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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Lawrenceville, NJ, USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Not going well need advise.

    Hi all,
    I am a new beekeeper in NJ and I need help from the experienced beekeeper in this forum. I discovered today that I lost one of my hives and I can't understand the cause. I was checking the colony to make sure that it had enough feed. Here is what I discovered (I have added picture in an album titled lost colony):
    + The frames in the top box were full of honey
    + Only a few bee dead (less then 50) were left in the hive
    + I only found two very small clusters on separate frames
    + Some bees where head in cells
    + In the lower brood box most of the frames were empty
    + The bees did not seems to have any deformities (see photo)

    I do not know what happened, do anyone has an ideas as to why there are so few dead bees in the hive and what could possible be the cause for the collapse of my colony.
    Thank you for your help,
    Jean-Pierre

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Belfast, Ireland
    Posts
    393

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    Hi
    Dwindle for some reason, take your pick from, mites, viruses, queen failure, varroa, poor nutrition, pesticide poisoning, CCD - followed by isolation starvation when the cluster got small.

    It is very hard to know exactly what happened without testing some dead bees in a lab.
    Heads in cells sounds like they starved at the end when the numbers dwindled and the cluster got too small to move to stores in cold weather. When numbers get down to a couple of thousand bees the colony is barely viable let alone 50 bees.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Lawrenceville, NJ, USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    Thanks Jonathan. I still don't understand why I have so few dead bees in the hive where did the rest of the colony go? Also I was hoping that some of the pics would point in a direction. As for the Heads in cell bees, they indeed died, however, cells next to them were full of honey.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Stromness, Scotland
    Posts
    124

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    Hi Jean-Pierre

    It's a typical case of CCD, caused by neonicotionoid poisoning during the summer.

    I know that it's odd that the bees die with such a delay, but hundreds of thousands of colonies are affected this winter.

    You need to examine where these systemic pesticides were used in your area, if you can't move the bees away from the source it's probably not possible to keep bees alive there anymore.

    It's a really nasty affair, and we need to do whatever we can to get them banned.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Belfast, Ireland
    Posts
    393

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    Isolation starvation can take place just a few inches away from stores.
    Bees grow old and die and just don't come back to the hive.
    I have lost a few nucs myself this winter. Anything which went into winter a bit on the small side has failed.
    there is a saying in beekeeping that the best thing for bees in winter is some more bees.
    Did you notice if the queen was with the remaining bees. Sorry haven't looked at your pictures yet.

    EDIT. Album says no picture in it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Volga, SD
    Posts
    2,790

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    Have the symptoms associated with colony collapse disorder changed? I believed the collapse occurs in the fall, not in the mid to late winter.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Stromness, Scotland
    Posts
    124

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    No, it happens throughout winter as well.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Belfast, Ireland
    Posts
    393

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    Any small cluster irrespective of the reasons why it has become small can succumb to isolation starvation in a cold spell.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Volga, SD
    Posts
    2,790

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    Did you find the queen among the dead bees, jpgero?

    How do you know that this particular instance was caused by neonicotinoids, Stromnessbees?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Stromness, Scotland
    Posts
    124

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    Quote Originally Posted by jonathan View Post
    Any small cluster irrespective of the reasons why it has become small can succumb to isolation starvation in a cold spell.
    I agree with you on that bit.
    Yes, once the majority of the bees have disappeared due to the pesticide poisoning, the remaining ones will freeze to death.

    You seemed not very upfront about that bit, though.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Stromness, Scotland
    Posts
    124

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    D

    How do you know that this particular instance was caused by neonicotinoids, Stromnessbees?
    I have read the relevant literature, I have seen it with my own eyes, and I know that there are lots of people on this forum that are connected to the industry, that try to catch unsuspecting posters and reply immediately with misleading answers.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Volga, SD
    Posts
    2,790

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    No, it happens throughout winter as well. -Stromnessbees
    Really? I have seen no examples of CCD first-hand, but I thought it was associated with a sudden disappearance in the fall. Where have you seen a description of the disorder that puts its occurrence at other times of the year, too?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Volga, SD
    Posts
    2,790

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    I have read the relevant literature, I have seen it with my own eyes, and I know that there are lots of people on this forum that are connected to the industry, that try to catch unsuspecting posters and reply immediately with misleading answers. -Stromnessbees
    That cuts both ways, my friend.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Volga, SD
    Posts
    2,790

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    From the initial post, I don't have enough information to even venture a guess. The hive could have become queenless late in the season and simply dwindled away. It could have suffered a pesticide poisoning, neonicotinoid or pyrethroid or carbamate or other class, it could have suffered a drought late in season that prevented blooms to adequately develop winter bees, it could have been caught off stores during unusual temperatures in the winter, it could have suffered predation by an unusual sort of animal, it could have suffered from Varroa, it could have been caused by any number of factors singularly or in combination.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,250

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    I agree with you Kieck, without more information diagnosing the problem is just a guessing game.
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,473

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    There are many causes for just this kind of loss of bees and then the hive. Did you feed them protein in the fall? Do you have good pollen available in the fall? Was the hive healthy going into winter?

    Pictures will help, but here's some things to look for that new beekeepers don't recognize -- happened to me:

    European Foul Brood. This was a problem last year for many people. Typically seasonal, going away when there is a good pollen supply, but last year caused me to lose my hive. The brood will liquify into a white, then tan, then black runny substance that dries into a rubbery scale in the bottom of the cells. The bees remove this scale, often dropping it on the bottom of the hive, and in doing so, transfer the bacteria responsible to the brood. In good conditions, the hive tends to outgrow the problem, but if things are not so well (low protein supplies, lack of forage, etc) they cannot and the hive dwindles away. Take a look in the empty brood combs and see if there are dark brown rubbery scales in some of them.

