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Author Topic: Bees barely survived winter  (Read 141 times)

Offline dmoody256

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Bees barely survived winter
« on: March 26, 2020, 03:35:15 pm »
I have a single hive in a long langstroth setup. This is the first year I had my bees and overwintered them in Iowa.

I saw the bees coming out for a cleansing flight in full force early February, the hive looked strong and many bees were out in 50F+ weather. Then I had to go out of town for a fair amount of time and came back in early March. It was below freezing for a week or 2 when I got back and I didn't check my bees. The last few days were warm an I noticed no bees coming out for cleansing flight so I went to check. I found a small huddle of about 50 bees struggling and the queen was off by herself barely moving. Figuring the hive was done for, I put them in a glass bottle with some patty (ultrabee, canalo oil, and 2:1 sugar syrup) for my own observation and brought them inside. Some heat and munching on the patty and they were all active and queen was moving around being attended by her workers.

[EDIT: how they died]
I am not sure why the hive died, but I am guessing they ate themselves into a corner and starved. They started winter closer to one side of the hive, and looking back I should have arranged equal honey frames on both sides. I estimate they had total 80 lbs of honey (8 deep frames full), the frames they had huddled on were empty, but they had 5 frames of honey untouched on the otherside of the hive. There wasn't too many bees head first in the comb, which I thought indicated starvation, most were just dead at the bottom of the hive.

Their numbers are so small that they would not be able to start a new hive or warm the brood enough. I don't have other hives to borrow bees from, and I can only keep one hive from local ordinances.

My question is if there is any salvaging the queen, or restarting the hive? What could I do in this situation?

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« Last Edit: March 26, 2020, 04:15:56 pm by dmoody256 »

Offline TheHoneyPump

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Bees barely survived winter
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2020, 07:25:44 pm »
Really not much more you can do than what you have done. 

For a colony to be viable, able to grow, You will need at minimum about 1000 bees. That is 1 frame loosely carpeted in walking bees on both sides.  Less than that and the population dwindles quicker than new bees emerge.  The minimum you will need is a beekeeping friend to donate a frame or two of shook bees to you.
Before you do so, please do a thorough post mortem diagnosis to understand the die-out.  You may have a terminal queen not capable of being saved.  Or you may have infected equipment in which any new bees would be subjected to the same fate.  First Take pause to understand the cause. Then Move forward.

Hope that helps!

(Revised a bit to clarify)
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 11:38:18 am by TheHoneyPump »
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Online van from Arkansas

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Re: Bees barely survived winter
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2020, 08:22:03 pm »
HP hello from down south.  Is there a typo in previous post, my error on reading your post?  Question: how many bees carpet a single side of a deep frame, 9 1/8 inch?

I have read 1,500 walking bees per side to carpet a 9 inch frame, but I can?t remember where I read the info.  I certainly have never counted.  Thank you in advance for your input.

Health to your bees.
Bless the Beekeepers.  Dealing with venomous insects takes courage, patience, dedication and a desire to be with nature.

Offline TheHoneyPump

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Bees barely survived winter
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2020, 11:16:34 pm »
Great question Van.   
For folks not yet familiar with the DC website; I invite you to browse there for a deeply resourceful and well organized set of beekeeping reference info.  Included there is  a page showing approximate numbers of bees on a frame:

http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/beesest.html

http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/subjectlist.html

ENJOY!
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 11:43:28 am by TheHoneyPump »
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Online Nock

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Re: Bees barely survived winter
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2020, 09:47:14 am »
Thanks for posting that HP. That makes more sense of the ?hands worth of capped brood. ?

Offline Seeb

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Re: Bees barely survived winter
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2020, 11:16:42 am »
Yes, just been reading a little and bookmarked it. Thanks HP
Want to read more on one thing he said about finding the queen and calmness on the frame
To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow - Audrey Hepburn

The edge . . . there is no honest way to explain it, because the only people who really know where it is, are the ones who have gone over.

Offline JurassicApiary

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Re: Bees barely survived winter
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2020, 01:59:21 pm »
That's a very informative site, HP--thanks for posting.  I've bookmarked that as a nice resource.  I find the bee anatomy is most interesting, particularly the microcopy.