Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 14

Thread: So what kind of a bad winter is really bad for bees?

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Oronsay - Hebrides
    Posts
    53
    Blog Entries
    6

    Default So what kind of a bad winter is really bad for bees?

    I seem to recall reading from many sources that bees will stand any amount of cold, but what they can't take is prolonged damp and wind - ie wind chill. Okay, so last winter was the coldest in living memory here in Oronsay, and there were rakes of bee corpses to clear from time to time from the hive floor or entrance; this winter it was the windiest and wettest in living memory ... and scarcely any losses (and most of them seem to have drowned in soggy candy where it got too damp). Just when you think you've got it sussed ... the bees just prove how little we really know for sure.

    Despite the strong sunshine and very light breezes, the air has been cold - too cold to pull out more than the empty outer frames to guage how much stores are left. But I hope to be more systematic in the next fortnight, perhaps this weekend, and I'll probably take the opportunity to swap brood chambers, floors etc with those I overhauled during the winter. There's not much 'wild' pollen here in March or early April (and Orasay does not 'do' flower gardens!) so I may feed Nektapoll if it looks like conditions will be good when any brood raised with will hatch.

    I'm assuming I'm still in the position of having one action-ready queen and two others who just go through the motions. If conditions are right I may get to find out whether the two queens mated late last summer are infertile or whether up to now they just weren't in the mood. But the fact remains I need new blood in my apiary, and the search is back on in earnest for good clean Amm Queens (nucs better) for this Amm paradise (that's what it says in the immigration service's campaign literature anyway).

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    400 miles S of Stonehaven
    Posts
    398

    Default

    what kind of a bad winter is really bad for bees?
    I had always understood that a mild winter was worse than a cold dry one, because the bees are more active and consume more of their precious stores.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Belfast, N. Ireland
    Posts
    5,113
    Blog Entries
    94

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bumble View Post
    I had always understood that a mild winter was worse than a cold dry one, because the bees are more active and consume more of their precious stores.
    That's what I thought as well but we have had the mildest winter I can remember and the bees have done well and colonies are building up well. Even the apideas survived and most of my colonies have plenty of stores. I lost several nucs the previous winter which was the coldest one on record.

  4. #4
    Senior Member chris's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    provence france
    Posts
    409
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Without wishing to state the obvious, I think the winter weather has to be taken in the context of the autumn and spring that enclose it.For example, a poor autumn where the bees don't forage too late into the year on Macdo nectar and are able to form an early cluster without exhausting themselves rearing brood should allow them to winter well in cold weather. Providing they have been left plenty of their honey.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Lindau Germany
    Posts
    704
    Blog Entries
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon View Post
    That's what I thought as well but we have had the mildest winter I can remember and the bees have done well and colonies are building up well. Even the apideas survived and most of my colonies have plenty of stores. I lost several nucs the previous winter which was the coldest one on record.
    The problem with a mild winter (if you are in a varroa area) is they will stay in brood all way through which is better for the varroa than for the bees. As they have to keep a higher temperature in to raise brood their consumption of stores goes up considerably, - so I've been taught.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Belfast, N. Ireland
    Posts
    5,113
    Blog Entries
    94

    Default

    My bees will keep making more brood late in a mild autumn especially if they can forage on the ivy pollen but they will never keep brood the whole way through winter.
    If you time the Oxalic treatment right, ie late December, this should clear out over 90% of the mites left after the autumn varroa treatment.
    At the moment some of my colonies still have brood but I am about 4 weeks away from Oxalic treatment.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Bridget's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    On the edge of a mature pine forest, Kingussie, Inverness-shire
    Posts
    524

    Default So what kind of a bad winter is really bad for bees?

    You are lucky to know what the hell is going on. I've been waiting for a warmer day so I can have a quick check and maybe give some fondant to the hive I suspect may be a bit light - but it's going to be pretty cold and wet here for a while.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    Senior Member fatshark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Finest Fife
    Posts
    1,502

    Default

    This winter isn't going so great for mine ... my carefully sheltered mini-nucs and nucs became even more sheltered on Thursday as trellis and the attached plants collapsed on them in the high winds. They're now buried but seemingly intact. The thrashing they received from the branches must have been pretty severe. However, very cold and clear this morning, so time for some DIY before the next storm arrives.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Isle of Mull
    Posts
    799
    Blog Entries
    18

    Default

    Bridget, I put candy on top of the crown board over a feed hole so no need to remove anything other than the roof. I usually make it in clear plastic boxes (courtesy of local take-away) so I can see instantly whether it needs replenishing without risking chilling the bees. I noticed yesterday that one colony is busy clearing it up rather than eating it ... crystallised sugar at the entrance!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Belfast, N. Ireland
    Posts
    5,113
    Blog Entries
    94

    Default

    One sign that is colony still has brood is a very hot spot on the crown board.
    Another is that most of the foragers are bringing in pollen when they get a weather break to forage.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •