This video is not instructive. It’s just me digging a path through the snow from our back door to the hives in the backyard that are half buried in snow.

I cleared the lower front entrances afterwards, scraping ice away easily with my hive tool. A few guard bees came out and died from the cold immediately, but at least the colonies are still alive. I continue to be totally in awe of the bees. (See Hives in Snow for more photos.)

6 Responses to “Hives in Snow Video”

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  1. Awesome! What a wonderful video. Call me crazy but I think your bees are snug and good ’til spring.

    • Phillip says:

      …I think your bees are snug and good ’til spring.

      I’m not convinced. Mark from North Carolina recently lost a colony that seemed alive and well a month ago. The bees starved to death apparently because it was too cold for them to break from the cluster and move to honey frames. The hive had candy cakes too, but they were untouched. He found the dead bees clustered in the middle of the hive and all the honey within the cluster gone. Plenty of honey on the sides of the hive though.

      This is another reason I’d like to switch to all mediums. The bees are less likely to starve in the extreme cold because they barely have to break the cluster to move to another frame.

  2. Did you have honey frames on top of the cluster? Your story Plenty of honey on the sides of the hive though.… reinforces what I’ve read and been told. As I understand it the bees will easily move up but not to the side frames. On a warm day with no wind the hive can be opened and the side frames moved to the middle over top the cluster if possible or sugar cakes placed above the cluster.

    • Phillip says:

      Honey frames on top of the cluster? Not exactly. This is what they looked like about 20 days ago:

      From Miscellaneous Beekeeping Pics

      The bees are already clustering heavily in the top brood box, which can mean they’re short on honey, but I find that hard to believe. The candy cakes are on for insurance.

      It would be difficult to move the frames around with so many bees everywhere, and I don’t want to risk disturbing the brood nest. My general policy these days is: Don’t mess with anything unless I absolutely have to.

      Just looking at this photo again…

      From Miscellaneous Beekeeping Pics

      …and I’m having second thoughts. Maybe they won’t starve out, because look at that crazy cluster. Such a high cluster could mean they’re running low on honey, but it also shows they can move across the full expanse of frames on a fairly mild day (0°C / 32°F when the photo was taken). So maybe they will be fine.

      I plan to add more candy cakes and a pollen patty to each hive the next time it goes above freezing. Hopefully that day will come soon. That’ll be the moment of truth.

  3. I didn’t realize you had only a single super. Not having had bees through winter it would seem your thinking is sound about being able moving around more. I look forward to seeing a post if it warms up enough.
    A couple times a week I still check the weather in St John’s, if things continue as in the past few month may be you’ll get a “warm” snap!

  4. Phillip says:

    I didn’t realize you had only a single super.

    I don’t. Each hive consists of 2 deep supers (2 brood boxes), though it’s hard to tell from those photos. The bees are clustered in the top box.

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