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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lake County, IL USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    This is my second year in treatment free beekeeping. I only have 1 hive setup. First year they survived the spring and then died out in the following 4-5 weeks. Looked like dysentery with brown splotches on box. I did no treatments at all and only saw a minimum of varroa.

    2nd year I got 3 lb package and queen from Dadant and all was well, except I became allergic to bees and got hives, so now I carry epi-pens. I did mite counts and had excessive varroa so I purchased screened bottom board and treated twice with the double-powdered sugar treatments per Country Rubes Method. Then I got small hive beetles and used the small oil trap to capture as many as I could (hive is under a Spruce tree, so this may attract the beetles?) This spring the bees survived and did a cleansing flight at the first 40 degree day and left brown spots all over box, so I know they had some dysentery issues. I started to continue reading "Natural Beekeeping" by Ross Conrad and the "Beekeeping for Dummies" by Blackiston and decided to treat for varroa and tracheal mites by making grease patties per both books recipes (these did use white sugar...) and organic wintergreen essential oils. I only got the chance to place one patty and then 2 weeks later, NOW, they are dead.

    I live in Chicago-area and I ventilate the hive with popsicle sticks, upper holes in hive boxes and in winter I leave upper hole open. I do not restrict lower opening.

    I am just wondering if there is advice for me: Did I do something wrong in not treating or treating? Why do my bees survive winter and then die out?

    Thank you for any advice you have to give. I have another beekeeper friend where this identical die-out occurred.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,079

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    Please clarify, are you saying your friend's hives died out as well?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    2,497

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    What did they look like dead? All clustered together? Heads in hive and tails sticking out? On the bottom board? Were they wet? Was there any capped brood on the comb after they died? In order to give you a better answer, please tell us more about their condition when you found them dead. Pics would be better.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid.” John Wayne

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,994

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    Yes pics of the brood will be best.

    On the face of it though I'd be leaning towards mites as the main cause. Don't worry you are not alone, high losses are something most treatment free beekeepers have to go through, I'm told.

    So much so that it's now being recommended if you want to go treatment free it's best to start with 4 - 10 hives so you are more likely something will survive.

    More guidance could be given about your pattie, but not in this section because this is treatment free, treatments may not be discussed, you could ask in another section.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Montgomery, Tx
    Posts
    165

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    Hive beetles thrive in hives that are in the shade. Move your bees to full sun. Did your bees starve to death? Was there any honey stored? Were you feeding sugar syrup?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,698

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    Lulubee - Was your first frost early? What was your honey crop like? Another beekeeper that is in Racine county had poor wintering this winter also.

    Crazy Roland

    P.S. Looks like you are not treatment free any more.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    dadeville, alabama, USA
    Posts
    1,163

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    They died out because you went into the winter with heavy mite loads. This caused a decrease in young healthy bees that could have been raised in the fall. Thus the bees that went into the winter cluster were older and more worn with a lack of vitality. Thus when brood rearing kicked in, the heavier mite load that was present preyed on any brood that was trying to be raised. Thus there were not enough healthy young bees emerging to take the place of their older comrades at the time when the population changes. So your old, worn, stressed out, mite infested bees just could not take it any more. Thus the bees perished from the face of the earth. It is just that simple. Another case of sadder but wiser. TK

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,994

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    A pretty good description of why mites mostly kill hives winter / early spring.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    dadeville, alabama, USA
    Posts
    1,163

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    The sadder part is the bees died. The wiser part is what I hope this beekeeper figures out. TK

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,437

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    The wiser part is, you'll have to do something different than what you were doing. The approach you took didn't work. Since you posted this in the treatment-free forum, I'll assume that is the route you are interested in pursuing.

    Everyone experiences winter loss to some degree. Having only one hive is a tough way to go. You have no other resources to draw from should something happen. Did your hive have large cell foundation? If so, I would suggest you buy some small cell foundation for your next bees. Some have had good instant regression using the Mann Lake plastic foundation.

