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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Lawrenceburgh, IN
    Posts
    21

    Default Best approach to inspecting a deadout

    Friends, what is the best approach for a typical backyard beekeeper to inspect a deadout? More specifically, what should be looked at short of sending samples to the lab? I say this because I don't think my bees were fresh enough to send off. I have experienced my first deadouts since I picked back up beekeeping in 2009.

    I processed three deadouts at one yard... (more on these in a moment) and I have one more deadout to process at the local park (next to a hive that is still alive) I considered it a really good hive during the season having a very prolific first year queen bred by my mentor. No problems with SHB or varroa and it was the one hive (out of all) whose populations were above average at final season check. So, I'm really trying to be proactive on what happened and share with my club. The hive has a carpet of dead bees out front. Next to this same hive is another hive that is still alive an only a few dead bees in front.

    Regarding the three deadouts at my first yeard, at last fall hive check, my populations were very low. I had SHB problems that I felt I got back on top of by the end of the summer (evidenced by few beetles and most in multiple oil traps) but I think the damage may have already been done. I was diligent on my sugar dusting for varroa and use the bellowed applicator. Few mites on my sticky boards.

    All hives had plenty of honey in them... around and above the cluster... and a candy board that they never made it to. Adequate ventilation and no sign of condensation. All had screened bottom boards and a hole in the candy board at the top. I found no mites (on or around the dead bees) as I processed three deadouts. These hives could have been dead for 2 weeks or longer before I got to them though.

    Not discouraged and ready to do it all over again next season... but I feel having one more deadout to process, I'd like to be armed with the best knowledge from the group. Thanks.

    Jason
    Southeast Indiana
    www.indianahoney.org

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    barry co., Michigan
    Posts
    311

    Default Re: Best approach to inspecting a deadout

    gather a sample of bees and comb with brood in it and send to the beltsville lab for analysis. should help rule out some causes.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,889

    Default Re: Best approach to inspecting a deadout

    The first place to look is the bottom board. Sort through the bees and see how many Varroa mites you see. Then look in the brood cells for Varroa feces (little white specks). Look at the cluster of dead bees and see if they are in contact with stores. Look in the hive to make sure there ARE stores.

    If there are no stores, they starved.
    If they are not in contact with stores, and especially if there is some brood in the cluster, they may have "cold starved" where they got stuck on the brood and couldn't move to stores.
    If there are thousands upon thousands of dead Varroa on the bottom board, it was probably Varroa.
    There really isn't much that is going to kill a colony in winter that you are going to get any results on from Beltsville.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,392

    Default Re: Best approach to inspecting a deadout

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    If they are not in contact with stores, and especially if there is some brood in the cluster, they may have "cold starved" where they got stuck on the brood and couldn't move to stores.
    Following this up in regards to the other thread about deep vs. med. frames, I found one hive dead last week. They were on medium frames, starved, with honey not too far away. I think when bees can't move due to cold, it probably doesn't matter what size comb they're on, they simply won't move either way.
    Regards, Barry

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Default Re: Best approach to inspecting a deadout

    Our 1st step on any inspection is to look at the ground around the hive. Are there many bees on the ground at the entrance and the bottom board which may indicate a hive that has been starving and getting cleaned out during warm spells throughout the winter or possible poisoning of some type. Bees often forage in area's during warm spells they might not normally during the season and may be exposed to some type of unintended poison. Is there considerable defecation on the front or inside of the hives, a common sign of dysentary. What about large numbers of bees dead in the area around the hive. We found hives deaths from trachael mites are often accompanied by dead bees which appear to die on winter cleansing flights and literally litter the ground in an area 10 yards around a hive. Next we look for scratches (claw marks) on the front hive to see if there has been an issue with skunk depradation. Skunks are not true hibenators and often make late fall or early raids on a given hive depopulating it. Then the internal inspection for stores (bees with their heads in cells - starvation...) and the things MB describes. I also look for queen cells which have not been destroyed because they indicate a late queen loss which may not have gotten bred or was laying in time to build up a good winter cluster. Is there is alot of condensation on the hive lid or is the cluster soaked from condensation, a sign of poor ventilation that can often be a cause. If you had bees fresh enough for testing belstsville could identify nosema which might be a contributing factor.

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