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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Hallsville, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    44

    Default My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    Hi. I started my first hive in May and discovered last week that it had died. A couple of weeks ago, I checked on it by putting my ear to the hive and they were buzzing quite happily. But when I checked it last week, it was dead silent.

    I live in mid-Missouri and our winter has been mild so far. The temps have never reached the single digits, even at night. However, it does get quite windy at our place. At first I wondered if I had too much ventilation and maybe they froze, but Iím not sure, so I hope you can help me diagnose the problem.

    I opened the hive today and took several photos. There was honey and an uneaten pad of bee food, so Iím confident they didnít starve. I did find two large moths in the hive and am wondering if they were the culprits. My photos can be found on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/2467882...7628516372263/ Any feedback you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

    Iím also wondering if itís ok to harvest the honey that was left in the hive? Some of the frames were nasty looking, but others were golden and capped. Is there a good way to harvest the honey without using an extractor? I donít have the equipment to do that.

    Thanks for your help!
    Laura

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,372

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    Laura: Sorry about your hive. To be able to make a good guess we would need some photos of the combs and perhaps a good closeup of the bottom board debris also some more background about the hive and what care you may or may not have given it. I will say, though, that a strong healthy hive with ample feed would have had little trouble with any Missouri winter.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,774

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    I only found one photo visible.
    Time to be a gypsy again, 2014 will be my prep year, my bees want a better area with actual rainfall.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Hallsville, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for your reply. I posted a thread to my flickr account with photos of the hive, but I'll add a few photos here.Dead Hive 1.jpgDead Hive 2.jpgDead Hive 3.jpg

    As for care of the hive, I had closed it up for the winter in October. I put on a mouse guard, and I added a food patty with honey b well in it. I made sure the hive was tilted so moister would run out and I glued popsicle sticks to the corners of the inner lid for ventilation. I was planning to add a wind break, but hadn't done it yet.

    I hope this is information that will help.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Hallsville, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    Thanks, Gypsi. I guess it would help if I had the permissions set correctly! duh. You should be able to see it now.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Peace River, AB Canada
    Posts
    456

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    Although there was still feed in the hive the frames that the bees were clustered on don't have much. My guess is that they starved.
    I don't think the moths had any part in the hives death.
    The total number of bees is also a concern. When was the last time you looked in the hive and how many frames of bees did you see? Going into winter there should be about 10-15 frames of bees.
    If you did not use any treatments then the honey should be okay to eat.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,774

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    Please realize I have less than a year's experience, but looking at pictures and reading and learning is good for me. On the brood comb, with almost grown brood still in it, were any of those bees still alive (they looked alive in the pic)

    I didn't see huge amounts of wax moth damage. It's coming but not there yet (not compared to what I saw on my first hive anyway). The moths have to lay the eggs before the larva start ripping things up.

    Looked pretty darned good - capped stores, brood - looked like eggs in jelly on one of those pics (and the pics were excellent btw). There had been fighting, stingers appeared missing on some of the bees up on top of the frames anyway. Possibly the queen was killed in the fighting? But the hive is not totally robbed out. In Texas, there wouldn't have been a drop of honey left in any of those combs. All would have been taken and moved to the robbers hive.

    Ok, we know I don't know anything, so I'll just follow the thread and let the smart people have their say.

    Gypsi
    Time to be a gypsy again, 2014 will be my prep year, my bees want a better area with actual rainfall.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Hallsville, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    Thanks JD and Gypsi. I checked the bees in October and there were a lot of them. The frames in one box seemed to be fairly full when I checked them, but I only brought 10 frames back to the house today that had honey. Only a few were mostly full. Starvation...that really bums me out. I thought for sure they were set for food.

    Gypsi, all the bees were dead. The weird thing was they were all "supple" not dried up and crunchy like you would imagine dead bugs to be. It's as if they died only a few minutes ago.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,774

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    I'm sorry for your loss. And believe me, I know how it feels.

