I just started watching the first video. What has your weather been like? Abnormal warm/cold spells? I don't see on the video #1 any signs of pests, but I'm still not through it all. They certainly didn't starve to death with all that honey.
Video #1 at 3:38: Is that water droplets on the top bars? They could have truly frozen to death if there was condensation within the hive dripping down on them. Or did the water come from somewhere else?
Video #2: Starting with 5 frames in July in your climate may have been a little late to build up good for the winter. They appear to have good stores, but if the cluster isn't big enough, they may not be able to last through the winter with standard old age deaths. In addition, as the cluster gets smaller, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep the hive/cluster warm.
The mold is an indication of moisture, again raising my concerns of condensation in the hive dripping back on the bees. The way they are still dead in a small cluster makes me think that they just froze to death where they were. I am not all too familiar with how long ago your winter set in there, but even down here in SE Texas, as the weather got cooler, I condensed my hives down as much as possible to help them keep their space as warm as possible.
Feeding them in the winter won't do much good if it's too cold for them to break cluster to go get the food. They naturally want to move the cluster up inside the hive as the winter progresses to access the honey stores. Perhaps next winter, look to overwinter any questionable hive in narrow 5 frame nuc boxes. And maybe even wrap the hive in some black paper and insulation.
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Seeing the 3 queen cups started makes me think you might've lost your queen at some point and the cluster in 2 seemed really small.
Last summer’s drought made this year a bit different than a typical year.
Because of the drought, both the quantity and variety of pollen available to many colonies was sharply reduced.
This impacts winter survival significantly, because without sufficient protein and amino acids the bees won’t raise ( or will raises significantly poorer quality) brood.
Without adequate protein, brood that is raised often has a much shorter life span.
Many pollens by themselves do not provide certain essential amino acids required for healthy brood production- and lacking some of them, bees won’t raise any brood at all, instead they’ll eat the eggs.
Both dandelion and goldenrod, for example, lack one or more of these essential amino acids.
As you note, there’s a fair amount of pollen in some of the frames, but it looks like it is orange.
And the bees that perished appear to have been feeding on it.
I wonder if protein deficiency restricted brood production and shortened the life of your winter bees, resulting in a cluster unable to maintain ‘critical mass’ to stay warm enough to live or thrive?
Without more history its going to be hard to say. However a couple of points. You mentioned a couple of times about the faulty tray under the SBB. That very likely had no role in the death of this hive. More important is what's on the tray. The video wasn't clear enough to make out the contents of the debris on the tray, but it did appear to have mites. Hopefully you haven't cleaned that tray and can go back a take a good look. You're looking for varroa mites.
There were very few bees, certainly not enough to maintain cluster temps to survive. When did you start noticing population declines? Did you monitor varroa mites during late summer and fall?
Video # 2. Bottom box...third and fourth frame you pulled. There was a large brood pattern at one time. Colony was drawing foundation and filling filling it. Then crash, they lost their bees. See the partially emerged worker bees? Look for some that died as they emerged...probably have tongues sticking out. Pull some out with a pocket knife...their wings may be shriveled and their abdomens flat and stunted.
Viruses took down your bees, because of the varroa load. Did you ever sample for varroa after you installed the nuc?
Usually voroa mites are the culprit, and if they are you will see a white frass in the bottom of the brood nest cells. You will see mites on the bottom board and you will see Deformed Wing virus and pupae on the bottom boards and entrances.
It could also be nosema , which acts quickly in severely infected colonies. This is my guess
What happens is the nosema infects the foragers and shortens their life span. As they fly out, they die and leaves the colony in a worker division inbalance. Younger nurse bees will graduate sooner to the forager role and as the nosema cycle continues the hive continue to make the balance until they do not have enough young bees to care for the brood. Without the resources coming in because of a continued shortage of forager bees, the hive goes into a malnurished state and dwindles. You will see chilled brood and a small dwindled cluster in you dead hives
It does not appear to be a queen related problem because you had sheets of brood going before the bees pulled off of them
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I think week hive going in to winter, Maybe no queen. Just not enough bees to keep a winter cluster warm.
I'm just spitballing here, but you should find mites on the bottom board. I've seen alot of videos and talked with a few beekeepers with this same scenario.
First year beekeeper and treatment free?
