Bone Lake Meadows Apiary Blog

making the planet a better place one hive at a time.

Lone Wolf T.S.19 December 15, 2011

Filed under: winter stuff — dronedude @ 8:59 pm

In the far corner of the apiary stands a single hive, isolated from every other hive by design.  This part of the apiary  is where the white pines transition to the blue stem grasses and mixed stage horn sumac summer fields.This dark time of the year, the fierceness of the howling winter winds are unabated in this area. The bees in this hive are of a Buckfast gene pool darken honeybee with a one year old queen. This particular hive has always been somewhat independent in their bee personality. Sometimes fairly easy to work with and at other times quick to tell you they do not want company today. This is a one year hive that built up on lots of new foundation and was also a great provider of propolis. It capped over two fall supers after filling three of their own deep boxes.  T.S.19 is the name I put down in my notes for this self-sufficient hive. My main interest in this hive’s winter survival is that I am thinking of starting cell regression in the spring of 2012. Here is a link to a web site that explains a little about the cell regress process and going organic with beekeeping.

This winter I am monitoring both the outside temperature and the temperature inside the third box. I started out with the temperature probe in the second box but within a week they quickly proceeded to chew the temperature sender unit off the wire and totally encased it in propolis. The new unit is in the third upper box and working fine for now. It helps that all the bees are in the second box but I still can check on temperatures inside the hive. The bees are maintaining a 17-25 degree difference in the top box compared to the outside temperature on any given day. The temperature in the second box with the bees will be a constant 50-55 degrees for early winter survival. Sometime in late January or early February, when eight hours of natural daylight start again, all the bees will move upward into the top box for food and the start of the queen’s 2012  first brood laying cycle. By monitoring  the temperature inside the hive, I want to know when the mass movement upward is going to occur. The close up picture shows the temperature  differences on the morning of December 3, 2011. The outside air temperature (17.5F) is the top number and the bottom number is inside the hive top box (33.8F).

When they make that move, I will see the temperature rise  rapidly in a twenty-four hour period in the top box. For now, as 2011 winds down, my coffee mug in tow, I will check and note the morning temperature at 7:30 every morning . So far the temperature difference has been very consistent with that 17-25 degree range mentioned above. I am curious to see what happens if we ever get that severe cold snap on the back of an Alberta Clipper. For now, enjoy the mildness of this Minnesota winter. I know the bees are.  Next week, the year in review.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.”    Thomas Edison


6 Responses to “Lone Wolf T.S.19”

  1. Emily Heath Says:

    Like your temperature monitoring idea, very clever. And hilarious that they encased the unit in propolis at first, such naughty creatures!

    I’ll be interested to hear how you get on with the small cell regression, as I’m quite skeptical about it controlling varroa. Varroa’s natural host, Apis cerana, is a slightly smaller bee than Apis mellifera, with slightly smaller cell sizes. So varroa are used to smaller cell sizes. It appears to be the increased grooming behaviour of Apis cerana bees which allow them to keep varroa in check. Apis cerana also show more absconding behaviour to new nesting sites (in search of new forage sources) than Apis mellifera, which might help with varroa control too. A way for beekeepers to replicate this artificially is to do a shook-swarm annually early each spring, shaking the bees onto new frames and burning up the old comb.

    Happy Christmas to you and your bees, hope they do well this winter.

    • dronedude1 Says:


      The cost of swapping out large cell foundation to do the small cell foundation for even a few hives can be fairly costly. That is why with some reservation this particular hive will be the only hive to do the small cell change out in the spring.We aren’t ready to put all of our eggs in one basket for this one particular theory yet.

      Are you familiar with the Minnesota Hygienic honeybee developed here at The University of Minnesota in the past ten years? They are an apis mellifera Italian bee that has shown an heighten awareness of sensing and removing damaged /diseased larvae in the cell and have increase grooming trait amongst its hive sisters. We have some hives of these bees that have been no treatment for two years and are still very strong with low mite numbers in the fall.
      Here wishing you merry christmas and a mega kilogram honey harvest in 2012 with your bees.

  2. James shrum Says:

    Het mike i love this blog i think ill bee learning alot here …lol thanks im looking forward too learning all i can…. HEY WHATS THE TOTAL STING COUNT FOR THIS YEAR….HEHEHEHEHEHEHE…Im looking forward too my first sting from MY BEES.. LOL GOOD TIMES…

  3. James shrum Says:

    Mike, how id T.S.-19 DOING NOW IS THE TEMPS STILL ABOUT THE SAME ? What happens during the winter months with bees what do they do do they come out at all ? i dont think so but im so so very green at this new great hobby.

    • dronedude1 Says:

      The bees will cluster up over food source of honey and pollen on a frame and wait for a break in cold weather(usually above 40 degrees F.) to get a little house cleaning done around the hive.

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