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Author Topic: My Dead Out Discussion  (Read 1085 times)
Bush_84
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« on: January 14, 2014, 11:12:55 AM »

So I have thus far lost two hives for sure and likely another that I can't get to.  I was in my hives this weekend when the weather was finally in the 30s. One died back in December from the cold and another died in the last week from starvation.  Kicking myself on that one.  My full size hives went into winter with two 8 frame deeps full of honey and 10 lbs of dry sugar over that.  It's mid January and all of my hives are super light!  Is anybody else experiencing this much honey consumption?  My two remaining hives would have starved within the week had I not gotten in to check this weekend.  My early dead out pretty much left the two boxes of honey behind so each live hive got a 8 frame deep of honey and whatever sugar I had on hand.  I didn't have time to mess with my nucs.  I looked to see that they had sugar and both have sugar.  I suspect one is dead and one is alive due to frost buildup.  I can still hear some faint sounds with the other using a stethoscope. 

So other than checking in on them sooner....what should I have done differently?  The hive that starved was huge going into spring and the pile of dead bees is huge.  The early loss was a population problem and died from cold, but cripes the other hive had so much in the fall.  Is this just a product of the cold winter we are having?  Do I need to build a shed for my bees in the winter?  Maybe I didn't give them enough dry sugar?  I used Italians this year...maybe I should go back to carnis.  Thoughts?
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2014, 12:00:42 PM »

I am down here in FL. My bees are out flying most days. I do not feed or treat my bees. I leave their honey on the hive. This year at minimum I left 1 medium super some had 2 on some and one had 3 mediums. I lost one hive that I left at least a full medium super of honey above the brood box in early November. I added 5 medium frames of honey but they still did not make it. It only had a 1/2" by 3/8 opening. I have another hive that went through 2 medium supers and I added another nearly full medium super from the biggest hive, last month to get it through the winter. I have 9 hives that are all heavy and seem to be adding weight, not loosing it.
Some hives do not shut down and burn through their food supplies. I think the one I lost was finished off by robbers. I have been watching my observation hive. It shut down most of the brood rearing in October and started slowly increasing just 2 weeks ago. We have red maple in bloom and the OB hive looks to be right on schedule for starting up their build up for here in N FL. They did not use very much of their stores so far.
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Vance G
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« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2014, 01:46:53 PM »

If they are super light FEED them!  No hand wringing about what you should have done is called for now.  Putting a damp newspaper on the top bars, setting a 3 inch feeder rim on that and pouring on dry sugar will accomplish two things in you damp Ohio winter climate.  The sugar will absorb a lot of moisture and it will supply feed.  If they are super lightdump ten pounds on each and replenish when required.  When the colony is as you described super light, any danger from opening up is nothing compared to imminent starvation.  If you have your operation planned out, you will only be in the colony for 30 seconds.  No protein desirable at this early date, just dry sugar.

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Bush_84
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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2014, 02:28:52 PM »

I may not have stated in my post but each surviving hive got a deep full of honey on top of them and whatever sugar I had on hand.  I will go back in when I get a few days off to dump more sugar in.  Either way they have a deep of honey there now so they should be ok for a bit. 

What I am wondering is finding out why this happened and what I can do to prevent needless starvation like this in the future.  Is three 8 frame deeps not enough?  Is 10 lbs of dry sugar not a big enough insurance policy?  Should I be checking in on my dry sugar more often and even in the cold cold temps? 

So far I have wrapped my hives which makes a quick check a HUGE pain.  It has been enough of a pain to prevent me from doing it.  Maybe I shouldn't wrap the tar paper over the hive and just around it so the inner cover can be removed without difficulty.  Maybe I should just build that gd shed. 
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danno
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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2014, 03:48:01 PM »

Brainerd, MN!!  Thats where they filmed Fargo.  I dont wrap hives anymore.  I simply paint them dark so they benefit from any sun that hits them in the winter.  Summer time isn't hot enough, long enough to worry about over heating with dark colors.  I use all season vented inner covers and fill them with insulation in the winter.  This prevents moisture created by the bee's from freezing on the underside then melting and raining on them. These also provide a upper enterance.   I dont feed dry sugar. I use Robbo' s candy board recipe.  These work very well and last a long time.  Winter snow can get deep around here and prevent me from getting to them very often.   You are going to find that winters with up and down temps kill alot more colonies then these steady cold ones.   

