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Author Topic: Hive starvation.  (Read 1736 times)

Offline van from Arkansas

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Hive starvation.
« on: January 27, 2020, 03:42:43 pm »
For most beekeepers, the next two months is the time most hives are lost.  Some to starvation which is so easily preventable.

Unless a beekeeper is in an area such as Cool who is experiencing the beginning of the flow, most areas such as mine, N. Arkansas are still to cold for inspections.  Some of my queens are laying, so I cannot even pop the top for a quick look with nights still freezing.  I can make the heft test to the hive as ID named.  The heft test is simple, lift the back of the hive to determine hive weight.  May your bees be healthy.

Van

I have been around bees a long time, since birth.  I am a hobbyist so my answers often reflect this fact.  I concentrate on genetics, raise my own queens by wet graft, nicot, with natural or II breeding.  I do not sell queens, I will give queens  for free but no shipping.

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2020, 04:52:38 pm »
For most beekeepers, the next two months is the time most hives are lost.  Some to starvation which is so easily preventable.

Unless a beekeeper is in an area such as Cool who is experiencing the beginning of the flow, most areas such as mine, N. Arkansas are still to cold for inspections.  Some of my queens are laying, so I cannot even pop the top for a quick look with nights still freezing.  I can make the heft test to the hive as ID named.  The heft test is simple, lift the back of the hive to determine hive weight.  May your bees be healthy.

Van

Good reminder post Mr Van .   This kind of goes along with iddees topic.   Bee Spring.

Offline FatherMichael

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2020, 06:12:16 pm »
Thanks, Van.

This is a great forum!

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2020, 07:32:48 pm »
Question:  I have a hive right now that feels very heavy when I heft it, but the bees are all clustered on the top bars.  Last time I peeked in at them, I threw a couple sugar bricks in just to be safe.  Do you think they still have honey?  Could they have gotten separated from their stores?  This is the hive I've been seeing some wax moth activity in.  Could the waxworms have ruined their stores to the point that the bees don't want to eat the honey anymore? 
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2020, 09:28:56 pm »
Question:  I have a hive right now that feels very heavy when I heft it, but the bees are all clustered on the top bars.  Last time I peeked in at them, I threw a couple sugar bricks in just to be safe.  Do you think they still have honey?  Could they have gotten separated from their stores?  This is the hive I've been seeing some wax moth activity in.  Could the waxworms have ruined their stores to the point that the bees don't want to eat the honey anymore?

i am chiming in Member, but honestly I do not know. Hang in there, someone is sure to come along in a bit that does know.
Phillip

Offline Bob Wilson

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2020, 10:06:01 pm »
I also get confused. For a novice like me to judge by lifting a hive is difficult. I have no idea how much the think should weigh. Give me a few more seasons and that will make sense.

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2020, 11:03:12 pm »
i am chiming in Member, but honestly I do not know. Hang in there, someone is sure to come along in a bit that does know.
Phillip
I'm not overly concerned about it.  This hive is really strong, and very full of bees, and like I said, I put some sugar in, just to be safe, but I was just curious.  Maybe I'm totally misreading it, and they are just on the top bars because the cluster moved up and the hive is really full of bees.  I don't know.  What I was really looking for is, what's the likelihood that they are separated from their stores?  But that's probably an impossible question to answer. 

I also get confused. For a novice like me to judge by lifting a hive is difficult. I have no idea how much the think should weigh. Give me a few more seasons and that will make sense.
Bob, it's tough with just one hive because you don't have anything to compare it to, but something to remember is that just bees and empty comb don't weigh much, so if you can lift the hive easily with like 2 fingers, they are probably light, whereas if the hive is noticeable heavy, they probably have stores.  That's what I've found anyway, but I'm pretty weak, so my "heavy" and your "heavy" may be different things.           
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline jvalentour

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2020, 12:29:55 am »
15,
I routinely mountain camp my bees.
I do not live next to my hives and frequently don't inspect them for long periods of time. 
I have found that once bees go up to the sugar they do not go back down. 
If bees are on the sugar on the top of the hive you should replenish the sugar from time to time regardless of the weight.
I open my hives in the winter one the warmest days I can, sometimes in the 30's.  Sugar is quickly placed and top closed.  Warmer days not so fast.  By the way, they will sting you in January.
I put eyes on the sugar monthly thru March. 
Enjoy your bees.
J

