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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Monkton, MD
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    39

    Default Thousands of dead bees without heads

    I opened a hive today that was fine four weeks ago, but is now entirely dead. On the bottom board were 1-3 thousand dead bees with their heads removed from their bodies. Anybody know what that could be about? What would cause a massive decapitation? Thanks in advance for your ideas.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Brainerd, MN
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    540

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    My best guess was that they starved and their heads are still in the cells. After a while they just decayed enough to where they fell off. Never seen that before, but it's what I first thought of.
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Livermore, CA
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    1,409

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    Zombees?
    Coyote Creek Bees

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UT, USA
    Posts
    52

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruthz View Post
    I opened a hive today that was fine four weeks ago, but is now entirely dead. On the bottom board were 1-3 thousand dead bees with their heads removed from their bodies. Anybody know what that could be about? What would cause a massive decapitation? Thanks in advance for your ideas.
    Did you look around in the hive for a little tiny guillotine?

    Sorry, nothing helpful, but that was my first (odd) thought and it made me laugh, so I thought I'd share. I'm super curious to hear what real answers are proposed, though. Very weird!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Franklin County, PA
    Posts
    503

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    I think hornets will decapitate bees,
    They do in this video but I don't know if thet are out this time of year or if it is something else but it was my first thought.
    Sorry to hear.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fTrSOFyfxs

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
    Posts
    1,701

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    Did they starve??? Sounds like it. Just a WAG,,,,,Ants,,,, They are out too on warm days.
    Rick

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,558

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    No hollowed out abdomens? Sometimes shrews will eat parts of bees leaving bee partly consumed bees with no heads and empty abdomens.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Waupaca, WI USA
    Posts
    19

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    I agree with BeeGhost -- we have someone (thing) to thank for stopping a zom"bee" apocalypse.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Clarendon County, SC, USA
    Posts
    158

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    Hornets. Put out a frame of the dead brood and honey they'll be there shortly. There won't be lots, like bees, but one or two every 4-5 minutes. Follow them back to the nest and dispose of it. Just remember, if you disturb the nest, they will chase you and you will get dozens and dozens of stings. Their sting feels like someone is grinding out a lit cigarette on you.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,974

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    I wouldn't think hornets would be active now and should just be overwintered queens anyways.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Saint John, Indiana
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    I can promise you its not hornets especially up in maryland this time of year. Right now its hibernating queens and maybe far enough south, some queens are just emerging. There are fly parasites called phorid flies that lay eggs inside live bees and go to the head to pupate. Once pupated in the head, the head falls off. The phorid fly is famous for helping combat the fire ants (look it up). There are records of phorids attacking honey bees so its possible with a larger infestation.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Solano, California, USA
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    1,451

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruthz View Post
    I opened a hive today that was fine four weeks ago, but is now entirely dead. On the bottom board were 1-3 thousand dead bees with their heads removed from their bodies. Anybody know what that could be about? What would cause a massive decapitation? Thanks in advance for your ideas.
    1. Looks like the economy is finally picking up steam. The headhunters are gearing up to work their way up the food chain again. Pull your turtleneck sweater over your head and watch out.

    2. Maybe a trailer from a bad sci-fi movie.

  13. #13
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    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
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    1,238

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    how many hive do you have? How are they?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Monkton, MD
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    I have three hives at this location, and all seemed fine on the last "warm enough to fly" day about two weeks ago. I watched pretty carefully , keeping an eye out for robbing, and all three hives looked good. (I have one hive that is pretty aggressive about robbing, so I have been keeping a close eye it)

    I can rule out hornets, as there aren't any out and about right now. I do keep these hives in my chicken yard, but the chickens and the bees don't seem to bother each other, plus there is no way they could get their beaks in that far. I will take a look today to figure out if their abdomens are hollowed out. Then I will google what a shrew is.

    Thanks for the ideas. If this is a zommBEE apocalypse, I would expect another hive to get hit soon, so I will keep you posted, unless something eats my brains first.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Monkton, MD
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    39

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    Oh, and I should explain. I found lots of both heads and bodies on the bottoms board, no heads in cells. There was a small cluster of dead bees spread across three frames that looks like it died/starved very recently, which I would expect given that half of the colony got killed.

    I will try to take some pictures later today.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    KC, MO, USA
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    1,238

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    >no heads in cells
    Are you saying bees in the cells with no heads?

    >There was a small cluster of dead bees spread across three frames that looks like it died/starved very recently
    The last of the hive probably froze due to low population.

    Did you teat for mites? how were you mite counts?

    I have seen black carpenter ants take down bees one at a time cut it up and drinking all the fuild. Mybe something cleaning up dead bees.

    Maybe a mouse or shrew.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Bartlett, Illinois
    Posts
    217

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    Ruthz, Odd enough I have experienced the same thing this year. I went to clean out the bottom of my hives the other day and swiped out all the dead bees in my first hive with a long stick. Out came about 75-100 dead, whole bees. I did the same thing to my second hive and out came a bunch of bee parts, and not one whole bee. It seemed very odd to me and I was going to post here asking why. I saw your post and decided to lurk to find the answer why.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Monkton, MD
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    39

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    So on further examination, I found that the body cavities were hollowed out, and a small portion of comb was chewed away. So I think it was a shrew. I don't know how it got past the mouse guard into the hive, but the mouse-like damage on the comb seems pretty damning. I did save a small clump of still-intact dead bees in a jar, just to check for the phorid flies. If anything hatches out in the next few days, I may reconsider.

    Unfortunately, the neighboring hive, which had a mouse hole chewed through the side of the hive body(!), had even worse damage. I didn't notice the mouse hole until I took apart the hive next to it. The carnage in there was worse. Many thousands of bees were in pieces, and much more comb torn apart.

    This morning, I had never even heard of a non-Shakespearean shrew, and now it is my moral enemy. Any advice on how to keep the out of your hives?

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    6,588

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruthz View Post
    This morning, I had never even heard of a non-Shakespearean shrew, and now it is my moral enemy.
    I was curious about what kind of shrews were in MD (the 4-footed kind, that is). I was surprised to learn that the Northern Short-tailed Shrew is venomous!

    These tiny critters require respect, though, as they are the only venomous mammals in the United States! The saliva of these little beasts packs a potent punch to its prey in the form of a neurotoxin.

    More here:
    http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/...ailedShrew.asp
    The pygmy shrew, which has a range from Canada down to the Appalachians, can fit through 1/4" hardware cloth.
    http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.ed...ts/Sorex_hoyi/
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    proctorsville, vermont
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    152

    Default Re: Thousands of dead bees without heads

    what ever you find out, dont loose YOUR HEAD over this.
    thats the way i roll.

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