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Author Topic: The DEATH of C1 and C2 (my hives)  (Read 2095 times)
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« on: March 09, 2006, 05:02:15 PM »

Hi Everyone:

I noticed yesterday that I had no activity in either hive with the temps reaching in the low 50s - that is never good.

Today, I had a chance to get inside and inspect them and sure enough both C1 and C2 had perished. I poorly grew them up in strength last Summer (I never built up a third super) and their honey stores were just too low for weeks we have have gut-busting winds and moderately cold temps which often is a killer to a weak hive.

So, it's back to the drawing board this Spring - I now find myself in the same boat as many new members in the forum, finding bees and preparing the hives for occupancy.

Both hives looked in healthy shape as far as NO APPARENT SIGN of diseases, they simple were out of FUEL to keep themselves warm enough to cluster.

This is something I commented on earlier in the Fall, I mentioned in a few posts that I didn't give enough attention to the bees ESPECIALLY when their stores in the upper box warranted adding another super, which I believe BOTH colonies could have filled - it was an ideal pollen and nectar year last year here, not droughts, warm and good blooming Spring, etc.. This lost is ALL MY FAULT, so I hope new members realise, you cannot get lazy about the basics, in the end you can starve or kill your bees.

I was even surprised when my many inspections showed no varroa which I use a 5 power magnifying glass to inspect. I checked bees and cells and even bottom boards and nothing, although varroa had been a problem in past years (different bees - these ones lasted 2 years, the prior 3 years) and it just stinks to have to once again start over.

It's never an easy hobby, it's often frustrating, but it's like the lottery, you have to be in it to win. Although with the forum, I always feel like I'm keeping bees along with the members - hearing both success and failure stories is what makes us all better in the end.

The sad part is, I have about 100 honeybees grabbing pollen from the bird-food my wife puts out for the birds and squirrels, but these bees are flying off to someone Else's yard or a feral home somewhere. So far they haven't been robbing the hives, but that is next - there is always some pickings left for foragers to find.

Just thought I'd let you know - better luck to everyone else.
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Apis629
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« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2006, 05:57:33 PM »

I'm lucky that I didn't lose any hives this winter.  Acording to the state avearage losses, Florida had the worst winterkill with 43% of managed colonies dead.  Both of mine have come through.
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« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2006, 07:13:59 PM »

Great new there Epi!!!

For you of course, that is a horrible (yet all to true) statistic. It really makes you wonder how commercial beekeepers survive. Sadly, I'm sure many do not.

I know for many years Canadian beekeepers killed off their bees rather than Wintering them over, but I read that has changed in many cases. When I look at my own case, I see that I could have netted a about 115 pounds of honey (those hives sure were heavy for 2 stories high) and sadly had the same results with the bees.

But, I'm a beekeeper, not a bee killer, so "offing" the bees never seemed logical to me. Now, the best I can do is offer my remaining honey to the feral bees who are flying around the yard.

Honestly, this might be a beeless year here - as much as I like showing off the hives to neighborhood kids who enjoy watching me inspecting the frames and queen hunting, I really found last year a busy year (for many good and some terrible personal reasons) and I just didn't devote enough energy to properly supporting viable colonies. It honestly isn't fair to the bees, no more than it would be to leave dogs or cats unkempt.

I'm sitting here with a 37ft motorcoach in the yard www.beemaster.com/bus.html and with some plans to got to Nascar events, travel to NY wine country, hopefully New Port, RI and several other places. Luckily, we have someone to tend to the cats, but the beeyard is my duty and I seem to always put things off - it just isn't fair or healthy to the bees, and other bees in the area.

With disease and parasites, you really aren't just responsible for your own yard, but tending to a community of neighboring beekeepers who might just be doing their very best, meanwhile my own slacking off of proper care could jeopardize others bees as well.

I felt sick looking in both hives today, two weeks ago I had massive flights on a pair of warm days and both hives felt much heavier than they did today - it amazes me at the speed in which the store depleted.

