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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Hendersonville, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    87

    Default Did my bees starve?

    It was 60 degrees today so I decided to pop the top on my hives and see what was going on. 2 of my hives looked like the pic below; each hive having only 2 adjacent frames that looked like this. There were no other brood nor bees. There were frames of pollen and capped/open nectar. The hives were double deeps with dry sugar on top (mountain camp method) and the only bees seen were found clustered in the bottom deep. The temps have been warm enough that they've been able to fly every few days or so and the coldest it's gotten was around 20 one night. Judging from the pic below, would you think they starved, froze, or something else?

    I also found 2 hives that had no bees, brood, nectar or pollen at all....just empty hives with a dozen or so dead on the bottom.

    I've got 4 hives left that seem to have plenty of bees flying as well as visibly working the dry sugar on top of each of their hives. I didn't want to disturb them any more so I didn't open them up any further than that.

    With another couple of warm days ahead of me, what can I do to help out my remaining 4 hives? Thanks.

    IMG_0599.jpg
    IMG_0600_zps1e38ac7c.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    El Cerrito, CA, USA
    Posts
    50

    Default Re: Did my bees starve?

    I'm just a new beek, but I thought that when bees are found like that, with their heads jammed to the bottom of the cells, that they are starving... for what its worth.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,540

    Default Re: Did my bees starve?

    Technically, they starved. Reality check, where are the bees? A large cluster would have been in contact with that capped/open nectar. Your bees had other issues than starving.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    968

    Default Re: Did my bees starve?

    One of the things do when they cluster is climb into empty cells.
    Starving bees do that, as well as those not starving.

    When it happens and there is no food, it sure suggests that they were looking for food, when in fact the only way to not leave big spaces as thick as a comb in the cluster is to fill those empty psaces by climbing in and sharing heat with the bee in the cell next to them.

    Sometimes there is food near by, but the bees are too cold to go to it and back, and so starve... not b/c there is no food, but b/c they can't get it and return to the cluster.

    Sometimes mites kill enough bees in winter to make the cluster smaller, and as the size of the cluster shrinks, it creates a band of empty cells that used to covered and filled with now dead bees btw the cluster and the food.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,706

    Default Re: Did my bees starve?

    Mite count? Treatments? Queen remained?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    El Cerrito, CA, USA
    Posts
    50

    Default Re: Did my bees starve?

    I've never actually seen a cluster, but of course, that makes good sense.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
    Posts
    1,701

    Default Re: Did my bees starve?

    I've seen weak hives get robbed of their stores on "fly" days. With brood the bees tend to keep that warm as a priority letting robbers pass. Why the bees were a weak hive is another story.
    Rick

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    JACKSON OHIO
    Posts
    486

    Default Re: Did my bees starve?

    Appears to me they started raising brood and would not leave the brood to move to stores and starved

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Hendersonville, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    87

    Default Re: Did my bees starve?

    Thanks for all the replies so far, I really appreciate it.

    I had not done a mite count, nor any treatments, and no sign of a queen (dead or alive).

    From my best guess, it looks like they had consumed all the stores in the hive except for the outermost frames and furthest edges of the inner frames. Of these 4 dead colonies, 2 were newspaper combines of already weak hives in August. The other 2 were from splits made in late June. I suspect that both actions were too late in the season and/or I didn't get their numbers up enough to keep a warm cluster all winter long.

    The remaining hives are 1 that threw a swarm in May and had been allowed to build up all year, 2 that were from a split in March and allowed to build up all year, and 1 fairly strong hive that had a weak hive combined into it in August. I'm guessing this supports my feelings that these colonies had high enough numbers to stay warm all winter, unlike their dead neighbors.

    Do I dare pull the dry sugar off these 4 hives and replace with 1:1 now...or should I wait it out?

    Also, what to do with the remaining frames from the dead hives that still have nectar and pollen in them? Should I scratch the capping off and place over the good hives or try and extract it? What should I do about storing the drawn comb until I need them in Spring? Sorry, I've not had excess drawn brood comb before. Thanks again for the info.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    10,005

    Default Re: Did my bees starve?

    You can extract the honey or save it for the spring expansion on your other hives. Some times you just have to decide.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

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