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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Cherry Plain NY
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    23

    Default My hive died within the past week

    I am scouring this forum to see if anyone has a similar problem. We are first year beekeepers, and have fed organic sugar syrup all summer as our bees were hungry due to wet cold conditions. I switched over to grease patties, with a top feeder hole to replace the feeder shelf we were using, and within a week one hive had died. Upon viewing the comb and supers, there was a lack of honey, a very irregular brood/honey pattern, some mummified looking brood but no mites (I'll check again when it stops snowing and take photos). I will also check the bottom board. My husband has been the resident beekeeper, I just started with my own hat and suit. The grease patties were 2 parts organic sugar to one part Crisco, honey bee healthy and local honey from a trusted source.

    Our other hive seems alive, active and fine, but we need to check the comb. I think what happened was the comb never developed properly this summer and we didn't really realize it as my husband has been very busy at work and unable to check it enough.

    We live in the Northeast, MA/NY/VT border. The summer was soaking wet, and the winter is not much better. Our snowfall has been seriously weird, right now it's raining and slushing. When I changed out the top feeders for the grease patty (feeder with hole and top) it was in the 50s and the bees from both hives were VERY active.

    Thank you, will post pics when I can.

    Jules

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Cherry Plain NY
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    23

    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    Hi everyone. Well, I think this forum may have saved my other hive. I went outside in the snow, examined my dead hive, looked for all the signs of disease, noticed none. The alive hive still has yet to touch the grease patty that I left for it several weeks ago when I switched to grease patties...

    Well, I quickly made up some syrup, put it in a mason jar, attached it to my new feeder, put it into the top of the alive hive and they JUMPED ON IT! Obviously they hate grease patties. I will post pics of the dead hive but I think you will all say I starved them.

    Jules

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    151

    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    sounds like your first hive that died and had an irregular brood pattern may have had queen issues. Did you sample or treat for mites? Were they queen right going into the winter? How much winter stores did they have? All of these play a role in hive survival. Pictures may help when you post them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Coatesville, Pa, USA
    Posts
    822

    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    If they are so low on stores that's a major problem. It's December now and sugar syrup can be Ok if the temps are above 50, but if they take much of it that's not good because they won't be able to get the water off of it to store it and that can lead to other issues. However you can search on this forum for "mountain camp" method to help them out, also fondant can work well, also a "candy board" can work well. If there's not any / much stores in the hive now then something needs to be done to see them through, however it will need to be a drier way than syrup. If you do use syrup make sure you don't use 1 to 1 but 2 to 1. (Two parts sugar to 1 part water) If you do post pictures we may be able to help you out to diagnose much better.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Remsen, NY, USA
    Posts
    367

    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    Jules,

    If you haven't already, you might consider joining the Southern Adirondacks Beekeepers Association (SABA). They are an excellent group and may be able to put you in touch with one of their members to help you. Check them out at http://www.adirondackbees.org/

    What do you mean by "Organic" sugar? Unrefined sugars can cause more harm than good if fed to bees.

    >Obviously they hate grease patties.
    Not sure why you are using them unless your trying to treat mites.

    >I will post pics of the dead hive but I think you will all say I starved them.
    The only ways we starve bees is stealing too much honey and not leaving enough for them or we position the hives in areas with no forage. Now, they will starve if they are diseased, have parasites, we provide a poor environment (i.e., too much moisture, too cold, etc.), or have a failing queen. Don't beat yourself up unless you made some blatant errors. It may just be natural selection and your survivors will be stronger for it.

    Steve

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Cherry Plain NY
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    Thanks all for your comments. I will join the Southern Adirondack Beekeepers Association. We already have an elderly beekeeper, Vilness Mattison, famous in our area for natural beekeeping. He told me to switch to patties, I have followed his advice to the letter. The bees would not TOUCH the patties for several weeks, however they are voraciously attacking the sugar syrup I gave them today. I have been using organic sugar from the Co-op in Albany. Should we use refined organic white sugar if we can find it? I will take pics, I'm waiting for it to stop raining. If possible I'd sure like to save my other hive. The honey making has been slim. This summer, even tho we fed all summer, we had a very wet time for the bees. We also have a queen excluder, not sure if this contributed to the death of the hive.

