Updated: Feb 21
February 02, 2022
A February look under the hoods today. 42F and sunny at the time of this video here in New York State in Orange County. Lost two colonies. They were alive about two and a half weeks ago when we had the 50’s temps in the area. These colonies have been problematic during the season. Measures were taken to provide for them however they have succumbed I’m guessing to the size of the colonies having not enough winter bees to survive. In the meantime I’m happy to report that the rest of the hives look good at this time. A second look at these hives after they were taken apart and dissected revealed that there was a sufficient amount of bees to overwinter. The problem being from the appearance in my opinion was starvation. Like I mentioned in this blog post, the temps this past fall and now winter have been relatively been mild this year with just a couple of weeks of extreme winter weather and sub freezing temperature. The cold doesn’t necessarily kill the bees during these times, it’s the the constant fluctuations in temperatures that do. When we have temps here usually 42F and above on a nice sunny day the bees will come out of cluster and leave the hive to do on orientation flights, cleansing flights and forage for whatever May be out there for them to bring back to the hive. When they are expending so much energy doing such during “ winter “ , they are typically consuming more of their natural stores at quicker pace. If left unchecked by the beekeeper they may starve themselves out before you get to your next check on them due to changing weather conditions. In these two instances this is what happened to these two hives. Not that I didn’t provide for them prior to their demise, I did .. however probably not enough. We still have a long way to go. That rodent “ Phil “ has predicted 6 more weeks of a long winter. Me personally, I’ve had enough. Take advantage of the warmer winter days to get out and check on your bees. Check their weight, look under the lid to see if they are alive and feed if need be.
Update February 17,2022 , Weather 59F Overcast and wind gusts. 14 degrees higher than yesterdays high temp and a low temp of 14F
went through the colonies today that I had some concerns over due to how light the colonies have become in just over 3 weeks. One was a NUC colony which when inspected was found dead. I had checked this colony about a week or so ago when we had a warmer day and had swapped out some empty frames for frames of honey. They also were on a diet of hard sugar cakes. There was sugar left in the top however not much of it was consumed by the bees The other hive I had concerns about were found the same… dead. They too had starved out even though they had some honey left in the hive and also had sugar cakes in there I’m guessing that they didn’t find it within reach. Other hives I checked today were also beginning to feel a little light and I swapped out for empty frames for frames of honey I had in storage. if you’re not doing this, I suggest you store frames of honey away at the end of the harvesting season rather than be greedy and jar up all you can to make some dollars off your efforts I also added some Super DFM Honeybee powder to these hives, made sure they had enough sugar as insurance in the top and also take each a quarter of a pollen patty. They got the “ Whole Candy Store” today. I also observed that the queens in these colonies had also started to lay and found minimal amounts of both uncapped and capped over brood. Once again … check your bees on these warmer winter days. Do what needs to be done and keep on feeding.
February 21, 2022
Ok so here we are again in New York State where todays temp as of this writing is 54F with abundant sunshine. Tonight’s weather calls for a low of 29F. Yesterday we had a high of 36F and Saturday was a high of 32F with lows in the teens on those nights The bees today are out foraging for pollen sub I have out in the yard in feeders and anything else they can Find out there. Today I once again took advantage of checking a couple of more hives to see where they stand at this point. Calendar Spring begins on March 20th which is still a month off. as we know in the Northeast that doesn’t really mean much as cooler or colder temps linger into April and we have been known to get snow storms during those months. The three remaining hives I had to check today after inspecting others last week seemed to be looking good on on track. They appear to have a good amount of Natural stores that I left on for them after last seasons harvest I also had insurance feed on top of them consisting of hard candy lollipops which they were feeding on today and for some time. I also added a couple of more of these to each of the hives and have each of them a third of a Global Patty so they can start building up brood and have the proteins and other essential nutrients that they require. We sell Global Patty at our website and are an Authorized Dealer for them.
Getting back to two colonies that I had inspected last week as reported as dead On February 17, 2022 I dissected the one ten frame colony which I overwintered as one deep and one super of capped honey which had previously replaced another super of honey which I had left on for them early fall. The colony was a very nice sized amount of bees. They also had some hard sugar lollipops which I had placed on the hive in the colder weather we had in early December and January. Upon dissecting this colony they were completely out of food and died of starvation.
The other colony was a 5 frame nuc with five frames of honey atop of them and shim with sugar. They were found dead on the bottom booard and some with their heads buried In empty wax cells They had at least 4 and a half frames of honey remaining. The colony was weak and low in numbers of bees and either the queen died first or there just weren’t enough bees in the colony to thermoregulate the hive and keep it warm enough for the colony. The first four pics at the top of this blog post is the hive I autopsied today Lots of Bees and No food. Make sure you get out there and check in these warmer days and continue to feed. If you need any assistance or help please be sure to contact the shop by phone or through our website at www.larrysbackyardbees.com