Monday 5 February 2018

Midwinters Death

These are a couple of hives I have out back, the one on the left is dead. It was alive in December, but I knew that it was weak this fall and didn't have high hopes for it. No surprise to find it dead.

The little dark spots on the snow are dead bees from the living hive and if you look close, you can see the tracks (wings and feet) from the birds picking up the bees.  Just behind the hives the birds fly up into the trees and eat the bees, leaving the legs and heads to litter the the snow below.

Insulated Hives Feb 2018

Dead bees outside a hive are always a good sign contrary to what you might think!  A dead hive has no bees that will fly outside to die, but here the telltale sign that the hive on the left is dead is the lack of frost in front of the top entrance. You can see a comb of frost obscuring (not blocking) the entrance to the living right hand hive. Just like people, bees breath and release moisture. It was -27°C last night so that little frost comb formed as the moist air inside the hive escaped.  It doesn't always happen,only in the really cold days have I noticed it.

Of course the best way to know if a hive is alive is to wait for a warmer day and see the bees in the entrance. That is definitive.

Final note:  The foil wrap insulation is useless as insulation.  The hives look sharp, but it gives an R1 value (maybe) if you just wrap it on.  It needs an air gap to do somewhat better with no air leakage.  I used it here because I had some kicking around.  I have also heard of people just wrapping their hives with geo-textile fabric just to block air infiltration into the hive. The foil would at least do that.  Locally, a very experienced commercial beekeeper uses the foil in combination with I think felt paper and they do well with that I hear. Top of these hives has 2"" of foam board in the lid (R10).  Yes, I just had that kicking around as well. I think that all beekeepers feel the insulation in the top is important.  I've heard of R5 to R10.