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  1. #1
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    May 2006
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    Default What to look for in a dead out?

    I posted last week that I believe both my hives are dead. Temperatures have since plummeted to a high of about 12F, so I have not opened the hives, on the slim chance that there might be some survivors.

    Can someone give me some advice on what to look for? I know the typical signs of starvation (no stores, heads deep in cells). What would I look for to indicate other causes? Like mites or nosema or foulbrood or whatever?

    Don't know when I'll get to look. The cold weather predictions go for at least another 10 days, and I suspect more like a month.
    “The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.” -Henry David Thoreau

  2. #2
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    Nov 2004
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    Bee Culture just had an article in the March edition called "How to Conduct a Colony Autopsy". I don't have time right now to list the ideas, but maybe tonight. They list about 12 things to look at and the probable cause.

  3. #3
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    May 2007
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    If it was nosema there would an over abundance of dysentery all over the frames, all around the outside of the hive, around the entrance.
    BeeSpotter Topic

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by beedeetee View Post
    Bee Culture just had an article in the March edition called "How to Conduct a Colony Autopsy". I don't have time right now to list the ideas, but maybe tonight. They list about 12 things to look at and the probable cause.
    I don;t get bee culture, but I an interested in who wrote the article?

    Thanks
    JOe
    "they bear off the bodies of those deprived of life
    from the hives, and lead out sad funerals" Virgil

  5. #5
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    Default Ross Conrad's autopsy list

    Ross Conrad (Authur of Natural Beekeeping) wrote the article. His table lists 12 things to look for. Here is the list:

    CCD: No adult bees left in hive either on combs or on the bottom board. If any bees are present they are only the queen accompanied by a handful of young workers. There is a noted delay of two or three weeks before there is any robbing activity by bees, moths or beetles within the dead hive. Brood is present, often in larger quantities than the cluster can maintain.

    AFB: Pupal mass under cappings is browish in color and has a ropry or elastic viscosity. Sunken brood cell cappings that are dark brown or black in color and have a greasy appearance. Some cappings may also contain small pin holes.

    Varroa: Small pin holes in cell cappings. Numerous dead bees with deformed wings and/or short abdomens. Numerous dead varroa found in dealed brood cells or on the bottom board.

    Starvation: Remains of dead cluster cantain bees that are positioned headfirst in cells. Any honey left in the hive is located two or more inches away from the cluster.

    Failed Queen/Drone Layer: Remains of numerous drone brood cells sometimes scattered within worker brood on the same comb.

    Hive died a while ago or was too weak to maintain combs: Combs, brood or dead bees covered with mold or mildew.

    Hived died our or was too weak to defend honey stores from robbing bees, wasps and/or hornets: No honey left in hive. Wax cappings that covered areas where honey was stored have been ripped open - jagged capping pieces litter the bottom board.

    Nosema or dysentary: Significant brown spotting or large patches of brown staining on combs, frames or in front of the hive.

    Tracheal Mites: Numerous dead bees lying out in front of the hive may be combined with brown spotting o inside or outside of hive entrance. Bees that have disconnected their two pair of wings and rotated them into an orientation that resembles the letter K.

    Greater or lesser wax moths: Buildup of webbing on combs containing small black pieces of debris. Remains of old cocoons and rounded elongated indentations in wooden ware. Damaged / disintegrated combs. Grey moths either alive or dead.

    Chalk Brood: Small hard larval remains that are white, gray or black within the brood comb, on the bottom board or on the ground in front of the hive.

    Small Hive Beetle: Combs are riddled with holes (but no webbing is evident). Inside of the hive is covered with slime and any honey left in the hive is fermented and runny. Some wax-moth-larva-like organisms are evident.

