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  1. #1

    Question

    Farmville, Middle of VA , 52 F. 12 Hives, all on screens, all treated (menthol, grease patties, apistan, fumadil, heavy syrup, clean and inspected last spring). Opened to put in pollen patties, and top off syrup. Bees flying Ok. Some bit of robbing. Lost two, one tiny, and expected. One, however, had 3+ Quarts of bees, lots of feed, lots of honey. They were in a cluster in the top. I'd looked at them 3 days ago and the were looking good and flying. Now they're dead. Rest of the yard looks good to great. Saw no varroa on the dead bees. Very freshly dead bees, not shrunk or damp. Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,792

    Post

    Perhaps they went into winter queenless, and with old bees.

  3. #3

    Post

    Could be. It was one of my Russian Hybrid queens, from Jester, who gets breeders from Glenn. Most of the bees were dark. It had to have been that the whole cluster died in the last few days, since I looked in on Sat Afternoon and saw the large active, loose cluster. Many were flying, too. All at once- dead! I'd have understood dwindling, even a fight with robbers. But 3 quarts + dead overnight almost!

  4. #4

    Question

    You looked at them three days ago and they looked good and were flying.
    --
    What was the temperature like, during the last three days?
    --
    Is the dead cluster located over honey stores? Are they "head down" into cells?
    --
    What can kill a supposedly healthy hive within three days? ...If they were foraging, perhaps pesticide poisoning.
    --
    We're missing some bit of curcial information here...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    mountain home, ar, usa
    Posts
    378

    Post

    I'm going to go with- they got robbed. The lid may have been propped open enough to enter, and your other hives could easily clean em out in a day or two. I lost two good hives this last year that way. Was there honey in the hive AFTER they were dead?

  6. #6

    Post

    Temps were in the mid 30's to 40F day & 23-35 @ night.. The tops were both Styrofoam (I have 5 Styro & 7 Wood tops), Bees were flying when the sun hit the hives on most afternoons. We had very cold weather in Dec/Jan but it's warmed up. They were arranged in this way: SBB, Full HB, Shallow, Medium (Ill super) w/ 4 quart feeder jars next to drawn comb. The cluster was on drawn comb in the Medium. There were two combs full of dead bees head in (both sides)and two with some head in ( looked like a round cluster. They were also right on some capped and uncapped honey. Jars were all about 1/2 full. There was also some pollen stores, but not much (palm size amount total. My daughter had never seen a beehive, so we took this apart as a lesson for her. I have about a quart of those bees and will do a pick through tonight. Queen was new this last June.
    There was no indication of dysentary in any hive, and all smell OK. No brood started yet in ones I look into and this one for certain. They were into the chicken food dust when we had temps above 45. That's why I started pollen patties.
    Thanks for the thoughts.

  7. #7

    Post

    I forgot to say that all my hives have blocks on top and entrances closed down to 1/2-1/4 " by 8 mesh screening at the entries. Thanks for your ideas!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,481

    Post

    "blocks on the top" meaning you closed any top engrances?

    #8 hardware cloth is bee proof. If you cover an entrance with it the bees can't get out. So where was the entrance for the bees to get in and out? Top? Bottom? Nowhere? Was there snow blocking the bottom entrance? Was there ice blocking the top entrance?

  9. #9

    Arrow

    Thanks for your reply: The hardware cloth mesh is folded in half and the raw edge is inserted into the opening leaving 1/2 to 1/4" space for exit/entry on either side. This helps defend against robbing, wasps, and mice. etc. Haven't had a problem with the hives being able to defend themselves with this method. even strong hives seem to be able to get enough worker entries to store lots of honey and pollen. The tops were/are on tight. I check them about weekly, JIC. There was good brood going into late October (capped). I know they weren't queenless then and the mite load this fall was low. I'm looking through the dead bees, but figure the mites could have dropped off. The were treated then, too.
    No snow on the ground, last snow is all gone, except in heavy shadows. The bee inspector liked this spot. Get sun from 9AM to about 5 PM in the winter. No pesticide usage in the area: middle of family owned acreage, cattle and horses. Not the right season either. I'm thinking a virus, maybe.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Evansville, IN, USA
    Posts
    2,837

    Post

    Samples can be sent to bee lab for testing!

  11. #11

    Post

    So many were head in, yet there were two 1/2 jars right above them, and honey around/in the cluster. Huh. How fast were they going through the syrup?

    Could the inspection just days before have led the hive to 'lose the way' to the feeder bottles above? But that wouldn't be enough to explain things, because of the honey stores below in the medium super.

    Could someone have flea-bombed upwind? Any chance of obnoxious kids or neighbors with cans of Raid, who hadn't noticed anything 'til now?

    La Grange as well as a beekeeping freind both suggested leaving hivebodies unpainted, which helped the hive with calmness (of neighbors, not bees).

    Brian Cady

    [This message has been edited by briancady413 (edited March 08, 2004).]

  12. #12

    Post

    They had been bringing in nectar and pollen, from the elms, most likely, since that had just started and the pollen color was just right. The head into the comb doesn't worry me since this is the way they are supposed to cluster. The clustered bees were almost as wide as a frame. This last week (70F) I gave the frames and supers to the other hives, since there was so much honey and nectar. And that was after leaving it fully open to get cleaned out by the other hives. All the hives are heavy, with both pollen abd honey. When I went in three days before they died I lifted the inner cover and saw lots of bees and that the jars were 3/4 full. They seemed much stronger that most of the other hives. Bees were flying and posted as guards at the closed down entrances. Thanks for helping me think this through.

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