Around this time of the season I start getting questions about dead hives.
This was today’s – One of my three hives died. There is a bunch of honey and pollen stores from the dead hive. It looks like they spread out when it got warm and then froze to death trying to get honey out when it turned cold again. How can I store the honey and pollen to give them back to the other hives in a month or so? How do I prevent honey from fermenting? If it does will the bees still utilize it? Any other thoughts?
These are all good questions and hopefully my answer helped:
If there is freezer space, you can clean up the frames with honey and pollen and freeze them. This will stop any degrading of the honey. Currently I would think that the cold weather will keep wax moth and other insect pest out but not mice so I would suggest the hive and any empty frames be carefully stored .
You can clean up the wooden equipment and use it to create a split in April. If you don’t have freezer space you can sort all the honey and pollen to a super or two and set the super(s) on top of one or more of your live hives. Keep the honey frames in the center of the supers if you feed it back. Any day the bees are flying will be OK to do so.
So where am I with dead hives?
I have already pulled two overwinter nuc that died, leaving stored honey. One hive still had the red marked (but dead) queen and a small cluster. Many of the dead worker bees had the standard head in – stinger out look of starvation. With lots of dead bees on the bottom board, I’m thinking the cluster got too small and could not move to the stores. This could have been caused by mites and their related diseases not being well controlled. There was no brood so it also could be that the queen failed before the winter bees got well established. Or it could be any number of other factors that took down two hives that were reasonable strong last fall.
Winter is far from over so I’ll take the wait and see attitude. I froze my frames and will use them for spring nuc production.