Saturday, March 9, 2013

Hard Winter


It is the beginning of March 2013 and out of my six hives only two remain.  The oldest of the remaining two (Mab) is queenless and dying off.  The other (The late 2012 swarm) has two and a half frames of brood and three plus frames of bees; a good population for a small Nuc.

Dying Mab to the left and strong Little Miss on the right
The rest of the hives died out during December and January.  Their populations weren't brooding up like they should have been last Fall.  They went into Winter with less vigor than required.  This Winter has been colder and longer than the last handful of Winters.  The bees took a beating.

I got real busy on other projects last July and left the bees to themselves.  They never looked bad and produced a good bit of honey.  However, a late Summer dearth lowered populations and shut down brooding around August.  This wasn't apparent (to the unobservant) 'till critically low populations were noticed in December.

As a stop gap measure the remaining two hives have been supplied with low wattage shop lamps to aid in heating the small clusters.  Mab, who is queenless, can be resurrected if her bees last long enough to make a queen for her.  About a month from now.  Might still lose her anyway.  We'll see.  The moment I see a drone anywhere around here we'll make queens.

Also, since so many hives are gone I have a pile of drawn frames stacked in the basement.  More than i ever intended to have.  Been watching for the Wax moth and have found only a few.  Two frames lost is all.  Freezer is pack with frames.  The rest are staked, post freezing, inside.

Any swarm i catch this year will be immediately put on 20 frames of drawn and mostly filled frames.  Lucky girls.


Ryan said...

This seems to be par for the course this winter. Of my five hives, only one remains, and it is also a nuc! I talked to a commercial pollination guy today and he told me he has about 80% loss this winter, and that's about the same as the other local guys in the business.

I am praying my last little nuc makes it another month until things are blooming evening temps are reasonable. I don't want to completely start over with packages again.

Gracie said...

I lost two of my five this year and have one more looking rough. I hope I can pull it through!

Hemlock said...

My neighbor is down to 1 hive from 7 and has already placed her order for more packages. I'm not a big package fan since surveys suggest a 80%+ fail rate for them. Plus they
are a great way to spread bee pests such as Small Hive Beetle. However, the alternative is catching unpredictable swarms that by definition are prone to swarm. So if i want more bees i'll have to do something because making splits from a single nuc will take an awfully long time.

Good luck to you.


I hope your problem is high populations with low food stores. That way feeding them will do it. If your populations are low make sure the hives are 'right sized'.

Maples are in bloom or will be soon depending where in the world you are. Good luck to you too.