Newfoundland Blizzard Buries Honey Bees

The city of St. John’s, Newfoundland, got hit with about 50 cm of heavy, wet snow in the past 24 hours along with 110 km/h winds that made for some seriously high snowdrifts. One such snowdrift buried one of my beehives. Here it is shortly after I frantically dug it out with my bare hands:

Bee hive buried in snow. (Jan 11, 2013.)

Here’s the video that tells the tale:

11 thoughts on “Newfoundland Blizzard Buries Honey Bees

  1. Very glad they, and you, are okay.

    Was the white grid in the video a queen excluder on top of the brood chamber? If not, what is it? If so, why?

    • “Was the white grid in the video a queen excluder on top of the brood chamber?”

      Yes, all of my hives have queen excluders on top, but I don’t have a good reason for it. I fed my bees honey from their own honey supers before the winter and used the excluders to make sure the queens didn’t get into the honey. The bees were clustering heavily on top when I removed the honey supers in November. Removing the excluders at the same time would have disturbed the bees too much and exposed them to too much cold weather. So I just left them on.

  2. That is immense, what a relief that they’re hanging in there, tough little lovelies. Perhaps the snow will be a good insulator and help keep them warm, though there is a risk that they get attracted out by the brightness, fly into the snow and freeze. Hopefully your bees are more sensible than that. Can see why you need a top entrance!

  3. great video, the bees look good, I feed mine their own honey too. I think it is better then sugar.

  4. Wow! This is like Real TV! Nice rescue. The panic in your voice and then relief when you see that the bees are still alive is so genuine.

    I am glad to see and hear that this hive is OK. They are marvellous little creatures, aren’t they?


  5. Hey Phil,

    I had a lot flying out after the storm into the snow too because of the brightness from the snow. Judging from the poop there was a lot of activity, although the number of dead bees on the ground was pretty low, several hundred between 18 colonies. It is also good indication that many made it back into their colonies alive. The next day it was 5°C and no wind so I took the liberty to look in some of the colonies by removing the the outer cover and insulated cover, while looking in through the inner cover.

    Some colonies are to the top so I added candy cakes, while others are still well down in bottom deep. I also checked to of my two 5 frame nucs and the single deeps. All is still well. Only 3.5 months before the bees start collecting again. I’ll check them again in the middle of march to see if they need anymore candy cakes.

    • The one hive I was able to check, the one in the city, seems okay. The bees are clustering up high. None flew out in the snow.

      I have no idea what’s happening with my six hives in Portugal Cove. Nobody on the farm checks on them and I rarely have time to drive out there. I’ll probably go out with some sugar the next time we have a warm weekend.

  6. Wow that puts the light dusting of snow on our hive rooftops in perspective. Great that the bees survived their mini apocalypse!

  7. Hey there,

    Good to see healthy bees. The fact that they lived is not surprising. We had a presentation down here in Nova Scotia by beekeepers from Manitoba, and they bury all their hives in a big pile of snow every year – for the entire winter. It keeps them insulated, and keeps them safer from temperature fluctuations. I might do it myself, but our temps get above freezing too often, and would cause melting or create a block of solid ice.

    I guess enough air gets through the snow…

    All the best –


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