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Thread: Dying hive

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Esperance, New York, USA
    Posts
    34

    Default Dying hive

    I installed my first ever packages into my brand new hives four days ago, with great excitement and some nervousness. Everything seemed to go perfectly, and I was majorly relieved. Two days after the install hive #1 was very active, lots of cleansing flights, bees coming and going, activity on the feeder when I checked inside. Hive #2, I didn't see any bees come in or out of in the 15 some minutes I watched. So. I opened up the back end to check the feeder. No activity except a lone bee lying on it's back waving it's legs, and some dead bees. Decided to peek into the front. 95% of the bees were lying on the floor of the hive, and the remaining 5% were clustered around the queen. Now I'm assuming that unless there was a miracle of resurrection, that hive is done for. I don't think even if 10% of the bees survive, and get the queen out there's enough of them to draw comb, and take care of brood until new workers can emerge. And the "living" bees didn't look very healthy when I peeked either. Yes, they were festooned around the queen cage, but the just seemed so much more lethargic than the festoon in the other hive.

    My question is, what the heck happened, and what do I do now? I treated both hives exactly the same (excepting that hive #1 had a feeder leak, and I had to open it up to fix that and get the entrance reducers all set in better in case of robbing set off by feeder leak) and now one hive is pretty much dead. So how did I manage to kill one and not the other? I'm going out again today to check the feeders and make sure they still have syrup, and I'll see if I can peek in the front of the hive again, but I'm not terribly hopeful. Any insight or advice would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Hampton CT
    Posts
    360

    Default Re: Dying hive

    With the cold weather we have had here in the Northeast, I will bet that they were not able to cluster near enough the feeder and starved then froze to death. You don't say what kind of feeder you have or its location, but barring a derect spray with a lethal pesticide, starvation is really the only possibility. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Esperance, New York, USA
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Dying hive

    I guess I'm unsure why one hive would starve and the other wouldn't on the exact same setup, less than two feet away from each other? I have a horizontal hive, with ten frames in the front (foundationless), a follower board with a hole (abt 1 1/2 inches) for access, and then the feeder. Feeder is a baggie style feeder, located maybe four inches, at the most, behind the cluster.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
    Posts
    1,146

    Default Re: Dying hive

    What kind of temp have you had since you installed the packages?
    Temps in the 40s the bees will not even need to cluster. Bee can forage when its sunny and 43 deg.

    Bees can cluster away from their food and starve, starved bees will have their head in the cell and tail sticking out (if you have comb).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Esperance, New York, USA
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Dying hive

    hive #1 now has same symptoms as hive #2. Local bee mentor just got back to me and says that they most likely starved to death, but maybe if I change to an inverted feeder, positioned directly above the cluster, I might save the surviving queen, and baseball sized cluster, and I can pray for a swarm. Obviously very discouraged by this total failure, not to mention significant loss of money. Temps have been in the 50's during the days, and the high 30's at night. Proceeding to pray for a swarm, and change my feeder.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Hampton CT
    Posts
    360

    Default Re: Dying hive

    No offense meant to aternative hive stiles, but that is why I always recomend that the feed be placed DIRECTLY ABOVE OR IMMEDIATELY NEXT TO THE CLUSTER OF BEES! Bees can move upward to food far more readily than horizontally.Last weekend, temps in the Northeast were in the 20s during the night. Your bees had to move cross as many as ten frames, through a 1 1/2 inch hole in solid wall and then get to a baggy feeder. At those temps, it is not going to happen, the package of bees will just cluster where they are as soon as the temperature drops below 45 or so degrees. Remember, the new package had no reserves to feed upon. The hive that made it probably clustered closer to the rear of the hive and managed to get enough food to survive the night. Who ever suggested that type of hive didn't tell you about the challenges associated with feeding in top bar, horizontal hives etc. That is why if you want to use that type of hive, you had better be on top of your game and have the mentorship of someone with a lot of experience with your type of hive. I am sorry you lost your bees but perhaps there is a lesson here. By the way, people who use Langstroth hives and then insist upon using entrance style feeders also often end up with starved bees if installed just before a cold night. Unfortunately, in almost all cases, package bees that perish in the first days have died from starvation, not some other mysterious malady. Sad, but true.

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