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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    156

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    I just checked a friend's hive and it is so depressing. One hive has about 200 bees - clustered on 2 frames right near one side of the top box. With a queen and larva (unbelievable)!! Tons of debris and dead bees below. The other hive has about 30 bees, with a queen. No larva. When I closed that hive, she was just sitting on top of the frames.

    The hives are full of honey on the sides - that is covered with mold. Some dead bees, also covered with mildew/mold on the frames. Empty comb in the middle. . . Didn't see any brood, but I also didn't go into the bottem box of either hive (ran out of time).

    Did they starve to death? These hives were chalk full of bees in October. The guy who had them got lots of honey and then left just 2 deeps to overwinter (he moved away in August and gave them to my friend).

    Is there any hope for them? I feel like the first hive, with the laying queen, might make it if I start feeding ASAP, but the other hive, can they make it with so few bees? I feel awful just letting them die. . .but can so few bees even keep warm?

    And then what else - do I move them to the middle, remove the bottem box and give them clean frames around?

    And what about other causes of death? Mites are probably a high likelyhood, but do I need to worry about foulbrood or other diseases too?

    Thanks. I was expecting some losses in my hives (which didn't happen), but this is so much more awful and depressing. . .

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,899

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    Mites

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    156

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    So what appeared to be strong hives, were actually mite-ridden and the population just crashed into winter and thus there were just not enough bees to keep warm and eat and generally survive?
    What will the brood boxes look like (I'm going to try to go tomorrow) - just empty comb (the bees hatched, but couldn't live)?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,217

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    Look in the debris for little purplish brown specks the size of a period on a page. If you see thousands of them then it was most definitely mites. I worry about the mold though. I don't live in your climate and I seldom find mold in a hive. (occasionally). Usually around here I would take it as a sign that they didn't have enough ventilation and they got wet.

    I think your assesment of the situation now is about right. The small cluster is trying to raise brood so they must have some stregth left. Feed them and they MIGHT make it. The other small group won't make it no matter what you do. I don't think it's worth the disruption to either group to try to "combine" 30 bees, but if it makes you feel better you can try that. But I'd ditch the queen in the smaller one if you do, because they aren't going to support two queens laying.


    [This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited March 15, 2004).]

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    crown point, NY, USA
    Posts
    971

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    I"ll second the mite probably a combination of both mites. I hate to be the bad guy but don't be too upset if they don't make it. In my experience any cluster smaller than a grapefruit usually is not going to pull through. Some can survive but never build up enough to make the following winter without major help and requeening. But that in essence is like starting new hives. If you try to save them handle them as little as possible or you may unintentionally due them in. Only make sure they have immediate feed were they can always reach it. If they pull through to nice weather add some brood if at all possible as it probaly is what will allow them to make it, requeen in late summer also preferably from t mite resistant stock.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    156

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    Well the one hive is dead. The other one is weak, but I'm going to try to save it. There was definately plenty of mite debris. The bottem boards (not screened) were so thick with junk I'm surprised any bees could even get out. The "good" hive had a mouse living in the bottem super - jumped right out as I lifted a frame. Most of the frames were empty and the ones on the sides that had honey were a little moldy but "not bad at all" according to a local beekeeper I brought along.

    We had a beautiful warm sunny day and they were flying. I gave them syrup with essential oils, some brood builder (pollen substitute), put on a screened bottem board, reduced the entrance and cleaned up the other frames. Am I missing anything? There was evidence of Nosema - what should I do about that?

    Thanks.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Butte Co - North State California
    Posts
    19

    Post

    Louise, I dont keep bees - yet. But its horror stories like yours that I fear most. It seems as if there is too much that can go wrong. It also sounds like you really love those furry little bee critters. I sure understand that. sniff sniff
    --Ðøug 2004.3.16.23.17.09 PT

    [This message has been edited by Doug Meister (edited March 17, 2004).]

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,217

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    >Well the one hive is dead. The other one is weak, but I'm going to try to save it. There was definately plenty of mite debris.

    There is always debris. Did you identify any Varroa mites? There will be pieces of cappings (when they ucapped the winter stores) and pieces of dead bees. But a Varroa mite is about the size of a period and is purplish brown and slightly oval. If it was Varroa mites there will be a thousand or so mixed in the debris.

    >The bottem boards (not screened) were so thick with junk I'm surprised any bees could even get out.

    Sometimes they can't and they get pinned in, but usually they manage to clear a path.

    >The "good" hive had a mouse living in the bottem super - jumped right out as I lifted a frame.

    I've had mice devestate a hive. I don't know that it's a known fact, but I suspect they eat live bees off of the lethargic cluster. The certainly will use up the stores and tear up the comb. You need a mouse gaurd. #4 hardware cloth works.