For hive #2 video: a little SOAP exercise
Subjective/Objective: Dead hive in January 2013. Nuc installed into new hive of wooden frames with wax foundation this past year. 2 deeps for brood chamber, several (~6) combs still not drawn. Several combs full of honey still. Mold/mildew or wax bloom on some of the frames. In the bottom, brood seen over large portion of some frames. Some brood is capped. Some cappings have holes. Dead bees appear to be about 3-4 inch cluster. Worries about plastic varroa tray bending down and allowing too much air. Sugar board intact over top of hive.
Assessment: This hive had plenty of food and is not a starvation case. This hive had a large cluster within the last 21 days. There are capped brood over a large area of frames, so there had to be enough bees to cover this area to allow the queen to lay here. There has been a somewhat sudden decrease in hive population because a relatively small cluster is seen now. Most likely cause of sudden decrease in hive population is parasitic mite syndrome (Thank you, Michael Palmer!). The varroa are so numerous, that they are able to easily transmit viruses. With insufficient bees, the cluster freezes.
Other possible diagnosis: american foulbrood (AFB). This disease is a lot less common, but the holes in caps are somewhat suspicious. A lot of parasitic mite syndrome deaths will look like this, and the brood may be slightly ropey (usually less than with AFB), however the pictures are not very clear. Other tests would be indicated such as closer visual exam by someone that knows what AFB looks like, smelling frames by same person, test at Beltsville USDA lab (http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=7472), and/or on site test with commercially available test.
The varroa tray being bent is not an issue whatsoever. Numerous people further north winter hives with fully open screened bottom boards. The hole and airflow allowed by this hole should pale in comparison to the front entrance. The white stuff on the frames is of no concern and would be cleaned up by the bees if frames were reused.
Assuming that AFB is ruled out, the frames could be reused with another package or swarm or nuc next year. There is some controversy with re-using frames because of the increasing incidence of Nosema cerana. AFB will definitely make spores that contaminate the frames forever (unless disinfected - there is another recent thread on this on Beesource). Nosema cerana can also possibly persist. The signs of this Nosema species are bee death and not dysentery or diarrhea as it was with Nosema apis. If it were my hive, I would probably reuse frames since they will have a good freeze and that should decrease chance of Nosema.
1. Clean dead bees out of the hives.
2. Stack the boxes with box fronts alternately facing forward or right to allow air flow in the boxes (crisscross the boxes). This will help prevent wax moths.
3. Order bees for next year.
4. Show frames to a knowledgeable beekeeper in the area that can diagnose AFB, or send samples to USDA lab to rule out AFB. Are you a member of a bee club? Do you have a mentor or other beekeeper to help?
5. Next year: test for varroa mite levels starting in the early summer and continuing through the summer. Treat when mite level starts to grow. See articles about varroa by Randy Oliver at www.scientificbeekeeping.com
Good luck next year. I think this type of loss is very common and as a business catering to the hobbyist beekeeper, its prevention is one of our priorities for the coming year.
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I am only guessing but maybe hive #2 went queenless and then to a laying worker hive. Why wouldn't there be a lot of dead bees on the bottom board.
The plastic sheet (you call bottom board) should have a SBB above to prevent robbing which could be another cause. The hives got robbed of their stores and the stress killed them. Each hive spent their time robbing each other instead of foraging.
Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping
Any suggestions for "other" natural treatments for the V-mite? Also is there any issue with re-using these frames?
I second the poster who recommended you check out the varroa info at "http://www.scientificbeekeeping.com/". You could use Mite-Away (formic acid), apiguard (thymol), and oxalic acid as some natural treatments.
Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards
Very interesting powdered sugar finding that was made during a presentation by Dr. Marion Ellis at the ABF convention a couple weeks ago. He said that the powdered sugar used during a mite roll (in a jar) only knocks off about 30% of the mites on the bees. The rest of the mite drop in the jar comes from the heat generated by the bees. He showed a picture of a mite burrowed between the overlapping plates of a bees abdomen. There's no way sugar alone was going to get that mite out of there. That said, he did review a method he's been trying to use powdered sugar to give a good mite drop on an entire hive, but also said it's not really ready to the point where he can recommend doing it (involves shaking thousands of bees in a box). So that was the long way of saying sugaring even whole frames of bees in your hives probably isn't having the mite drop effect once thought.
Reusing because they've been sugared? No problems w/that at all. Also no issues with them having been from a mite-infested hive. The mites are all dead and long gone. Sugaring whole frames does no harm, it's just that it probably doesn't give the mite relief that was once purported.