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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    SLC, UT
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    Default Very strange problem with one hive - bees clustered on ground

    I have an 'issue' with one of my hives that I've never seen before... Hoping for a bit of advice.

    I have three hives in my yard. 2 are behaving normally and are issue free. But with the third there are bees all over the ground around it in about a 10' radius. Hundreds of them. The bees seem unable to fly if I blow on them but they will buzz and try to get away. They tend to be clustered together in little groups and appear to be grooming each other in the group. I cannot see any DWV or K wing, cannot see any visible mites, and this hive had the lowest mite count of the three last year. They do not return to the hive at night, and since it is so cold at night still they are dying at night.

    3 weeks ago we were still in the low 30's and today we were in the mid 70's so I suppose they could just be hanging out. But the fact that they won't fly away and won't return to the hive tells me something is up.

    Has anyone seen this before? I would guess pesticide exposure but the other 2 hives are behaving normally. This one is closest to my neighbor's fence and has an exposed entrance to their fence (forcing them to fly up) so it's also possible the kids next door did something to the hive. Can't smell any residue though.

    Thanks for any advice you can give. I'll try to take video or photos tomorrow.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Very strange problem with one hive - bees clustered on ground

    Maybe trachael mites?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Franklin County, PA
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    485

    Default Re: Very strange problem with one hive - bees clustered on ground

    Maybe Trachael mites second. Here's a video I remembered on that.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yv4zzGv_x_Q

    Is the queen in the hive?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Stafford, VA
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    74

    Default Re: Very strange problem with one hive - bees clustered on ground

    Wow, yeah. Definitely abnormal behavior... Would be interested in some pics and vids. Only thing that comes to mind is perhaps the hive has run out of overwintering honey? Have you recently opened this hive? Seems a little late in the season for Tracheal. And you did mention the lack of K-wing.

  5. #5
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    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Very strange problem with one hive - bees clustered on ground

    What javin says too, could be starvation.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Stafford, VA
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    74

    Default Re: Very strange problem with one hive - bees clustered on ground

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    What javin says too, could be starvation.
    To be clear, I'm not suggesting that you DO open the hive now to check. Depending on your weather situation, that could be a bad thing. You may be seeing them ejecting those bees that would overburden the stores that they have left. There's just too many unaccounted for variables here to make a call to take action. Opening them now if you still have a cold front coming in could shock the remaining bees beyond recovery.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    hinesville ga usa
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    344

    Default Re: Very strange problem with one hive - bees clustered on ground

    Quote Originally Posted by kincade View Post
    I have an 'issue' with one of my hives that I've never seen before... Hoping for a bit of advice.

    I have three hives in my yard. 2 are behaving normally and are issue free. But with the third there are bees all over the ground around it in about a 10' radius. Hundreds of them. The bees seem unable to fly if I blow on them but they will buzz and try to get away. They tend to be clustered together in little groups and appear to be grooming each other in the group. I cannot see any DWV or K wing, cannot see any visible mites, and this hive had the lowest mite count of the three last year. They do not return to the hive at night, and since it is so cold at night still they are dying at night.

    3 weeks ago we were still in the low 30's and today we were in the mid 70's so I suppose they could just be hanging out. But the fact that they won't fly away and won't return to the hive tells me something is up.

    Has anyone seen this before? I would guess pesticide exposure but the other 2 hives are behaving normally. This one is closest to my neighbor's fence and has an exposed entrance to their fence (forcing them to fly up) so it's also possible the kids next door did something to the hive. Can't smell any residue though.

    Thanks for any advice you can give. I'll try to take video or photos tomorrow.
    Do you have jasmine there, it is a vine with yellow flowers. This is the first year I have had any problem with it, but ai am losing a good many bees to it this year.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Atlanta GA
    Posts
    277

    Default Re: Very strange problem with one hive - bees clustered on ground

    Why would jasmine cause the bees to do that?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Stafford, VA
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    74

    Default Re: Very strange problem with one hive - bees clustered on ground

    Quote Originally Posted by SallyD View Post
    Why would jasmine cause the bees to do that?
    There's a lot of different types of flowers that can be bad for bees, all with varying degrees of toxicity and symptoms. It's unlikely that Jasmine would cause the symptoms you're seeing, rather certain kinds of Jasmine will kill off the brood. Here's a quick (certainly not definitive) list:

    Aesculus Californica/ California Buckeye/ California Horse-chestnut - Over time, exposure can cause paralysis and fatal constipation in the bees.
    Balsa Tree - Kills the bees as they are feeding on the nectar. Studies still being done. Scientists cannot identify a toxin in the nectar.
    Cyrilla racemiflora / Southern Leatherwood / Summer Titi - Kills brood. ("purple brood")
    Oak Tree - Pollen can kill brood. Bees will normally avoid if other sources are available.
    Yellow Jessamine/ Carolina Jasmine/ Evening Trumpetflower/ Woodbine - Poisonous nectar. Kills brood.

    There's also a lot of plants that don't hurt the bees, but makes their honey toxic to US (such as Rhododendrons, Oleander, etc.)

    Good luck!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Stafford, VA
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: Very strange problem with one hive - bees clustered on ground

    Yanno, thinking about it, I'd like to see some pictures of the hive, too. You could be looking at a pretty bad nosema outbreak. Don't suppose you have a good quality microscope at home? (What? Doesn't everyone?)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    SLC, UT
    Posts
    219

    Default Re: Very strange problem with one hive - bees clustered on ground

    Thanks to all of you for the valuable input. I hadn't even thought about tracheal mites (and didn't know they were a problem anymore). Since the lineage of this queen is in question (Russell Apiaries Carniolan), I have no idea as to the tolerance they may have for this if any.

    To address a few of the questions; until 3 weeks ago nothing was blooming. The pollen is just coming on here, and although not much is in bloom yet there is a slight nectar flow from what I can see. I'm in zone 6-7. I don't know of jasmine or any of the plants listed above in my area but I suppose it's possible.

    Weather would be fine for a check and I can do so if need be. I was in there 3 weeks ago to check their health, and hive looks good, still tons of honey and they looked healthy and happy. Didn't see the queen, but didn't want to do a full inspection to find her either as it was still pretty cold and I doubted there would be any brood anyway.

    It's been quite dry and I don't see any signs of dysentary but I suppose nosema could be a problem. Inside of the hive was spotless, no feces anywhere.

    As to an update, today there are less 'piles' of bees and less outside on the ground. Activity at the entrance is the same. I did find a few bees that looked very old and shriveled walking around but the wings didn't look similar to the DWV photos I've seen. Those ones look a bit 'shaky' for a lack of a better term. They just look old to me. I did get buzzed a few times so they're slightly more defensive than normal.

    Videos as of this afternoon (sorry about the shaky camera):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-zWm...ature=youtu.be

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZgbS...ature=youtu.be

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seR_Q...ature=youtu.be

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFqQz...ature=youtu.be

  12. #12
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    SLC, UT
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    Default Re: Very strange problem with one hive - bees clustered on ground


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