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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Metamora, MI
    Posts
    4

    Default Lost 1 hive; Will I ever know why?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

    When it warmed up a bit last weekend, I went to check the hive. I had previously checked them briefly on a warm day in February just to make sure they were alive, and they were. This time I found dead bees everywhere: dead bees on the top, in the bottom, and even still clustered together between frames. Very few bees were found head first in the cells although a few were. Plenty of honey even right next to dead bees.
    I don't think it was starvation. Was it moisture content? Was it mites? How could I tell? Something else?

    Sorry if these are elementary questions, but I don't want to make the same mistake twice.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Lost 1 hive; Will I ever know why?

    Quote Originally Posted by stoneoakfarm View Post
    I don't think it was starvation. Was it moisture content? Was it mites? How could I tell? Something else?
    You can always dig through the debris on the bottom and look for varroa mites. It isn't a sure thing either way but if you find a boatload of them...it could be a clue.
    Good luck.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,541

    Default Re: Lost 1 hive; Will I ever know why?

    Look for white specks on the sides of the brood cells. These are varroa droppings the bees were too weak to clean out. Parasitic mite syndrome will kill a hive exactly as your died, although usually they simply vanish since there are enough bees to drag out the dead for most of the winter.

    Lack of protein will also kill the cluster in late winter when they try to start brood rearing. Check to see how much pollen you have in the hive, should be a substantial amount in the lower parts of the outside brood nest combs. If not, you should have fed some supplement in the fall.

    It could also be excess moisture in the hive -- you will find lots of mold on the frames if that is the case, and the dead bees will be mushy and growing fungus.

    Also check for fecal matter on the top bars -- if there are more than a few spots, or there is a very large amount on the front of the hive, you probably had a nosema problem, and that will also cause the cluster to die out in late winter.

    If you can post some pictures that would be very helpful!

    Peter

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    4,173

    Default Re: Lost 1 hive; Will I ever know why?

    You didn't brood. If they raised no replacements they all got old and died until the last survivors froze because not enough left for a cluster. That happens often.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,979

    Default Re: Lost 1 hive; Will I ever know why?

    Everyone always looks for just honey stores left too.... if you run out of pollen you're in trouble, especially if fall wasn't very good in providing good nutrition for the fall bees. If you find lots of stores it's possible moisture played a role, especially if there's lots of bees left in the hive. Was there any brood present?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Granby, CT
    Posts
    547

    Default Re: Lost 1 hive; Will I ever know why?

    Understanding why the hive died is the best service we can do to the live hives. I would open the dead hive and inspect it in more detail than the live hives. With time we learn to understand and hopefully prevent some of the losses. A dead hive is to valuable to be left alone uninspected.

    Gilman

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,593

    Default Re: Lost 1 hive; Will I ever know why?

    If they are in contact with stores, it was not starvation. Bees share food and if some of the bees are getting food they all are. If they are NOT in contact with stores then it was starvation, even if there is honey in the hive. If you have tens of thousands of dead Varroa on the bottom, then that is the likely cause. If you have a lot of the white Varroa feces in the brood cells, Varroa is likely the cause.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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