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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
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    1,693

    Default First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    Hello all,
    I went out on to my beeyard this fine warm day (60 F) in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I was just popping covers, looking and making sure all was well. The first three hive have large healthy clusters, and are good and heavy. I proceeded to the fourth hive, took off the cover, and I noticed that there were no bees at the top, there was no noticeable heat (like normal), and no "zzzzzz"ing. I kinda frowned, and then decided to take the hive apart. Sure enough, dead, starvation by appearance. Bee butts sticking out of cells, as well as the other dead bees "clustering" around. I am some what confused, since this hive weighs 130 pounds, nearly full of honey. The two outer frames on each side of the first (lower) hive body were full of honey. The middle six frames had the dead cluster and were totally empty of honey. All ten frames in the upper hive body were full of honey. Note: There wasn't much pollen anywhere. Well here are some photos:

    The hive:
    Picture 002.jpg

    Looking down the frames through the inner cover:
    Picture 003.jpg

    Upper story:
    Picture 004.jpg

    The frames in the upper story look like this (no bees at all in the upper box):
    Picture 005.jpg

    Looking at the lower story:
    Picture 006.jpg

    Outer frame from lower box:
    Picture 007.jpg

    Next four pictures are from the middle of the broodnest/cluster:
    Picture 008.jpg

    Picture 009.jpg

    Picture 010.jpg

    Picture 011.jpg

    The bottom board (screened):
    Picture 012.jpg

    Do y'all agree that this was starvation? If not, what else could it be? What should I have done to prevent this? Thanks in advance for your input!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    DFW area, TX, USA
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    1,052

    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    Ben, did you notice any white spots (mite feces) in the empty cells of the brood nest?
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Portland, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    240

    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    Ben, did you notice excess moisture under the lid or inner cover. Did the bees look or smell wet or musty?
    Beeman
    All things may be lawful; but not all things are advantagous.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
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    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lburou View Post
    Ben, did you notice any white spots (mite feces) in the empty cells of the brood nest?
    I looked but did not see any. I did a mite count this fall, and this hive had 1% mite infestation (1 mite per 100 bees). The rest of the hives were 2% or less.

    Quote Originally Posted by beeman2009 View Post
    Ben, did you notice excess moisture under the lid or inner cover. Did the bees look or smell wet or musty?
    There was no mildew/mold on the lid/inner cover, and it was not moist. The hive smells quite normal, but is cool compared to the normal warmth. No musty smells at all. Nothing was wet, either.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
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    1,162

    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    It look to me that there is no honey near the cluster.
    Heads in the comb butts sticking out?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    5,847

    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    the combs do not look robbed out to me. And a hive large enough to starve on 130 lbs of honey would show a whole bottom board covered in bees and many more frames of bees clinging to the combs. are you sure they had 130 lbs to winter on?
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
    Posts
    223

    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    Now that's a puzzle...good sized cluster, all dead, bees still there as if frozen in time, plenty of stores. Certainly there are no stores next to the cluster, but a cluster that size should be able to move around to where the honey is.

    There could certainly be mites/nosema/viruses involved, but my best guess would be too much cold air in the hive, thanks the the SBB with no varroa tray, the hole drilled in the middle of the bottom box (right next to the cluster), and unrelenting Wyoming winter winds. Perhaps the cold prevented the cluster from moving within the hive.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
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    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerPlanter View Post
    It look to me that there is no honey near the cluster.
    Heads in the comb butts sticking out?
    Yes, there is no honey in the comb around the cluster. You can see the dead cluster in the pictures, and all the cells beneath those dead bees have dead bees in them with their butts in the air.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    the combs do not look robbed out to me. And a hive large enough to starve on 130 lbs of honey would show a whole bottom board covered in bees and many more frames of bees clinging to the combs. are you sure they had 130 lbs to winter on?
    Ian, your thoughts are the same as mine. They seem to have starved, yet they still have a full deep of honey above them and 2 more frames of honey/pollen on either side of them. And by the way the whole hive probably weighs around 120-130 including woodenware; more like 80-90 lbs of honey. The hive was about 10-12 frames of bees (non-clustered), 6-8 clustered, going into winter.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
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    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    Quote Originally Posted by Luterra View Post
    Now that's a puzzle...good sized cluster, all dead, bees still there as if frozen in time, plenty of stores. Certainly there are no stores next to the cluster, but a cluster that size should be able to move around to where the honey is.

