Despite the polar vortex that has embraced much of Canada this month, some bees may have experienced warm weather spells since January 1 and this could have triggered them to initiate a small brood nest.
For Alberta this could be especially true south of Red Deer, in chinook territory. The thing to know is that when it gets cold again, the bee cluster will contract to keep the queen warm - at the expense of the brood.
Also - the bees age much more quickly in the hive once brood-rearing begins. This is a common cause of winter loss that's often mistaken for starvation.
If you find you have lost your bees when the weather warms, look at the comb for a ring or patches of capped cells in the cluster area. This is a sign of premature brood rearing.
In terms of a remedy, consider using a queen strain that is better suited or acclimatized for your climate.
If you have any questions on this or other issues, please contact Hiveworld.ca at any time.
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Hiveworld Quarantine and Undertaking
This resulted in a quarantine order that meant we could not move bees. The source of the infection could not be confirmed. In hindsight, this was complicated by the alarming increase explained in the link below. Having never experienced this before, it was a very difficult time for us at Hiveworld.