    I have relied on my husband who is very overworked to check on the bees this summer. Now that I have my own suit, an epi pen as I have bee reactions, I will be the one checking the bees. I also have a microscope and will get it out today and start dissecting bees

    Will post pics, I promise.

    Question: Do bees hate grease patties?

    Jules

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    VENTURA, California, USA
    Posts
    3,604

    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    Re: Crisco 2:1 patties.
    They are intended for a slow release of the Crisco for Trachael mites and it's not for providing the bees with sugar or other nutients. The Crisco interupts the questing behavior of the mites. I put some Crisco patties on in October and the bees have eaten them as designed.
    Please do a search about making fondant for bees on this web site as it contains some important details in making it. I prefer the formula using liquid glucose or purchase some fondant in bulk.
    BTW, C&H pure cane sugar is about as organic as you can get.
    Good luck.
    Ernie
    My websitehttp://bees4u.com/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Crenshaw County, Alabama
    Posts
    1,893

    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    Quote Originally Posted by weathershaman View Post
    <snip>Now that I have my own suit, an epi pen as I have bee reactions, I will be the one checking the bees.<snip>
    Jules
    This is off topic, but... Are your bee reactions systemic or local? In other words if you get stung on the hand do you develop a rash/hives or swelling somewhere else on your body?...do you start to have trouble breathing (airways closing up)?...do you become faint(blood pressure issues)? These would most likely be the symptoms of an allergic reaction...and the epi pen could definitely be used for this *along* with a trip to the emergency room. Remember that the epi pen is only to hold a truly allergic person over until they can get emergency medical treatment.

    Pain, redness, swelling (sometimes severe), and eventual itchiness at the sting site are normal reactions that, if treated, can be treated with benadryl or the likes. The sooner the benadryl is taken the better the relief will be...it's not a bad idea to have a bottle in your "bee gear". Liquid gets into the system quicker but pill form works, too.

    Stings to the head should always be watched carefully regardless of allergic sensitivity. I think it's great that you have the pen, it is good to have for yourself and visitors, too. I'm definitely no expert on bee stings but thought I'd throw some thoughts at you.

    Ed

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
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    1,831

    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    Quote Originally Posted by weathershaman View Post
    We already have an elderly beekeeper, Vilness Mattison, famous in our area for natural beekeeping. He told me to switch to patties, We also have a queen excluder, not sure if this contributed to the death of the hive.


    Question: Do bees hate grease patties?

    Jules
    are you sure that he didn't mean pollen patties or pollen suplement, if they didn't bring enough natural pollen and were still raising brood that would be a problem.
    also you should remove the queen excluder, if the queen is below it and the honey above bad things will happen.
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    North Liberty, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    Since you mentioned some mummified-looking brood, that would suggest chalkbrood, which, given the wet conditions you mentioned, could be a definite possibility. Check out Michael Bush's link on the topic. I'd be careful, if it is disease, to not spread it to your other hive, i.e. clean your tools, don't swap frames, etc.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Cherry Plain NY
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    Lots of dead bees, so far I don't see any mites. I am taking photos with several cameras now, charging batteries in my good cameras. I will post when I have them. The chalk brood does not look like the little "mummies" but I will show photos. Also many bees dead with their heads in the honey comb, yes queen excluder. We are first timers and didnt' know any better.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Cherry Plain NY
    Posts
    23

    Default Please see these pics!!! My hive died within the past week

    I hope you can tell me...now I think I see mites. Please let me know what you think. All opinions will be entertained. This is a great forum and I have learned so much. I'm now getting out my microscope. Thank you all.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/28113398@N06/?saved=1

    If you can't see this link I'm at photonicgirl@gmail.com

    Jules with only one hive left. Sigh.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Cherry Plain NY
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    23

    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    My bee reactions are unpredictable. Sometimes I get really swollen spots that make it hard to walk (if on the knee), other times like when they got me in the ass recently it was a swollen lymph node in my left leg. The Epi Pen is a just in case I get a major sting reaction but I do not go into anaphylactic shock fortunately.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Crenshaw County, Alabama
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    1,893

    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    Gotcha. Like I said, even if you're not allergic you never know when a visitor or even another family member might have an issue. Good thing to have.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Remsen, NY, USA
    Posts
    367

    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    I think the culprit is your strong hive!

