Bees dead mid winter. Should I close up the hive?

by Michael
(Logan, UT)

My bees died mid winter. Not sure why, although I know they had plenty of honey. My question is should I close up the hive until I introduce a new colony in a couple of months to avoid robbers or is there any chance it will attract a new colony?

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Hi Michael,

Sorry that happened to you, but winter loss is an unfortunate and inevitable part of beekeeping.

If there is honey left in the hive, it's very likely that it will be robbed out long before you can replace the bees.

The best way to preserve the honey, if you're able, is to place the combs in sealed plastic bags and put them in a freezer. When you're ready to use the combs again, take them out of the freezer and let them thaw before taking them out of the plastic bags. (You can even seal entire supers in garbage bags and freeze them if you have the freezer space.)

If that's not an option for you, then you can try sealing up the hive. The problem with that approach is that you could have a wax moth problem. (And other pest problems, too, such as mice or hive beetles.) Based upon your location, though, it might stay cold enough long enough to avoid a serious issue with wax moths before you replace the bees.

Could a swarm occupy the hive? Yes, it's possible, but I wouldn't want to count on that. If it were me, I'd go ahead and make plans to replace the bees.

Good luck!

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