Monday, January 13, 2014

The Dead Out and The New Winter Inner Cover

I opened the top on the dead out hive and this was the sight that greeted me. You can clearly see where the bees came up out of the hive and comb boxes and began eating the sugar I had placed inside the Winter inner cover.

BTW I must say I LOVE these Winter inner covers I been using. I bought them from Brushy Mountain Bee Supplies just for the very purpose of emergency feeding. As you can see they are about two inches deep which is way too much space for Summer time as the bees will build comb in them but they are great for Winter feeding as you can really pour it in deep. They also use a solid board that is much thicker than the normal inner covers and that coupled with a few inches of sugar actually adds it's own insulation. The sugar then absorbs the condensation that can result in bee hives over Winter and the covers have built in vent holes in case the lower entrances get blocked by ice and snow. The center hole is also just the right size to place a mason jar in and place a medium super on top for emergency inside feeding as well.

I plan on designing a version I can make on my own for now on to cut down costs but I must admit this is one of the best ideas I have come across in a long time.

Anyway back to the dead bees.

Directly under the cover I could see the top of the Winter ball. The four frames you see with burr comb on them are the only four frames the girls had managed to build out this Fall. I think I actually gave two of those frames too them when I hived them up.

Here they are from a different angle. Ya there was a lot of open space in that hive and I really should have either consolidated them into a stronger hive and killed the queen or put them in a smaller box for Winter but they showed up in an unattended swarm trap a bit too late for all that.

You can see where the ball actually was over more than one of the frames and the bottom of it hanging below the frame in the pic. There were actually more bees here than I estimated during the Fall. You can also see they had some little bit of capped honey right there they were trying to get too. My guess is they starved but it was also helped along by the arctic blast temperatures that didn't allow them to break the ball and get that honey they had left.

This is where the main part of the ball ended up. There are some few hundred bee bodies now stuck down inside the comb cells. Some bee keepers say you can put those frames back into use and the bees will remove the dead bodies but I have seen those bodies cause some pretty bad mold and turn the cells into a disgusting mess. I will save as much comb on the frame as possible but I now scrape any comb that has dead bee bodies stuck in them.

Just to Bee Safe.

Here is another shot of the last little bit of capped honey. Actually that bit might have sustained that ball a week or more and given them a chance at once again hitting the sugar when it warmed up a bit but alas it was not to be. As soon as it warms up again I will break open the caps and leave that frame out in front of my surviving hives and let them have at it.

I still haven't went down into the brood chamber yet. I will do that on the next warm spell we have and get the hive parts cleaned and put away before it gets warm and vermin try and move in,

Considering how bad it was here with that cold snap things could have been much worse and in fact I was afraid they were.

Of course we are not out of the Winter woods yet. February and March are the worst months for bees. March especially is when the real lean times hit.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


  1. That's really sad that the colony died out. It's like a bee apocalypse. Were there no prepper bees, who had their own stash of honey and made it through the cold spell? I guess nature doesn't really work that way.

    1. Harry - I think with the bees you hafta kinda look at the entire hive as one entity not a group of individuals. They just don't think that way. I would however be willing to bet that some of the foragers from the dead hive could be found surviving in the neighboring hive right now though. They will do that.

  2. That is what happened to the bees that were living in our out building. From what I learned from the bee club that I went to was how there are just low producing colonies just like there are people who don't work hard. Sometimes in the long run it is just as well to lose the low end of your spectrum of bees but no body likes to have it happen.

    1. SF - Yes there are sometimes hives that just won't produce for squat. It's pretty rare though for one to not produce enough for its own survival unless something else is also amiss. Or so my experience has shown me. This hive was at a major disadvantage from the start though and I wonder why it swarmed so late. I don't think it came from one of my hives originally but anything is possible. Oh well it's more than likely out of the gene pool for good now as I doubt any drones it raised had time for any mating flights.

  3. So what happens if you put a little lightbulb under it to help heat it up?


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  5. I guess we can learn from the bees.Only the strong survive.


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