Offline Acebird

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2020, 08:54:10 am »
Hefting the hive and mountain camp doesn't always save the day.  Unfortunately nature cannot be controlled.  Bees are serious gamblers.  They raise brood long before nectar is available and long before flying weather.  If weather doesn't cooperate no amount of human intervention will save the day.  It is always a juggling match as to whether intervention helps or hurts and much like everything else it depends on the weather.
The goal of a beekeeper is to prepare the hive in fall for the winter dearth and take what comes.  I know, a bit of a guessing game.
Brian Cardinal
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2020, 08:58:00 am »
I open my hives in the winter one the warmest days I can, sometimes in the 30's.  Sugar is quickly placed and top closed.

IMO this is the worst thing you can do.
Brian Cardinal
Just do it

Offline Bob Wilson

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2020, 09:53:04 am »
Well, at least I left them every bit of honey from their first year. If they fail, it wasn't because I took anything from them. With things beginning to bloom, however, I think I'll be alright.

Offline chux

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2020, 10:33:12 am »
I open my hives in the winter one the warmest days I can, sometimes in the 30's.  Sugar is quickly placed and top closed.

IMO this is the worst thing you can do.

IMO, if I have a hive that seems too light, and I am concerned that they may run out of food stores during the next cold snap, it is a good idea to pop the top and quickly give them some sugar as a bit of insurance. Two years ago, I had a handful of colonies that didn't get a good fall flow and by the middle of winter they were light on stores. I gave them sugar when we had a little break in temps, and it propped them up just enough to make it through to the next break. If there is a high percentage chance that a colony is going to starve to death, the risk of popping the top on a cold day to throw them some feed, is worth it. Just my thoughts, whether right or wrong.
 

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2020, 12:29:41 pm »
Thanks, guys.  My warmer days over the winter are generally in the high 40's-low 50's, so I feel quite comfortable just peeking in and giving them some sugar if I'm concerned about it.  We're going to have a day or two in the 60's next week.  Maybe I'll actually pull a couple of frames and see what's going on in the hives that day.  I'll only check in the top boxes though, since I'd rather not break more propolis seals than I already have.   
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Online CoolBees

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2020, 12:43:17 pm »
15thmember - my buddy says I go into my hives too often. He says I break seals, and annoy the bees too much. He told me I should change my approach to the bees. ... ... ... I thought of a better solution - I got more hives! Now my hive intrusions are spread around, so each hive gets less bothering.  :cheesy: :cheesy:

... sometimes ya just gotta see what's going on in there, especially when your learning. There just isn't a better way (to my thinking at least).  :cool:

Wait till a warmish day, check them out, and then let us know what the synopsis is. They'll live, and you'll know more for the future.  :cool: :cool:
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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2020, 01:02:57 pm »
15,
I routinely mountain camp my bees.
I do not live next to my hives and frequently don't inspect them for long periods of time. 
I have found that once bees go up to the sugar they do not go back down. 
If bees are on the sugar on the top of the hive you should replenish the sugar from time to time regardless of the weight.
I open my hives in the winter one the warmest days I can, sometimes in the 30's.  Sugar is quickly placed and top closed.  Warmer days not so fast.  By the way, they will sting you in January.
I put eyes on the sugar monthly thru March. 
Enjoy your bees.
J

Advise worth paying close attention too.

Offline kathyp

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2020, 02:56:42 pm »
Quote
Maybe I'll actually pull a couple of frames and see what's going on in the hives that day.

This is a way that new beeks kill hives.  If you accidentally kill the queen, or damage her it is too early for the hive to replace her.  Wait for drones. 

If you have stuff starting to bloom and they are active, leave them alone until later.  If you don't have stuff blooming and you really think they are lite, I agree that it is better to add sugar than to let them starve.

