I'm a first year beekeeper and need help diagnosing a problem. Because it's been so dry lately, I used my top feeder about two weeks ago. When I checked on the girls yesterday, here's what I found:
They hadn't touched the syrup (there was nothing wrong with the syrup, b/c my second hive took every drop of theirs.)
The brood pattern was sparce -mostly empty holes.
A lot of brood had turned hard and chalky.
A few of the bees were pale, and had deformed wings.
Now, I know that deformed wings can be caused by varroa (I looked very closly, and couldn't see any mites, erratic brood pattens can mean a weak queen, and chalky brood can mean chalkbrood. But b/c I have mulitple symptoms, I don't know what to think. Can somebody help?
My guess from what you said is PMS. (parasitic mite syndrome)
Secondary desease such as chalk are often not cleaned in a timely manner and outbreaks of "secondary" deseases such as chalk and SAC can be seen in PMS colonies. Healthy colonies just stay ahead of the desease and clean it up.
PMS colonies do not maintain proper cluster and brood patterns are not normal, feeding(explains the feeders situation) and foraging sometimes cease all together, and normal hive function deteriorates on all levels.
As mite counts go up, the chances of items like PMS also go up. Thats not to say that PMS and other viral outbreaks do not occurr occasionally with low mite counts. What are your mite counts?
DWV is one of the best signals of mite infestation. Knowing your infestation of mites is no doubt high and DWV being seen, all the other symptoms and observations can be clearly explained. Don't worry about your other problems untill the mites, PMS, and DFW are under control. Everything else is based on those items.
BTW, unless the mite numbers were inflated by unnatural means, the levels probably increased over time within the hive. Your queen and genetics of this hive has shown to be weak in handling mites. Treatments will tempoararily control the situation, but it will continue to be a problem. Consider changing the queen and the genetics. Keeping poor genetics and bee lines unable to handle varroa is not a good thing.
gillis . . .
We need to know your mite count numbers.