It’s Getting Springy Out There! YEAH!

Above pic shows the typical observations of a hive with Warmbees In-Hive Warmers.  Armchair critics can say and believe anything they wish, but the bees truly speak with their actions!  You can’t tell me that they would rather do without the Warmbees In-Hive Warmer!  All of my hives have the clusters perfectly centered around the Warmbees In-Hive Warmers, regardless of where in the box I place them!  I may be biased, but apparently so are the bees!  If the bees have an opinion, it seems fairly obvious…

As Spring is approaching, Warmbees In-Hive Warmer customers are already seeing and reporting awesome results!  Some comments are reprinted here with permission:

Ruth in Virginia recently said Feb 12, 2016:  “I am really loving the heater that I bought from you in November!  If you remember, it went into 2 different nucs in the middle of a line of 4 nucs.  There was one other nuc on either side of the 2 heated nucs.  In January, we had some really cold weather that killed/chilled the unheated nuc on the far left.  This past week has been another cold spell and the unheated nuc on the far right is now sitting inside my house trying not to die.  Wished I had bought a second heater from you so I wouldn’t have had to go to extreme measures to keep this one alive.  The 2 nucs that have the heater are moving about freely on the comb closest to the heat board.” – Purchased 1 Warmer with Add-on, placing main warmer in 1 NUC, with Add-on board in second NUC.  (Not how it was designed to be used, but creative)

Lee in Montana recently said Mar 8, 2016:  “I thought I would let you know that my bees did very well this winter. I opened up two of my four colonies yesterday afternoon and they were absolutely thriving! They used less than half of their stores, had brood on the way and both were full of bees in both the upper and lower boxes. The other two colonies appeared equally well off; I haven’t had the chance to open them yet… Though the winter was mild here and I had made a fairly good insulation system, I think your Warm Bees heaters kept my bees in excellent shape. I installed min/max thermometers in my hives and every time I checked them this winter they were above 53 degrees. Outside temperatures were as low as -15 this winter; it wasn’t the -40 that we often get, but it was quite cold enough for bees. This system would probably have worked if we had gotten a colder winter.   Thanks again for making and marketing an excellent product!”

My own testing with larger colonies this winter, is producing the same expected results as previous years, with strong colonies early this spring, and evidence that they are coming through, having consumed significantly less honey stores than normal!  My 2 NUC’s are doing fair, with queens laying eggs, but the few bees seem to be failing to feed and nurture, just as observed last year.  For informational purposes, both NUCs were only about 2 to 3 frames of bees through the winter, and have reduced to currently around 50 bees or less, which is well beyond the worst case scenarios that are normally survivable.  I am testing best and worst case scenarios for the purpose of understanding the limits and claims of Warmbees In-Hive Warmers.  I am currently medicating as a precaution against disease, and will grab hatching brood from my stronger hives next week, to get some young nurse bees added to support both queen’s efforts to grow their tiny colonies.  All hives were treated for Varoa in December, and appear Varoa free thus far this spring.

My own results with Warmbees In-Hive Warmers this winter, have been a resounding success, with live bees in the tiny NUCs, and thriving strong hives that already have capped brood as of today Mar 10, 2016.  It is becoming apparent to me, however, that worst-case-scenario colony survival, requires additional measures such as, the addition of some bees early in the spring, to nurse and nurture eggs, or perhaps active humidity measures, to keep the colony from failing .  Even with attention from me, ensuring that they have honey, pollen, and brooding temperature, it is not enough.  My thought is that it is most probably related to humidity.  One of my NUCs has had a bottle with syrup placed inside, which would add humidity, however this NUC is in a full size box, with an empty box on top to cover the bottle.  Perhaps that is too much space for the tiny amount of syrup that these few bees are taking and placing in comb, to significantly control the humidity of the egg space.  The second NUC is in a small half Langstroth – 5 frame – Full Deep NUC box, in which I have placed frames of honey to ensure they don’t run out again.  I had not left enough honey in this NUC to make the whole winter.  They ran out near the first of February, and I observed them flying out of desperation, on a cold day, resulting in losing more than half of the original 2 frames of bees.  If I lose this one, it will have been my own fault.  Just as last years critical-experiment-colonies failed at first, to produce new bees, which resulted in the death of the smallest… this years smallest NUCs are nearly identical to this point.  Last year the queen in the smallest colony died only a week before my new packages came when I could add bees.  There were only 3 or 4 bees left at that time.  The second softball size colony, through last winter, was down to about 20 bees when I caged the queen and added about 300 bees.  This colony then recovered and is now one of this years strong colonies.

Now that I write this, my observations today make a bit more sense.  I’ve been watching closely this past week for eggs in my stronger mixed Carnie/Italian, success story hive, from last winter.  I noticed that the bees on the best looking frames were, as if glued, to the center area and would not move so that I could look for eggs.  Today was no exception to this strong-willed behavior of remaining tightly formed to the center area where you would expect eggs.  But upon moving some, there they were, full of royal jelly and thriving on the center of 3 frames!  Woot Woot!  but I also noticed that the syrup from the bottle had been deposited on the entire periphery of the brood regions on all 3 frames!  This is undoubtedly the answer to my quandry above, staring me blatantly in the face!  Without enough bees to, not only store liquid syrup in a significant pattern surrounding a brood chamber, but then also hunkering down in a live shield on top of both the eggs, and the  moist syrup in the area peripheral to the eggs, there is probably not enough moisture for the proper hatching and development of the larvae, even if Warmbees In-Hive Warmers are ensuring a safe brooding temperature!  And a new hypothesis is born, which explains the observed critical mass apparently required for the colony to begin to thrive in early spring.  Maybe there is still time to develop a moisture solution to help the remaining tiny clusters… And just like that, a new inventive method to complete the winter survival solution is born.  While writing the above sentence, the idea came to me to manually fill the cells surrounding the egg patches in both NUCs with syrup, and then apply a modified cage over the area that mostly seals the patch from air and convection, to raise the humidity in the area.  I’ll leave a door on the end facing the front vent, for bees to come and go as needed, but otherwise have only small pin holes in the other sides for minimal air transfer.  I guess I know what I will be doing tomorrow…

Mid February is when I usually will turn up the temps in my warmers to the high range in order to promote early growth and strength for Spring nectar season.  In addition to turning up the temps in February, I make sure there is syrup given to the colonies to help stimulate comb and laying, even if they still have capped honey.  Now approaching mid March, my strong hives are laying with capped brood.  First hatch should be this next week.  I’m going to steal a couple of frames after about half hatch, shake them off, and then place them in my NUCs to add fresh hatching bees that won’t be a threat to the queens. Both NUCs need the boost in nurse bees.  If I succeed, I will have a new record for smallest colony to survive with Warmbees In-Hive Warmers at around a baseball size colony in Novermber!  Wish me luck!

Side note:  Those who are against warming hives by artificial means – continually site that bees fly on days too cold to fly and die!  I am consistently finding that this is not necessarily the case.  I have seen this in colonies that run out of honey, such as my NUC above, but I and many customers are having colonies consistently come through winter without excessive flying on cold days!  I have inadvertently caused this by making abrupt temperature changes on a cold day, but by and large, hives with Warmbees In-Hive Warmers are not exhibiting this behavior under normal circumstances.

May SPRING find you still keeping bees and living the DREAM!  Ren

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s