Continued good luck and I hope everyone has better luck than I.
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« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2006, 10:58:45 PM »

John. As you know, when the days get a little longer, the warm weather signals them to start brooding up.  That's when the stores dissappear rapidly.  They don't use much stores clustered, and it's been to danged warm for a good part of this winter.  We've had some weeks averaging mid 50's.  Followed by weeks of below freezing temps.  The colonys in my yard have started brooding up, only to get slapped back down, and have been very light for several weeks.  They've gone through most of the candy boards and are all at the top of the hives.  I've been pouring granulated sugar to them, added another super with syrup, and thrown the famous Finski terrarium heaters to them to keep them from being anchored to the brood.  It's working so far, but I won't be suprised to find several of them dead in the next month.  The willows are starting to show some color, but it snowed about 5 inches today.  Keeping fingers crossed here on the Wasatch.
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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2006, 11:48:38 PM »

I have a solution move to Florida. Wink
Winters are minmal .
I am sorry to hear about your bees. Even though winters are minmal down here. Right now I have feeder jars going on both my hives. They are doing a jar about every two days. The brood production is going nuts. I suspect by the end of the month I will be adding to the hives. The one not so bad side effect. I have drones in one hive galore and a queen cell forming for a supercedure that I think is going to take place.  I am hoping that by the end of march that I am getting ready for serious cultivation.

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2006, 12:14:40 AM »

Thanks guys:

It's true that here in the Central Eastern state of NJ we are pretty use to early September brood ending and not starting up until early May - I've seen this year after year and it all comes together nicely. The killer is a TOO EARLY SPRING or a mild Winter with a cold early Spring, like you say Golf, activity does burn some serious calories up.

Florida sounds nice too, although, I think I'm more of a Central Georgia kinda guy when it comes to retiring in about 10 years - I look forward to warmer weather with a chance of snow in the Winter. Utah sounds interesting, I use to get Arizona Highways when I was a kid from an Aunt who subscribed, that always amazed me (not comparing the states beyond the impression us Easterners have).

I'm a bit bummed about the bees, it isn't a slap to my pride issue, it's a I could have done better issue - I was writing someone earlier and I mentioned that Spring will bring the pollinators to my area, I have cranberry bogs near-by. I often get calls about swarms, the police have my number and I've done many removals over the years. I wouldn't mind giving a swarm or two a home Smiley

This makes you think about Americanized Bees and how easy it is to get them up north when 400 pallets of8 hives are sent up here for 2 weeks and a number of them swarm to the local woods. Drones can easily mate with local queens and increase the moodiness of the local bees - it surely isn't impossible, even-though pollinators have increased restrictions, I'm sure most come from Florida, and we all hear reports about "nasty bees".

I know my C2 wasn't a very pleasant hive, I rarely opened it up without suiting up and I am NOT a suit-up kinda beekeeper. I would rather ZEN the bees then sword fight with them. But that's a whole 'nother story.

Just rambling on... Back to watching reruns of last season's Sopranos - it's getting old waiting 14 months between seasons, I find it insulting they extend their years by replaying ALL PAST SEASONS one week at a time. I have an 8 HBO channel package with Direct-TV and there is a whole lot of other stuff too, but I as this Sundays season premiere comes nearer, they are showing 2 even 3 shows a night and following the details of the sub-plots are getting easier.

Later guys and again, thanks and keep them hive heaters Set on MAY EST - lol.
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« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2006, 12:50:05 AM »

Northern America is vast area from Florida to Alaska and to Canadian tundra. I have noticed that you nurse bees on that vasta area quite a same way. One important thing is insulated - noninsulated hives. Bees spend 50% more winterfood in noninsulated brood champers and spring build up is slower. Your winter feeding procedures are undeveloped, sorry huh .

In our county winter is so hard that every year we must prepare hives for worst. And they survive well over long winter. Our systems are quite similar and do not give much space to change procedures.

Every member may see now on this forum that it is not easy to get bees over winter. "Experienced beekeeper" is not a guarantee that things are "under control".

What I am worried about is "to keep bees in natural way".  In human hands beehives need certain procedures to survive and bring honey. When bees die in nature no one is crying for them. In Australia 20 % of feral beehives in nature  will die every year. "Nature way" is not good at all.

Sorry for my lecture but I am often worried about style what kind of advices new beekepers get on this forum.
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« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2006, 06:15:01 AM »

John,

So sorry to hear about BOTH Of your colonies. What a drag.  

Last year was my first year. My bees seem to have come through the winter fine, but I checked them a month ago and they had a full deep of honey. I checked them this past week, and 3/4 of that deep was gone.

I put on the feeder earlier this week, and will check them out today before I head to Ireland for 10 days.