This is a tricky time of the year and how you handle it very much depends on where you are.
They are so divorced from their own interests that even when their own security and that of their children is finally compromised, they do not seek to avert the danger themselves but cross their arms and wait for the nation as a whole to come to their aid. Yet as utterly as they sacrifice their own free will, they are no fonder of obedience than anyone else. They submit, it is true, to the whims of a clerk, but no sooner is force removed than they are glad to defy the law as a defeated enemy. Thus one finds them ever wavering between servitude and license.
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Offline Bob Wilson

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2020, 03:23:10 pm »
KathyP. A question.
As a new beek, and if I think they are OK, when is it good to open and check to the hive. In other words... How do I decide when is too early to open the hive, verses too late for a cramped brood box and queen cells. I don't want a swarm. But I don't want to open too early.

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2020, 04:09:02 pm »
KathyP. A question.
As a new beek, and if I think they are OK, when is it good to open and check to the hive. In other words... How do I decide when is too early to open the hive, verses too late for a cramped brood box and queen cells. I don't want a swarm. But I don't want to open too early.


Bob I feel sure that you are anxiously awaiting kathy's answer. I look forward to it also. In the meantime here is some food for thought. Being you are from Middle Georgia. Location and conditions play an important part. I am thinking that the guidelines to answer that you will get by our experts here will probably be something like, ''so many days or weeks before the spring flow and perhaps''. ''when the temperatures reach a certain temperature and holds consistently.''
To add to that, You see, even wax moths can make a difference according to time of year and location.

Quotes from Kathy and Van recent posted Jan. 20 Snow Megalodon. 

Kathy
For those of us who have winters, yes, inspections can kill.   Wax moth won't be a problem in winter.  There's no problem with taking a quick check under the top when it's warm enough for them to break cluster and fly to check the food you have put on.  If it's too cold for them to fly, stay out of the hive.
Here I close them up in October and don't look again until February unless we have unusually warm weather earlier and starvation is possible.

Van
Winter is relative to location.  In N Arkansas my wax moth traps were catching moths the first week of this January.  My bees fly at 43F to 47F whereas wax moths fly at lower temperatures.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2020, 04:20:27 pm by Ben Framed »

Offline jvalentour

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2020, 04:47:36 pm »
IMO this is the worst thing you can do.

Brian Cardinal


I didn't describe as well as I should have. 

In my area the bees will fly in January if it's sunny and warm enough.  On 1/5/20 my bees were doing orientation flights in mass, all 25 hives.  There were several 50 degree plus days in a row.  That is when I checked the sugar in my hives.  Some were low, some had plenty, some were still below the sugar.  I added as needed with the thought of no good weather for the next 30 days or more.  Since that date I have not looked in the hives and would not want to due to the cold.  Next week I'll be checking the weather to schedule a peek in the hives.  I'll crack them open in cold weather if I am concerned that they may be low on sugar.  It's better to add sugar on a cold day than let them starve.  As I said, I don't live near my hives, I maintain them when I can. 

Someone asked about how soon in the spring should they get into their hive.  Others may disagree but I stay out of my hives as much as possible from November to March (or later) when I see drones.  I would never consider pulling frames in that time period.  There isn't enough going on during that time that a bee keeper can do anything about (in my area).  Best bet is if you see activity at the entrance and no other bad signs, everything is OK.

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Hive starvation.
« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2020, 06:58:54 pm »
IMO this is the worst thing you can do.

Brian Cardinal


I didn't describe as well as I should have. 

In my area the bees will fly in January if it's sunny and warm enough.  On 1/5/20 my bees were doing orientation flights in mass, all 25 hives.  There were several 50 degree plus days in a row.  That is when I checked the sugar in my hives.  Some were low, some had plenty, some were still below the sugar.  I added as needed with the thought of no good weather for the next 30 days or more.  Since that date I have not looked in the hives and would not want to due to the cold.  Next week I'll be checking the weather to schedule a peek in the hives.  I'll crack them open in cold weather if I am concerned that they may be low on sugar.  It's better to add sugar on a cold day than let them starve.  As I said, I don't live near my hives, I maintain them when I can. 

Someone asked about how soon in the spring should they get into their hive.  Others may disagree but I stay out of my hives as much as possible from November to March (or later) when I see drones.  I would never consider pulling frames in that time period.  There isn't enough going on during that time that a bee keeper can do anything about (in my area).  Best bet is if you see activity at the entrance and no other bad signs, everything is OK.

Thanks J for the very clear explanation, especially the pulling frames part. I will confess that I already understood what you were saying before you explained. Good Job.
Phillip