    >Most of the frames were empty and the ones on the sides that had honey were a little moldy but "not bad at all" according to a local beekeeper I brought along.

    Bees will eat it, but the question is why is it moldy? Maybe you needed more ventilation.

    >We had a beautiful warm sunny day and they were flying. I gave them syrup with essential oils, some brood builder (pollen substitute), put on a screened bottem board, reduced the entrance and cleaned up the other frames.

    I'd put all the frames with stores together and reduce the hive to one box, if it isn't already. Also put on a mouse gaurd, because that mouse will be back.

    >Am I missing anything? There was evidence of Nosema

    Dysentry MIGHT be nosema. It might not. A field stripping of a bee will help with the diagnosis, but a microscope is needed for a definitive diagnosis.
    http://www.medivet.ca/medivet/bio_diagnos/nosemal.htm http://www.algonet.se/~beeman/research/nosema.htm

    > - what should I do about that?
    If you are of a chemical frame of mind, and you think they have nosema use Fumidil in the syrup according to the directions. I think they are now marketing it as Fumigillan? Something like that.

    If you want to do this naturaly then I would leave them alone. There is a good chance you are seeing evidence of some dysentery from an ealier time when they were confined by the weather for too long.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    156

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    >There is always debris. Did you identify any Varroa mites?

    Yes, there were a lot of mites mixed in with the other stuff. We looked at the live bees now and didn't see any, but I guess that is not saying much. I'll do a count of fall next week.

    > You need a mouse gaurd. #4 hardware cloth works.

    I reduced the entrance down to 4 inches with wire mesh over the front. How do you attach it? I just placed it in front of the entrance and so far (24hrs) it is still there, but couldn't a mouse just move it? It is a piece of wood with a 4 inch entrance cut out and wire stapled over.

    >Bees will eat it, but the question is why is it moldy? Maybe you needed more ventilation.

    I think it is the climate, although it makes me very unhappy. I just ordered a DM mod kid to check out if the new vent lid will help. My 3 hives, which made it thru the winter, were all damp and had mold on the tops of the frames and even the inner liner. I don't like it.

    >I'd put all the frames with stores together and reduce the hive to one box, if it isn't already. Also put on a mouse gaurd, because that mouse will be back.

    Did that. One deep box, with a guard.

    >If you want to do this naturaly then I would leave them alone. There is a good chance you are seeing evidence of some dysentery from an ealier time when they were confined by the weather for too long.

    Great! That is my plan - leave them bee.

    Thanks for all the insight.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,217

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    I just staple the #4 (4 wires to the inch) hardware cloth over the entrance. The holes in #4 are big enough for a bee and too small for a mouse. #5 is big enough for a bee, but will dislodge pollen. #5 also is too small for drones and mating queens.

    You need to do something about the Varroa. You'll have to choose what. The oxalic acid evaporator that bwrangler has is a quick fix because it will kill almost all of the mites. The FGMO is a good long range approach but from my experience, will not kill enough in the short term in a severely infested hive. The FGMO with Thymol may work well enough, but I haven't actually used it to say from personal experience. Small cell will work in the long run, in my experience, but again, this is a long range approach, not a quick fix. Powdered sugar will dislodge a lot of mites. Won't do as much good without a Screened Bottom Board (SBB) for the mites to fall through. The research I've seen on the sugar shows that it's very temperature dependant on how WELL it works. It varies from 45% to 90% effective depending on the temperature the bees and the mites are at. But even 45% is a LOT less mites.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    156

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    Do you just leave the hardware cloth on year round? And then how do you reduce the entrance for robbing?

    I was planning on using powdered sugar dusting (with screened bottem boards) and drone trapping. Also crisco patties - that is for both tracheal and varroa right? I wasn't planning to implement drone trapping until the hive got stronger.

    Do you think that is enough?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    I would have the entrance reduced this time of year already and put the hardware cloth over that. When the hive is strong enough that they need more of an opening I would remove the hardware cloth.

    If you put the hardware cloth on without a reducer, you can reduce by just putting a 1 by board in front of the hardware cloth. When you apply the hardware cloth, it can be bent or just cut to length with no wires sticking out and butted down to the bottom board. If you cut it straight and butt it to the bottom board, you can fit a board up tight against it. I usually just remove it when the hive is strong enough that I think it is slowing things down. It's easy to put in a few staples and pull out a few staples. If you want to make it easier to put on and off, you can staple the hardware cloth to another board and nail that board to the front with a couple of nails and the nails left prodruding so you can easily pry it off.

    Lot's of variations will work.

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