at what point........

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taff.. 

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are you satisfied that a colony has successfully overwintered?

I took my nuc back over to the orchard this morning, it was a bit chilly and drizzling as it has been for a few days. This morning was the only time my mate was available with his 4x4 to get right up to the hives and I was happy that the weather was poor and none of the bees were flying first thing. This afternoon has turned out to be calm and very mild so I went back over there to see if they were flying.

They weren't just flying, they were out in force from all 3 colonies. Lots of orientating in front of the hive entrances going on, I didn't see any pollen going in. I had a very quick check on their food situation and gave the two hives a Lb or so of fondant.

now I'm feeling quite happy that all 3 colonies have made it through the worst (as in coldest) part of winter, in fact I'm slightly amazed that the weakest colony has made it so far.

when are you happy that a colony is a survivor, is it this early or do you wait untill first inspection to be satisfied?
 

Chris B 

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Hi,
personally I would reserve judgement a few more weeks, certainly into March at a point where it's warm enough to inspect brood. If there isn't any brood or it's droney then the bee numbers will drop quickly before you can do anything about it. But if a colony is flying strongly I'd be 90% sure of it's survival at this point.
 

Poly Hive 

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IMHO they have succeeded when they are over the cross over point of more new bees hatching than are dying and the colony is thus on the increase.

That for me is another 6 weeks.

PH
 

RoofTops 

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It must also be linked to how much forage is available and thus will vary from place to place. On this basis it can't be until they are self-sufficient and don't need to rely on stores. Of course bad weather will also play a part - bees need stores in summer when the weather clamps down.

I saw what I assume were some hazel catkins in a hedge this morning from the car, so down here forage is becoming avialable but the weather is not very forgiving - although I did see a bee flying at 15:45 today, which is quite late.

And there are frogs in the pond today - first of the year. Must start the first sign of spring thread!
 

admin 

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I noticed yesterday Catkins on the trees and also noticed a patch of Crocus flowers that look like they will bloom in the next week if we hit 10c for a couple of days.

I agree with PH that you are safe once you have brood hatching faster than winter bees dying,but from a worried winter point of view I am happy once they have all the Catkin/Crocus pollen stored and the fruit is starting to flower.
 

taff.. 

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thanks all.

before posting the thread i was expecting the answer to be the beginning of March so my thinking wasn't really far off.


I forgot to mention in the first post that there did seem to be a few bees coming out of the strongest hive, and going down onto the grass a few feet away. presumably old bees coming out and dieing. I suppose it saves a job for the young'uns in clearing them off the floor :)
 

oliver90owner 

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You just cannot tell. There is plenty of time for them to start brooding and then hit an extremely cold patch of weather when they cannot move the cluster on the frames. Result - death by starvation although plenty of food, but unavailable to the bees.

Last year the winter effectively ended by the middle of February, but we were not able to forecast that until after the cold patch (that didn't arrive!).

I would not be at all speculative until the first good flow starts and you know she is laying satisfactorily. Too much chance of starvation until then, unless they are being fed artificially, and other unforseen problems. So my advice is don't predict; count the losses afterwards. Hopefully it will be zero or close to it.

Regards, RAB
 

northernsoul 

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When I treated with Oxalic acid in December 08 I was chuffed that all my colonies looked okay.

I lost a colony in Feb even though they had plenty of stores.

This year I don't know when to stop worrying, when the OSRs out I guess and they're really busy
 

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