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Thread: Autumn Abscond?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Olmsted County, MN USA
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    69

    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
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    2,439

    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
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    69

    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
    685

    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
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    5,120

    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
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    117

    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    varroa mites is the problem

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Olmsted County, MN USA
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    69

    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
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    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.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Cazenovia, NY, USA
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    8

    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    I'm a hobbyist with 4 hives in central NY. I checked my hives today and my two strongest hives, which seemed fine two weeks ago had absconded. One hive produced 160# this year and the other 100#. They were third year local nucs that I had treated with Apistan and Fumgicillin yearly and fed sugar water spring and fall. They had plenty of honey stores. Of note, I had SHB for the first time this year. Is this CCD? Mites,SHB? Is it OK to use the honey in the hive bodies for other hives? Thanks.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    this absconding fascinates me. it makes sense that the bees could be smart enough to 'know' if the should leave the hive, for example, if the food became contaminated or something.

    i do wonder about if they get so infested with mites, and are miserable beyond tolerance, that they might blame the hive for their problem, and leave it.

    the lack of brood could have been their late season shut down.

    can you see any mite feces on the 'ceilings' of the comb?
    beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    5,120

    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    I very much doubt your bees absconded in the middle of November. More likely, it was a varroa problem. You used fluvalinate...Apistan..which doesn't work in most cases, to control varroa mites.

  13. #13
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    michael, do you know of any cases of absconding where mites were ruled out?

    i guess it's hard to check them if they are gone, but the feces would be a clue.
    beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,033

    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    michael, do you know of any cases of absconding where mites were ruled out?

    i guess it's hard to check them if they are gone, but the feces would be a clue.
    Absconding isnt real common, fall absconding even less so. The symptoms are classic late fall varroa collapse. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck........
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  15. #15

    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverBack View Post
    I did no treatments. I did not do a mite count prior to buttoning things up for the winter.
    Without any counts or treatment, I suspect mites as well but believe that it isn’t necessarily an abscond. As has been discussed on several other threads recently, this time of year is when the parasitic tax on a bee colony peaks. Many, if not all of the bees in an untreated hive are weakened. As long as there are able bodied bees remaining, the carcasses of the inhive dead will be removed. And, as long as there are daylight hours with temps allowing it, many will leave the hive and not return. The result is what looks like an abscond but is actually a collapse over a period of days/weeks.
    Quote Originally Posted by timcaz View Post
    They were third year local nucs that I had treated with Apistan and Fumgicillin yearly
    As Michael Palmer just pointed out, Apistan is often no longer effective. The only way to be sure is to test before treating…and then again after. Having said that, I’m betting you’ve suffered the same fate as the original poster.

    I'm so slow composing a reply, I see that Jim also posted..so again what Michael Palmer and Jim Lyon said.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    SNOW SHOE PA USA
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    1,050

    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    I had two hives swarm in sep. and i think it might have been because of there mite loads i am trying to go the cemical rout and both hives had real high mite counts 100 plus a day in sep. and the reason i know they swarmed is be cause my wife seen them and i cought both a day apart and there in nucs 3 storys high doing well very strong. When spring rolls around i'll find the queens and then i'll know cause one of the hives had a black queen and was the only one in the beeyards that color so we'll see in the spring. But both hives had 100 plus pounds of honey but dwindled guessing no queen plus late in the season for drones to make a new one.
    good luck .
    Say hello to the bad guy!
    year five==== 15 hives==== T{OAV}

  17. #17
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    i witnessed one collapse down to a handful of bees recently. an alcohol wash revealed more mites than bees in the hive.

    in this case, there were numbers of dead bees acumulating at the entrance, and out in front of the hive, and they didn't abscond.

    but, if i wasn't able to look at this hive everyday, i may not have seen that. the yellow jackets and ants clean away the dead bees pretty fast.
    beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Westchester NY
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    230

    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    Mites are the problem, but this absconding I find strange--To those that have experienced this, there are NO bees left or what??? Mite collapse of a hive can very fast--the whole hive can go from booming in mid October to dead now (like what occurred with my hives last year in part due to circumstances beyond of my control)--but usually the bees do not abscond, rather there will be a small cluster of bees too small to keep warm and move in to fresh honey stores and then starve, so you would see dead bees in the combs/bottom board but not no remaining bees
    http://www.peekskillnurseries.com
    Specialists in Ground Cover plants since 1937

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland County, AR
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    1,076

    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    I'm afraid I'm getting ready to experience the same thing. It was a nice, sunny day today and 2 hives were bustling. My strongest hive this year was void of much activity. Some, but not much. I rapped a time or two and got "the hum," but that's just not right - such little activity. This hive had just started showing signs of mites.

    So...when you lose a hive to mites, I wonder how long it takes before any remaining mites die. I wouldn't want to take mite-infested equipment and introduce it to another hive. Hours? Days? Weeks? Anyone know?
    Zone 7b ~ Central Arkansas
    8fr medium equipment

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    barry co., Michigan
    Posts
    295

    Default Re: Autumn Abscond?

    i had a horrible time with absconding this year. All related to nucs. One would swarm out and several others would swarm and join them to make a mega swarm. Then they would fly around my yard, never happy enough to settle down when i rehived them. It made for an poor year in terms of increases.

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