8 responses

  1. chris
    December 23, 2013

    Try lifting the hive. You will be able to tell how much honey is in it based on whether it is heavy. If there is a mouse, there will usually be a pile of nesting material on the bottom board. Candy boards allow you to put more sugar on the hive at one time, quickly.

    Good luck!

    • Phillip
      December 24, 2013

      I know candy boards are probably the best way to feed the bees over winter, but I’d still rather stick with dry sugar feeding than messing around making a mess brewing up hard candy. I kind of hate cooking up hard candy.

      The situation with this colony is a bit perplexing because I added a full deep of honey to the hive a little over a month ago just before I wrapped it and gave it dry sugar. Not all the frames had capped honey, but still, that deep weighed a tonne. I can’t imagine the bees eating through most of it in a month.

      Perplexing situation #2: I know up close and personal what mouse damage looks like…

      http://mudsongs.org/mice-in-a-hive/

      But I haven’t noticed any unusual debris or nesting material on the bottom board. Not yet anyway.

      I’m not sure what to think. I’ll check on the hive again as soon as I get a mild day. I’ll load it up with about 10 pounds of sugar and hope for the best.

  2. Donna Frizzell
    December 27, 2013

    Philip, Did your hives not produce enough honey this year to support themselves through the winter? We had a very good year here in Cape Breton. Just curious, why the sugar feeding?

    • Phillip
      December 27, 2013

      Most of the hives seemed to have enough honey, but I didn’t top them up with sugar syrup in the fall, so as a precaution, I gave them the dry sugar early. One of my colonies, a huge colony, starved last winter because I waited too long to check on it…

      http://mudsongs.org/winter-die-off-post-mortem-the-video/

      I didn’t want to risk that again.

      We had a good summer for bees, too, but most of my colonies were not in top honey-producing condition. None of the colonies were requeened this year (I did try, but one queen was a dud and another queen was rejected). Two of my colonies were started from splits made from swarm cells. Another colony superceded its queen. So all of my colonies had either slower old queens or new queens that took at least a month to mate and begin laying well. As a result, I didn’t get much honey from any of them, though I did enjoy watching the bees more or less manage themselves.

      I don’t really advocate the “let the bees be bees” approach to beekeeping, because there are times when you have to intervene, but my mostly hands-off approach this year was as a close as it gets. It wasn’t much for honey production, but overall the colonies were healthy.

  3. Donna Frizzell
    December 27, 2013

    I agree, I don’t go for the “let bees be bees” approach either, because then one would not really be a beekeeper. I am guilty of feeding sugar syrup in the past, but I hope to keep it a thing of the past. Sugar is as bad for bees as it is for us. I always made sure my hives weighed at least 100+ lbs going into winter and never lost a hive to starvation. But last winter for the first time my bees had to contend with mites and that was a disaster. This year I am wintering 3 hives (2 are 3 deeps), no treatments, but they are partially converted to small cell so we will see if they survive. Are you aware of Dee Lusby’s the yahoo group? Very good information on natural beekeeping. Sure do hope your hives make it, it really is depressing when we lose bees. All the best to you in 2014.

  4. Phillip
    April 5, 2014

    I just updated this post with photos of a my first dead vole / mouse.

  5. Jeff
    April 5, 2014

    It’s good to see the bees made it through the winter, even though there was a vole in the colony.

    Scrape off what you can. The bees will clean the rest.

  6. Phillip
    April 28, 2014

    Mouse in hive? UPDATE: No. More honey than I’ve ever seen in an over-wintered hive before. But no mouse. See the last update at the end of this post for the details.

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