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  1. #1
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    Mar 2011
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    Rochester Hills, MI USA
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    Default My new colony has died... what happened?

    I am a beginner beekeeper and found my entire colony dead today. Just last month they were buzzing loud enough to hear them without opening the hive. I have pictures of what I found today. Is it nosema? Can I clean this hive and start a new colony or do I need to buy a new hive? These bees came from Georgia and are an Italian strain.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    SNOHOMISH, WA, USA
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    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    There is just not enough information in your post to give a good diagnosis, pictures may help

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    The format/size I uploaded was not acceptable. Here is a PDF with some pics. I had to knock the quality down in order to meet the size limitations.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2011
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    Moore, Oklahoma
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    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    put your pics in photobucket then insert the image here that way. much easier and no size restrictment.

  5. #5
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    Mar 2011
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    Rochester Hills, MI USA
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    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?


  6. #6
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    Oct 2008
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    Turnbow Hollow, Tennessee
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    178

    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    I don't see any filled comb but the pics are limited in scope. Was there any honey left in the hive at all? This time of year is a bad time for bees starving and freezing to death. Were you feeding them? As mentioned above it is pretty difficult to make a call without more info.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Rochester Hills, MI USA
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    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    There was still a lot of honey left in the hive. Since this was the first year I did not remove any honey. The comb is wavy and dark brown in some areas. The bees were pretty loud about a month ago when I checked on them last. They seem to have died throughout the hive and not in a cluster.

    Weather in Michigan has ranged from 50 degree days in early February and dropping to single digits within days. Could there have been condensation built up and they froze? The hive was wrapped in a heavy black plastic for the winter but I left ventilation openings at the top and bottom.

    Could it be nosema? I've been told this happens frequently in late winter/early spring if not treated. Of course, I did not treat for this since I did not know about it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
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    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    From all the bee poop on the top bars I would say that Nosema definitly played a role, but it can also be other things. It also looks like they had drone in burr comb between the hives, so if they had a lot of brood and a cold snap hit then they could have been too spread out to form a proper cluster trying to protect the brood and died. It could be lots of things. Pull the frames and post pics of those with the bees so we can see the cluster and post any observations. The more info the better help you will get narrowing it down.

    Sorry about your loss...but yes, you can clean up the hive and start over.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid. John Wayne

  9. #9
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    Mar 2011
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    Rochester Hills, MI USA
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    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    Thank you for the advice. I will take plenty of pictures as I take this hive apart.

    One more question... When cleaning the hive is there anything I should treat it with to avoid contamination from the previous bees or just make sure everything is extremely clean?

  10. #10
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    May 2008
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    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    Scrape off the top bars as best as possible. You can use a light water and bleach mix to mist the frames then let them air out and dry really well. Use a shop vac to suck out any bees that may be in the comb. I wanted to ask, did you treat for varroa? That's another possibility. Also, all the wax dust on the top frames is interesting. I have seen this in robbing but I think you said there was plenty of honey. Just kinda weird. Was there much brood or eggs? If there was this would explain why they were not clustered up as they were trying to protect those. If you had a cold snap for a few days it could have been what did them in.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid. John Wayne

  11. #11
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    Dec 2008
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    syracuse n.y.
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    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    I noticed in another thread that you got your packages from wilbanks. I had queens from them in 2009 and 7 out of ten died similar to how yours look. if you do some searches you will see others had the same problem. not saying its only a wilbanks problem as I have a few of mine doing the exact thing this winter. I had one in my back yard so I watched it all winter closely. If you have the bee culture mar 2011 magazine, take a look at James Tews article on keeping bees as best we can, the paragraph another frustrated beekeeeper-me. he explains it a lot better than I can write. the bees act like they used to act with traceal mites, very noisy, agitated, at the openings and flying when to cold to be flying, they eventually run out of bees, plenty of stores. the one in my back yard finally died last week bees inside, no cluster, actually at the end they were clustered on the inner cover, I haven't taken the hive apart yet. it had been treated for mites and fumidil for nosema, had a new queen, plenty of bees going into winter with plenty of store, not a hive that I would have marked as a chance of failing.
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  12. #12
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    Mar 2011
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    Rochester Hills, MI USA
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    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    Hmmm... I never thought it might be a breeder issue. Last time I checked on my hive was a month ago. They were active and noisy which I took as a sign of a healthy colony. They appeared to be doing so well I thought about starting a second colony until today (when I found the entire colony dead). I have already placed a new order with Willbanks for this year. Can you recommend another supplier just in case I end up with the same results next year?