    AFB. Usually you see (and smell) this, it's appearently very nasty and impossible to miss when the hive is badly infected. Gummy stringy stuff in brood cells, perforated sunken cappings, brittle black scales in the oldest cells that cannot be removed without tearing out the wax walls. If you have any suspicion this was the case, extract the honey and burn the frames (you can keep the wax, but don't use if for foundation or anything bee related). Boxes can be re-used after being well scorched with a torch.

    Inadequate pollen stores. If the bees didn't have enough pollen stored to make "winter bees", they will die when they attempt to raise the first crops of new bees in late winter. They store the required protein internally, so if they aren't chock full, expire when they use it all up to make brood. Easy fix next time -- feed a protein patty in the fall. They should also have pollen stored near the brood nest, but even then they have to be able to get to it to use it, and if the cluster is too small, they die out.

    Varroa mites. A high mite load in the fall will result in winter bees that are not healthy enough to live through the winter and the cluster shrinks to the point they freeze. You must do a proper check for mites in August or early September and treat if there are significant numbers, otherwise the general debilitating effect of the mites feeding on the pupae and the virus infections the mites spread will result in a population crash during the winter.

    Condensation dripping on the bees. Wet bees are dead bees in the winter. Lots of causes, check for moldy frames or soggy inner covers, etc. We found that the molded plastic hive covers Kelley sells were a problem for us -- being thermally much more transparent and totally non-absorbent, they condensed water all winter and it dripped off the cover back into the hive. Inner covers were always wet and moldy, and we had more losses than we should have. Wooden telescoping covers fixed that, no condensation problems at all.

    Too much ventillation. A howling hurricane of icy air will wipe the bees out. Depending on you winters, you may need to use a solid bottom board and/or wrap the hive to keep sub-zero air from blowing in the cracks between the boxes. Find out what other beeks in your area do.

    You can reuse the equipment for a new package or swarm or split or nuc if you are certain it wasn't AFB -- anything else won't be a problem, and you will get a nice strong hive with the extra help.

    Peter

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,277

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    jp, do your best to get a definitive answer if you can.

    if they went queenless during the winter, most of the bees just fly out and die in the field, leaving very few remaining bees that would represent the last ones to have emerged in late fall/early winter.

    examine the brood combs for mite frass.

    do a nosema squash on the remaining bees.

    any sign of robbing?

    contact your state apiarist and see your state has the ablility to look for toxins in the remaining pollen. also, ask if you can find out what agricultural products were used last season within a five mile radius of your bee yard.

    stromnessbees, i have never seen any contributor who as adamant at pushing an agenda as you. i can't take anything you have to say seriously when it's obvious that you already have your mind made up on a topic that has yet to be resolved. i respect your right to your view, but i have no respect for you blaming every lost colony on neonics.

    the truth is, we don't know the truth, and until we do, and i think most on this forum would agree,

    and because in america, as in most educated societies, we like to operate on the best information we have at the time, and modify our understanding accordingly as new information comes in.

    some of what you 'think' may prove right in time, but it's not looking very likely as of today.

    i mantain an open mind on the matter.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Peace River, AB Canada
    Posts
    456

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    Another possibility.
    A tracheal mite infestation shortens the lives of adult bees and can affect thermoregulation. As mite populations increase, colony populations dwindle leading to hive death in late winter or early spring.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Belews Creek, NC, USA
    Posts
    320

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    Its amazing how many threads I've read this winter where hives are crashing and exhibiting the same symptoms...dead bees, plenty of honey. One of mine died early December and had these same symptoms; however I feel that mine was queen failure. My hive also had dead bees in the honey cells, head first. People on this site seem to imply this is a symptom of starvation but I disagree. Bees climb in the cells to help insulate the cluster. I don't think they died of starvation while trying to scrape out that last scrap of honey at the bottom of a cell. JPGERO...you didn't mention if there was any brood on the frames. My money is on mites/viruses, moisture or queen.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Vermontville, Michigan
    Posts
    88

    Default Re: Not going well need advise.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stromnessbees View Post
    Hi Jean-Pierre

    It's a typical case of CCD, caused by neonicotionoid poisoning during the summer.

    I know that it's odd that the bees die with such a delay, but hundreds of thousands of colonies are affected this winter.

    You need to examine where these systemic pesticides were used in your area, if you can't move the bees away from the source it's probably not possible to keep bees alive there anymore.

    It's a really nasty affair, and we need to do whatever we can to get them banned.

    So, anytime a hive dies it MUST be related to CCD and Neonics? You're jumping to conclusions, and telling a new beek that if he can't locate exactly where the chemical that may or may not be being used in his area is at, he should stop keeping bees because they're just all going to die. Do you not realize how ridiculous that sounds? There are a plethora of possibilities for why that hive died, and CCD from Neonics is only one. Heck, for all we know, someone was stealing the bees a handful at a time until there were too few to keep the hive warm! So should he stop beekeeping because all of his bees are just going to get stolen?

    Telling people to stop keeping bees because they can't isolate and eliminate neonics use in their area is just as harmful to the overall bee population as CCD. Yes, Neonics are a problem. Yes, CCD is a problem. Yes, they are probably related, but lighten up a little bit and try to give some helpful advice and insight, or do your best to restrain your fingers.

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