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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Troy, OH
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    86

    Default Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    Thanksgiving all was well with both hives, med. 5 tall, 2 top frames were full of honey, lower 3 were brood, plenty of pollen stores. Noticed a few yellow jackets not extremely worried. Bees were still coming and going, Guess I should have been. Checked both hives a few weeks later with warm weather when bees should have been out. Total quiet, no activity.

    Robbed. Absconded before or during robbing. About a dozen yellow jackets on both bottom screens, few dead bees on the ground, one hive bottom had a handful of bees the other male a hundred or so.

    Held our breath, checked all boxes. Honey, gone. All that is left is pollen. Brood, 90% gone or hatched. some look to have died while emerging, some never had the chance. Some looked to have starved.

    Very disheartening. Cleaned out all boxes, frames with brood comb were bagged and put in the freezer, the same with empty honey comb. I did see on one hive they had beginning of swarm cells (4), nothing on the other.

    Amazing the bees propolized the screens to the bottom boards ( I should have figured ) found a few small black wolf spiders under the hive cover, and a couple dead wax moths under the screened bottom board base hiding in the grooved wood space under the bottom side.

    No tunneling or mess of webbing to think wax moths were the problem. No mites, No diseased areas. No mice or skunk, No signs of poisoning (no piles of bees anywhere inside or outside) Just really creepy to think yellow jackets may be the culprit.

    Starting over with 3 packages this time. Bees are amazing creatures.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    3,218

    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    No mites??? It really sounds like mites.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    912

    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    If the bees are gone, chances are you wouldn't see mites left in the hive unless you examined any still-capped or half-emerged bees. You might see mite feces in empty brood cells (sort of small white specks) Had you been testing for mites all along?

    I had a bad year with yellowjackets, too, but it's hard to imagine they could drive a viable, bustling fall hive away. Perhaps you had already lost most of your bees by then and the YJ were just taking advantage of the weakened hive. I keep anti-robbing screens on all fall, mostly to protect against YJ and baldfaced hornets. I will say they are cleverer at figuring out how to outwit the anti-robbing devices than honeybees. Some of my bees are positively vengeful when a YJ gets in the hive, but some are more tolereant than is good for them. I squash 'em, when I see 'em.

    I am sorry things turned out this way. Next year, you might want to start monitoring for mites straight away. If you have screen boards you should be checking every week, all season long. If you do that the problem won't sneak up on you.

    Better luck next year!

    Enj.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    2,486

    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    Yep, it is the mites.
    The 4 queen cells was what I had. The old queen failed to keep the mites
    at bay so they superceded her. The virgin emerged and killed all other cells but
    had failed too. So somewhere during the winter months the mites got them while
    they're trying to brood up a bit. It is harder to see it now. But a constant monitoring
    will help you to see more of the whole situation.
    I luv bee source!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Troy, OH
    Posts
    86

    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    I should take some pics, never found mites on bottom board, nor on bees. Looked like the specs were on the outside of the honeycomb...do yellow jackets chew? About 10% or less of honey was left, put it in the freezer too. Brood comb of 60 frames had only about 20 cells halfway emerged, like they were frozen in time, about the same that never emerged, rest of brood is empty with no residue, no mite poo. State inspector found no mites either. I regularly checked hive weekly aside from the dearth when they were pretty temperamental. We did harvest one box of honey mid summer which was fabulous. Both hives were full in the fall at last check.

    Thanks for the suggestions.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Carroll County, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    177

    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    So you did not treat for mites at all during the entire season?
    Natural Beekeeping Information at
    http://georgefamilycrafts.com/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Troy, OH
    Posts
    86

    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    If you visibly see no mites, why treat? Am I missing something? They were fed in spring with honey bee healthy, once established with wax and avoided sugar water I pulled it till drought set in late summer. (Every inspection, found no mites) Fed again....plenty of pollen stores in the hive, its beautiful...thought there may be mites there too but no. Husband was shocked when we found all was empty and few dead bees. He started helping me when honey supers became too heavy to move over to check hives. Starting with 3 sets this April.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Dickson TN
    Posts
    489

    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    You don't have to see mites to have mites. If you can see mites you have a really good chance of being in trouble already. Sounds like mites to me also. I am a TF beekeeper but I still monitor mite loads, its important for my record keeping. Most TF beeks don't monitor for mites a few do. If you're not using boardsman feeders hornets and shb are an indicator for me there is a queen or disease issue not 100% reliable but doesn't miss it by much.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO United States
    Posts
    485

