A Rat Gnawing on My Beehive

Some of you may have heard that the eastern part of the isle of Newfoundland where I keep bees got dinged with a massive snowstorm on January 17th, 2020. The official forecast called for about 90cm (3 feet) of snow. But with winds hitting about 120km/h (75mph), more than a few snowdrifts were taller than me.

I’m guessing a rat did this (January 26th, 2020).

The city of St. John’s and surrounding municipalities were under a State of Emergency for about a week. Everything was shut down. I couldn’t check on some of my hives until the roads were passable nine days later. This is what I found when I checked on them:

These beehives got off lucky. The ones close to my house were completely buried. (They still are as I write this. I’ll post another video showing the full force of the storm as soon as I have time to put something together.) Here’s a review of what you’ll find in the above video if you haven’t watched it already:

1:35 — Rat tracks in the snow in front of the hives?
1:50 — Dead bees chewed up by a rat?
2:20 — Top entranced gnawed open by a rat?
3:55 — A rat tunnel near the entrance of the hive?
4:20 — Quarter-inch / 6mm mesh covering the top entrance, attached with tacks that I hope are strong enough to keep rats out. (I didn’t have my staple gun on me at the time.)
4:30 — A layer of ice on the bottom board, demonstrating why it’s important to tilt hives in the winter.
5:45 — A comment about listening to the bees with my stethoscope.
6:00 — Slightly worried about the smell of poop around the hive, probably just from cleansing flights, not dysentery.
7:10 — A peek inside the hive that had the rat gnawing on it. A nice small Russian-like cluster.
7:45 — A moisture quilt over the inner cover for ventilation and insulation (and it seems to work). I did this because I thought too much heat could be escaping from my regular moisture quilts. The inner cover keeps more heat in but still allows for ventilation through the inner cover hole.
8:35 — A moisture quilt that got filled with snow during the snowstorm. The bees survived it.

The first time I’ve seen snow inside a moisture quilt (January 26th, 2020).

9:25 — A summary of my beeyard visit and what I need to do the next time I visit, reminding myself to tilt those hives in the winter.

Bottom board full of ice and dead bees. (January 26th, 2020.)

Snowshoeing over 4 feet of snow to get to these hives (January 26th, 2020).