    (Note: I may have left a word out here and there and didn't proof read it very carefully)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    College Station, Texas
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    beedeetee writes:
    Hive died a while ago or was too weak to maintain combs: Combs, brood or dead bees covered with mold or mildew.

    tecumseh:
    mildew and mold are generally signs of poor to nonexistant circulation. that is, there is not enough circulation within the hive to provide fresh air and all the moisture associated with living and breathing organism cannot escape. if the box(s) is tight enough the hive make actually have perished indirectly from high levels of co2.

    over much of the northern part of the country it was though that lack of fresh air and internal moisture accumulation in the form of ice were the second largest winter killers of bees right after starvation.

    in additon... I have never attempted this myself, but I have been told you can id varroa remains from the bottom board of a dead out.

    the first thing I notice in a dead out is the number of bees (dead of course) still in the hive. I first want to know... did the hive simply dwindle and die or was the population fairly robust (which points toward a certain level of health) when it perished.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobie View Post
    What would I look for to indicate other causes? Like mites....
    Is there any dead brood in the hive? This colony died in the Fall from Varroa. Yours might have only a small patch of brood.



    Pull out some dead bees with your pocket knife. Choose bees that are fully formed, and in the process of emerging.



    Bees should have fully formed wings at point of emerging...bee in middle of photo. Notice bee on left. No wings...sign of DWV caused by Varroa feeding on pupa. Also, notice bee on right. Stunted abdomen. Tip of abdomen should be as long or longer than the fully formed wings...not flattened and short.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Is there any dead brood in the hive? This colony died in the Fall from Varroa. Yours might have only a small patch of brood.
    This is a good point from Michael. Not only investigating ‘why’ the colony died, but ‘when’ a colony died is extremely important in pinpointing the ’why’, as well as any management changes one may or may not consider for next season. Occasionally, a late winter mortality can be traced back 10 months to stresses that may have existed in the previous spring or summer. So when a diagnosis of mortality by varroa in the fall is made, it is important to consider other stresses that the colony may have been experiencing up until the date the colony succumbed.

    Why is this important?,,,
    If there were other factors that were stressing the colony prior to the motility such as ‘extreme dearth‘, these factors may perhaps have exacerbated of the effects of varroa. Then, one might be less inclined to place much ’why emphasis’ on varroa (and subsequent resistant qualities of the bees), and more ‘why emphasis’ might be placed on the cause of ’extreme dearth’. You see how this could perhaps influence management decisions, when other stresses are considered.

    Cluster size, cluster position, pattern of honey consumption are among some of the many things to note, that can tell you what was occurring months prior to the event.

    Best Wishes,
    Joe
    http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/H...eybeeArticles/

  9. #9
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    May 2006
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    Erie, PA
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    Thanks to all for the information. I get Bee Culture, but am a few issues behind in reading, so I will look for the full text of the article.

    I am suspecting starvation, since there were many bees flying 2 weeks prior, and no signs of dysentary, and lots of dead bees on the SBB. I'm not going to open the hives up until it is warmer just in case there are any survivors.
    “The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.” -Henry David Thoreau

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Swalwell, AB
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    Anything over 15-20% average loss is usually due to something in management (physical accidents like a meteor strike excepted). Experienced beekeepers with a few hives near home and nothing else to do with their time can often do better than that.

    With two hives, though, simple chance could have both die even at the 20% level, due to the small sample.

    Diagnosis is something best done with the assistance of an experienced beekeeper. An inspector, if available, is a good choice. An experienced beekeeper can usually tell within a few minutes what happened, but not necessarily the root cause. As Joe suggested, something that happened las summer or fall might have started a chain of events.

    Magazines and web discussions can be helpful, but for a real diagnosos, nothing beats being there and seeing, feeling, smelling, and inteviewing the owner while looking around at the surroundings.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    Cooperstown,N.Y.
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    Default

    Hey Mr. P.
    Nice pic's...they immediately brought to mind something that has been confusing me.

    In hives that have crashed from varroa, I often notice small, whiteish colored deposits (just little specks, really) in some of the vacant cells.
    They look like wax particles, but I somehow think it's mite poop, which hasn't been cleaned out because the hive is, or has crashed.
    Sometimes I see it in hives during the summer, but I think more so in heavy infestations.

    I think I see some in the 1st pic.
    Can you I.D. those small white flecks for me?
    Thanks
    Mark

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Northern VA USA
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    Thanks MP! Great photos and excellent description!

    Matt

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