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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Big Stone Gap, VA
    Posts
    993

    Default How to know if my bees poisoned

    Here is the story,

    Had a nuc at a remote site. Several houses nearby, as well as a few other hives. We had no honey flow last fall, and this late winter early spring has been extremely cold and wet. Beekeepers have lost an extreme number of hives.

    Checked on this nuc a few weeks ago, and put some syrup on them. They had been taking the syrup in Feb., and I put another pint on top of the nuc. Two weeks ago, I checked on them, and they were extremely vigorous. Then a few days later, peeked in and they seemed lethargic. It was too cold to look into the hive (we had an very cold march), so I let them be.

    Today I checked them, and they had died. I assumed they had starved. Looking down in the hive, I didn't see honey. But I did not pull frames out. Shook out the dead bees on the bottom and brought the woodenware home. I do know a sugar brick would have been a much better choice.

    While home, I noticed they had stored sugar syrup on three partial frames. Thought it was odd they would starve out with quite a bit of stored sugar syrup.

    Is it wrong for me to think they may have been poisoned? If this happens again, is there any way to test the bees?

    Shane

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Lee County, Illinois
    Posts
    122

    Default Re: How to know if my bees poisoned

    When in doubt ship it out, to a state inspector. There are so many variable that need to be known to attempt to determine if they have been poisoned. Were there bees dead with their bodies inside of cells? What frames were the honey on? If you were sugar feeding through the top and the syrup could have been dripping on the cluster and froze them if it got to cold. I have also seen hives that were sprayed in someones house professionally and were still thriving. Unless they got poison up inside there might have been a few bees left. But if you suspect someone of spraying bees, i would suggest moving them to a little different location. Can never be to careful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Whitmell, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: How to know if my bees poisoned

    Did they have pollen stored? I think that's how so many hives are starving to death with plenty of sugar stored.
    Don't laugh it's paid for. -- Manure draws more flies than honey.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Big Stone Gap, VA
    Posts
    993

    Default Re: How to know if my bees poisoned

    Thanks Heintz,

    When I found this dead nuc, I was demoralized, and did not do any post mortem inspection.

    I will move my remaining two hives at this location to my home yard. This location is such a great location.

    Shane

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Big Stone Gap, VA
    Posts
    993

    Default Re: How to know if my bees poisoned

    Thanks Ralph,

    In the morning I will double check the pollen stores.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,944

    Default Re: How to know if my bees poisoned

    did you lower the ph of your syrup (add something to make it more acid)?

    this is a quote from michael bush:

    "The other issue of sugar syrup is the pH encourages things to reproduce like AFB, Nosema, EHB etc. while honey supresses them. You change the microbial balance when you change the pH, not to mention other things about honey that inhibit some microbes and encourage the good microbes."

    you can find it in this thread:

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...em-Sugar-Syrup

    if this is true and they have been living on nothing but syrup, they might have gotten sick.

    getting into some poison is also possible.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Big Stone Gap, VA
    Posts
    993

    Default Re: How to know if my bees poisoned

    Thanks Squarepeg,

    I mix in a bit of apple cider vinegar when feeding syrup or making sugar bricks. You could very well be correct.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Whitmell, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: How to know if my bees poisoned

    Quote Originally Posted by tsmullins View Post
    Thanks Ralph,

    In the morning I will double check the pollen stores.
    What did you find? I'm incredibly curious.
    Don't laugh it's paid for. -- Manure draws more flies than honey.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Big Stone Gap, VA
    Posts
    993

    Default Re: How to know if my bees poisoned

    Found minimal pollen.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Whitmell, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: How to know if my bees poisoned

    Quote Originally Posted by tsmullins View Post
    Found minimal pollen.
    So they could have easily died from lack of protein. It also takes equal weight pollen to bee to produce brood too so they say. So that's 10 full loads of pollen that have to come in per bee raised.

    When they try to start raising brood that pollen stored is gonna go quick. Then if they can't get out of the hive and find more. That would compound that consumption.

    What size were those hives say last august? Single deep, double deep, deep and shallow? What?

    I have the suspicion that hive configuration in the fall effects how much pollen they get stored for winter. Which would be a life and death issue.
    Don't laugh it's paid for. -- Manure draws more flies than honey.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Big Stone Gap, VA
    Posts
    993

    Default Re: How to know if my bees poisoned

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph3 View Post
    So they could have easily died from lack of protein. It also takes equal weight pollen to bee to produce brood too so they say. So that's 10 full loads of pollen that have to come in per bee raised.

    When they try to start raising brood that pollen stored is gonna go quick. Then if they can't get out of the hive and find more. That would compound that consumption.

    What size were those hives say last august? Single deep, double deep, deep and shallow? What?

    I have the suspicion that hive configuration in the fall effects how much pollen they get stored for winter. Which would be a life and death issue.
    Thanks Ralph,

    That was very informative. These bees were from a cutout we did last July 4th. Normally, a colony started that time of year should build up well. However, we had a terrible summer/fall flow, as in historically bad (even at this location - which is our best location). And they had started to rear brood. Typically, our red maples bloom in the later part of Feb at this location. And they would have gotten a huge boost from the maples. But, we missed this source as well. March averaged 20 degrees cooler than normal, and was very rainy.

    I should have put a sugar brick with pollen sub on.

    Shane

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,997

    Default Re: How to know if my bees poisoned

    Sorry to hear about the loss of bees Shane. It would be odd for anyone to be using pesticides this time of year, less they were being malicious with your bees in general. It could have been a moisture issue that killed them as you were feeding them syrup instead of granulated sugar for emergency feeding.

    As far as pollen. I wouldn't concern yourself with pollen right now. Thats for brood rearing, not keeping adult bees alive.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Big Stone Gap, VA
    Posts
    993

    Default Re: How to know if my bees poisoned

    Thanks Brian,

    I was more worried they had been maliciously sprayed. Next year, it will be all sugar bricks for emergency feeding. BTW, several of my friends have expressed interest in your nucs. Have they contacted you?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,997

    Default Re: How to know if my bees poisoned

    Yes a couple of them have contacted me. Thank you.

    You know it wouldn't hurt to put a trail cam out and leave 1 nuc there again next winter. If someone is being malicious you will have proof and can call the sherriff to have individual arrested.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Princeton, NJ USA
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: How to know if my bees poisoned

    When I had a bee-kill last summer, it was very obvious they'd been poisoned. They would tumble out of the hive, then thrash around on the ground half-flying in pathetic circles. Sick bees want to exit the hive, and soon thousands of bees were piled up on the pavement. I called the DEP and state bee inspector anyway, and they confirmed the liklihood of insecticide. But frankly it was pretty obvious.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Big Stone Gap, VA
    Posts
    993

    Default Re: How to know if my bees poisoned

    Quote Originally Posted by ersatzS2 View Post
    When I had a bee-kill last summer, it was very obvious they'd been poisoned. They would tumble out of the hive, then thrash around on the ground half-flying in pathetic circles. Sick bees want to exit the hive, and soon thousands of bees were piled up on the pavement. I called the DEP and state bee inspector anyway, and they confirmed the liklihood of insecticide. But frankly it was pretty obvious.
    Thanks Ersatz,

    Hopefully I am just being paranoid.

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