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Author Topic: Could the mild winter negativly affect the survival of my bees?  (Read 1037 times)

Offline Spear

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This might be a stupid question but I had to ask because it has been worrying me for a few days now. Here in Germany we are having a very mild winter and my bees have been flying a lot lately. I've read that 'winter' bees live longer than 'normal' because they don't fly around and work so hard but if the winter is so mild and they are flying and the queen is not laying wont that effect the survival of the colony?
I looked into 2 of my 12 hives today and they seem to be doing well - Didn't remove any frames to check for brood as they were a bit pissy - even the one hive that I thought was failing seemed to have more bees than I expected so maybe I'm worrying for nothing...  :? :?

And on another subject my neighbor complained that his chimney was blocked with dead bees a while ago and he blames my bees for it but I never had a swarm from the 2 hives that are on my garden near his house. Is it possible that some wild bees were attracted to the area by my bees and they tried to nest in the chimney?  :?  :?

Offline mikecva

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Re: Could the mild winter negativly affect the survival of my bees?
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2014, 06:01:00 PM »
Is it possible that they were your bees, Yes. But most likely not as it would take 30-60 thousand to block up a chimney and you would have noticed that many missing.  They were most likely feral bees that moved in if honey bees at all.     -Mike
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Offline Joe D

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Re: Could the mild winter negativly affect the survival of my bees?
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2014, 01:10:30 AM »
On the mild winter, it shouldn't hurt them as long as their stores last.  With the flying a round a lot they will eat more.
On the possible honey bees in your neighbors chimney, the bees could have come from a couple miles or so away.  If you aren't there you may not notice a lot of difference in your hives if you were to have a swarm.  Sometimes there are a lot that leave, sometimes not so many when they swarm.  And it may not bee honey bees anyway in his chimney.  Good luck to you and your bees



Joe

Offline T Beek

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Re: Could the mild winter negativly affect the survival of my bees?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2014, 06:42:36 AM »
The on;y issue with mild winters I've found is 'over' consumption of stores.  When bees are active they need to eat so stores will dwindle faster than during a cold or 'normal' winter.  If its warm enough to fly it should be warm enough to feed syrup.  If too cold for syrup give them some dry sugar. 

Minimally you need to keep an eye on how much food is remaining and add if needed.
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Offline danno

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Re: Could the mild winter negativly affect the survival of my bees?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2014, 09:34:20 AM »
I would start making and feeding candy boards.   You could go the syrup rout but if it suddenly gets cold you would be in trouble. 

Offline chux

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Re: Could the mild winter negativly affect the survival of my bees?
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2014, 09:38:57 AM »
I haven't heard of bees in an area drawing, or attracting other swarms to the area. Maybe it happens, but I doubt it. A feral swarm isn't looking for friendly neighbor bees. They are looking for a home. If your bees had any effect on a feral swarm at all, I would think the swarm would desire to be farther away from your hives. Less competition for resources and less trouble with robbing.

Offline rwlaw

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Re: Could the mild winter negativly affect the survival of my bees?
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2014, 09:56:06 AM »
 I'd be thinking a sugar block too, unless you've left them a lot of honey or if you've got some and it's warm enough, feed some honey back to them.
 On the chimney, I would be asking to see the evidence, chimneys and vent pipes are perfect places for wasp and hornet nests. You'd be surprised how blind people are sometimes.
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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Could the mild winter negativly affect the survival of my bees?
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2014, 12:57:48 PM »
I recommend that you check the weight of your hives before feeding them. Lift up the back with just your finger tips. If it is easy, then you might want to feed dry sugar. If they are heavy, I would not feed them. Everyone talks about feeding sugar water but one big problem with it is that it does not make honey, it makes condensed sugar water. The Ph of honey is around 3.6 - 4 PH, sugar water comes out around 6 PH. Most of the bacteria that attack your bees, do not like the lower PH. This is one important part of all the problems that we are seeing with bees dying, especially in winter.
Jim
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Offline merince

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Re: Could the mild winter negativly affect the survival of my bees?
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2014, 01:24:44 PM »
Do keep an eye on the hive weight as warm weather makes them consume stores faster (as others noted already).

Apart from that, I would not worry too much - warm weather will also allow them to rear brood as needed. In that respect, keep an eye on the weather forecast. If it gets suddenly cold, the bees might get caught trying to keep brood warm and away from stores. You might need to add sugar or a patty in that case.

Offline danno

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Re: Could the mild winter negativly affect the survival of my bees?
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2014, 01:41:23 PM »
The bee's cant eat dry sugar as is.   They moisten it and in doing so make there own version of sugar syrup.  The problem I have with dry sugar is quite often the bee's just drag it out the front door as waste.  Dry sugar is a last resort tactic.  When making candy boards the PH is adjusted with vinegar so PH is not a issue.  Tipping a hive with a couple of fingers is a good way to tell if they have enough food and I do this often in fall.   I know how they should feel but the woman that started this thread possibly doesn't and my idea of light could be heavy to her.   I over winter between 50 and 70 colonies in the upper midwest.  We have real winter for 4 to 5 months.   I put candy boards on every colony I have weather they need them or not as do most of my northern bee keeping friends. 

Offline merince

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Re: Could the mild winter negativly affect the survival of my bees?
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2014, 01:50:37 PM »
Danno is right.

Spear, one way to get a more accurate measure of the stores is to use a hanging scale when lifting the back of the hive. If you weigh the front and then the back (just lift about 1/2" or so) and then add the two measures, you will have a pretty good idea of the stores.

Rule of thumb for well provisioned double deep is 135 lbs and 95 lbs for a single.

I use this candy board recipe: http://www.donnellyfarmsohio.com/2013/11/fall-inspections-bee-candy-boards-and.html

Offline Michael86

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Re: Could the mild winter negativly affect the survival of my bees?
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2014, 12:01:19 PM »
The bees are still in brood since December. At the moment they have enough storage so i must not feed my bees. If the bees have not food you can hang in frames with food or feeding the bees with sirup.

Maybe a wild swarm from another beekeeper built their nest into the chimney. Your bees have nothing to do with that.

Greetings
Michael