    Gypsi
    Time to be a gypsy again, 2014 will be my prep year, my bees want a better area with actual rainfall.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,969

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    If they had stores in Missouri where it has not been cold enough for bees to have to cluster, I doubt very much they starved. If their is still brood the queen hadn't been gone long enough for them to dwindle away. They could possibly have abscounded but it is really hard to know what actually happened. I would bet the capped honey would be fine to eat. If you happen to have plastic foundation or frames just scrape it off into a new pantyhose and let it drip into a bucket. If it is wax foundation basically the same, except you have to crush the whole thing to open the cells so the honey can run out. If you wanted to make a warming booth out of a cardboard box with a lightbulb rigged for a heat source, the wax will rise to the top of whatever container and can be skimmed off and let drain again. It is all a sticky mess but we have all done it I think. You just make sure you leave some to start your package on in the spring!

  11. #11

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    A couple of the photos show bees clustered, head first in cells. So, they appear to have died while clustered.
    There are any number of possibilities. One is simple starvation. The cluster was separated from their food stores during a prolonged cold spell. Quite often there are other underlying reasons. Was the cluster small? Were the bees healthy and vigorous? Were they queenright?
    And last but not least…actually most important….how heavily infested with varroa? Did you test or treat?
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,383

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    What remained of the cluster starved. The question should be why did they lose their bees?

    Not having the combs in hand makes a diagnosis difficult. Look at DSC01245. You can see a few remaining cells of sealed brood. Looks like one bee died as she tried to emerge. She has her tongue out which means she was begging for food when she died. Pull her corpse out carefully with a pocket knife.

    Does she have fully formed wings? Does she have a normal sized abdomen, or flat and stunted? Are there any other mature emerging bees that you can pull from their cells? Look at their wings and abdomen.

    From the evidence I see, the most likely cause of death is varroa mites and virus complex.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,372

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    Mikes analysis is a good as you will get on here. As in all things in life it is always best to eliminate the most likely candidates first. Suspect number one with bees always has to be varroa. No sign of brood diseases are apparent but I must say I am a bit puzzled that the bottom board dosent show any dead mites in the view that we see. In any case the good news is there is no reason that the combs can't be reused next year, harvest a bit of your honey if you choose but save some for the bees to get started on and protect your combs from rodents this winter.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Crenshaw County, Alabama
    Posts
    2,001

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    <snip>Does she have a normal sized abdomen, or flat and stunted? <snip>
    Michael, what would the size of the abdomen indicate?

    Thanks,
    Ed

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,383

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    Virus issues

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,575

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    What I'd like to see is a picture showing how many dead bees were present. This would give an idea of cluster size. What was the population (number of frames covered with bees) of this colony in October?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
    Posts
    1,168

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    Look through the dead bees see if you can find your queen, if you find her you will know they did not leave for sure. Also save her in a jar with alcohol.

    Were the moths alive? Maybe they were hibernating. It’s too late for new moth to hatch. And not enough damage to have been the problem. I have not seen moths in about 3-4 weeks.

    About 4-5 weeks ago I opened 3 hives, one had a little capped brood the others were broodless. So I think the time line for the hive was 4-5+ weeks ago. I live about 2 hours away from you.

    Also curious about how many dead bees are in the hive, any outside the hive on the ground?

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    755

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    I had a similar situation last January- several dead out nucs. After reviewing photos I too received a very similar assessment from MP- I have not even noticed the pin hole pricks in the brood prior which I am not sure, but I think I might see in your photos. It was my first losses in 5 years and all in one location so I sent samples to the Beltsville bee lab and was amazed at the mite counts that came back- at least half of them high- I did not even see mites, but I wondered if they were hidden, lodged in the bes somehow... one of samples came back with a count over 40 (mind you the sample is only 1 cup of bees or less). In hindsight, I wondered if I could have just put the bees in a larger jar of alcohol and seen the mites flow to the surface, but Beltsville also checks for nosema and other things. Just an idea to consider.
    karla

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Keno, OR
    Posts
    734

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    Picture 1248 is a classic image of starvation. I don't see much honey stores in the pictures either. Perhaps they also had moisture hitting the center of the brood, they tried to keep warm, got chilled and could not make it to the outer honey stores.
    Klamath Basin Beekeepers Association: www.klamathbeekeepers.org
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/kbbafb/

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Anderson, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    78

    Default Re: My Hive Died. Can you help with diagnosis?

    butts up ..starvation

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