Beekeeping Bees Hive Maintainance

Winter Loss: A Beehive Dies

Activity in front of Willow but none in front of Briar.

I had a bad feeling going into winter with the Briar hive. The hive should have been re-queened as they had many issues last season. But sadly, there were no queens available due to the unexpected large death of so many bee hives across the United States. Last year, the US lost about 30 percent of all the existing hives. So I crossed my fingers that they would survive until spring, when I could requeen.

They went into winter with excellent honey stores and a decent population. They were still mean as ever. A couple of weeks ago, I went out after the last snow storm to clear the piled up snow on the bottom board. In the 19 degree weather, the bees should have been in their cluster. Instead, they zipped out of the hive, ready to fight. Sadly, they instantly were stunned and fell to the ground. It was not a time to be outside the hive. Thirty bees must have flown from the hive until they finally stopped.

Yellow bee “waste” dots the snow along with dead honey bees.

Then we had a deep cold snap with sub-zero temps. I knocked on the hive for signs of life. It was faint, but I could still hear them buzzing. However, a few days ago we warmed up and I could see bees flying and flitting in front of the hives. The bees were out on cleansing flights but I didn’t see any bees coming from Briar.

As bees die, fellow worker bees remove them from the hive. This normal. This hive is still alive. Typically in the summer, the worker bees fly away with the dead bees but in the winter, they just push the dead ones out on the bottom board as shown here.

I peered inside Briar and heard no buzzing. Found no signs of life, only dead bees. I lost my first hive. From a quick inspection, there was still ample food and honey and the bees were not in the cluster. I’ll be doing my first hive autopsy come spring. I will be curious to see just what happened.

No signs of life. Poor girls.

Photo Credits: Tilly’s Nest

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