I got hit by CCD
In total I have checked 24 hives so far today. Some seem to have been hit by CCD. Here is the tally, and the list of simptoms:
Location one: 6 hives in the fall, one dead from a split that never took off.
3 hives alive, two dead from CCD. 5 of the 6 hives were healthy in the fall.
Location two: 6 hives in the fall, one dead because two queens never took, low numbers, and almost no stores. I gave up on this one and let them die. 5 hives healthy in the fall.
Today, three dead from CCD, two are questionable because I could not find the cluster, but I did hear them. I suspect they are weak for some reason, but didn't want to open them because of the cold weather.
Location 3: 5 hives in the fall. One dead out from starvation, 4 alive but need fed. Currently feeding. Note: These hives are VERY isolated. The only hive that could be in range is one that I now manage. This one hive in range was abandoned years ago and survived on its own. It is still healthy, no treatments are ever used on it, I never open the hive except to add or take honey suppers. In any case, I don't see any real problems with this location, but wanted to mention the isolation.
Location 4: 13 hives going into fall. Three dead from starvation, eight from CCD, two still alive. Special note for this yard, I forgot to put mouse guards on in the fall.
A few important notes about the CCD hives:
1. Every CCD hive is next to another CCD hive, usually in groups of 2-4 depending on the number of hives in the yard.
2. Every CCD hive has no bees at all, not even dead ones.
3. Every CCD hive is full of honey, and honey is still capped.
4. No robbing, even though there has been a few warm days lately. However, all hives that died from starvation have been robbed of the few stores remaining on the outside frames. I even found the cappings on the bottom boards. But no discarded cappings in the CCD hives.
5. All hives that died of starvation and did not have a mouse guard, had a mouse or two in them. Even the two hives that I found alive in Location 4 had a mouse that I chased out.
6. All hives that died from CCD did not have a mouse, or any other living thing in them.
This year SUCKED!
Which lab confirmed your CCD?
I am sorry for your losses, and wish you many swarms.
But your observations are (IMHO) very good and quite valuable. Especially the observations about the robbing and the mice. The side-by-side comparison is ideal (from an investigation standpoint, not from your point of view.) Is there anyone studying CCD with whom you could share this info?
It is also quite humbling... that CCD is still very much with us.
Has your CCD losses been confermed with your local extentions apiarits?
I went thru the same last year
It certainly sounds typical
You can look for physical symptoms
on the survivers
ie STR(sore tummy rub), ankle rub, (rear) feet too close
Put one of the dead outs close to a thriving
ant colony. Observe the results (2 months). Does wonders
for the self confidence. Will make you really angry!!
with no bees what do you test?
the side by side observation does give the appearance of something contagious. trachael mites maybe? acute paralysis disease maybe? do you medicate?
I guess I need to read up more on CCD. But, what I have read has always puts the loses in the fall. The colonies collapse in the fall and the number drop off significantly with minimum bee numbers in the hive. Not bees absconding totally or doing during the winter. During the winter the hive population dwindles naturally as the bees of summer and early fall die off. If there are no young bees of fall there are no bees of late winter.
You mention that a few hives were very light and never took off.
What was your late summer / fall flow like?
You are stating that in the fall there were hives with bees. When in the fall?
When was the last time you saw each of these hives with live bees / clusters, etc?
When was the last time you saw these hives with brood?
When did the queens shutdown and brood rearing ended?
Mice not getting into a hive or bees not robbing at these temps, would not be my confirming factor of anything.
Has the Ag extension confirmed any cases of CCD in the areas of your hives?
What migratory operations are in your area or crops that would bring them in?
I've experienced CCD in the past. It's so different from any other kind of colony death, you can't miss it. You've got it. These are the classic symptoms. And it's been my experience that it's most often seen in the spring, right around dandelion bloom in a temperate climate.
No lab can test for it. No government agency can certify it. But if you are a beekeeper you'll know when you've got it. And anybody wondering if they have it, probably doesn't. It's that dramatic and different.
Every other bee disease leaves a trail of symptoms. The hives declines through a period of time. And that results in a hive that dwindles in bees, brood and food. An afflicted beeyard will have hives in various stages of decline.
Poisons can produce rapid bee/colony loss. But that leaves lots of dead bees or a still function dink.
From my experience, CCD mostly affects the best hives/yards. They will be full of pollen, brood and food. And in less than 3 days will go from three story boomers, to an hive without bees. I heard reports of it happening in a matter of hours, not like a swarm. But just a rapid departure of single bees. No clumps or clusters of bees are found. Only a cup or so of disorganized, newly hatched bees are left behind. Very rarely, a queen will be found. It will affect most hives, at the same time, in a beeyard. A few, maybe one out of twenty to thirty will be unaffected.