  13. #13
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    Feb 2011
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    dadeville, alabama, USA
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    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    The greasy stain is indicative of Nosema or even possible a very old enemy--dysentery. The bees are confined to long periods within the hive and are unable to go on a cleansing flight. Thus they hold their fecal material as long as possible,hoping for a nice sunny day to relieve themselves. Well, sometimes they, just like people, can not hold out. So they make a mess of themselves and their surroundings leading to their deaths. It has been an unusually cold winter nationwide.Herein Alabama at higher elevations,Ihad a couple of hives that died with the same symptoms as your bees did, Dee Dee. Was quite a surprise. You might try to feed Fumidil to the next packages you purchase to get them off to a healthy start. Also ask the breeder does he feed Fumidil. Wild branch, that is a very scary statement. The last time I saw what you are describing happened back in the early 70's. Around 1972-1973 was the time frame. It occured all across the south. Dee, your bees died from Nosema/Dysentery. TK

  14. #14
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    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    When I clean out the hive should I bury the dead bees/honey/combs? Is there any chance my new colony could contract these diseases from the previous colony?

  15. #15
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    dadeville, alabama, USA
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    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    Dee, Alpha 6 has the way to clean your hive. A light clorox mixture misted on the frames and combs will help. I would feed a 1-1 syrup with fumidil when you reestablish your colony. You then have to make a decision to treat or not to treat for diseases and pest. That is a big decision. I am commercial so I treat for disease and pest. BUT I treat responsible. Using only chemicals and antibiotics that are approved. Preferable soft type chemicals. I would recommend Thymol for mites, Fumidil or Nosevit for nosema. And if there are many other beekeepers around, a dusting of Terrimycin in the spring and in the fall for prevention of both types of foulbrood. If you are the only one in the area, then you should be able to get away without such dusting. But examine your colonies brood periodically. Good luck with your beekeeping and I am sorry that you lost your bees. TK

  16. #16
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    Dec 2008
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    syracuse n.y.
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    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    Quote Originally Posted by DeeDee_11 View Post
    They seem to have died throughout the hive and not in a cluster.
    that is what I have seen in the hives that I had a problem with.

    just because they go to the bathroom in the hive doesn't mean they have nozema, when the cluster gets to small, they can't break cluster even when it warms up so they go in the hive. I'm not saying its a Wilbanks problem, just that the people that have reported the same symptoms I have kept track off all were from Wilbanks. Would be interesting to see where Tew got his packages. One of the questions that has been asked but no one has the answere is if you "think" you had ccd what would the hive look like if it died over the winter? Wilbanks queens are as good as any other souther breeder I would guess, but you might want to find a beek near you and see if you can get a nuc from them to compare with the package. if we didn't get 3 ft of snow last night I would go pull my hive apart. This is the second year in a row this hive died, I'll put a nuc in this spring, if it dies with the same symptoms i'll burn the equipment.
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  17. #17
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    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Kretschmann View Post
    Wild branch, that is a very scary statement. The last time I saw what you are describing happened back in the early 70's. Around 1972-1973 was the time frame. It occured all across the south. TK


    Ya but that was tracheal mite, I haven't had a hive show tracheal mite problems since then, plus I used formic in the fall, they were also fed fumidil in the fall, and mine went in the hive just like dee's did. I'm not the only one seeing the problem, other beeks around here are seeing it, other beeks on this forum have posted the same symptoms, and what tew describes in his article is exactly the same symtoms. I've lost 9 hives this year with 3 looking exactly the same, 4 I know what they died from and two haven't checked yet. last year lost 7 all but two exact same symptoms, never had a hive die looking like that in the past, just strange.
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  18. #18
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    Dec 2005
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    Ft. Collins, Colorado
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    603

    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    By any chance were you feeding the colony? The second picture looks like there are dead bees in liquid which you sometimes find with a leaking jar?? And if feeding it might have fermented which may have caused part of the problem.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Kretschmann View Post
    The greasy stain is indicative of Nosema or even possible a very old enemy--dysentery. TK
    got me thinking again, I read but can't find where I read it that bees with N.C.
    get more active and make more noise than a normal hive so i might scrape some of the bee poop from the frames and look at under a microscope, if they are infected I would be disappointed as I fed them 3 times with fumidil, and they took it so shouldn't have been a bad case of N.c.
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    dadeville, alabama, USA
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    Default Re: My new colony has died... what happened?

    Actually, the 1972, 1973 massive die off of bees was called "disappearing disease". The bees would respond to daylight and fly out in the winter cold and die. Eventually depleting the colony. It was later attibuted to African genetics. That was then, this is now. I would submitt samples of the greasy comb to beltsville bee lab and have them check to see what killed the bees. If it something that can be taken care of with a little effort, then great. You will not loose your equipment. You can always "bounce" back from a bee lose if you still have your equipment. You do have a good question, what does a CCD colony that had died in the middle of winter look like?? All my experience with this hideous malady had been in the warm months. TK

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