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Thread: They're Gone!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Winchester, Wyoming
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    Default They're Gone!

    As in deceased! I'm really "bummed out! Now I need too ask some opinion questions and didn't keep good enough notes to give adequate info for a good forensics answer. We had a long cold spell in Dec. and Jan. with lows rarely out of single digits. Until the last few weeks the lows were mostly in the teens to mid twenties. In early Feb. when sharply bumping the hive I got a very welcome, loud buzzing. I was feeling pretty good. Around March 5th. I placed sugar water on top, when I only got a feeble buzz. At this time I removed the mouse guard, and found the entrance mostly blocked by dead bees. I only had the top off long enough to place the feed not wanting to expose them to cold longer than necessary, then rewrapped with tar paper.
    Fast forward three weeks, I work out of town for 7 days and during this time the daytime highs have rapidly climbed into the upper 50's to low 60's. Today, my first day off, I removed the tar paper wrap fearing that things would be getting too hot. What I found was a holocaust, All were dead!! There seem to be adequate honey stores left, so I don't think I was too late with the sugar water supplement! I have a small slot cut for top ventilation and live in a very arid area, so I don't think we got a high moisture situation causing them to freeze but, your thoughts. The dead bees were all moist, soft and not dry and hard. Could this an indication that the hive humidity was way too high? Having left the tar paper on with these temperatures, could I have cooked my bees? I saw no obvious signs mites or beetles. Any thoughts, questions, comments, advice etc. would be appreciated. - Really Badly Bummed Out !!!! - memtb

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Norfolk County, MA, USA
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    Default Re: They're Gone!

    Too early for sugar syrup should have fed fondant or dry sugar the syrup could have created moisture in the hive
    Think about it....Buy American

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
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    Default Re: They're Gone!

    I think it was already too late when you fed them the sugar syrup. You DID NOT cook the bees, they would have bearded on the exterior if they were too hot.
    It happens. Sometimes with no definite answer as to why.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: They're Gone!

    I think you have not see your bees in the inside in a long time. And not knowing what is the
    condition like. Should of feed them patty and dry sugar instead. Their numbers drop significantly
    during this time. If the temp support the number of healthy bees then they should be foraging.
    Too late now. Get another package to start all over again. What type of bees are they?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    Default Re: They're Gone!

    Was your upper ventilation slit large enough for bees to pass, in and out?

    When you checked and cleared your blocked entrance of dead bees, was there actual access for live bees, and air? If not, they were likely already suffering from suffocation, excessive humidity/moisture.

    - - - - -
    My guess is they were doing okay. At least as okay as bees in severe Winter weather areas can do. Then you added the sugar syrup, which would have been okay if there had also been a fairly decent sufficiency of ventilation, but their wasn't. Hence your current situation.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Belfast, Ireland
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    358

    Default Re: They're Gone!

    What was your varroa treatment?
    Many mites on the dead bees?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    SNOW SHOE PA USA
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    Default Re: They're Gone!

    Quote Originally Posted by Spark View Post
    Too early for sugar syrup should have fed fondant or dry sugar the syrup could have created moisture in the hive
    I'm with Spark to much moisture in the hive your temps. are still in the low 30s at night so i'm quessing to early for syrup in the hive.
    Top entrances works great for ventilation .
    Say hello to the bad guy!
    year five==== 15 hives==== T{OAV}

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: They're Gone!

    the syrup on top would have acted as a cold sink, making the top of the cavity even colder than it would have been otherwise. if it was a hive top feeder, condensation could have formed on the bottom of the feeder and dripped down on the bees.
    beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Winchester, Wyoming
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    Default Re: They're Gone!

    Thanks to everyone who offered possible reasons. It was a hive top feeder and the large quantity of dead bees at the bottom pretty blocked ventilation. Just a guess on my part but it appears the hive may have had high humidity probably caused by the top feeder and blocked ventilation. As to the varroa mites, I may be wrong but I don't think that was the issue. It appears that by not following my own advice (leave them alone), I may have killed my bees when trying to help them. - memtb

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    lee county, fl, usa
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    Default Re: They're Gone!

    That's rough! Try not to be too hard on yourself, you will start again, right?
    "Rule Three of beekeeping...Never cease to feel wonder" Laurie R. King--
    March 2010; +/- 30 hives, TF

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Default Re: They're Gone!

    I recognized it, cause it had happened to me in earlier days. Disappointing, but honey bees were always much too interesting for me to ever quit. I was fortunate, because very early I had two colonies, one Midnite strain, and one Starline. I think it was the Starline I did in, due to over-attention in feeding syrup when I shouldn't have been feeding syrup, with too many dead bees blocking the bottom entrance, which was the only entrance I was using back then (ventilation was too poor). It was they that suffered, because I favored them over the darker Midnite, and tried to micromanage them, with good intentions, but disastrous results.

    Fortunately I was soon able to split the Midnite colony and requeen the split with another Starline queen, I remember that I purchased her and she was shipped to me in just a three-hole wooden queen cage (plus attendants) with an address card that fit on the back of the cage. She came from Hawaii, and altogether I paid a little more than $1.00 for queen and shipping combined.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
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    Default Re: They're Gone!

    Quote Originally Posted by Memtb View Post
    As to the varroa mites, I may be wrong but I don't think that was the issue. It appears that by not following my own advice (leave them alone), I may have killed my bees when trying to help them. - memtb
    How do you know it doesn't appear to be varroa destructor? I would not rule out Varroa. Did you treat for Varroa or do you take the no treatment stance? Ventilation, moisture could also be an issue however.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: They're Gone!

    Quote Originally Posted by Memtb View Post
    It appears that by not following my own advice (leave them alone), I may have killed my bees when trying to help them. - memtb
    Trust me, you are not alone. I think top feeders kill more bees because they come with a beginner's kit and as a beginner you think you have to use it. Next year when you don't mess with the hive in the winter you will have a better idea if what you did in the fall was right. I think a secondary top entrance is a good idea. Your temperatures are not that extreme. I have a hive that is doing well so far and it has a hole in every box with SBB. The bees close it up if they don't like it and open it up when they do.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

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