The temp inside two of my hives looks scarily cold and I am wondering if they are dead. Check out the graph and see the pink line is outside temp and the two lines just above on the far right aren’t a temp I think is survivable. This is my first winter, they are all single deeps loaded with honey. Do you think they are goners?.
I would say, take a deep breath, and relax.
First of all, at this time of year, in your climate, you can’t and shouldn’t do anything about it. Whatever happens is karma. You did your best, and you will learn from whatever the outcome may be.
Second, bees cluster at this time of year, and your probe is very unlikely to be measuring an average temperature or even a warmest. So who knows what temp it is near the cluster?
Third, bees move stuff around to make us worry. I am in southern California, and I have just seen the graph below. Of course I am worrying that my queen is dead and the bees are all leaving. But actually all I need to do is be patient, wait for a nice warm day when my hubby is available and the neighbors are out, then we can see what is really going on. In the mean time, my imagination is killing me.
With the hive temperature twice dropping below zero at the probe, but is that going to be an accurate temperature in the cluster?? You won’t know till you get a warmer spell to open the hive and investigate it. If you then find the hive has survived either put the probe closer to the cluster so you will get more accurate temperature readings or just ignore the misinformation of the graphs,
Sorry, but I am sure they are dead if they weren’t moving. I agree with your prognosis. There is always next season and to learn from the loss of the colony and you will be a better bee keeper.
This time of year we are in a severe Summer so have the risk of fresher/newer comb melting and trying to keep out hives cool.
Not to be overly optimistic, but how long was your peek? Last week on a milder day I visited my 2 remaining hives almost sure I’d find them dead. I had food supplements ready though, just in case. On first glance I saw several lying dead on top like in your photo and assumed the worst - and began to close the lid in sorrow. Then a couple of heads poked up from the depths to see what was going on! Soon enough I had feisty guards flying up at me!! So, the two hive are topped off with feed and fingers crossed all stays well til warm weather comes.
What about getting hold of an infrared camera/Flir? As Peter said, your probe might not be the best indicator of life if there’s a small cluster down there somewhere.
If they are truly goners, I am truly sorry
I like optimism
My peek was about 1-2 minutes at the most and I didn’t see movement or hear any noise. I realize the sensor might not be over the cluster but I’m not seeing any delta between external temp and inside temp under the cover, and I would expect something different if they were generating any heat. We will behaving continued cold weather here this week but some warmer days toward Friday-Sunday next weekend is predicted. I’m going to keep monitoring, but I’ve already ordered replacement nucs as insurance. First winter for me so likely I didn’t do something that I should have, and so I just have to figure that out. I’m not sure what to look for to determine what that was when I get into the hive in warmer weather but I’ll try to do some research to figure that out too.
Hey Tim, I don’t know your local climate where you are but should you be thinking along the lines of a nuc in the middle of your winter? It would be a very high risk choice for no gain over a change in the weather indicating spring and buying a nuc then.
I’m in very very cold weather and snow currently; record lows since the 1920s so I’ll have to wait for the spring thaw in April before I can put the nuc in place unfortunately. I’ve already reserved 2 nucs for this purpose.
Have you thought about investing in (or borrowing) a stethoscope? Even a clustered hive, the bees make noise, and it is easy to hear if you apply a stethoscope to the outside.
The more expensive option is a FLIR camera, like this one:
An image like these might help allay (or confirm) your thoughts:
Glad to read that Tim, it makes perfect sense now.
The climate change here is record heat with a few towns making 48c and droughts over about 70% of the country. We are thinking on ways to keep our hives and bees from over heating.
I’m pretty confident that a Flir would show the same thing as my broodminder sensors; no activity. Its 9F / -12.7 C right now (so damn cold) and the inside of the hives in question say 18F/-7C so its possible something is still ticking in there…
I am keeping my fingers crossed for you, and commiserating with you at the same time, just in case. My hive monitor is showing crazy stuff right now, although it is about 18C outside:
I just hope it is a software glitch, as it will be a few days before I can look inside, and by then it may be raining…
Have you insulated your hives or roof space?
A video was recently posted by Frederick Dunn with his hives covered in snow :
Hi @Faroe, I have bee cozy wraps around my hives, with pvc hive tops that are insulated and keep the moisture moving to the outside of the hive boxes. The entrances are clear, and have an upper entrance facing the same direction as the regular entrance to avoid convection like blowing through the hive. There is no moisture/humidity issue in the hive before things took a turn for terrible, and the humidity sensor has consistently shown to be in the normal range. With -24.5c for the last few days and leading up to last week it has been too cold to pull the hive apart to really see what is going on so I figured if they are alive in there I’ll get lucky by not touching them right now, but when there is warmer temps I’ll try to take a closer look. I have an orthoscopic cam that I can put through the entrance to see if I can see any cluster and report that back. I suppose I am too inexperienced to know what to look for if there is no movement that might help me diagnose what else I could have done.
Well it sure sounds like you did a good job of preparing your bees to stay very cozy over the winter, and if they have died, it would not have been due to cold or damp - at least not directly. What did you do for mite treatment last season?
At least you’ve got all that great gear to use for your next colonies
My mite count was super low but I did 4 OAV treatments, one week apart. Treated on day 1, day 8, day 15, and day 22 to make sure the brood cycle was covered. I haven’t checked the boards yet to see what that may show but will soon.
Again, you did all the right things…I’ve lost all my colonies in late fall or winter in my three years of beekeeping so far, until these two (so far, fingers crossed) even though I’ve done much the same as you have with treatment and winterizing. There are so many variables & you can only do your best and apply your learning forward.
If you zoom into this photo I think I found the culprit to my hive die offs. I put a red arrow where I could spot a mite. I think mites must of overtaken them-- and so I am going to have to review my OAV treatment routine to make sure I do it more often, and/or add another method to the mix. All four hives are dead; two of them had frost on the inside of the top cover and the bees look like they were simply frozen in position. Its odd that my humidity sensors didn’t pick up the moisture problem but maybe because of the cold the sensor didn’t have a chance.