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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    180

    Default What killed these bees? tracheal mites? moisture?

    I went to see one of my friends bees today and it seems like they are all dead in the cluster. He saw them 2 weeks ago and they were flying on a sunny day. When we saw them today the bees were clustered across 4 frames in a deep hive body. They had plenty of honey in store near the cluster. How can I find out what killed them? If I send a few of them to the bee lab will they look under the microscope and tell me? What are some signs to tell you that there was too much moisture that killed the bees? How exactly does moisture in winter kill bees? Does it form water that drops onto the cluster and freezes? If thats the case, then I don't think it was a moisture problem, since the bees were not covered in ice.
    I don't think they starved either because the food was right next to them and there have been a few warmer days I think where they can break cluster to get to the food if they needed it.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Hubert,North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    38

    Default

    Are you sure they are dead! I checked my hives yesterday and thought it looked like one hive was dead. I started to go through the hive and after a few minute they started to quiver. After a few minutes they were moving around a little better. The other hives around them had bee flying, but this one didn't.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    180

    Default

    Well there was not a single sound, I put my ear next to them and banged on the hive and didn't hear a sound. I took one bee from near the cluster and I expected it to be kind of solid and dry like dead bees are but it was kind of soft, so I figured they must have died recently. I put it in my hand and tried warming it up but after a while it didn't move. We covered the hive and left- decided to think about it and look again later on a warmer day. I still think they are dead since I didn't hear a single buzz after banging on the hive.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,973

    Default

    perhaps some description of conditions (temperature, wind, sunshine???) during the inspection would be helpful.

    did the condition of the bee(s) you inspected look different in any way? slick, wet, greasy? anthing abnormal? to the best of your knowledge were there dead bees on the bottom board?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,122

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tecumseh View Post
    perhaps some description of conditions (temperature, wind, sunshine???) during the inspection would be helpful.
    And the size of the cluster, and if there was any brood. Any sign of hatched or torn down queen cells fron last Fall?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    180

    Default

    It was sunny, around 28 degrees F. At first before opening the hive I put my ear on the side and could not hear anything. So we decided to briefly look inside and see what was going on.
    There were no dead bees on the bottom board. We looked at the cluster from the top of the frames, and saw that the span of the cluster was around 4 frames -I would say maybe half the size of a basketball. All of the bees look completely still and silent- unlike the way they look in my observation hive that is sitting outside in the cold. The only unusual thing about them was their extreme stillness and silence. I don't know if they were starting to raise brood since we did not break the cluster (even though we think they are dead) to examine anything.

  7. #7

    Default

    In my opinion, they are likely goners. Regardless of how cold....within limits anyway...I would expect the cluster to buzz after a sound thump. If they are alive the bees at the center of that cluster should still be warm.
    Dead, head first into cells during cold weather. It sounds like starvation to me. Even with honey still in the nest, its location and proximity to the cluster are still essential considerations.
    Even if they starved, it still may not a result of poor beekeeping. I think most 'good' beekeepers have had a colony starve, with remaining honey in the box. A bad combination of events can cause that cluster to end up in the wrong place....at the wrong time.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    White County, Arkansas
    Posts
    872

    Default

    It sounds just like a hive I lost last year. They starved. There was plenty of stores and even though we had some good warm days, there was not enough time for them to move enough honey to the cluster. A lot of bee hind-ends sticking out of cells as they tried to scrape the last of stores that weren't there. Two deeps is what I normally winter with, so they have enough for the spring build-up, if needed. They had eight frames full of capped honey that they could not get to and about three that were opened and partially emptied that was not against the cluster. The bodies were normal looking, other than dead.

    Felt like I failed them, though experienced beeks in the area said it isn't my fault. I came to realize, that close is not enough with a winter cluster.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    White County, Arkansas
    Posts
    872

    Default

    It sounds just like a hive I lost last year. They starved. There was plenty of stores and even though we had some good warm days, there was not enough time for them to move enough honey to the cluster. A lot of bee hind-ends sticking out of cells as they tried to scrape the last of stores that weren't there. Two deeps is what I normally winter with, so they have enough for the spring build-up, if needed. They had eight frames full of capped honey that they could not get to and about three that were opened and partially emptied that was not against the cluster. The bodies were normal looking, other than dead.

    Felt like I failed them, though experienced beeks in the area said it isn't my fault. I came to realize, that close is not enough with a winter cluster.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Azle Texas USA
    Posts
    369

    Default

    Bummer!

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