Wintertime Hive Activity


(Herb)

I have two bee hives. The temperature was in the fifties. The one hive had hundreds flying around. The other have had only three or four bees. Do you think I have a problem? We live in North Eastern Indiana.

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Hi Herb,

Kind of hard for me to say without more info. But with the scenario you described, I'd certainly be concerned.

If the inactive hive is in essentially the same location, but had little activity when the other hive had lots of flying bees, that would be worrisome.

You can make a quick hive inspection, even on a fairly cold day. A sunny, low-wind day with temperatures in the fifties (or even a bit colder) is OK.

Just make the inspection quick, and don't hold any combs outside of the hive for a long period. Take out a comb, take a quick look, and put it back. In fact, you can probably get a good idea of the condition of the hive without pulling out combs.

If you open the hive on a day when the bees are tightly clustered, though, DO NOT disturb the cluster. Don't separate hive bodies or pull out frames if doing either will disturb the cluster.

And don't re-arrange the hive bodies or frames. Put everything back the way it was, UNLESS you need to make honey more accessible to the cluster.

When you inspect the hive, you want to be sure, of course, that they have sufficient honey stores. And if there's not, then start feeding. You can feed even in winter by using an in-the-hive feeder.

If it turns out that this hive died due to starvation, you'll want to check your other hive also. Though they may be very active, they could be on the brink of starvation. Pick a mild day, and take a quick look unless you're certain they have plenty of stores.

Good luck!

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