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Bees dead or alive: What you should do now

March 28, 2019 3 Comments

Watch weather before adding pollen patties

March-April can bring the promise of spring weather, with bright sunshine and surprisingly high temperatures. Then we might find we're plunged back into snow and cooler temperatures into early May. What to do for your bees?

First things first - are your bees still alive? If your bees died, do not give up. We have heard of many colonies with strong stores, proper wrapping and a substantial windbreak to the northwest doing very well. However many succumbed to the six weeks of minus 20 that preceded spring this year.

The bee cluster in winter is a very special phenomenon, in which the bees gather around the queen in a heavy cluster for warmth and survival. The larger the bee cluster in the winter, the less stores it consumes. A full, heavy hive in the fall is the best preparation for winter. Disease can be a factor, but mostly it’s freezing that kills bees as they don’t have enough critical mass to keep warm and feed at the same time.

Learn from experience

Beekeepers know there will always be ups and downs and new lessons to be learned. Colony loss can be used to your advantage. For instance - analyze what went wrong. Have a mentor or friend look at the hive with you. Was the problem with wrapping, moisture, weak colony, insufficient stores, erroneous feeding attempts, disease?  Then get back in the saddle, order some nucs or 10-frame bees, and go with the assumption that next time will be better.

For live hives, syrup feeders of any sort should be in use now and kept going through to the end of June. Think twice, however, about the idea of adding pollen patties to the hive too quickly. By all means pick them up and have them on hand, But the patties should not be given to your bees until the weather truly breaks, reaching plus 8-10 on a sustained basis.

Watch the weather

Providing pollen patties with the first unreliable warming trends causes brood to form and the bees to age. If it suddenly turns cold again - as it well might at this time of year - you could lose one to two thirds of the brood and have bees that are too old to manage new brood. The whole hive could be dead by mid-April.  

Go here for some suggestions on the making and use of syrup. Also check out our blog from last year that talks about the early spring pollen flows.

We hope this information is useful to you, and welcome any comments or questions you may have. You will also find more information and all the equipment you need at Hiveworld.ca. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels for all the latest news and tips.  

We're Canadian, we’re beekeepers, and we have the courses, mentor support and supplies you need - free shipping on everything.

As always, if you have any questions on this or other issues, please contact Hiveworld.ca at any time.

 




3 Responses

Megan Russell
Megan Russell

April 10, 2019

Hi there,
I have a question. One of my hives died (I think from starvation) on March 1st. I’ve cleaned out the hive today on April 10th and noticed that some of the wood on the boxes and bottom board are moldy from the winter moisture. How do I clean these boxes so that I can reuse them for another colony? I’ve read all sorts of things from bleaching them to torching them and just want to know the right thing to do to prevent any diseases.

Hive World
Hive World

March 31, 2019

Frames should be left for the next colony. A dead hive should be cleaned out of all loose dead bees and bottom board scraped. You must seal up all entrances to the hive with metal wire screen so that other bees can’t go in and rob out any honey left in the frames.

Nicole von Kulmiz
Nicole von Kulmiz

March 28, 2019

Here is a ? for you•°~

What should be done to the wax honeycomb on the frames of an abandoned hive?
Should it be scraped off or left there for the next colony?

Have a sweet day💠

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