Inhabitants when the colony dies or is clustered for the winter

Mouse I caught inside of one of my hives.

Going into the winter, beekeepers place an entrance reducer on colonies to reduce robbing and also prevent other animals and insects from entering the hive. The entrance reducer is used to decrease the size of the entrance; it also gives the bees a smaller area to defend. Two common pests to deadout colonies are mice and chipmunks (in Pennsylvania). A mouse can chew drawn comb to nothing but bits and pull debris into the hive to make nests. The chipmunks use hive bodies as storage places to protect their food from the weather as shown in the image below. Using an entrance reducer can limit destruction by these pests. Also checking bees in the winter and removing deadout colonies will reduce pest infestations. If you let deadout hives sit for periods of time, unwanted inhabitants may move in. There is an image of a garter snake inside one of my hives below.

Food Storage

Garter snake inside a dead hive.

Written By: Rob Snyder

Rob Snyder has written 63 post in this blog.

I currently work out of the Butte County Cooperative Extension in Oroville, CA as a Crop Protection Agent. I received my B.S. in biology from Delaware Valley College, PA. There I attained a majority of my entomological knowledge from Dr. Chris Tipping and Dr. Robert Berthold. After graduation, I was an apiary inspector for 2 years at the Department of Agriculture in Pennsylvania. In my third year there, I still inspected some colonies but I mainly focused on The Pennsylvania Native Bee Survey (PANBS) where I pinned, labeled, entered data and identified native bees to genus species. Leo Donavall assisted me in learning the basics on positive Identifications of the native bees. Around the same time I began working on coordinating kit construction and distribution for the APHIS National Honey Bee Survey. I was also fortunate to conduct many of these surveys with fellow co-worker Mike Andree and Nathan Rice of USDA/ARS throughout California. All of these experiences have led me to where I am today, working to assist beekeepers in maintaining genetic diverse colonies resistant to parasites while reducing the use of chemical treatments in colonies. The BIP Diagnostic Lab at the University of MD is in an integral part of this process by generating reports in which we can track change and report to beekeepers vital information in a timely manner which may influence their treatment decisions.