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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    NY, NY
    Posts
    12

    Default Hive postmortem; NYC rooftop [pics]

    Hi all, I have a small 2-hive apiary on a NYC rooftop. Now one hive.

    The hive that didn't make it was a first-year Russian hive; it started in April as a package. I have my own theories, but I would love to hear older and wiser voices on this. Unlike my other hive (2nd year italian), I did not treat the russians for mites, nor did I feed them sugar (they went into the winter with three mediums + a full super of honey on top).

    Some observations (pictures below):
    A too-small cluster of bees at the top, across three frames. They’ve been dead a while, as mold has started to grow on them.
    The bees are at the top of the frame and other bees died with their heads inside cells. Signs of starvation.
    There was a lot of honey left; 5 full frames and many partial frames. Some of it on the very frames the bees died on.
    The top of the frames near the final massacre are covered in bee poop.Much of the honey that was left is dark honey from fall.
    Scattered bees were dead throughout the hive. They were frozen like Pompeii. There were even some dead newborn bees halfway emerging from the comb.
    Honey and pollen stores were plentiful, though not in the area immediately surrounding the bees. There was honey at the ends of the frames they were on, as well as full frames two frames over.
    Scattered (dead) brood across a very large brood nest area, stretching across many frames. This seems weird.
    One frame had uncapped water or nectar.
    I did not notice any odd smells, nor sunken or discolored cappings. I broke open some of the cappings and found somewhat jelly-like proto-bees inside. Not stringy or ropy.
    I saw no evidence of wax moth or hive beetles. No cocoons or slime tracks (beetles are rare here anyway, I assume. Cold and full of concrete).
    I did not see any mites on bees, though I’m bad at spotting these things (and I don’t know if they’d stick around on an old kill like this).

    Unlike the surviving hive, the russians did not have a top vent. We've had a lot of precipitation in the last few weeks. The screened bottom board is open, there's just concrete + hive detritus underneath the hive. The hive is on a slight incline, so water doesn't pool under it. The hive is not insulated, though it has not been a cold winter (for NYC).

    I much appreciate the attention and I'll do better next time.










  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,120

    Default Re: Hive postmortem; NYC rooftop [pics]

    Sixth photo indicates varroa damage.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,268

    Default Re: Hive postmortem; NYC rooftop [pics]

    Jon, it looks like your bees die because of the cold weather. Not enough worker bees to form a tight cluster. When they do form then they have the chilled broods. So they may be starved to death since they are not moving to get their foods although foods are available just near by. I suspect the open bottom screen might send the chill air up during the winter time. During the chilly winter, I keep everything covered with sponges and big plastic bags and reduced the entrance to just less than one inch. I feed them patty all winter long. I also put a heat pad to keep them warm at night time when it is chilly outside in the low 20Fs. I changed the bottom screen to a solid board bottom. Try to keep everything dry and cozy is the key to overwintering them. Not with a screen bottom at all.
    Hope this helps.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,649

    Default Re: Hive postmortem; NYC rooftop [pics]

    Quote Originally Posted by beepro View Post
    During the chilly winter, I keep everything covered with sponges and big plastic bags and reduced the entrance to just less than one inch. I feed them patty all winter long. I also put a heat pad to keep them warm at night time when it is chilly outside in the low 20Fs.
    Hope this helps.
    Sponges???




    Yup too smal a cluster looks like it was agrivated by mites as mike says. Food or not id the cluster gets to small it cannot Generate enough heat, of course moisture would not help that problem either. Yours is a very good set of photos of what I see several times a year!...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,229

    Default Re: Hive postmortem; NYC rooftop [pics]

    Feces in the hive is dysentery -- nosema or something else. Look for white specs in the cells of the brood nest, these are mite droppings and would indicate a mite problem, although usually a hive with mite problems dies earlier.

    I do not leave screened bottom boards open in the winter here, it's too damp, especially if the hive is close to the ground. Close them up, leave a small upper vent, reduce entrance to an inch or two, let the bees keep the hive ventilated the way they want. My brother's feral bees have been known to close up the escape hole in the top and the entrance by themselves!

    Last, did you feed them protein in the fall? Lack of pollen stores in the fall can lead to bees deficient in protein for winter, and result in exactly what you see -- they starve to death from protein deficiency when they start to raise brood in late winter. Once the bee count drops to the point where they can't keep the brood warm they all freeze.

    Put at least half a patty on in September or October, a full one in two halves is better. They will store what they don't use, and you will have nice "fat" bees for winter.

    Peter

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    NY, NY
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Hive postmortem; NYC rooftop [pics]

    Thanks all. I'll be sure to be more wary of the cold in the future. When I took the hive apart, there were many frames full of pollen from top to bottom -- you can see one of them on the left side of the 7th photo (with the frames leaning against the wall). Do you think I still needed to feed protein? Natural pollen sources are very diverse in the city, so they gather up until winter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Sixth photo indicates varroa damage.
    How can you tell?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Pinal, AZ, USA
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Hive postmortem; NYC rooftop [pics]

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonhuang View Post


    How can you tell?
    I think the holes in the capped cells is what he was looking at.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,120

    Default Re: Hive postmortem; NYC rooftop [pics]

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonhuang View Post
    How can you tell?
    First, the uncapped brood. The brood died as the colony lost it's bees. The last bees to emerge never made it out before the cluster diminished to nothing. The bees were lost because sick bees leave the hive to get the sickness away from the colony. I bet that if you remove the dead brood with a knife, you'll see the fully mature adults ready to emerge have deformed wings and stunted abdomens.

    Second, experience. I've seen enough pms to know.

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