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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    lake Ann, mi
    Posts
    23

    Default LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    I have five hives in the yard near my house. I live in MI There was a normal amount of dead bees (1cup or so) at the entrances when the really cold weather hit in the end of Nov. last week we had a warm snap, 2 days of 50-60 degrees, all of the hives were active making cleansing flights. In the past few days i have noticed a LOT of dead bees at the entraces and even blocking the entrances, Two of the hives had Quite large amounts, (like 1/4-1/2 gallon volume wise). i have no idea what is going on, they seem very healthy and vigerious going into winter, mite counts were ver low, every thing looked good and they still have tons of honey left. I have no idea what is going on, and i'm getting very worried!! if any one has any ideas please let me know.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,905

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    This time of year I would heft the hive to determine if they have food...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    lake Ann, mi
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    i took a quick look when we had the warm snap and the all still have plenty of honey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    lake Ann, mi
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    Quote Originally Posted by blackdog View Post
    i took a quick look when we had the warm snap and the all still have plenty of honey

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,833

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    I'm in Michigan too, and I have lost many hives already this winter due to cold/starvation, it can happen quickly with honey two inches away with the kind of foul weather we have had this winter. You said that they had plenty of food when you checked them the other day, was the food next to the cluster, or in the box above the cluster, it makes a difference whether they will make it or not. Hopefully the weather here in Michigan will break pretty soon and give the bees more of a chance to relocate food nearer to the cluster or even move their cluster closer to the food. It's too cold to open up hives right now and reposition food stores next to the cluster if you need to, just have to hope they make it at least until the air temps get into the 50's or better for a couple days so you can do a more thorough inspection of the situation. John

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Dane County, WI.
    Posts
    3,721

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    I [or we] need to know a lot more about how the bees were prepared for winter in Michigan.

    !] Treatments for mites and Nosema?
    2] Ventilation, top and bottom?

    Although some say that Tracheal mites are no longer a problem, from your description it seems like it might be. Sometimes the only way of knowing is to send a sample of bees to the Beltsville bee lab.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    barry co., Michigan
    Posts
    312

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    I am in michigan also and lost my two main hives and two overwintered nucs. It had the appearence of starvation- tight clusters no more than 5 or 6 cells away from stores. These were georgia package bees. This year i will be requeening packages with proven northern hardy bees

    what kind of bees did you have? At our bee meeting Dana Stahlman president of central ohio beekeepers said to basically plan on requeening all your package bees with new queens from the north as losses from southern packages have been high.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Grand Rapids MI USA
    Posts
    322

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    I had one hive chimney on me also, they still had plenty of honey but only stayed in three frames going upward. And they were mutts to boot, so it happens to the best of em.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Posts
    1,640

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    It could have just been too cold for the bees to do much house cleaning. If this is the first warm snap maybe they are just now getting around to moving out the dead from winter.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    lake Ann, mi
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    I realy appreciate every one imput and help. two of my hives are hygenic Italians (queens froh OHB), two are localy caught swarms, and one is Carnolian. The Italians were treeted for mites in the fall, the others had 24 hour mite drops of 5 or less so i didn't treat them. They were all treated for nosima in fall as well. And as i said before they all have plenty of food. I Have a couple more questions,
    1) what would cause the cluster to not move up threw the frames of honey ?
    2) what is the "normal" amount of bees that usualy die during the winter ?
    3) what is the best top & bottom set up for the right amount of ventilation ?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Dane County, WI.
    Posts
    3,721

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    2] Actually, if I tried to add up most of the dead bees that I see outside the hive during winter, and those that I scrape from the bottom board at spring clean-up time, it would probably add up to 1/4 to 1/2 a gallon--maybe more. Your hives may still be OK. to survive the winter so maybe you have nothing to worry about yet.

    3] I don't know if there is a "best" top and bottom ventilation as far as square inches of space; it may depend on the part of the country. I use the entance reducer which is about 3-4 inches [with mouse guard] and a hole in the upper box. Some don't like holes in their boxes and use a notch in the inner cover or a thin shim under the outer cover. Here is a more elaborate but expensive method for ventilation.
    http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/stor...ver-p-232.html
    Last edited by Oldbee; 02-28-2011 at 05:49 AM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Dexter, Missouri USA
    Posts
    96

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    I'm with Oldbee, kinda sounds like it might be tracheal mites.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    North Liberty, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    My 2 cents, I would have to say I have at least a qt. to 2 qts. of dead bees at the base of the hive, almost a "fresh" cupful the other day when it was warm and they were pushing them out like crazy, and I still have thousands of bees in the hives. Same last year, so if you went into the winter strong that means you had quite a number that were going to die and the bees are doing a good job clearing them out.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Florence, Montana, USA
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    I am new to the forum, many of you know me and what we do at BVS.