    As far as mites, even with an infestation, you'll rarely see mites on dead bees. The leave the carcass once the bee's dead body temperature decreases to ambient temperatures. That being said, you'll often see sickly looking dead bees. Yours look fat.

    I see drones, larva, and young workers (fuzzy thorax) and lots of flakes of wax. Robbers tear the comb and cappings apart in the robbing frenzy. A likely cause of death was they died defending the hive from robber bees...probably from your other hive. Feeding without reducing entrances can increase the incidence of robbing. It seemed like a bad year for robbing.

    If it's any consolation, if your other hive is the culprit, their chances of survival may have been boosted by the honey they stole from your dead hive. As suggested, give the survivors sugar candy, fondant, or moistened dry sugar as an emergency food source rather than syrup this time of year.

    Definitely hook up with the SABA folks soon, you'll be glad you did.
    Good Luck,
    Steve
    Last edited by Steve10; 12-23-2011 at 12:41 PM. Reason: Spelling

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Westchester NY
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    238

    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    Hello,

    I see you mentioned that you were using Organic sugar--I would reconsider that due to its great cost, especially if you are going to be having more hives--you will probably have to feed a lot of sugar from time to time. Sucrose is Sucrose the bees dont care where it came from

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Cherry Plain NY
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    23

    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    I hear you and I thought about that. But with genetic modification, sugar isn't just sugar anymore. We can buy organic sugar (unbleached, still refined) at our local coop and I get an 8% discount. We buy it in bulk when it goes on sale. I now need to get some new hive boxes because this plastic stuff is definitely not great. I was talked into it by Better Bee, not knowing any better myself. It leaks, the bees are getting wet from the flat roof. I'm thinking of either cedar or some other type of handmade boxes. Suggestions? So far, my hive is doing well. We have bee patties and syrup at the moment, I know the syrup is not what is recommended but the bees jumped on it hungrily so for the moment I'll leave it. They also have the patties if the choose to eat them. Does anyone have a recipe they'd recommend? Winter here is weird, it was 50 degrees yesterday, now we have a little snow. Thanks for all your comments, we did also join SABA. Jules

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Athens, OH
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    2,646

    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    As mentioned above, regular refined sugar is as pure a substance as you can buy. Sugar is not bleached, it is washed with steam in centrifuges. The reason "organic" sugar is darker is that it hasn't been washed as thouroghly or has had molasses added back in. My understanding is that for winter feeding, the cleaner the better, as there is less buildup of solids in the bee's gut, reducing the need for cleansing flights.
    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Cherry Plain NY
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    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    Thank you for your response. I asked Bob Linn, the bulk manager at Honest Weight Food Coop for the past 40 years, about the sugar. My primary problem with refined sugar is that it is GMO, which cannot possibly be good for the bees. He said the refined organic sugar at Honest Weight was bleached, according to the company who sold it. I could only presume that the GMO sugar at regular stores is bleached also but I will try to learn more about it and get back to you.

    I don't have enough honey to feed them, but ultimately I can get some 5 gallon buckets of honey and that would work. Right now we have one hive, and in the summer I hope to have two nucs making three hives. At that point I may be feeding honey. Thanks again! Jules

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Cherry Plain NY
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    23

    Default Re: My hive died within the past week

    Everything I can find on sugar refining says that the process involves a lot of chemicals and the cane is already sprayed in the fields too. I think I'll stick with organic sugar, the blond type, and also augment with honey. We only have a few hives...the bees are worth it to me if we can keep them going. Right now my biggest problem is keeping them dry. Whoever thought up flat roofs wasn't living in New England!

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