Finsky has a point about over wintering in the US. Everyone's weather here is different, it's hard to take advice from people who aren't from your area as it often doesn't apply to you.
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bassman1977
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« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2006, 10:08:28 AM »

This is amazing to me.  You are one state away and your bees starved with 125 lbs of stores (did I catch that right?).  My two hives combined didn't use that much stores.  I'm sorry about your loses...that really sucks.
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« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2006, 12:39:13 PM »

Bassman:


I kid you not, I had a full super on each plus about 1/4 full on the lower super. I'm just off the ocean too and we get constant prevaining winds, lots of Nor-Easters that loop over us again and again and again. It is very different than inland, even 30 miles west of me.

Meanwhile, I have a semi-cluttered but perfectly good (chemical and petrol free) shed that I could have housed them in, totally blocking them from the elements. We had a lot of icy and week-long 40mph wind periors all through Mid November thru Late February, with only one really warm week during all that time.

I never actually weighed the hives to the pound, I just know that my wife and I together struggled to move both around during the cold days when they were clustered. I know they GREATLY out-weighed any 80lb sack of water-softener salt I have lugged. And I'm using a 10lb average frame weight, because they were very full going into the Fall.
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« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2006, 12:45:34 PM »

I went to see my bees about an hour ago.  It was 51 degrees and 4 out of 5 hives were booming out bees and were flying.   the other - I could see bees in the entrance, maybe just doing their pre-flight exercises. I didn't have enough time to go into the hives, tomorrow is going to be in  the 60s but I am going to be out-of-town.    Maybe next weekend.
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« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2006, 03:55:47 PM »

Hello,

Finsky, don't get the idea that all beekeepers in N.America winter the same, we don't.  I winter my hives successfully and have probably colder winters than you.  We usually have several months of -30 to -40 degree weather.  It boggles my mind that people have winter kills in NJ or Penn, or even Florida.  I suspect that moisture is the number one reason, and the erratic temperates of those climates.  I even know of beekeepers with Varroa in my area who manage to get through some really long cold winters.

I insulate my hives with styrafoam and 3/8 inch hole for moisture release in top super with an insulated shallow or full super on top, to feed my bees in spring without disturbing or opening my hives.

Cheers,

Apism
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« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2006, 04:10:23 PM »

Quote from: ApisM
Hello,

Finsky, don't get the idea that all beekeepers in N.America winter the same, we don't.  I winter my hives successfully and have probably colder winters than you.  We usually have several months of -30 to -40 degree weather.  


In my are we have seldom -30C. A cpouple of days per winter.

In Northern Finland they have -40C cold but they keep hives in insulated shelters or in cellars.

Just now we have  -5C at day and -15 at night.
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beemaster
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« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2006, 07:04:51 PM »

Apis:

Speaking of humidity, we have had some severe fog conditions here, nearly every week during short warm up spells all Winter long. I work shift work and during the evenings and overnight hours, I have gotten extremely disoriented due to fog SO HEAVY that you could not see the COLOR CHANGE of a traffic light across an intersection.

On several occasions at work (while traveling the gravel roads, endless run-ways and taxi-ways of our huge air-fields, I have actual taken my GPS with me. I do an 18 mile trip to over 30 buildings spreadout over many miles and a few times I nearly ran into an F-14 jet parked at the end of the taxi-way.

This repeated mist, cold days, warmer days, freezing days, wicked rain and high humidity HAS BEEN the norm this Winter - I think you may have a very valid point Apis. It doesn't excuse poor beekeeping habits, but it surely doesn't aid in successful Wintering when your weather is a roller-coaster from Fall to Spring.
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« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2006, 09:56:17 AM »

Hello Beemaster,

Great website.  Thanks for the descriptions of the foggy weather and erradict temperatures in NJ, this explains alot to me.  Being from a different climate sometimes its hard to understand the dynamics in a different region.  I do realize that you have periods of cold with warmup spells and it makes sense to me now on those winter kills in the region.  In fact, it is probably harder to overwinter in your region, compared to mine (due to this moisture) despite the fact I live in an extremely cold environment during the winter.  I also read that bees are most efficient at -10C for consuming winter stores.  Any higher and lower the honey consumption is greater.  It sounds like starvations would be more prevalent in your region as opposed to mine.  I only have to worry about cold starvation, when the bees starve with a full frame of honey next to them because they couldn't get it due to the extreme cold.  

Question:  How do people have winter kills in Florida, when the temperatures in winter are similar to my summers?  This perplexes me.

Cheers,

Apism
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