Opened up a weak acting hive. 20,000+ dead bees on bottom board. Bottom deep empty except for a few dead bees. Approx. 2,000 live bees in top deep with plenty of honey, no brood, no eggs. Fecal stains on outside of hive and on top of frames in top deep. Nosema? What did I miss in the fall?
As much as I dislike it, I have to treat each fall with Fumagilin-B or I'm faced with this each spring. And your climate is likely more inducive for Nosema than mine is. Sometimes they will perish with honey just inches away if they have broken cluster and then are hit with a sudden cold snap.
Sorry for your loss.
Do you see heavy losses like this if you don't treat?
Sounds like symptoms of nosema ceranea to me. I lost some hives this year same as you. Did you see the queen? Treating with fumagillan - B or Fumadil is the mainstream approach. I've heard of at least one beekeeper that uses treatments of tea tree oil in sugar water syrup (7-10 drops in a quart of syrup). Nosema Apis needs treating in spring and fall, Nosema Ceranea causes problems in all times of the year. Best of luck to you.
The 20,000+ is what I'm seeing, the bees never got a day to clean during the winter, my bb were full of dead bees and the dead bees were piled up between the frames of the bottom super. the fecal stains can mean nozema, or also if the cluster is too small they aren't able to generate enough heat to break cluster and will go in the hive. You probably had a top entrance open? thats where you found the stains? but I would put fumidal on my schedule for spring and fall. Did you find a queen, hives should have had brood starting in feb. but the cluster may be too small. I would have to say that other than not using fumidal, if you have a queen, that with 20,000 dead bees you didn't miss too much.
Originally Posted by Jack Oatmon
mike in lafayette
first a caution... staining does not necessarily equate to nosema. however as a problem for bees I suspect that nosema is a much larger problem than some folks might suggest.
secondly a question... with all those dead bees on the bottom board did the hive have some useable exit or were they somewhat trapped?
Yes, they have an upper entrance which they have been using.
Dead out similarities
I have 3 dead outs and 10 survivors so far this year.
One (Lakeport) was a nuc that froze from food. Baseball cluster frozen in place with a perfect 1" band of clean cells surrounding it. No suprise here.
Two (in Onondaga, oddly enough) was another freeze-out, apparently early in the season, cantelope cluster, band of clean cells 2" from 50# of honey and a lot of dead bees below. Saw the queen. Bummer.
Three (Lakeport) matches your description, but in my case the upper entrance was clogged with dead bees and the lower was clogged too. No escape.....gotta go gotta go.... big **** mess all over the top of inner cover and the tops of the frames of the upper deep.
I treat with Fumagillin-b. I hate antibiotics, but I hate dead bees more.
got to thinking
on the long ride down to dadant yesterday. I always provide an upper entrance, and use a maxant mouse excluder on the front, but with the amount of dead bees that I was seeing on the bottom board, and the condition of the dead bees (wetter than normal) that there wasn't enough airflow through the hive to remove the moisture that was created, so I'm rethinking weather I should modify my overwintering to compensate for as the weathermen always say "the 100 year" winter. My partner had higher losses, but his were mostly to running out of stores, but his hives are a bit more airey than mine and the bees didn't appear to be as wet, so I may drill holes in the hand holds of the bottom box?? but not sure yet.
My partner had higher losses, but his were mostly to running out of stores, but his hives are a bit more airey than mine and the bees didn't appear to be as wet, so I may drill holes in the hand holds of the bottom box?? but not sure yet.
I think this is quite a relevant observation mike. By description of others and family uz' yankee beekeepers have had an extremely brutal winter. a long term relationship suggest bad winter=high winter death loss.
wet (greasy) bees suggest poor ventilation... with a tight hive also possible buildup of respiration gases. wetness + bad air can equal bees too weak to move even inches to feed. I myself would not drill hole in hive bodies... first because the tend to be ineffective and secondly they can create other problems. just casually it sounds like you need a bit more ventilation at the top of the stack.
I saw just the same thing, in about 10 colonies. (Two more are not completely dead, but down to less than a comb of bees and a queen.) I.e., large numbers of dead bees in the bottom chamber and between some combs, upper and lower, also toward outside edges of hive. No obvious excess moisture or mold, but moderate dysentery.
The colonies had no upper entrance but full open lower entrances, which, given the volume of dead bees filling the bottom boards, may have ended up largely blocked. Regardless, there were no good days suitable for cleansing flights for the majority of the winter, which probably made things worse.
One of the dead colonies looked viable until the last cold snap, and that did them in, even though cluster was in contact with food. The bees did have a "swollen" look to them, so they were retaining a lot of waste I think. I was also suspecting Nosema ceranae, or just N. apis. Did not treat with Fumagillin. Still, I have some strong colonies coming into spring as well.
Oh well, they didn't starve. Time to restock and try for better next time.
Good luck from Boston