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Thread: My Colony Died

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    fauquier, va, usa
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    Sad My Colony Died

    Back at the beginning of October I conducted a full inventory of my one (top bar) hive and everything looked to be ok. There were lots of bees covering nearly all of the combs, open and capped brood and plenty of stores. Just prior to hurricane sandy, I went out to put some extra weight on the cover and noticed that the hive seemed ‘quiet’. A quick look through the observation window discovered a few bees, but not so few as to raise an alarm (to my novice mind, anyhow).

    Last week, I took another look through window and seeing NO BEES, started to worry, but hoped that, because of the cool weather, that the cluster was up high in corner where I couldn’t see it.
    Today was an especially warm day (mid 60’s) so I took a few minutes to open the hive and have a look. What I found is that my colony is completely dead. There was one lone bee buzzing around outside the hive (sunny, 65⁰F) and when I opened it up I found lots of (well, not really that many) dead bees. The first few frames (Top Bars) where the brood nest had been each had a small cluster in one top corner of about 75-100 (dead) bees. Some face-into the cells, some hanging on outside, almost ‘normal’ looking. Looking through the rest of the combs, there are plenty of stores and no evidence of robbing. I found the queen in one of the clusters among the dead workers so I doubt they could(?) have absconded. No swarm cells or supersedure cells; and no more than the usual queen cups along the edges of the combs.

    We have not had an exceedingly cold fall (a few nights here and there in the 20’s), and I haven’t seen a mite since I installed the package in early April. I did see a few SHB at the end of summer, but there is no evidence of them now. Surely, I am missing something…

    I went back a few hours later this afternoon to take some photos and there were then a few dozen bees returning to the hive (or robbing it out?). They were not aggressive or defensive in any way. I was able to remove every frame and photograph it without smoke or a veil.

    What could have happened? Keeper error? Pesticides? Something else?

    What to do now? There is a lot of pollen, honey and bee bread. Should I seal the hive up (is that really possible) and reinstall another package in the spring? Should I harvest the honey and keep everything else in the freezer until spring, then feed it back to a new hive?

    High-res Photos here http://flickr.com/gp/duxpix/9HM65Y/ - the photos look almost normal, until you realize that all the bees are dead

    Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: My Colony Died

    'haven't seen a mite.....'

    mites are the most common reason, but not the only reason.

    how were you looking for mites?

    do you know what mite feces on brood cells looks like?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
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    Default Re: My Colony Died

    What were your varroa counts? Sounds like a mite collapse to me.

  4. #4

    Default Re: My Colony Died

    Rather than reinventing the wheel...you may want to read this recent thread.
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...hlight=abscond
    There have been a number of similar posts since. This is the time of year when varroa pressure reaches its peak...and the previously strongest colonies....disappear.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    collbran, co
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    507

    Default Re: My Colony Died

    on the dead outs like that i let the bees rob the hive it help the other hives that need the extra stores.also in swarm season the know that there an empty hive the can move in....

  6. #6
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: My Colony Died

    Quote Originally Posted by franktrujillo View Post
    on the dead outs like that i let the bees rob the hive it help the other hives that need the extra stores.also in swarm season the know that there an empty hive the can move in....
    wow frank, that's the first time i heard of someone purposely letting healthy bees rob a dead out.

    what if there are pests (mites) or pathogens (viruses, bacteria) that may have caused the collapse left behind?

    would you not be concerned that the healthy bees might take it back to their hive?

    seems like at least freezing the frames first would be a good safegaurd.

    (unless they had to be burned if it was afb).
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: My Colony Died

    Quote Originally Posted by dux View Post
    Any ideas?
    Lose of queen, starvation. Where is the brood, where is the honey? Combs are empty...
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Hiltons,Virginia
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    110

    Default Re: My Colony Died

    We have seen the same thing in southwest virginia,the queens stopped laying early because of a fall that had a dearth of nectar.When the colder weather arrived there we no young bees to replace the old ones that were dying off.I believe there will be high losses in Virginia this spring.

    www.poorvalleybeefarm.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: My Colony Died

    try pulling out some of that capped brood and see if you have any mites on it.

    also see if you can find a picture of mite feces. it's little white flakes on the ceilings of the brood cells.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  10. #10
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    May 2012
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    Rockford, MI
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    Default Re: My Colony Died

    Sorry to hear of the loss. Mine has been robbed out for two days now (neighbors hives). I'll have to feed this winter I suppose. Hate these warm days.... come on with winter already.

