A long overdue winter bee update 🐝 why did they die?

Sorry I haven’t written in so long. Life has been busy in a good way for us! Winter clean up of the hives wasn’t pretty it was labor intensive.

I attended a hive autopsy class in March. Once again my mind was blown with all I leaned. The main reasons why bees die in the winter are: condensation, mites, robbing, cold & starvation.

We treat for mites using oxalic acid or mite away quick strips. They are approved for organic farms and are safe to use if honey is flowing. Do you recall my post last year when I told you a mite on a bee is equal to a human having a bunny on its back? They also come with some not so great diseases. We treated our hives for mites 3 times last year; I learned that’s not enough. When bees are foraging they run into other bees…if those bees haven’t been treated or are infected after treatment your bee brings mites to your hive. One sign of bee demise due to mite disease is your bee is dead with their head cocked and tongue out. I was able to get a picture of this at the winter class and witnessed this in our hive clean up.

From class a bee with it’s tongue out.

A bee from BEEonce’s late hive with its tongue out.

Mites!

Robbing in a beehive? What’s that? (I thought the same thing). Going into winter, other insects are hungry. Wasps, beetles, hornets, you name it. You know your hive was robbed if you see what looks like wood shavings on the bottom board. Robbers drill though the honey capping(s) and make a mess. Honeybees clean up after theirselves and use the capping for another purpose in the hive. When robbers come into a hive they enter through the bottom. This pushes the bees up the hive boxes, typically leaving behind hive stores needed for winter. Once they move up they do not move back down. This is a big reason why bees starve out over the winter.

It’s Britney BEECh’s bottom. Sad dead bees and it looks like some wood carving was going on.
Look at all those cappings on the mouse guard.
Sad day!!
BEEonce’s hive dies in a cluster on top.
All the bees in the frames.

We have some ideas on what to do differently next year. We definitely will add a wind break fence for the bee-yard. This is a huge learning curve and has been intriguing. We will get some honey…someday.

I was able to harvest two ounces of propolis from the hives. I have mixed 2 parts ground propolis (bee glue) with 9 parts 150 proof grain alcohol. (Grain alcohol is hard to find in Vermont!) Propolis can be used for many things and it’s antibiotic properties are known to be healing. You can make lotion, salve, ointments, throat spray you name it. (Another thing I’m learning).

Day 1 of propolis mixture.
What it looks like settled.
All shook up!

I plan to update on the new bees we got in April after our second hive inspection this weekend. In short the news isn’t good for Ellen BEEgenerous but Oprah WinBEE is a rock star.

Enjoy the weekend friends! 🐝

4 thoughts on “A long overdue winter bee update 🐝 why did they die?”

  1. Wow that is fascinating. How you have time for all of this with twin toddlers is amazing. Love watching your stories.

    Like

  2. You’re turning into quite the Mother Earth poster child! How awesome. I can’t wait to hear about the new hives to come! Good Luck!

    Like

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