Here’s a short video that demonstrates how easy it is to clear dead bees from clogged up quarter-inch mesh. This kind of thing probably isn’t practical for commercial beekeepers with a large number of hives, but it seems to work out okay for folks like me.
Some beekeepers use quarter-inch / 6mm mesh to keep shrews out of their hives in the winter. It’s not necessary in locations where shrews aren’t a problem. Half-inch mesh or mouse-guards with 3/8-inch openings seem to work okay in those situations.
Whether using half-inch or quarter-inch (12mm or 6mm), the mesh usually gets clogged with dead bees by January or February. (Like most things in beekeeping, it often depends on the location.) But the smaller mesh tends to clog up quicker because some of the bees, namely the drones, have a hard time squishing themselves through the narrow mesh. Sometimes the mesh clogs up within days of adding it, which usually means it was added too early.
In any case, mesh clogged with dead bees can be a gross thing to behold and understandably alarming at times. But it’s not a big deal. Not for me anyway.
It takes about a minute, maybe two, to remove the mesh, clean out the dead bees and reattached the mesh. It ain’t no thing. That’s all I wanted to demonstrate in this video (which was taken from the longer video I posted on January 30th, 2022).
A quick word on the art of dying: Honey bees die every day in the spring, summer, winter and fall. It’s just more noticeable in the winter because it’s often too cold for the workers to clear away the dead bees like they normally would when it’s warm. The dead bees sit there at the bottom of the hive and get gooey. Or the bees fly off and die in the snow where they’re more noticeable than they would be in the summer with grass everywhere. That’s how it goes.