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.

Be Involved. Be Included.Bee Informed.