    Checking the bee viral load may give insight as to the health of the bees. A crashing colony from many factors will show a viral load pattern, if it has been checked prior to visual issues the viral changes will show up. It is interesting that new foragers and a dead out have a similar viral load. This may be that we are only seeing the younger bees that do not seem to have the higher and accumulating viral load.

    The concept of the ongoing screening is as follows; It is well documented that bees carry viruses. Many of these viruses are latent in the bees (J. Chen – USDA ARS). The popular and current virus testing only indicates the presence or absence of viruses, with some exceptions for indicators of higher levels. These methods are time consuming and expensive to use in order to be comprehensive. The method I am presenting and using is a shift from the other methods. I use this technology licensed from the Army that counts individual virus particles and give a reading of all intact viruses both in concentration (counts) and in diversity (different types of viruses) in one test. When bees are stressed by various conditions (shipping, weather, poor nutrition, pests, Nosema, pesticides, treatments to control pests and Nosema… etc.) the viral load (diversity and counts) changes, the latent (inactive) viruses often become active, the normal counts increase and sometimes the increase is enough to overcome the bees and they die or they just don’t thrive. So with screening you can see the health of the bees by monitoring the normal viral load and the stress related changes in that viral load. The treatment for a bad situation is anywhere from “stop doing what you are doing….”, to better timing of multiple treatments, better nutrition schedule, and the use of essential oils and more.

    All that to say monthly aggregate monitoring is the best application of our technology, and at a good price for the return. I recommend 6 aggregate samples per month for commercial beekeepers, 1-2 samples per month for smaller scale beekeepers or even the 3 samples per season as stated above.

    I hope this helps.
    Dave

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lincolnton, NC
    Posts
    1,106

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    So, what are the logistics of getting samples to you and how much does it cost?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Florence, Montana, USA
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    The cost for the samples are $50.00 per sample. Aggregate samples are about 200 bees (foragers) in a zip lock baggie (do not add anything else) making up a representative sample from a yard (bees from 3-6 colonies) . Mail via USPS flat rate box (about $5.00) to:

    BVS, Inc.
    5501 Hwy 93 N., Suite 6
    Florence, MT 59833

    Mark the yard or the general location identification of the sample and the sample so that it can be referenced in the data base.

    Thanks,
    Dave

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,277

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    Just a curious thought,I have conversed with jmgi one other time about his losses in Michigan, { John, this year you have suffered hard losses, and I do wish you all the best next year}. Does anyone know how long a bee can stay inside of a hive between cleansing flights without defecating inside the hive and causing nozema, this could be a problem in areas with long cold spells. And with all the talk on proper ventilation these days, one must look for the proper balance between condensation and heat loss, this changes depending on what part of the country you are in, and probably what month you are in. There has got to be a better way of monitoring this. I experimented this year with a weak hive by placing a plexi-glas innercover on the hive to inspect for condensation and pushed a 1" dial thermometer through a small hole on the front of the hive into the frames the bees were clustered on where I could monitor the cluster temperature. This is not high-tech and is low cost, now I know I am not in Michigan but I pulled this hive through the winter here in southeast Ohio. Has any one else given these things any thought.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
    Posts
    2,299

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    I take samples of foragers at the entrance using a Randy Oliver type 'suck-a-bee', for nosema. There is a small amount of alcohol in the jar to kill the bees instantly. So the alcohol would mess up the sample,if it was drained before shipping?

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Florence, Montana, USA
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    The alcohol will ruin the sample for me. Randy's bee vac works, just don't use the alcohol in the jar. We look for the intact viruses in the bees, the alcohol breaks up the viruses and we no longer can see them.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Florence, Montana, USA
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: LOTS of dead bees and no idea why

    BVS is also working on a virus screening project that may be of interest. It would be very beneficial to map the distribution, frequency, diversity and intensity of the viral loads around the country. The data would show trends and relationships of bee viral loads to other factors, it could also serve as a tool for management. The request is for as many hobbyist beekeepers as will to send in at least one sample for the year and if possible 3 samples for the year, (as early as possible, midsummer, and early fall). Because the project is being offered nationwide and will involve many samples I have to ask each participant to pay for each sample they send , the data will give the beekeeper a snapshot of their colony(ies) and will give a composite picture regionally and nationally of the bee viral data that applies to so many other interactions and stressors that involve the bees. I am asking for aggregate samples from as many beekeepers as possible.

    Thanks
    Dave

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