  11. #11
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    Rock Port, MO. USA.
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    Default Re: My Colony Died

    I am so sorry for your loss. Try not to give up and start over next year. Maybe catch a swarm next time?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Peace River, AB Canada
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    Default Re: My Colony Died

    There is a mite in a cell in the center area of the first picture and also a mite on a bee at the top of the frame in the queen pic.
    Seems to be a lot of chalkbrood and the hive was way too light on stores going into winter.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: My Colony Died

    good eye jd.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  14. #14
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    Default Re: My Colony Died

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Beeman View Post
    Sorry to hear of the loss. Mine has been robbed out for two days now (neighbors hives). I'll have to feed this winter I suppose. Hate these warm days.... come on with winter already.
    did you try and stop the robbing? your neighbor would have appreciated that.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    fauquier, va, usa
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    Default Re: My Colony Died

    Thanks for taking the time to look through my pics, JD.
    I had been looking, but had not seen the mites (with my novice eye). There were many frames nearby with MUCH more stores...

    Quote Originally Posted by JD's Bees View Post
    There is a mite in a cell in the center area of the first picture and also a mite on a bee at the top of the frame in the queen pic.
    Seems to be a lot of chalkbrood and the hive was way too light on stores going into winter.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: My Colony Died

    Squarepeg,
    Believe me, I tried everything to stop the neighbors hive from robbing mine (entrance reducing to complete closing off). I'm sure the neighbor doesn't even know that his hives are getting free stores!

  17. #17
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    Default Re: My Colony Died

    beeman,

    sorry to hear about your hives getting robbed out. i have only had that happen twice. both times, reducing the entrances did not work, and i had to move the hives to another location several miles away. as a beginner, i wasn't sure why they were getting robbbed, but i have since learned how to check for mites ect.

    do you know why your hives ended up to weak to defend against robbing? are they collapsing due to mites and/or disease? your neighbor may be getting free stores, but he may also be getting an influx of mites or even worse, (this is how american foul brood is spread).

    stopping robbing is the most responsible thing a beekeeper can do to help prevent the spread of a problem to his neighbor's bees, and to the wild bees in his area.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  18. #18

    Default Re: My Colony Died

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    stopping robbing is the most responsible thing a beekeeper can do to help prevent the spread of a problem to his neighbor's bees, and to the wild bees in his area.
    Yep...ya can't blame the neighbor's bees. If your colonies are in decline all of the healthy bees in the neighborhood will take advantage of it. I wonder how you can be certain that it is only the neighbor's bees?
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  19. #19
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    Default Re: My Colony Died

    Something told me to check into the robbing hive today. What I found was the worst (well almost worst) possible scenario.
    DEAD OUT. No wonder the bees were not defending the hive.
    What I did find was EXACTLY what DUX had with the exception of mites. No mites, shb, no foul brood, and only about 400 bees total all dead.
    My guess is that the bees (with queen) absconded a week or so ago and the rest were not able to keep themselves warm and froze out.
    There is about 30lbs of honey, nectar, lots of pollen and some brood.
    For the life of me though, I cannot figure out why they flew the coop. No sign of anything wrong. Any ideas?

  20. #20

    Default Re: My Colony Died

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Beeman View Post
    For the life of me though, I cannot figure out why they flew the coop. No sign of anything wrong. Any ideas?
    At the risk of repeating myself in the same thread....
    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    Rather than reinventing the wheel...you may want to read this recent thread.
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...hlight=abscond
    There have been a number of similar posts since. This is the time of year when varroa pressure reaches its peak...and the previously strongest colonies....disappear.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

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