    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    Every hive has mites, whether they can be seen or not. The question is how many?, and what level of mites can the bees manage/or not manage, a risk of a treatment free slinger? However, if these bees started as packages it was extremely risky and unlikely that they would have survived cold turkey off of treatments. Yellow jackets flying in and out with other bees is one of the first signs of a dead or weakening hive in my experience. Another sign is wax "pellets" on the front/entrances of the hive bodies from bees "feet" after robbing honey cells. The sunshine of the story is it sounds like you will have ample frames for your new packages
    Please excuse me, I am now free to go manage & treat :)
    my ladies the best way I know how.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    3,218

    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    Beekeeper, I've heard that story before.... I never see mites, it's not the issue....... then an inspector comes along and tells them their miteloads are why their bees are struggling.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Dickson TN
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    489

    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by fieldsofnaturalhoney View Post
    Every hive has mites, whether they can be seen or not. The question is how many?, and what level of mites can the bees manage/or not manage, a risk of a treatment free slinger? However, if these bees started as packages it was extremely risky and unlikely that they would have survived cold turkey off of treatments. Yellow jackets flying in and out with other bees is one of the first signs of a dead or weakening hive in my experience. Another sign is wax "pellets" on the front/entrances of the hive bodies from bees "feet" after robbing honey cells. The sunshine of the story is it sounds like you will have ample frames for your new packages
    The problem for newbees starting out treatment free is lack of knowledge not package bees. Package bees can be kept treatment free but it takes more work and education than most think. You can't dump bees in a box and forget about them there is by far more than that to it. Your knowledge of the life cycle of varroa is important, diligently managing your hives for pests and disease, knowing what brood breaks are how and when to perform them the list goes on. I am not advocating treatment free beekeeping I will advocate the fact it is not for everyone. I have kept bees with treatment 25 yrs. essential oils 10 yrs. treatment free 12 yrs. I can speak from my experience without bashing or disrespecting other beekeepers whether they treat with whatever their choice of treatment is or not treat. Everyone on beesource is respected equally by me!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    Slow drone is correct! Those mites are always in there. Hiding underneath the fat nurse bee's exoskeleton while
    sucking the line out of her. And then jumped to another host. One nuc hive lost its queen and almost died this way. It was growing just the way you described
    thru the summer months into late winter. Collected plenty of honey and seems to be flourishing. Then it all came crashing down in
    late winter. Luckily, I found the situation to be able to salvage this small nuc hive. They're still in recover mode when I use a small
    miner's light and a small razor blade to pick mites off those fat nurse bees almost everyday whenever I can. I did treated intensely with OAV for one week 3 times to
    bring down the mite load first. Yes, lots of bee casualty and death too. Had this been a large colony I think it is not salvageable. Though the other nuc hive is still growing with
    little mite load now that I'm monitoring and picking, treating them on occasion when needed. Yep, even when I cannot see them I know they are in
    there somewhere lurking and strike at the right opportunity. I'm fully equipped to deal with them this time. An ever never ending fight until I
    can get those good resistant genetics in. This is only 1 factor out of many, of course.
    I've learned that it only took 2 bee cycles to bring down a nuc hive. Though without the mite monitoring in progress the situation already had been escalated before hand. And I'm only
    seeing the after affect of the whole story. While mite picking on the weekends I had learned a lot about them. The young female mite can run up to 25 mph. on the comb or on the young emerging or fat nurse bees. Fat mama mite cannot run as fast. Male mite don't run as fast compared to the young female. The males hardly run at all and easy picking. Is that why their population doubled? The mites sucked the lifeline out of the young larvae while in development. After the deformed young bees emerged but still alive, the mites jumped onto the fat nurse bees to continue sucking out the lifeline out of them. The nurse bees graduated into young foragers to spread the mites onto another colony. When another cycle of broods about to be capped the mites jumped into the cells before they got cap to start another mite cycle. If left untreated the mite population can grow at an exponential growth e^X rate in a short amount of time. No wonder why we have so many problems with the bee population declining in general. There is still so much to learn about beekeeping for me. And every beekeeper should know that keeping the mites at a manageable level is the key to a successful beekeeping process.
    I luv bee source!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO United States
    Posts
    485

