9 responses

  1. Emily
    March 30, 2013

    That hive looks enormous, bigger than any of mine. What a shame. But you’ve done well to only lose one over the winter, and you know how to stop it happening next winter.

  2. Phillip
    March 31, 2013

    Yup, it was a large colony. The trick now to make sure none of the other colonies starve before spring. I’ve given dry sugar to all the hives (and pollen patties last week). Some of the colonies are gradually eating through their sugar, while others, the large colonies, are eating through about 1kg of sugar a week (over 2 pounds). I won’t be able to check on the hives until next weekend, by which time they’ll have been on their own for two weeks. I’m not sure what I’ll find.

    I keep hearing about bees bringing in pollen this time of year. We still have snow on the ground in Newfoundland.

    I’d love to get my bees through winter without feeding them sugar or pollen, but I wonder if that’s even possible in Newfoundland.

  3. Chris
    March 31, 2013

    I wonder if the size of the colony was a factor in its starvation? If it’s a really big colony going into the winter, then they’ll eat through their food stores way faster than a smaller colony.

    It’s maybe even a good thing you didn’t feed in the fall, because it may have stimulated even more colony growth heading into the winter.

    Sorry to hear about your loss. Never a happy sight. :(

    • Phillip
      March 31, 2013

      I know a larger colony has a better chance of surviving the winter, but clearly that only applies if the bees have enough honey stores. In this case, a smaller colony probably wouldn’t have starved.

      I don’t think feeding them in the fall would have stimulated more growth. From what I understand, the colder, shorter days and the lack of regular pollen triggers the queen to stop laying in the fall. Once she starts shutting down, any extra sugar syrup or honey is stored and capped for the winter.

      I think the colony went into winter with virtually no honey in the bottom box and not much in the top box. Definitely not enough to last two months.

  4. Jeff
    April 5, 2013

    It sucks as I had three that starved out. It hurt me deep.

    • Phillip
      April 6, 2013

      Jeff, I think you’re doing a fantastic job with your bees. Considering how well you’ve built up your colonies in three years, starting from one hive, then four and now, what is, over a dozen? I wouldn’t be discouraged by the loss of three colonies.

      I don’t like seeing so many dead bees in a hive, especially knowing I could have prevented it, but I think there’s a lot to be gained from these experiences. That said, I’m glad this didn’t happen during my first winter. That would have hit me hard.

  5. Sheila Retherford
    April 7, 2013

    Great photos of your starved out hive, very evocative. I always feel a little sad when I’ve done something that damages or kills off one of my hives.

  6. Phillip
    April 8, 2013

    Another colony almost starved. I think it’s been two weeks since I last checked on the hives and gave them all some pollen patties and a small amount of sugar. The colony that I call Old Grumpy had no sugar left in the hive, so I dumped in another 2kg. It’s a massive colony and most of the bees seem to be above the top bars. Too bad they’ve always been grumpy bees.

    The rest of the hives had plenty of sugar left in them, though I topped up a couple just to be safe.

    I’ll check them again in two weeks.

  7. Phillip
    March 17, 2014

    This is a good reminder for NL beekeepers too.

    http://www.honeybeesuite.com/reminder-pollen-is-not-nectar/

    I doubt we’ll see any pollen until April, if we’re lucky, but it is the time of year when the queen begins laying more. More mouths to feed means more food required. I’ll be checking my colonies at least every two weeks until May. I may have to give them more food to hold them over. A bit of sugar (or syrup when it’s warm) is fine, but I’m on the fence about feeding pollen this year. I’m not sure I want my hives exploding with bees (and swarming) again.

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