Saturday, January 24, 2009
More Cold Weather, is Starvation Lurking in the Colony?
Our second cold blast is here. The nice break from the last one gave the bees a chance to reposition in the hive to hopefully be on more honey. Starvation occurs if the bees get caught on frames that the honey has been consumed. Cold weather keeps the bees from moving to other frames of honey. So starvation can occur with honey near the cluster of bees.
Bees in winter use about 12 - 14 lbs of honey per month about 1-1/4 frames. As we get into Feb. this consumption of food will rise. Starvation in Feb is very common if there is subzero temps for more than 2 - 3 days. At this time brood is being raised and the bees will not abandon the brood. Honey is consumed around the brood to keep it warm, around 95 degrees F. The subzero temps increase the honey use. The cold keeps the cluster of bees tight and prevents the bees from retrieving honey from nearby frames leading to starvation.
As a beekeeper there is not much that can be done. Feeding is difficult in Feb. Sugar put on top of the colony can keep a hive from starving but frames of honey is better.
On a warm day temps in the 20's a hive can be opened, a quick glance. If there is no capped honey near the cluster a frame can be added or moved next to the cluster. Do not disrupt the cluster.