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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a Master Beekeeper! Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.


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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bee-wary of Late Winter


In Atlanta we had a sudden drop in temperature from the highs 60s to the 20s where the temperature has remained for several days.  When it's cold like this, we only have highs in the 30s at best.  When this goes on for several days, the bees are in real danger.

The warmish weather fools the bees into acting like it is spring and they go out, forge for pollen, raise brood, etc.  Then suddenly we have this kind of cold snap.  

The whole hive can die, if the cluster isn't located where there is stored honey.

So I am crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.

I have one dead hive in my back yard.  I looked through it the other day when I did my first powdered sugar shake.  There is honey in the hive and dead bees scattered through the frames.  I didn't take the bottom box off (too big a hurry to get back to the office), but I'll let you know what I find when I do.

My current theory is that the hive went queenless before winter and I didn't recognize that this had happened so I could combine it with another hive.  I may find something else when I look further and then we'll know more, but for now, I'd speculate that the hive died naturally because there was no queen.




In the photo above you can see the few dead bee bodies on top of the frames.  I'll look at these for signs of varroa or deformed wing when I get back into the hive.



For now, I put it back together until I have time in the next few days really to study it.

There was a rapid feeder on top of the hive still half filled with bee tea with a number of dead ants floating in the tea.  I strained it into a jar and may put that on another hive if I don't find evidence of foul brood when I study the cells in the dead hive.


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4 comments:

  1. Such a shame :( And was thinking that unless you find a carpet of dead workers at the bottom of your supers/brood that it looks like colony collapse disorder?

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  2. I'm not at all thinking CCD - first because Keith Delaplane himself says he has only seen one hive that he could say died from CCD, second because this is one of the hives we moved up from S Georgia at the end of the honey flow that was small to begin with and not doing well when it got here.

    I'm expecting, like I said in the post, to determine that the hive was queenless and I was not an observant beekeeper - the hive was not abandoned by the bees. There are dead bees throughout on the tops of the frames. I'm not expecting to find any capped brood - just dead bees. But I'll post when I do get into the hive next week on a warm day.

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  3. Linda,
    Sorry to hear about the loss of this hive. Interested to find out what happened to it. I found out tonight there is 3 hives(one is dead) that need a beekeeper in Durham at an historic site, hope they'll let this newbie beekeeper take the job.

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  4. Linda - I know your colony didn't die of starvation but I was interested to read what you said about temperature drops and the bees clustering away from their stores. One foolproof way to help them in this situation is to make/buy baker's fondant and lay it directly on the top bars for the bees to eat. You'll never have a hive die from isolation starvation again if you do this. All the best, Gerry in Scotland

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