    There could certainly be mites/nosema/viruses involved, but my best guess would be too much cold air in the hive, thanks the the SBB with no varroa tray, the hole drilled in the middle of the bottom box (right next to the cluster), and unrelenting Wyoming winter winds. Perhaps the cold prevented the cluster from moving within the hive.
    That is a good observation. The hive was wrapped in tar paper. It has (surprisingly) only been really windy 2-3 times this winter, 35-55 MPH. I don't know where I misplaced my SBB slide board, but I couldn't find them, and I procrastinated on that. I keep that hole on the brood box for an upper entrance during winter when the snow gets deep and I'm not able to make it to the hives to clear the entrances. Never had a problem with the holes being there before. I also have 4 other hives in this yard that have open screened BB and are in top shape. I have also wintered a few other hives this way successfully over the past few years.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,847

    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    Oh , I see, I thought the whole hive was empty of stores,
    that is funny why they did not want to move up,..
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
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    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    Yes, it puzzled me too.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    ben, seems like i read somewhere that collapse from nosema can resemble starvation. it's because the bees effectively starve to death due to the 'robbing' of nutrients in their gut by the multiplying nosema.

    maybe it's not too late to try and squash some of your bees for a look.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #13
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    May 2012
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    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
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    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    ben, seems like i read somewhere that collapse from nosema can resemble starvation. it's because the bees effectively starve to death due to the 'robbing' of nutrients in their gut by the multiplying nosema.

    maybe it's not too late to try and squash some of your bees for a look.
    Thanks, squarepeg. I just might consider doing that.

  14. #14
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    cool. i am trying to get our local club to buy a microscope with some of our grant money. randy oliver has great instructions on how to do it. (scientificbeekeeping.com)
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
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    1,814

    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    They are not that expensive. I bought one and do free do the exam for free for local beekeepers.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,280

    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    I agree with Cam, they are not that expensive, several years ago I purchased a Swift student microscope through Ebay for around $50.00, it was money well spent. I can easily check my hives for Nozema and if needed I can use it to check for Trachea mites.

    As squarepeg has mentioned, Randy Olivers site is a good how to source.
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    A cluster that size, all else being well, would have been quite capable of moving to the honey. As an aside, I'm often reading about bees "starving", right next to honey. Unless weather is REALLY extreme or the bees otherwise sick or in poor health, this doesn't happen. Usually when people say that it's actually mites but in this case I don't think so.

    From the pics, can probably rule out mites. By definition, a hive that collapses from mites leaves behind a lot of dead brood. It has to be that way, or the hive wouldn't collapse. While the hive is collapsing from mites the bees do not clear up the dead larvae because they are weakened themselves and are just not up to it. Unless there's brood hidden under those bees, it's not mites.

    I'm with Squarepeg, Nosema Ceranae. It would definately be worth testing for. Unlike Nosema Apis, (normal nosema), that causes dysentry and is obvious, bees with Nosema Ceranae don't get dysentry, but get sapped of their energy, go off their food, and in an extreme case can end up exactly as per your pics.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  18. #18
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    Jan 2003
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    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    Ya, bees do not starve with honey in the hive. Other factors killed that hive. Starvation was the end result
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
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    1,333

    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    Simple starvation - No honey within the cluster perimeter. To migrate the cluster to honey, they must have some inside the perimeter to sustain them in tight cluster conditions. The break in comb across the interbar area is about an inch and a half. In a tight cluster, that's too far. Their instincts are built around the continuous comb of the wild brood nest. Give a red mark to Lang hive design.

    We don't see that situation in Dixie. Here, fall moves in more slowly. They don't starve in a day - share to the last drop. I don't have any data on how long the cluster can last after the last drop is gone, but there is a period of sluggishness between the last drop and the death of the colony as a unit.

    Our fall temps yo yo above and below clustering temps for more than a month. Our bees without honey in the cluster get the message, and relocate the whole cluster up on solid capped honey. They didn't eat their way up there. A sudden and deliberate cluster relocation. Note that observation suggests that the colony does not "want" their winter cluster spanning the break in functional comb at the interbar area.

    The way I see it, that colony just got caught short on relocation. Clustering temps just moved in too quickly. You might check a few others in the same location for an essentially empty bottom box, indicating they got it done.

    Yeah, I know. You don't need any advice from Dixie.
    Walt

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: First Winter Deadout! (plus photos)

    i think i get what you are saying about the functional break between the top and bottom boxes walt.

    but what about the honey in the bottom box just outside the cluster?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

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