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Thread: Autumn Abscond?

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Olmsted County, MN USA
    Posts
    74

    Default Autumn Abscond?

    Checked one of my yards yesterday and found one hive totally empty. This was one of my stronger colonies, so this is a disappointment. This was a new package this spring on all new equipment. I'm running all mediums, and this one had filled four boxes plus another super of surplus honey. I did no treatments. I did not do a mite count prior to buttoning things up for the winter.

    No signs of robbing, all of the honey was still capped. Several sections of pollen packed away, and the brood spaces on comb was nearly empty. There were a handful of still-capped brood. There were a couple dozen dead bees on the bottom board.

    From all appearances the hive was ready for winter...except there are no bees.

    The other two colonies on this site appear to be in good shape for winter, and there was activity outside those hives yesterday.

    All of my yards are on native prairies sites. This one the landowner did a modest fall burn (only several hundred square feet) that came within ten yards of the hive on one side.

    Could the burn have convinced the bees to abscond? Or could this be colony collapse disorder?

    I know bees do what they please...and this one has me mystified. Any insight?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    3,046

    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    It's always tough to determine why a hive just ups and disapears. Obviously it had a queen and stores so doesn't seem any good reason to take off. How much time between burn and missing bees? I wouldn't think it would affect them as I would assume it was a quick burn that passed by the hives fairly rapidly.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Olmsted County, MN USA
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    JRG13 - it was about two weeks between the burn and my inspection yesterday. I do not know what happened and when in those intervening two weeks.

    Everything was fine one week before the burn. I didn't inspect the hive in the days leading up to the burn, so I don't know if they absconded/died before or after the burn.

    The burn event could be a red herring. I did a burn around my home yard this spring with no ill effects on five colonies.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    S Hadley, Massachusetts USA
    Posts
    716

    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    Without really seeing with my own eyes............I would suggest mites might have something to do with it. Just a guess though.

    I have seen hives abscond in mid-winter with super heavy mite loads. Not my hives mind you but a friends that is "treatment free"
    Pearl City Apiary Michael and Loucil Bach

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,594

    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverBack View Post
    There were a handful of still-capped brood. There were a couple dozen dead bees on the bottom board.
    I think you'll find your answer here...in the remaining brood. Are there any bees that died while emerging...tongue out maybe? Dig them out with a pocket knife. Do they have wings? Are their abdomens normal size, or are they flat and stunted? Do you know what mite feces look like?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Ogden,Utah
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    see my contemporaneous thread -- I had nearly the same thing happen to me two weeks ago. My hive had 80# of stores, a large colony, then nothing. I had the state inspector come over and go through the hive with me to rule-out any signs of disease. Nothing. I dejectedly tore down the hive and stored everything.

    Got a call from my wife today saying there's a swarm in the neighbor's tree that's been there for "about two weeks" according to the neighbor. I'm going to try to catch them in an hour of so....

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Panola County, TX USA
    Posts
    117

    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    varroa mites is the problem

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Olmsted County, MN USA
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    @Michael Palmer - no brood emerging as you describe. I'll dig into some of the left-behind brood (there weren't many) and see what's in there.

    Could a new package (this spring) have mites so bad after just five months to cause this, as suggested by @benstung and others? If so, that is stunning.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Panola County, TX USA
    Posts
    117

    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    yes it seems southern mn had some ideal conditions for mites to populate very quickly this summer, the mildness of last winter also was a contributor.

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