In 1976, I lost 400 hives/week to CCD. The outbreak lasted about 3 weeks. The second was in 2002 where I lost a few hives as a hobbyist.
The bee losses are a real bummer. Sorry to hear about it. But there's some good news. The equipment is still usable after airing it out. That's been my personal experience anyway.
So, Indianahoney give those hives an airing. And then split into them from your survivors.
Just a curious question, but how can CCD be confirmed if the powers to be can't determine what CCD is? At least that was my understanding, and it is quite possible I have missed something?
Originally Posted by Ian
Many, many questions...
First, sorry about your loss.
What type bees are you using?
When was the last mite check?
What were the mite counts?
When was the last full inspection?
"Going into fall" seems to suggest its been awhile since these hives were looked at. No mouse guards suggests to me anyways that perhaps not a lot of winter prep was used.
I can see many reasons for "no bees" 6 months later. I have seen dwindling in fall and winter with t-mites, where the bees just slowly dwindle to the point that hardly no bees are left and the remaining bees make it seem as nothing is there.
I also would ask about your observation about CCD hives full of stores, but the non-CCD hives do not? I think the only other hives you comment on other than CCD hives are hives that starved. You further comment about a few others very light. If a hive died form starvation, there is no honey. Dead hives, for a number of reasons other than CCD, would have stores remaining.
Yesterday I inspected (Before a blinding migraine headache ended my day) 69 hives that are like yours, somewhat remote and not visited often since they are in Lancaster county and more than an hours drive. 60 were still alive. One had slight wax moth damage indicating a late fall die-out. Two others had starved. 6 others had at least 2 full supers on, and died from small clusters freezing out, or queen failure. My point is, that even though there have been a good number of flying days the past couple months, and even though the hives are sitting next to very strong hives, I see no robbing of these hives. And I am 100% that other reasons exist other than CCD for the hive dying. Your comment #4, indicates the robbing that perhaps happened late fall early winter when old summer bees were still active, and much more incline to rob. The fact that those hives dying later in the winter remain not robbed is quite common. This may also explain your comment #%, as mice moved in on the early die outs and just passed the hives that were still alive last fall when they were finding nice homes.
I ask what your queen type is. Six years ago, I had 60% loss when I had primarily Italian and not much selection of my own. Since then I have lowered my yearly winter kill every year since. But I have also changed over almost all my hives to russian or carni, and due to my nuc and breeding efforts probably requeen most of the hives (75+%) most years. This year, of the full size hives inspected (At least half being on fruit farms and vine crops) I have lost 10 of the first 130 hives inspected. I say all this because I see nothing out of the ordinary for a person who does not treat, and uses perhaps standard queens.
I would also look at the locations differences. Sometimes, just the apiary location alone can make or break hive kills. Some years they seem fine, and because the weather was different the next year, hive kill is worse. Generally speaking, whether the hive kill rate is low or high, I see higher levels in the poor sites even in the best of years.
In the south or west, when CCD is reported, many times, a small cluster and the queen is still found. Its just that one week the hives are full of bees, and a week later, all the bees are gone. This "No bees left" comment makes a lot of cloudy and not so clear observations. If the same were to happen in the north, are we too assume that the bees left in the dead of winter? And what about the often reporting remaining queen with a fist full of bees on areas of brood? Would we not still see them as a dead small cluster that finally succumbed to the cold?
I hope you do not have CCD. It would be comforting in a good way if it was not, and perhaps due to other more easily dealt with issues.
I would really try to have a few other people check out your hives.
I too am sorry to hear about your losses, this is a part of beekeeping, CCD or not.
I would tend to err on the side of it not being CCD until you have it confrimed by someone. Frankly the losses you describe do not sound that unusual and I agee with Bjorn that the not bees in the hives is consistent with trachael mite losses.
Certainly make contact with you state apiarist if you have one and possibly someone from one of the groups checking CCD out. This will give you some peace of mind either way. I don't think they will give you a definitive answer if it is CCD but my experiance tells me your problems may lie elsewhere.
This is a tough business, we all, if we stay in long enough, and expand experiance years like this, many times's it' a bad year forage and winter wise, other years we as beekeepers get busy and don't get everything done we need to, sometimes we get stock that is inferior due to a poor breeding season or substandard queen producer, . We learn for the past and move on, that's what farming is all about.