    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Drone View Post
    The problem for newbees starting out treatment free is lack of knowledge not package bees. Package bees can be kept treatment free but it takes more work and education than most think. You can't dump bees in a box and forget about them there is by far more than that to it. Your knowledge of the life cycle of varroa is important, diligently managing your hives for pests and disease, knowing what brood breaks are how and when to perform them the list goes on. I am not advocating treatment free beekeeping I will advocate the fact it is not for everyone. I have kept bees with treatment 25 yrs. essential oils 10 yrs. treatment free 12 yrs. I can speak from my experience without bashing or disrespecting other beekeepers whether they treat with whatever their choice of treatment is or not treat. Everyone on beesource is respected equally by me!
    I hope my post did not read off as disrespectful, and if it did trust me, that is not my cup of tea . Perhaps treated package bees can be kept treatment free , but since the OP made no mention of any of the things in your ongoing list, I assumed none of them happened, but you know what they say about assumptions One of my points were exactly what you stated, "You can't dump bees in a box and forget about them there is by far more than that to it."
    Please excuse me, I am now free to go manage & treat :)
    my ladies the best way I know how.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Dickson TN
    Posts
    489

    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    Not taken as disrespect. My guess was OP may have been attempting TF approach and TF beeks do get an exstensive amount of disrespect. I was attempting to aleave any shyness a newbee may have in approaching the subject. I do like your quote > Please excuse me, I am now free to go manage & treat my ladies the best way I know how < If more people truly understood the meat of your quote we could all concentrate more on why we are here on Beesource. I'm not the best writer in the world so at times I may be taken that way sure wish I could improve on that. As I said I respect all members of Beesource newbees and the pros alike.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO United States
    Posts
    485

    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    image.jpg
    Here is a picture of those wax "pellets" on front of the hive body from robbing feet
    Please excuse me, I am now free to go manage & treat :)
    my ladies the best way I know how.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Oviedo, Florida
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by fieldsofnaturalhoney View Post
    image.jpg
    Here is a picture of those wax "pellets" on front of the hive body from robbing feet

    fieldsofnaturalhoney, can you explain this for someone who is new? Should I be worried if I see that on one of my hives?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO United States
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    485

    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    I can try. This hive was being robbed mainly from the hole in the inner cover, but I am sure they were being robbed from the main entrance as well. Anyway, as robber bees uncap honey & suck it down, on their way out?, they leave this waxy residue from feet & maybe other body parts. Yes, one should be worried if they see this on their hive bodies, for me it is one of the tale tell signs that the hive is being robbed. Oddly, I have never seen this sign on a hive that is alive while being robbed, only dead.
    Please excuse me, I am now free to go manage & treat :)
    my ladies the best way I know how.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Jefferson Co, TX
    Posts
    841

    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    Get a bright flashlight, really bright one, or do this at noon with a clear sky. Pull that brood comb from the freezer shine the bright light into the comb, and use a magnifying glass to look carefully in the comb cells around the dead pupae. If you see small whitish flecks on the comb wall, I have been told that is mite feces.

    Many of these guys told me the nucs I lost were due to mights, but just was not seeing them in sugar rolls. Was told to check my last nuc that crashed in this way and bingo. About a year of a little doubt and lots of confusion cleared suddenly with one little check.

    Mites, plain and simple. And the nucs I lost went the same way as yours did. Had some hives that did the same but superceded the queen and the brood break gave the hive breathing room to recover.

    Gassing them all very soon.
    Started 9/13, building slowly, now @ 7 Lang hives + 2 nucs, and treatment style not decided yet

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Grand Rapids MI USA
    Posts
    420

    Default Re: Unfortunately starting over with a step ahead

    I can be a poster child for all of what's being described. I'm still trying to wrap my head around what has transpired, booming/bees packed in the boxes/more than enough honey to last em thru the year hives to pitiful dying hives being picked apart by robbers and dying off by December.
    Mites, I had a abnormal amount of drones in the hives this year. Could a large colony accept more drones from other hives (thereby accepting more mites into the hives), or was it a banner year for drones because of the severe winter. My mentor belives that a hive can survive with a certain amount of mites and with brood breaks outbreed the mites. But my thinking is with a flood of outside drones it could be a tipping point for collapse.
    Robbing, yes, it can be a influence but a strong hive should be able to overcome that. But a hive that is losing (or even a hive that is doing good with) the battle with mites it's just another shove toward the edge of no return.
    All things considered, the wasp traps will go out early AND I will figure out how to monitor mites with a solid bottom board and treat when necessary.

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