    Try to start two hives this time as well. I lost three new hives this winter, but two that have been through a couple of winters did well. I will be splitting from these. You will want to work towards having bees that are acclimated to your area. If you can get bees locally, all the better. Wish I had extra to help you out, but I'm building back up after a forced hiatus of 5 years.
    Regards, Barry

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Worthington, Pennsylvania USA
    Posts
    1,848

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    I concur with Barry on this one. Find local beekeepers that have survival bees, it is tough to lose your bees, we all have lost many hives over the years, you are not alone.
    This year I was extremely fortunate with no losses, 17 hives our of 17 came through the winter, I did lose a bee tree that is sitting in my bee yard though and I think I may have caused that.
    Hang in there, keep trying and learning.
    "Younz" have a great day, I will.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    collbran, co
    Posts
    537

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    yes,common for treatment free bees i finally figured it out..must re-queen as soon as you can first sign of drones.I take 2 frames of eggs 2 frames of honey 1 empty frame place in Nuk with no queen.they will build several queen cells once mated and laying remove origanal hive queen and give 3 frames of honey with bees two empty then she will produce till she passes.use for grafting more Queens or rob for her brood for support for new nuks.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Canada BC Delta
    Posts
    426

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    I think Barry is right in suggesting you try something different.

    Looked like dysentery with brown splotches on box.
    I see this as a good indication your bees were under stress and with living in the windy city a cold draft in the hive through the winter may have been part of your issue. You could place a wind barrier around your hive so that no wind can blow against or into the hive would be one suggestion that may be helpful.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Oberlin, OH
    Posts
    120

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    I've got to add my two cent's. Unless you are seeing brown splotches in the box I wouldn't think it's dysentery. Imagine what it must be like to get the first cleansing flight after a long winter. Splotches will be everywhere!
    Second, the first time it's warm enough for them to fly I always check to see how much they have in stores. Is the hive still heavy? Your bees may have made it through the winter only to starve in the spring. Just because they can fly doesn't mean there is anything out there to eat. Our association advocates spring feeding ASAP. Next year when it's getting warmer check for capped honey. If it seems light feed. You might have some pollen patties made up too so that they can get that protein boost and start laying.
    Last but not least I think you did everything you could with the knowledge you had. These are just some grumpy posters who aren't being very helpful. Thankfully they are not the majority here. Good luck!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lake County, IL USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    Thank you to all who have posted. To clarify, I live in an urban, unfenced neighborhood, so I don't want more than 2 hives. I have 1 hive and my friend has another. Our idea was that if one hive were lost we could split. But we both lost our hives this year. We had same stock, same methods.

    When alive there were 6 or more frames of honey, so I didn't feed them. When they were dead I inspected the hive and found 1) Nosema symptoms inside. 2) there was no bee brood that I could see. 3) there were 2 groupings of bees, some with their heads in the comb. Perhaps they got separated or were unable to travel to the honey due to cold. 4) There were several frames that had capped honey in top third and an unknown uncapped substance that is white and thick in the middle of the frame. When I looked closely it looked to me like fermented honey or some type of larvae (SHB?). I don't think it is bee brood and it doesn't match the disease descriptions and there was no odd smell.

    Pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/60891841@N00/?saved=1

    My goal is to be natural/treatment free, so I will look to go with small cell and local queens.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Gilmer,TX USA
    Posts
    1,830

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    Quote Originally Posted by franktrujillo View Post
    yes,common for treatment free bees i finally figured it out..must re-queen as soon as you can first sign of drones.I
    Why? Drones are good....are you talking about a droney layer?
    I would find some treatment free bees. Chances are that you got some Italian bees from a Georgia breeder that treats like crazy via dadant. Try local or some other person that does not treat...never go cold turkey on a treated line!

    mike
    Please check out the new kingfisherapiaries.com!
    Like us on Facebook

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    2,497

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    From your pics...it looks like there was some nosema but the real problem looks like your weather warmed up, they moved around and when they clustered up when it got colod again they were too far from feed and starved/froze to death.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid.” John Wayne

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Canada BC Delta
    Posts
    426

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    Quote Originally Posted by alpha6 View Post
    they clustered up when it got colod again they were too far from feed and starved/froze to death.
    I agree with this and would say your hive had too much ventilation. Looking at your pics I see that with the screened bottom and entrance was more like the full length by 1 3/8". The final cluster leaving their honey below looks to me that they were doing their best to find a spot away from the cold. My view would be to snug up the hive in an attempt to relieve some of the cold stress as much as possible.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,482

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    I'm a newbee but I only see one deep. That is two small a colony to make it through the winter in northern climates. Do not prop up the cover but do cut a notch in the inner cover facing down. How big was the hive going into winter?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,660

    Default Re: Survive winter, but die out in spring-support please

    The bees look all spread out and unorganized, with a couple or more very small clusters and then a spread out pile on top bars. I might suspect a winter failed queen was part of the issue.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

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