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Busy Bee 

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Hi all,


I have some bees which are very busy at present out and about what is wrong or right with them.

I must stress the bees which are flying (its raining) are Irish Blacks all other mongrels are tucked up in bed.

Has anyone else got this senario?


Thank Busy Bee

P.S. Happy New Year
 
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Dishmop 

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3 National Hives & 1 Observation Hive.(Indoors) & lots of empty boxes..
Had some out and about last week in near freezing weather, but today its a bit warmer and seen none of them out.......
I think mine are Wally Bees...
 

alexandrahulme 

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Yesterday I cried!

I'm a new beekeeper, (first winter!) and have been worried about my bees in the freezing temperatures . Yesterday after 2 weeks of c.-10 temp for 2 solid weeks I knelt on the ground to try and look into my hive from the varroa mesh floor, for any signs of life - nothing! just what appeared to be hundreds and hundreds of bees...sooooooo upset I cried (I didnt expect it to uposet me so much but I'm attached!) thought Id lost all of them - but................................ then today a noticed a couple of dead bees on the landing board that had obviously been pushed out - hurrah!!!...a possible sign of life? an hour later there were loads of dead bees on the ground and the board was full of flying bees, def still mpre dead than alive but I'm soooooo pleased I haven't lost them and really conscious of the low temperatures and being a new beekeeper have too many questions:

Should I feed them with fondant even though its still on c. 1 or 2 degree (I heard shouldnt go in unless its> 15 degrees
Should I be putting water out for them - the sow hasn't melted yet?
Are we out of the woods or is there still a way to go?
Should I put some fondant on teh landing board?
 

oliver90owner 

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alexandrahulme,

Welcome to the forum, a lurker or reader, I see.

Insulation? Ventilation? Stores? Colony strength?

Tell us a little more about yours. We might then be able to make some positive suggestions without just flying in the dark!

Regards, RAB
 
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alexandrahulme 

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lurker ? :)

Apols...going into winter they were considered a 'stong' colony by some bee keepers, they are in a WBC with a large eek of insulation (2 inches) above their crown board - brood chamber only no super but a full 11 frames of mixed capped honey and pollen ...but I was still conscious they would not ahve enough stores to see them through. 2010 queen . hope this gives you a little more info -Id appreciate any advice - Thx Alex
 

Gardenbees 

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Hi Alexandra,
don't worry too much about your bees! Several weeks' worth of die-off from a wintering hive amounts to a LOT of dead bees, so the sad heap on the hive floor isn't necessarily a sign of disaster. If you tap the side of the hive roughly where the bees are clustered, they will usually give a faint buzz if you listen carefully. Plus, if they're still alive in there, there should be occasional cleanouts (such as the discarded dead bees you noticed) and little showers of wax uncappings as they eat through their winter stores. The hive usually smells nice too: a faint honey scent from the entrance rather than the cold mustiness of an empty hive.

If you feel that they don't have enough food (and we're not yet out of the woods, I'm afraid), then definitely put some fondant in there for them ASAP. Don't worry about the temperature. Just give them a bag or pot of fondant (at about room temperature or slightly warmed) with a slit in the bag or a way into the pot. Don't put it outside or on the landing board. Put it above the cluster where the bees can most easily get at it. Get it into place quickly so they don't lose all their warmth, and put the insulation and roof back on sharpish.

A dark-coloured, shallow water container which will catch the warmth of the sun might be useful to the bees too, although I'm sure they'll find themselves some moisture somehow. Just make sure they can get in and out of the water easily, by floating something on the surface and/or sloping the vessel. They have a strong tendency to drown otherwise, being rather poor swimmers.

I went to give mine some fondant today, and found one colony sleepy and clustered, the other ones as lively as spring - bustling over the combs, tidying out dead bees, and busily exploring the new fondant as soon as I put it in. They vary so much!
 

MuswellMetro 

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lurker ? :)

Apols...going into winter they were considered a 'stong' colony by some bee keepers, they are in a WBC with a large eek of insulation (2 inches) above their crown board - brood chamber only no super but a full 11 frames of mixed capped honey and pollen ...but I was still conscious they would not ahve enough stores to see them through. 2010 queen . hope this gives you a little more info -Id appreciate any advice - Thx Alex
i normally put fondant on in late December but i have had it on for three weeks this year as a precaution

i think the 15c idea you have refers to syrup not fondant ( ie syrup has to be evaporated so they can cap it and 15c is about the lowest temp that will happen)

i make a part inverted sugar fondant ( Sucrose,glucose and Fructose) which is sold as "ambrosia" or "apiinvert" these are high fructose content and does not crystallise if the bees store it , whereas Normal Bakers fondant can be used but is only sucrose and glucose)

( any surplus in spring can be converted to 50%;1 of 1:1 syrup)

note Some icing fondant sold by the supermakets contain additives so they are best avoided unless last resort

AND welcome to the forum and a happy new Bee-keeping Year
 

alexandrahulme 

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Thank you so much to muswell bees and GB for your advice... Much appreciated !!!
 

Skyhook 

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i think the 15c idea you have refers to syrup not fondant ( ie syrup has to be evaporated so they can cap it and 15c is about the lowest temp that will happen)
Alexandra, I think this also refers to not inspecting below 15 C. This is normally a good rule, as you don't want to disturb the bees when it's too cold for them to fly, and you don't want to risk chilling the brood. However, you won't be inspecting. If you've got a crown board with a feeding hole, take off the roof and the insulation, put the fondant over the feed hole and replace all. If you havent, take off the crownboard, put a thin slab of fondant on, then replace. As long as it is at least 3 C
you'll be OK.
 

Teemore 

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Busy Bee, my two colonies were busy flying today with temperatures bobbing around 7C or 8C- lots of them out on cleansing flights and exhibiting what appeared to be orientation circling...... Both my colonies are very dark bees and were happily working the ivy at similar temperatures to those of today.
 

oliver90owner 

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These temps of approaching -20 degrees Celsius are not good news for the bees. Especially so arly in the winter. But we know not when the wamer weather might return and spring coukld be early, who knows! But as long as they remain dry, the cold will be a lesser problem.

Unless you have a National brood in there, which doesn't seem to be the case, I would drape old towels, a coat, or anything else that might be appropriate, over the brood box. The WBC while keeping everything dry and away from the direct wind, does have rather more flimsy boxes generally, than single walled hives An extra 'coat' would not go amiss this winter! Then as the rest say, feed fondant (I always left a brood and a super in the WBCs) then leave them alone as much as possible. A few hundred may only be a few % and I have overwintered some weak colonies in WBCs, so stop worrying and just keep fingers crossed, or whatever makes you feel better than you were.

You don't mention ventilation. I run all my colonies on OMFs and none has any top ventilation. Before OMFs I could not seem to get the balance right between dry colonies and excessive ventilation. My mentor said that some outer combs always got damp and the bees would clean them up in spring and was seemingly not too troubled if those outer frames were inaccessible for the bees in winter. No such bothers since changing the floors.

There is little else you can do for them - and bees have looked after themselves overwinter for many a year.

Regards, RAB
 

KayJ 

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Busy Bee, my two colonies were busy flying today with temperatures bobbing around 7C or 8C- lots of them out on cleansing flights and exhibiting what appeared to be orientation circling...... Both my colonies are very dark bees and were happily working the ivy at similar temperatures to those of today.
My two hives were just the same today. Lots of bees circling and hovering around the hive, crawling up and over it. Its my first winter with bees so I don't know what to expect. Reading your post above it seems this is normal behavior. Phew!!!
 
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