM »

B84, sorry for your losses.  I lost two out of five colonies this winter...in an area where the total snowfall so far was seen at 3:30am the other morning and reported as "I thought it was really slow rain to start with...".  laugh  My losses I feel came from human error in attempting to do too much for the bees.  I had wrapped the cement blocks( that I use for stands) to block the cold wind off of my 8-frame mediums screened bottom boards.  What I ended up doing was creating a wonderful place along the lower edge of my wrap for these little @)*$&@!&* ants to build their small nests...I feel rather comfortable that these ants killed or caused my two colonies to abscond.  I'm still battling the ants.

We both lost due to our newbee interventions, but we both learned a few things.  I don't think these are the last ones that we will lose, but it will probably be the last ones we lose due to these mistakes! Wink

Hang in there, this season (and next winter) will be better for you (us)! Smiley

As for the 15w bulb being right, I dunno.  One other aspect of using electric heat would be that even though it allows the bees to venture to far areas of the hive to food that I think (correct me if I'm wrong someone) the bees will require less food/energy because they won't have to run their heaters on HIGH to stay warm.

A question I have is whether using to warm of a bulb would cause the bees to have more winter brood than normal for them?  I think daylight hours has a play in that, but.....?

Best wishes,
Ed
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2013, 09:18:36 AM »

>sometimes the hardest thing is to do nothing

Amen.
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Bush_84
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« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2013, 10:27:07 AM »

B84, sorry for your losses.  I lost two out of five colonies this winter...in an area where the total snowfall so far was seen at 3:30am the other morning and reported as "I thought it was really slow rain to start with...".  laugh  My losses I feel came from human error in attempting to do too much for the bees.  I had wrapped the cement blocks( that I use for stands) to block the cold wind off of my 8-frame mediums screened bottom boards.  What I ended up doing was creating a wonderful place along the lower edge of my wrap for these little @)*$&@!&* ants to build their small nests...I feel rather comfortable that these ants killed or caused my two colonies to abscond.  I'm still battling the ants.

We both lost due to our newbee interventions, but we both learned a few things.  I don't think these are the last ones that we will lose, but it will probably be the last ones we lose due to these mistakes! Wink

Hang in there, this season (and next winter) will be better for you (us)! Smiley

As for the 15w bulb being right, I dunno.  One other aspect of using electric heat would be that even though it allows the bees to venture to far areas of the hive to food that I think (correct me if I'm wrong someone) the bees will require less food/energy because they won't have to run their heaters on HIGH to stay warm.

A question I have is whether using to warm of a bulb would cause the bees to have more winter brood than normal for them?  I think daylight hours has a play in that, but.....?

Best wishes,
Ed

I don't think I want to heat all hives unless spring heating does in fact prove to be beneficial to buildup.  The only reason I would heat a hive from the get go is if they were weak or if I was trying to winter a nuc.  Otherwise as of now my current thought is to check again in feb and heat weak hives.

One interesting thing to note is that I found no brood in the hive.  I always thought that bees started brooding up in feb, but maybe up here it's closer to mid to late march. 
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BlueBee
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« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2013, 10:47:04 AM »

I agree, that using electric heat as ones sole wintering system is not something I would want to do either.  Spending $100 a pop to replace bees is also not something I would want to do either.  I don’t use electric heat to winter any of my bees at this point, but I will probably experiment using electric to overwinter small half frame mating nucs next winter.

In the old days, the experts used to say you needed to winter your bees indoors if you lived north of Columbus Ohio.  What has changed?  Is everybody using poly hives now?  Has the bees changed?  Are today’s experts better than yesterdays? 

Bees won’t start brooding up if there isn’t adequate pollen in a hive.  Being frozen may slow them down too.
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sterling
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« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2013, 12:36:58 PM »

If I lived in an extreme cold climate I would pay close attention to Finski's post. Smiley
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2013, 02:07:32 PM »

>What has changed? 

Beekeepers.

>Is everybody using poly hives now?

No.

> Has the bees changed?

No.

>  Are today’s experts better than yesterdays? 

Sometimes yes.  Sometimes no.  Time works some things out that weren't such a good idea.  I have the complete 1886 American Bee Journals and half of the topic was cellaring bees.  C.C. Miller's 50 years among the bees and G.M. Doolittle's A Year in an Out Apiary both have sections on cellaring bees.  Even an early 1900s book on winter bees in Iowa by Frank Pellet is mostly about cellaring bees.  I don't know of any modern book recommending it.

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Michael Bush
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edward
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« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2013, 02:33:53 PM »

We have a large beekeeper that always has better survival rates after winter, after the harvest he gave his bees sugar water feed a bit at a time to stimulate the the bees to keep laying eggs through out the early fall months.

The idea is that the hive survives with healthier bees and more young bees that are the right age to start up after the winter, instead of a bunch of old worked out that are tiered.

The spring build up starts in the fall .

mvh edward  tongue
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« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2013, 01:14:52 AM »

Sorry to hear about you hives demise. Undecided

What happened to you is my worst nightmare.  I hope and pray that it doesn't happen to me. 

I wish you well with your new bees this year.

David
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