Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Death of a Colony :(

Well with the warming of the past few days (50s) I expected to see some activity around the hive - alas none. So my mentor suggested I take a look inside to see what was going on. Well - bad news the bees are all dead. I have posted some pictures to hopefully get some help in diagnosing what happened.

The first picture is a close-up of part of the brood frame. If you remember from the previous posts the bees were really only growing brood on this one frame. If you zoom in on the center of the frame you will see a lot of bee butts because their heads are down in the cells. If I have read correctly this is an indication that the bees have starved. When it got really cold they clustered and could not reach the syrup I had on top of the inner cover and ran out of the stores they had put away on the comb.

The second picture is the opposite side of the brood frame. It does look like the bees went up to find food but the syrup did not fit the bill for them.

The third picture is of the comb that they had pulled on the next frame. They had put syrup in these cells and it looks like they went through it before running out.

The fourth picture shows the opposite side of the same frame. It looks like they had stored some honey over there, but didn't make it there when it got really cold.

The final picture looks down into the hive from the top and show the bees piled up on the bottom board. The other reason for showing this picture is to note the liquid interspersed with the bee bodies. If you were a keen observer you would also have noticed some liquid on the top bar in picture number one. I am assuming that this is syrup that has leaked out of my feeder jars. Obviously this could have had a deleterious effect on the bees if they got "wet" and then the cold weather came in. I think that I have read that the syrup jars will begin to leak when the temperature gets really cold (ie it reverses the pressure in the jars).

So this is all speculation - I would really appreciate some "expert" diagnosis on what happened here and what I should do next time to keep this from happening!

I hope to replace the bees so I can still continue to learn this spring.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Let it snow . . . .

Well we got a little snow and some very ccccold weather. Supposed to get down in the teens tonight. I wrapped a plastic coated tablecloth around the north and west sides of the hive to keep out the wind. I hope the bees have their long johns on!

Monday, January 7, 2008

A quick peek

It was getting dark, but we took a quick peek in the hive late this afternoon to see how the bees were faring after the deep cold we had. Well, they were doing just fine thank you! There were a bunch of bees in there. The brood area looked healthy, lots of new uncapped brood. Comb being pulled and stores laid up.

However, one thing my mentor said on the way out - this was not the time of day to get in the hive. The bees were really aggressive - several were whacking my veil and one got inside of his (a little beekeeper dance got rid of it :)). Even as we walked away the were dive bombing us. Another lesson!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Moving Day

Well, I finally got around to moving the hive. The place I had it, had a great wind block and was hidden well from onlookers, but unfortunately was always in the shade, so it never got any sun, particularly in the winter. So, last night, after dark, we covered the entrance and moved the buggers.

So, the new spot faces the sun rise and gets sun most of the day. In the summer a large oak should shade it so that it does not get overheated. I may have to put up a wind block, but I think it will be a better place.

Today, it was reasonably warm (55ish) so the bees got out did some new orientation flights and seemed to spend more time outside, I take this as a good sign. There were some bees wandering around the old hive site (about 12 feet away), but hopefully not too many got desperately lost.