Friday, February 19, 2010

Bee Log #12: February 19, 2010

I did my first bee inspection of the year yesterday and again today. It was about 52 to 55 degrees and sunny both days. Bees were flying. Hive 1 was the most active and appeared to be robbing another hive. That hive may have been lost this winter. I took off the inner cover of the hive being robbed and saw that there were no bees clustered at the top of the frames as there should have been at this time of year. Yesterday, I tried to take out the frames but the bees had the frames glued in really well and the temperature was low enough that the propolis was hard and unyielding. I took off the top deep which was really heavy (indicating lots of honey stores)and peered in the bottom deep. There was not a cluster there either. There is little hope for that hive. I put an entrance reducer in to limit the opening so that, if there are bees, they can more easily defend their honey. If we did loose this hive, it is classic CCD (colony collapse disorder) with the bees disappearing while honey stores are still sufficient. That hive went into the winter as the strongest hive we owned.

Today, I got the frames out of the hive suspected to be dead and found as I thought that the hive had died. The third picture above is what I saw. There was plenty of honey around what appeared to be the last stand of the cluster (Cluster's last stand?). Notice the moldy bees in cluster formation. The cluster must have been very small. There were some dead bees in the bottom of the hive but not beyond what is normal in an overwintered hive.

One other hive also died in the same manner. We took the honey that was stored in those hives and put it in the healthy hives. Our loss this winter is 40% to CCD. Last winter it was 25%.

The other two pictures are of normal hives. I did not pull out frames in those hives. Notice in the one picture the bees clustered around the grease patty. It is a Crisco, honey, sugar, mineral salts, wintergreen oil mixture. The recipe was listed in a posting of November of 2009.

When it is just a little warmer, I will do a full inspection checking for eggs, larva, adequate honey and pollen stores and visible mites. I will switch the brood boxes so that the cluster is on the bottom instead of the top and clean off the screened bottom board. I will medicate for nosema if there is evidence of bee dysentery. If one of the boxes is free of brood and honey, I will replace it with two new smaller sized boxes (westerns). We are going to switch to all western sized boxes because the deeps are too heavy when full of honey.

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