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Bush_84
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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2014, 07:06:04 PM »

Maybe I'll have to try a candy board recipe again....I can't seem to get the hang of those.  They never turn out right with candy thermometers.  When you say vented inner cover you mean the inner cover with the notch right?
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GSF
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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2014, 07:24:28 PM »

Bush84, I've experience a quick food consumption in my hive as well - at least I think I did. (7 month beek) I posted about how much stores they had last fall and everyone seemed to think it was adequate. However, my bees have going from cold to warm days often this year. Therefore (as mentioned earlier) that may explain why the stores have been gone through.
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Bush_84
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« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2014, 08:26:02 PM »

I guess I don't understand why fluctuations matter.  In my piddly three years doing this my bees struggle in the cold winters and did great in the mild winters.  Why does up and down matter?  I would have figured that warm ups would prevent starving next to a frame of honey. 
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Joe D
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« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2014, 12:16:08 AM »

When it warms up they are out flying all day, which will use more feed or stores.  This winter or any winter we don't have cold like those of you up north, but this winter we have a few days in the teens and then we have a few days in the upper sixties then in the twenties.  They are going through some stores.  Good luck to you all.




Joe
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T Beek
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« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2014, 07:53:53 AM »

Were there signs that the dead out ever discovered the sugar?  Sometimes they don't  Sad.  

Was 'any' honey still available or was it pretty much gone?  Did you find bees still in cluster or just dead on the bottom?  

Were you able to locate the queen in the pile of bees?  Did you have 'any' capped brood to investigate other possibilities besides starvation?  

When you got them ready for winter, was there 'at least' one packed super of honey above the broodnest, or minimally 5 frames centered above broodiest in the box?  

I noticed you said that you 'wintered' in two deeps, right?  Did you make sure that the majority of honey left for them was 'above' broodnest and not the sides or (worse case) below?

Sorry if some of these Q are repetitive.  


**Bees consume 'more' when they are active, even temps in the 30's will have bees consuming great amounts rather quickly, its why I'm usually more concerned when winter temps are above average as opposed to below average. 

Cold doesn't kill bees, as has been said, moisture does.  Fluctuating temps will cause a freeze and thaw inside any bee hive to some extent (drip, drip, drip).  Its remains the 'thaw' for Northern beeks that should bring the most concern and action IMO.  If you've got bees 'flying' in December or January in the North you are the only one that can make certain your bees have stores to last until the flows begin.  Once feeding begins it mustn't stop until dandelions appear.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 08:06:12 AM by T Beek » Logged

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danno
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« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2014, 07:58:37 AM »

I guess I don't understand why fluctuations matter.  In my piddly three years doing this my bees struggle in the cold winters and did great in the mild winters.  Why does up and down matter?  I would have figured that warm ups would prevent starving next to a frame of honey. 
If it stays cold they stay in a tight cluster.  They eat less with less movement.  They do benefit from a couple of cleansing flights a winter.
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Bush_84
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« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2014, 08:07:48 AM »

Typically here in winter every day is typical cluster weather.  If we get a day in the thirties it's a great day and it's crazy to see the 40s.  So I guess we don't get fluctuations....just cold.

Due to not having enough time I couldn't inspect the hive in detail, but they were in a huge clump where the sugar used to be at the top of the hive.  All of the sugar was gone and the boxes were as light as empty boxes.  They were actually wintered in three 8 frame deeps and two were heavy with honey.  Then there was the 10 lbs of dry sugar above that was licked clean.  I have today off so I will be able to look at them closely, but it was to me an easy diagnosis of starvation. 
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T Beek
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« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2014, 08:20:16 AM »

OK, just the fact that they consumed 10 pounds of sugar tells us that they were likely light on honey at the beginning of winter.  I've NEVER had a colony eat all the sugar, not even close to it.  Dry sugar is supposed to be insurance not the entire winters sustenance.  Sorry, I don't mean that to come off as offensive, it is just my personal diagnosis.  I believe they were doomed at the outset because they had too little to carry them through.  You are right though, if you had checked earlier they may have been saved.  Beekeeping is a never ending learning affair…….write your experiences down.  Its likely you won't repeat these mistakes again.

There are no mistakes, only lessons  Smiley 

I am greatly impressed that they ate 10 pounds of dry sugar though, what marvelous little darlings they are……...
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Bush_84
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« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2014, 08:51:31 AM »

So do I have to leave them three to four deeps of honey in the fall or are you saying I didn't have as much honey as I thought?  I honestly don't know where they setup shop as in the fall when I wrapped them they filled three deeps.  I mean filled.  Every box was exploding with bees.  So maybe the only lesson here is to check in on the backup sugar monthly to make sure this doesn't happen. 
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tefer2
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« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2014, 09:00:30 AM »

Vented inner cover
http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/all_season_inner.pdf

Candy board
http://robo.bushkillfarms.com/beekeeping/emergency-feeding/


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wouldliketobee
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« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2014, 10:42:47 AM »

My 4 hives have gone through 12lbs of sugar each so far , they still have honey, a beekeeper I talked to told me if you put sugar on too early, the bees sometimes eat the sugar first, I think there may be something to it but I have been putting my sugar on about third week of november for the last four years and I usually put more on in January. I added 8lbs to each hive last sunday. Last year 2 hives ate all the sugar by spring the other two had sugar left over. I just check on them when it gets warm and if they are about out of sugar I add some. I only had 1 hive my first year of beekeeping and I lost it to starvation , it was very frustrating.  I credit this forum with helping me choose what works for me.
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Bush_84
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« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2014, 03:02:43 PM »

So I dove into my two dead outs.  The early dead hive surprised me.  It was bigger than I thought.  It filled out 3/4th of the box.  Lots of butts poking out of cells.  This hive had two boxes of honey overhead.  No brood.  Seems to me they starved during a long cold snap in December with honey overhead.

The hive that recently died definitely starved.  They were all in the top box.  Most of the bees were in the top box.  They covered 6 combs solid and two sparsely.  They had a large melon sized cluster in the eek where the sugar was.  Every comb had bees head down in each cell, except for the comb with the brood.  There was around a 4-5 inch diameter of capped brood on each side of that one comb. 

So at least I got those two boxes of honey from the early dead hive to feed the two living hives.  Also two nucs still alive with sugar overhead.  Some candy is in the works today.
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Bush_84
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« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2014, 07:27:55 PM »

Just wanted to update this thread.  When I last left this thread both hives had a deep of honey on them from the early dead out.  Since then I have put a 10lb bag of sugar overhead.  I let the bag soak up a cup of water and dry out.  The bottom third solidified nicely.  So I cut a slit in it and put it on.  Worked nicely.  I finally got a half way decent day to condense them down.  Until today they had four deeps with the addition of one deep of honey to each.  I condensed them down to 2 deeps each.  They looked mostly empty.  One deep had a frame of honey yet. Otherwise the combs were pretty empty.  I also placed some heat at the bottom of each hive.  One got a heat tape that was between 15-18 watts and the other got a 15 watt light bulb.  I would have used another heat tape but I didn't have one.  They are still buzzing away and those two deeps seemed pretty heavy still.  So maybe they are in better shape than I thought.

My two nucs still have buzzing bees.  Looking from the top, they haven't eaten through to the top of the sugar I mountain camped in the fall.  So going into February, I'm feeling a little better than I was in January. 
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GSF
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« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2014, 08:34:24 PM »

 th_thumbsupup
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« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2014, 12:01:10 AM »

Bush_84
I'm not sure how much insulation value tar paper has.  You have cold winters in northern MN and you should consider insulating your hives.

Buy some 2 inch insulation board and cut it to cover the hive on all 6 sides. Screw it into the hive with large washers or hold insulation in place on the sides with a ratchet strap .  Place a piece over the cover and put a weight on it. It is easy to look inside. 

Try it, your bees will like it!
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