Winter snow, and signs of life

By | January 19, 2013

Heat generated from the colony prevents snow building up in a tell tale sign of life inside

Heat generated from the colony prevents snow building up in a tell tale sign of life inside

Yesterday the UK experienced a good drop of snow, the allotment receiving around 5 to 10 cms. This morning I was eager to check the hive was warm and secure against the cold, and met an interesting sight.

The clustered bees generate warmth in the hive, this warmth is melting snow directly over the tight round cluster inside. Inside the hive is around 30 degrees celsius.

 

 

 

The tell tale circle of melted snow, above the clustered bees inside

The tell tale circle of melted snow, above the clustered bees inside

 

 

It was a relieving to see, as it indicates the colony is toasty and keeping warm, clustered as you’d hope in the middle of the hive.

(The chicken wire cage around the hive is to prevent nosey wood peckers trying their luck, for a winter snack).

 

 

 

Wax shavings dropping out of the hive indicate the bees are eating their stores

Wax shavings dropping out of the hive indicate the bees are eating their stores

 

The monitoring tray I placed under the hive last week now has wax shavings, which have dropped out of the hive. The deposits are in stripped lines, shadowing the pattern the frames are in. The wax is being chewed off the capped cells contining honey – so the bees are opening the lids and feasting on their stores. Another great sign of life and health.

I only counted a handful of varroa mites dropping onto the tray, so a frequency of around 1 / day is an acceptable and quite reassuring level. A varroa infestation can silently decimate a hive over winter.

I was really pleased, and a bit relieved to see these wax shavings, as it indicates activity inside (and life!). Normally, the bees eat honey in the frames closest to the cluster. Honey in the middle may be running out, causing them to start feeding on the outer frames.

The bees are near the front of the hive, and starting to access the outer frames

The bees are near the front of the hive, and starting to access the outer frames

I may need to put in some supplemented candy, just for safety’s sake.

While inspecting the hive, I also cleared some snow off their front porch. In addition to dead bees potentially blocking the entrance, a wall of snow can lock the poor beasties in.


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