A hive starts winter with around 40,000 - 50,000 bees. Over the winter more than half of the bees will perish. They will die inside and outside the hive. One of the spring chores to do on the first warm spring day is to clean off the bottom board. It is common to have over an inch deep of hive debris of dead bees and beeswax from uncapping frames of honey.
The bees outside the hive, fly out for cleansing flights, get chilled and fall to the snow and die. Having a large amount of bees covering the snow, looks like bee Armageddon, but is the normal hive landscape of late winter.
A hive around March 15th that has three to four full frames of bees is about right for wintering success. By feeding pollen patties and syrup(if needed) the hive should build up to be able to divide in May.
A strong over wintered hive will consume at least three to four pollen patties. Maybe more if the weather is cold and rainy(ha, I said rain) thru spring. Pollen patties should go on after the next cold spell has past. Anytime after March 1st.
|Waiting for Spring E. Rydeen|
|Dead bees in front of the hive. Brown poop stains on the snow. This is normal. E. Rydeen|
|Poop stains on winter cover and snow from cleansing flights. This is normal. E. Rydeen|