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Lost a hive in winter, MI USA


Italians are going strong but my Saskatraz hive died a few weeks back. It was pretty cold for a few weeks with windchill’s in the -30-40s. It’s fairly warm today so I opened up the dead hive to see what was going on. They still had plenty of honey so that wasn’t it. I did use mite strips in the fall. I could see them clustered and underneath them there was a small pile of dead bees, but some of them looked like they were eaten or cut in half, and I wasn’t sure if that meant anything.


Sad to see, and all too familiar. Could have been the cold, too much for small and/or weak colonies.

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With those sort of temperatures I would have to agree with @Eva and they died from the cold. The hives were not given enough insulation to keep the colonies alive. Italian strain of bees are fairly good at surviving from the cold but even they can benefit from a helping hand from you.
There is lots of help and tips on helping hives in a cold climate on this forum.

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I guess I assume the cold did it. Looking for other ideas that would result in bee halves under the cluster?


When I hear about bees cut in half, I think about the video “Hornets From Hell” where Giant Japanese Hornets kill bees by chopping them in half. Are any hornets/wasps likely to do that in your area?


I had that thought too! Ha, no no giant hornets or anything else flying around this time of year.


Yes of course, still winter over there. I don’t think the ground hog predicted an early end to winter this year. I see you are further north than Punxatawney :slight_smile: I wasn’t sure if MI was Missouri or Mississippi. Turned out to be neither.
I wonder if folks up your way would be better off relocating small numbers of hives into barns or something like that over winter.


Some do that. I’m fairly new at this. First hive I’ve lost over winter. Then again that’s out of 3 lol.

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Staring to think about warming up here. In order to reuse this hive what should I do? It has spent the winter completely frozen. Do I need to do more to sanitize it? Can I reuse frames of honey/ pollen/empty comb/empty frames?



Hopefully they have been off your hive. Mine have been sitting in my deep-freeze. I’ve done this for two years now. This will start my fourth season. I will remove them out of my deep-freeze about 4-5 days before wanting to put them on the hive. I will set them in full sun in a plastic trash bag so the bees will not get on them a couple of hours before I put them on the hive just to warm them up a bit more. I will put them on noon or so, just so that it’s not a big adjustment and temperature. Last year I put them on late April and was able to harvest about four weeks later mid May.

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I think I was not clear. I have a hive full of dead bees. Obviously I need to remove the dead bees. What about the structural parts of the hive? The box, landing , roof. I know some people burn the insides. Is that necessary since they’ve been sitting frozen for the last few months? Can I reuse the frames of honey? Can I reuse the frames of pollen? Can I reuse frames that are empty? Can I reuse framesIn general?

I know that if I’m going to reuse frames I’ll put them in the freezer until I actually need to put them in the eye. My question is sanitation since I assumed it was mites that killed the hive.



Scorching is only done in cases of American Foul Brood or European Foul Brood (AFB or EFB). That’s because the spores are very virulent and won’t be killed by freezing or washing. Mites don’t leave anything behind that freezing won’t kill and new bees can’t clean up themselves.

If you’re concerned or curious you could get a test done by US Ag dept.

If you don’t have a mouse guard on your entrance you might have a mouse in there, who might have nibbled on some bee carcasses and chewed up wax - that occurs to me as I look at your pic again…

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