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  1. #1
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    Default First deadout of the winter

    Before I describe the conditions and head off at the pass those who would say 'so, mites then?'

    Anyway, I was out checking the hives today, evaluating who I should breed from this next year according to winter flying ability. It was 45 degrees and the three hives from Zia were flying pretty good as well as some of the others. I noticed the signs of a deadout from one hive, bees coming and going unsure of where the entrance is, bees trying to get out cracks where there aren't entrances, and no guarding to speak of.

    I checked into the hive and found a divided cluster, two clusters about the size of a tennis ball, at least two feet apart, both surrounded by honey. There were more beetles in the hive than I have ever seen at one time with six. There were also about two dozen mites on the floor of the hive. There were about a dozen frames of uncapped honey and pollen and some evidence of water leaking through the lid toward the west side of the hive, not near the clusters. This was a pretty mediocre hive that was a swarm that showed up in my shop one day a year and a half ago. More details and pictures on my blog.

    I usually have one or two deadouts before Christmas, so I'm not at all surprised.

    What do you think?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    3,956

    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    So do the shb breed/lay eggs this time of year in your climate?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    I've never seen larvae or eggs, only beetles, in my hives or others.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    First thought? Six SHB are statistically speaking zero.

    Yup, sounds like this colony is a goner and not one to breed from.

    Think? I don't know. Did you see any signs of a queen? Brood> Capped and un? Is there enuf brood and a queen so putting them in a tight nuc box would be worthwhile? Or are you going to put the frames of honey in another hive which has empty combs?
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  5. #5
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    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    Yes, I found the queen, if you check my blog you'll see pictures of the two clusters one of which includes all the brood that was present, three cells. I also found a dozen or so dead pupae on the bottom board indicating that some had been dragged out. We had a big freeze this last week, before that they were alive.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    5,373

    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Before I describe the conditions and head off at the pass those who would say 'so, mites then?'

    I checked into the hive and found a divided cluster, two clusters about the size of a tennis ball, at least two feet apart, both surrounded by honey. There were also about two dozen mites on the floor of the hive.
    What do you think?
    And why do you believe it wasn't varroa/virus issues? What you're seeing is just what I've seen in some colonies...dead in the spring from varroa/virus. They do separate into small clusters. There will be mites on the bottom board.

  7. #7
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    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    Though it is impossible to rule varroa either in or out my guess is they had a hand in the demise but thatthe biggest issue is probably just an old failing queen. it isn't terribly unusual to see older queens just lose vitality though the eggs they are laying may still be fertilized.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  8. #8
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    Feb 2006
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    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    ........or perhaps they lose vitality because of virus/mite issues hmmmm. I was basing my guess on the fact that this hive was small when you found it, undoubtably an older queen that issued. On the other hand seeing even a dozen mites under a cluster that small is noteworthy. don't forget Sol those queens make great smoker fuel.

    I knew an old beekeeper well who used to love to cage those and add some brood to them in hopes of salvaging the queen. He made a bet with my son once after he saw him doing this that it would be a good hive that year.........the old guy lost.
    Last edited by jim lyon; 12-10-2011 at 08:50 AM. Reason: Another old story
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  9. #9
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    before that they were alive.
    Barely at best.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  10. #10
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    In the final stages before death, the bees can be so traumatised there can be little clumps in different places. I won't say anything about mites since we don't talk about that.

    Something different, why breed for winter flying? The only reason I could think of is so they get out and poop outside the hive. But winter flying can also be a hazardous activity, in my mind you'd be better just to see who comes through with the least nosema, for whatever reasons, and proceed on that basis. There are a number of factors that can cause one hive to fly on a cold day and another not, other than breed.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  11. #11
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    Nov 2011
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    Winhall, VT
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    1,066

    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    Looks like they are starving with all those butts sticking out of the cells in first pic.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    You do see the honey in that picture right?

