Author Topic: Colony Not Ready for Winter, What Are My Options?  (Read 226 times)

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Offline litefoot

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Colony Not Ready for Winter, What Are My Options?
« on: November 14, 2017, 12:04:59 pm »
I've got a colony in trouble. 2-deep boxes. Lots of bees. Prodigious brood all through the summer. Felt kind of light, so I started feeding like crazy 3 weeks ago. I thought it was filling up nicely using the heft test. I used the last warm day yesterday to check storage and to, if necessary, optimize frame positions.

I was very discouraged to find almost zero storage in the bottom and maybe 7 frames (mostly uncapped) in the upper box. No queen and no recent brood. Doesn't get much worse than that, I guess. My fault for not doing complete inspections earlier in the fall.

The other colony, which was nursed through the summer after a laying worker incident, is a deep and medium with no resources (food-wise) to spare. It's too cold to continue feeding 2:1. I can try fondant, but I don't think they'd survive the whole winter on that. I know options are limited, but I don't want to lose them.

Maybe I just need to find another beek that needs some bees to boost a colony and see if he'll give me a split in the Spring.

Offline Perry

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Re: Colony Not Ready for Winter, What Are My Options?
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2017, 12:25:09 pm »
Colony #1 - are there a decent amount of bees? I wouldn't expect to see brood now and queens have shrunk a bit since laying stopped and can be hard to find. If the bees are calm I would just add fondant. If there are not many bees I would consider combining with hive #2.

Colony #2 - Again, if you have a decent amount of bees just add fondant.

I am a bit of an underdog supporter and I have nursed stuff through with "some" success. I am trying to get a 5 frame nuc with only about 3 frames of bees through right now. I will be adding a decent block of fondant on top and will have them between other nucs wrapped together and will hope for the best.
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Offline Jen

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Re: Colony Not Ready for Winter, What Are My Options?
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2017, 02:27:26 pm »
Hi litefoot, a couple of winters ago, I had a hive that had a baseball size of bees in it, with the queen. Apis encouraged me to down size the hive to one hive box, insulate that box so the bees don't have to work so hard keeping warm. And make darned sure that that hive never goes with out food all winter long. By Golly that little baseball size of bees made it thru the winter and became one of the best hives I've ever had.

I like the fondant idea! But you may also consider winter patties which are full of carbohydrates and nutrition too. This year I'm going to switch out my sugar cakes with winter patties. Just want to try that.

PS. I don't know what your winter climate is, so insulating may not be needed. I'm in upper northern California where we get a couple of feet of snow each year.

Good luck and don't give up  ;) 8)
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Online Bakersdozen

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Re: Colony Not Ready for Winter, What Are My Options?
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2017, 06:54:30 pm »
Litefoot, any chance that you have some extra frames of honey in a super you could put on top or brood frames with some honey on them?  You could put those in the hive for insurance.  You might reverse those hive boxes, putting the empty on top.  Then fill the empty with any extra frames you have.
I agree with Perry, fondant or sugar bricks (cakes) what ever you want to call it.  There shouldn't be much brood now.  Queens should be shutting down.
I hope all this made sense.
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Offline CBT

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Re: Colony Not Ready for Winter, What Are My Options?
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2017, 10:05:47 pm »
What they said and add a quilt box to help keep in the heat and catch moisture.
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Offline riverbee

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Re: Colony Not Ready for Winter, What Are My Options?
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2017, 12:24:03 am »
litefoot, so a hail mary situation or two?........... :D :D :D
been there myself a time or two.......or three or............ :D

like perry, and unlike being taught 'take your losses in the fall', i have 'nursed' and done all sorts of 'hail mary' things to salvage a hive. and for me mostly from my mistakes, or lack of attention/judgment. in the fall this is more difficult when hives are in trouble. sometimes trying to save a hive flys, sometimes it doesn't. we learn from our mistakes. i have just taken and learned another hard lesson this fall. still reeling and thinking over a loss of a very strong hive. 

no brood at this time of year is normal. if you have no queen in #1, these bees will not make it, irregardless of how much you feed them.
did you miss finding her? queenless bees will die off, or possibly abscond.

hive #2~ do you have a queen?
"The other colony, which was nursed through the summer after a laying worker incident, is a deep and medium with no resources (food-wise) to spare. It's too cold to continue feeding 2:1. I can try fondant, but I don't think they'd survive the whole winter on that."

if you already think this about this hive not being able to survive with fondant added?  most likely true.......one never knows until one trys even with odds against......it's how we learn.  i would be inclined to combine it with the other hive based on what you said.  if you combine them and whatever resources, i would add feed and i would not let the feed run out.

about combining, not sure if your temperatures are conducive for combining hives?

maybe kick out the empty deep on hive #1, if it's too cold to do so, just leave it. set the boxes from hive #2 on hive #1(newspaper between) and again feed fondant or whatever on top.  if you have two queens, let the bees figure it out.





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if you obey the rules, you miss all the fun.....katherine hepburn
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