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British Beekeepers Association Official Forum 

  • Early winter activity

  • Beginners forum, ask beekeeping related questions and get help from other experienced beekeepers. Please use the Search Feature please to avoid duplicated threads
Beginners forum, ask beekeeping related questions and get help from other experienced beekeepers. Please use the Search Feature please to avoid duplicated threads
 #1460  by RoystonY
 03 Dec 2018, 20:02

This is my first winter season, I have one colony that has been very strong through the summer. I did try a late summer split but was ultimately unsuccessful and had to reunite, leaving me with plenty of stores. I did my final check in late October and insulated theoutside of the hive shortly after (1 brood box, 1 super). There's another hive owned by another keeper on the same site, which is handy to have as a sort of environmental factor control. I popped down to have a quick look on Sunday as it was mild (about 10 C), and noticed there was quite a bit of activity at the other hive entrance and none at mine. Fearing the worst, and as it was mild, I lifted the roof for a couple of seconds just to get an idea - there were bees at the hole in the crown board, and a glimpse of what seemed like normal activity in the super frames. After I popped the lid down a solitary scout briefly buzzed about me, then returned inside.

The temptation to suit up and have a look inside is very strong but I know this will be counterproductive unless it's an unusually warm day. Is it normal that two hives a couple of feet away from each other would behave differently like this? Should I be worried, and what can I do (if anything) to reassure myself they're doing OK?
 #1462  by Chrisbarlow
 03 Dec 2018, 20:32
welcome to the forum.

Do not inspect the box, waste of time IMO. Even if there is a problem, what can you do? so for instance, ifs its not queen right, you cant get a new queen now. Also what if you inspect and everything is ok and you squash the queen. youve made matters worse and you still cant get a new queen.

You can heft it, if its light, by all means put some fondant on, but again no inspection. apart from that although you can really do is wait.

as for different hives and can they be that different, yes they can. italians will always be more active than british blacks for instance. Although I fully accept hive entrance activity can be an indicator of a problem. the situation we have is, we live in a multi cultural bee world, there are bees around with heritages from all over. this can produce some very active bees and some not so active bees.
 #1463  by Cable_Fairy
 03 Dec 2018, 22:23
I have two hives a few feet apart, yesterday the temperature reached a balmy 10 C, one hive they were out collecting pollen and the other there was no sign. I have glass quilts on both hives so I can have a quick look inside without disturbing them. All looks to be fine.
 #1468  by NigelP
 04 Dec 2018, 09:02
For what it's worth bees from different hives will and can fly at different times of the day. Even when the same strain.
In some case blink and you miss mass cleansing flights. So to OP nothing to worry about, your perhaps came out earlier or later.
 #1470  by AdamD
 04 Dec 2018, 09:50
You were right to resist the temptation to look. As others have said, not all the bees will necessarily fly at the same time and you can't do much at this time of year in any case. I too looked at my home apiary on Sunday morning when all colonies were flying except one. Half an hour later they were flying too. A heft revealed that they had plenty of stores.
 #1471  by Patrick
 04 Dec 2018, 12:45
Agree with all above. Lack of sightings is not necessarily evidence of absence

Only thing to add is... if you see nothing happening. Still nothing happening. And still nothing happening... what the heck, I'm going to have to take a look.. unless it is really, really cold, I would still put your suit on or just a smock hood even to take a peek.

Unless you have a clear crownboard, if you don't see any bees under the crown feed hole you will inevitably "just" raise the corner of the crownboard to check assuming the worst anyway. As it will be propolised down, it will probably crack open with a jolt and if they are disposed to come up to investigate the rude interruption, you may find they are a lot more active than you had bargained for and as it could be the first time you have have opened up without suit or smoker, it could be quite ahem, "surprising"!

According to received wisdom, they are all tightly clustered from November to April and immobile - except they often aren't.

And yes, I have.
 #1496  by RoystonY
 07 Dec 2018, 10:40
Thanks for the responses folks. I'll continue to monitor without diving in, and look into clear crown boards for next season :)

Merry Christmas, and may your hives be fruitful in the new year.