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Wet bees


#1

We had a big storm here in Portland a few days ago and the wind blew the corrugated roof off of my top bar hive. It must have rained at least an inch that night until I discovered the topless hive the next day. Since that time I have only noticed a few bees flying around or cleaning dead bees out of the hive. I have not gone into the hive as I don’t want to break up all of the propolis and other seals that the bees have created. Perhaps the seals kept most of the rain out, but somehow I don’t think so. My question is this: I can’t see many bees in the hive either through the window or the air holes at the top of the hive. At this point (Nov 26) we still haven’t even gotten into winter around here and I’m afraid that most of the bees are dead from getting wet. Any advice on what I should do at this point? Go into the hive and inspect? Leave it alone and wait until spring? 50 pounds of honey is sitting in the hive and I don’t want to lose that if the bees are already dead. Help!


#2

Hey Timothy,

Sorry to hear about the wet bees – I had the same thing happen to one of my hives about a week ago. But I don’t know how long the roof was off of that hive! Even if you went in there’s not much you could do to help. I would leave it alone. At night or when it’s too cold for bees to fly, I would put your ear to the hive and knock on it at various locations. If you hear a buzzing noise when you knock, that will at least tell you whether they are still there! I’d continue doing that for the next couple weeks to confirm they are still kicking. If it stops then I’d go in and pull the honey.

Best,

Matt


#3

Thanks Matt. I went out today and saw a few bees in the hive. I knocked and heard a slight buzz, but nothing like they are a huge colony in numbers. I’ll wait and see what happens as time progresses.


#4

Hey Matt. So I went out today and checked on my hive. There were bees flying all around, but they were behaving differently than the bees that lived there all summer. I decided to go into the hive, and sure enough, it was being robbed by my neighbor’s bees. My colony was dead, presumably from getting wet, but who knows :( . I went in and took out the bars that were full with honey, as well as the brood bars that had capped honey/pollen reserves. There was only damage to the first two brood bars and so I left them in the hive for the marauding neighbor bees once I got most of them out, and then closed up the whole hive.

Here’s my question. I will harvest the full honey bars for my own consumption. Should I save those built-out brood bars that have the honey/pollen stores and use them again for my next batch of bees in the spring so that they have a jump start and don’t have to immediately build comb when they arrive either from a swarm or box?

Thanks!


#5

Timothy,

I’m sorry to hear that! I see no reason not to re-use the combs for the next colony. Unless they smell like a rotting corpse (Foulbrood), I would be comfortable using them. I’d leave them outside in the hive so that the cold weather wards off wax moths.

Best,

Matt