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Is This Weather a Threat?

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thedeaddiplomat 

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Remember the cold snap a week or two ago? Well, we went and put our hives straight for the winter then (supers under brood boxes, removed ekes and feeders, bricks on roofs so they don't blow away, all that sort of thing). Bees appeared fine, and ready to settle down!

A beautiful morning here this morning - blue skies, calm and 16 degrees. So we just popped up to check that the recent gales had not caused any damage. No intention of opening them up and causing any disturbance. Bees flying around like it was OSR season! They were everywhere and they were hyper!

Most of me feels reassured by this, because I know they have plenty of stores, and I know the colonies are fit at this stage.

But I have a newbeek question. Are the bees I saw flying today likely to be winter bees? Or are the winter bees more likely still to be in brood form? If the winter bees are flying now, is this likely to tax them to the point where they might not survive into the new laying season?

I don't suppose I should be worrying anyway, since there is little I can do about the situation - and I guess the bees may know more than me about these things. But perhaps some of our experts have pearls of wisdom to offer?
 

drex 

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Mine have been the same for last 3 days. A lot of new bees taking orientation flights in front of hives, hence I presume winter bees?, and lots of foragers with pollen
 
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Where I live bees can be seen flying any sunny day throughout the winter. The danger for the bees is they will consume more stores doing this than if they clustered and conserved energy. There is as you say little you can do about it apart from ensuring they have sufficient stores, although some might say the type of bee and the degree of insulation in the hive are factors. The latter because less stores should need to be consumed to maintain the temperature of the brood nest in an insulated hive although the bees can keep an uninsulated hive perfectly warm if they have sufficient food.
 

admin 

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I thought bees consumed more stores in a poly hive ?
 
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This winter I am overwintering 10 poly nucs and 10 wooden ones in equal numbers in 2 apiaries.
So hope to get a good comparison as to how well they overwinter.
Any day the tempreture goes over 12c will see some bees flying, right through the winter.
Some will fly at lower temperatures if in full sun.
There s still lots of ivy pollen and nectar available probably for another 4 weeks.
 
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Here on the southerly facing and sheltered banks of the Tamar, Spring has already merged with Autumn and the snowdrops are showing through................................................. and in April this year we were confusing apple blossom with snow!

At least you lot get weather in the frozen north............. the bees, well they just seem to get on with it!
 

drstitson 

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mild weather in late autumn

I think the key here is to remember the physiology of nurse and winter bees.

Both have abundant "egg yolk"-like reserves in their fat bodies. Nurse bees use these up when feeding brood but presumably not for day to day existence (honey provides this). Nurse bees become foragers when they deplete these internal stores and are of no further use to the "nursery".

So one might assume that winter bees, with no brood to rear, are free to get on with foraging, whilst retaining the crucial internal reserves needed for spring brood rearing. Lots of activity for little harvest may well deplete hive honey stores quicker BUT shouldn't impede spring build up (unless you let the colony starve).
 

Hivemaker. 

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Is This Weather a Threat?

No....look upon it as a bonus for the bee's,plenty of extra pollen.
Ivy,gorse in flower and even the brambles are in bud and flowering again.
 

Poly Hive 

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Admin? If my experience is anything to go by it is less not more.

You are seeing winter bees now on the wing and they are doing fine. Every day they get out to cleanse and collect some water for eating a bit of stores is good.



PH
 

richardbees 

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chipper, I'll be interested to see your results re poly/wood.

I know it's probably the future and poly equipment can be rinsed out with bleach etc but still can't believe it's as good as a blowtorch for getting into the nooks and crannies.

Richard
 

psafloyd 

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Probably about 5/6 at the moment
This winter I am overwintering 10 poly nucs and 10 wooden ones in equal numbers in 2 apiaries.
So hope to get a good comparison as to how well they overwinter.
Any day the tempreture goes over 12c will see some bees flying, right through the winter.
Some will fly at lower temperatures if in full sun.
There s still lots of ivy pollen and nectar available probably for another 4 weeks.
Are you goiong to do five of each in each apiary to get a proper comparison?
 

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