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Is it warm enough?

 
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:27 pm    Post subject: Is it warm enough? Reply with quote

BBC weather reliably informs me that it is 7oC here in my hamlet of yorkshire but it is a beautiful clear day and sunny (a nice change from the whole week of rain last week). At what temperature do the bees return from their winter's rest? Will they be out looking for forage today? or are they waiting a little longer? There are certainly signs of a new year snowdrops and winter aconites a-plenty.
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1051
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When you say, "...return from their winter's nest..." - did yours winter in the Canaries? Smile
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hmmm... more of a return in a work sense than geographical one Smile
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1051
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The sensible answer is: when they are good and ready! That's usually when daytime temps hover around 8+C here. Yours may be tougher, being Yorkshire born and bred Smile
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've just been out looking at mine as the sun is shining and it's not too windy and we have a similar temperature of 7-8C

The national nuc which faces my kitchen window (north westerly entrance) is by far the most active and has been all winter.

One of the small top bar hives that housed a prime swarm from last summer is also incredibly active today. I was certain this colony had died out a few weeks ago when all other hives were active and it was totally silent and not even any reaction when I knocked.

Another top bar nuc which had previously shown lots of activity was very quiet and my main top bar hive was also devoid of activity. Like some inexperienced newbie I started to panic. A tap.... no response, a louder tap... no response, a grass stalk poked in the entrance.... no response ... apart from more panic on my part!!!
Shall I open up and check?
I have a policy of not opening my hives at all through the winter as I have extremely good autumn forage and my bees are frugal and hardy, so I am feeling really compromised.
Whilst I stand in front of the hives and dither about what to do, a sleepy bee appears in the entrance as if to say...
"We are here and we are alive, now go away and find something else to worry about!"
and I give myself a mental kick and wonder how real newbie beeks, who perhaps only have one hive, cope.

I have had these bees for 15 years. Surely I should have faith in their ability to survive by now!

The only times I have lost colonies in winter is when, through ignorance and/or a misguided sense of needing to help, I have done something which has caused them a problem.

I write this to hopefully reassure other less experienced beeks that worrying is normal and variation in activity between colonies at this time of year, even in the same location, is normal..... so try not to worry and trust your bees.

Best wishes

Barbara
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1123
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biobee wrote:
Yours may be tougher, being Yorkshire born and bred Smile
I saw a flurry of activity with 4C, no wind, but the sun was on the hive! Amazed! Shocked
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trekmate wrote:
I saw a flurry of activity with 4C, no wind, but the sun was on the hive! Amazed! Shocked


If that is your maximum that is colder than our dead of winter Smile
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1123
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rmcpb wrote:
trekmate wrote:
I saw a flurry of activity with 4C, no wind, but the sun was on the hive! Amazed! Shocked


If that is your maximum that is colder than our dead of winter Smile

4C was max shade temp today. It felt warmer when the sun was out. No wind is unusual here. No rain is even more unusual.... Why do I live here?.... Rolling Eyes
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

trekmate wrote:
No wind is unusual here. No rain is even more unusual.... Why do I live here?.... Rolling Eyes


hmmm... is it the beer? I think it's the beer! oh and the yorkshire pudding.

When my folks ask what the weather is like up here I usually tell them "well if it isn't raining, wait five minutes"
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nannybee
Foraging Bee


Joined: 21 Jun 2012
Posts: 127
Location: Deeping St. James Lincolnshire UK

PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 4:32 pm    Post subject: What about opening up? Reply with quote

Still on the theme of 'is it warm enough', what would be the ideal air temperature to open the hive for a first look in the spring? We have had a lovely day today and the outside thermometer showed 15C this afternoon. The bees are out and flying in good numbers and bringing in pollen well. The forecast is good for several days yet so I thought maybe to open up the hive in the next day or so. However, they are forecasting cold nights, with maybe even some frost so I don't want to break seals and expose the colony if they will suffer overnight. I do still have the bottom board closed.
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J Smith
Foraging Bee


Joined: 13 Jan 2014
Posts: 169
Location: New Zealand, South Island, Southland, Riversdale.

PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nannybee, I cannot pretend to know your local conditions, but if I had to wait for constant above 15C temperatures to do an inspection, I might not open a hive from one year to the next here! Laughing
If you are forecast fine days for a while, perhaps this would be the ideal time?
Aim for the best heat of a calm day in the mid afternoon. If the bees are active and bringing in pollen, they will seal any void pretty quickly that was caused by your entry.

If unsure, you have to ask yourself why you want to look in?
Are you wanting to check on stores, a quick look to be sure they have enough feed to make it well into Spring?
A quick inspection mid afternoon in around 15C should be fine, leave the floor shut and active bees will restore internal temperatures pretty quickly.
A full thorough inspection might be best left until temperatures warm and become more of your "regular" Spring settled warmth.

If your girls are flying well and bringing in pollens it might be worth a look to see if they have enough empty bars to store what they are bringing in. If they still have full honey stores and only a couple of empty bars of comb they are working on, it might be worth thinking of adding an empty bar or two. Not too many- just enough to keep them happy, but not too many as to cause a big void that needs heating.
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madasafish
Silver Bee


Joined: 29 Apr 2009
Posts: 880
Location: Stoke On Trent

PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I rarely open a hive before April - and then only to feed them.
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When the bees fly you can open the hive and inspect it. If you feel comfortable with a t-shirt outside it is about time. I did my check a week ago and it saved a couple of hives that went queenless or were drone layers. Although it has been warm all winter long the food stores are allright in all hives. Surprisingly little brood. 2-4 combs with patches brood. I thought it would be the double amount of brood.
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nannybee
Foraging Bee


Joined: 21 Jun 2012
Posts: 127
Location: Deeping St. James Lincolnshire UK

PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, everyone. It's really to see how stores and brood are doing and to make sure the bars are free of brace comb. This is because I plan to move one of the two colonies currently in one hive into a new one when practical. I thought if I open up and free up all the bars and then put it back for a while it might make the actual transfer a little easier and quicker when I do it. Of course, they may have re-attached it all by then, I suppose!
Think I'll do a brief open up and move the follower and a bar or two now to see how stores are; then the full works later - say April - unless they start really filling the space. They have plenty room for the moment, though.
(By the way, Zaunreiter, my teeshirt threshold is very high - about 20C !)
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