    Bees cluster in the cells. You will just about always find bees in the cells unless there are no bees.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  13. #13
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    Dec 2009
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    Canada BC Delta
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    426

    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    I have only been keeping bees post-varroa and wondering if it would be unusual to find colonies similar to Solomon’s dead out pre-varroa?

  14. #14
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    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    I checked the balance of my hives this morning in my out yard. Two were average, one was small but still alive, but one was massive and warm enough to send out defenders at 25 degrees. Of all hives, they had the most honey a month ago, but now they seem to have eaten most of it. I think this is going to be one of those hives that burns too brightly and never shuts down in the winter. They will certainly burn through their remaining honey before maple pollen in the spring.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  15. #15
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    Quote Originally Posted by Delta Bay View Post
    I have only been keeping bees post-varroa and wondering if it would be unusual to find colonies similar to Solomon’s dead out pre-varroa?
    It happened. But as you suspected, a lot less. Much less.

    Sol has decided it was not varroa related, so I'll not dispute that. In other peoples hives though, that I look at as a disease inspector, I'll see hives in the final stages of dieing due to being overun by mites, in a similar situation. I think the dwindling number of bees are aggravated by the increasing number of mites per bee, and can blunder off around the hive and be found in seperate little clumps.

    Still not hopeless though, went somewhere where the woman only had the one hive. All brood dead due to parasitic mite syndrome, bees in a few clumps similar to what Sol has pictured, and the queen running around completely on her own. The woman was pretty distressed so I caged the queen, came back later with two frames of healthy brood and bees, and fired that hive up again. Had to treat though obviously but it came back and stored her a good crop of honey that season. Requeened it that fall.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  16. #16
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    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    I checked the balance of my hives this morning in my out yard. Two were average, one was small but still alive, but one was massive and warm enough to send out defenders at 25 degrees. Of all hives, they had the most honey a month ago, but now they seem to have eaten most of it. I think this is going to be one of those hives that burns too brightly and never shuts down in the winter. They will certainly burn through their remaining honey before maple pollen in the spring.
    Well if you didn't leave enough honey for that particular hives needs, is it too late to feed it?
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  17. #17
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    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Sol has decided it was not varroa related
    I made no such conclusion, not here nor on my blog. I did make it known what I expected to hear since I've heard the same thing no matter the conditions of all the hives I've posted about. Two clusters, mites. One cluster, mites. No cluster, mites. Honey, mites. No honey, mites. Mites, mites. No mites, mites. Beetles, mites. No beetles, mites. Bees, mites. No bees, mites. Maybe every hive I lose is due to mites. But at this point, with the analysis I've been given, I don't know how I should know the difference.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Well if you didn't leave enough honey for that particular hives needs
    I have been pretty consistent and honest in reporting how much honey I have harvested this year.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  18. #18
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    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    I don't read everything on the net, and have no idea how much honey you harvested. My question was based on your post, which indicated the hive might starve.

    OK if you did not conclude the death of that hive was not mite related, my mistake. Just that since you've been on beesource, history is you've never accepted any of your hive losses could be mite related, ever. So when the post started with you saying you wanted to "head off" people who might suggest mites I thought it would be more of the same. And let's be honest, certainly sounded like it.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  19. #19
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    Nov 2011
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    Peace River, AB Canada
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    456

    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    This hive was from a swarm ,origin unknown, queen age unknown. Dysentry in spring with possible supersedure. They didn't bring in enough stores for winter and wouldn't take syrup this fall.
    I would suspect nosema as the main cause. Have you done a spore count?

  20. #20
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    Default Re: First deadout of the winter

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    the biggest issue is probably just an old failing queen.
    Fresh queen superseded this spring after skunk predation.

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    don't forget Sol those queens make great smoker fuel..
    I'm saving her for swarm lure. I have a collection in a pint jar.

    Quote Originally Posted by JD's Bees View Post
    Have you done a spore count?
    I have not.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

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