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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Urbana, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    3

    Default What Happened to My Bees???

    Hi all,

    First post, definitely a lurker - I have only been keeping bees for three years now. Mostly in it for the honey and the fermentables for mead and beer. And to save the planet.

    This spring, two of my three hives were fine, but in the third hive the bees were. just. GONE. This is probably a common newbee question and common occurrence these days. There was a dedicated cadre of a couple dozen bees for awhile, but they soon succumbed to their short life span. Some bees died deep in cells as if they were dying for food when beautiful capped honey was available - so bizarre.

    My first thought was CCD - but I noticed some of the frames looked "funny". There was a shotgun pattern of white cells (attached). I have heard of "chalkbrood", but I don't know what it looks like exactly, and I do know that chalkbrood is not typically enough of a pest to eliminate a hive.

    So what do you think? Is this chalkbrood? Did it kill my hive? Was it CCD/Neonicotinoid/Bigfoot?

    zF1kW3J.jpgqJ5H9oX.jpgCCebTNE.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Sawyer, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,115

    Default Re: What Happened to My Bees???

    Was the hive strong then suddenly dwindled down to no one home? Could be CCD. Since this happen in the spring they could have gone queenless and just dwindled down to the point that they could not maintain the hive. The comb looks clean with pollen so they should not have absconded because of undesirable conditions. The white stuff could be mold. I don’t notice any capped honey so they were probably robbed out by other bees. Two years ago I had several hives that did the same thing in August. I scarped the foundation, not giving it back to other hives, have not had a repeat.
    The Busy Bee teaches two lessons: One is not to be idle and the other is not to get stung.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Waterville, NY
    Posts
    125

    Default Re: What Happened to My Bees???

    I notice many other cells are filled with (what looks like) pollen. Does the white material look smooth or "fluffy?" If it were mold it would probably look like fluffy/threads from the hyphae and sporophores. If smooth and glistening, possibly bacterial. If the texture is similar to the other cells filled with pollen, well ......

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Urbana, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: What Happened to My Bees???

    Thanks for the reply -

    The more I look at the white cells - It looks more like a "skim" over the pollen vs. something in the brood. It could be the same fungus that causes chalkbrood, who knows.

    It did seem like I had as many bees in this colony as the others based upon quick inspections and tapping the boxes to listen for buzzing ... But when it finally got warm enough to take a good look, the population was nonexistent. I did see a few cells with multiple eggs - which probably means there was no queen. The same exact thing happened the previous year at the same location. So, like you suggested, I might switch out the foundation, frames, and maybe even the boxes.

    It seems the only colonies I have lost have been Italian. I had had great luck with Carniolans and Russians. Is this a thing? It was a long winter.

    -EDIT- beemilk, I didn't see your reply until after I posted. The cells are definitely "smooth and glistening".
    Last edited by Bee Serious; 05-28-2013 at 08:10 AM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: What Happened to My Bees???

    Did you test or treat for mites?
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Urbana, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: What Happened to My Bees???

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    Did you test or treat for mites?
    I did - I noticed a few little red guys on some larvae (I know mites are in almost all hives), and I hung some of those Apistan strips in there late fall for a few weeks as a precaution.

  7. #7

    Default Re: What Happened to My Bees???

    There is a high degree of mite resistance to fluvalinate (the active ingredient of Apistan).
    Disappearing bees can be the result of a high infestation of mites.....
    Good luck.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    3,058

    Default Re: What Happened to My Bees???

    Just moldy pollen, that's what the white cells are. Why the bees died.... can't say for sure.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Fertile, MN
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: What Happened to My Bees???

    looks like your queen was a drone layer and your bees died out because no new bees were being made. if you saw eggs or larve it was probably drone brood. your brood patters should be tight and in the middle of the frame and not raised up and bumpy. Also I do not see any food in your frames. could just have been starvation
    Tanner Christianson - Woodside Honey LLC

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Cleveland, OH, USA
    Posts
    475

    Default Re: What Happened to My Bees???

    Next time this happens, collect any dead bees you find, then contact your state apiarist or, even better, the closest university or Federal bee lab. Ask if they could test the bees for you. Describe the dead out and ask if they would prefer just the bees or if they'll take the whole frame.

    I suspect they'll be willing. There's no guarantee they'll be able to find the cause; but then again they just might, and it seems like many, many, many beekeepers don't pursue that avenue of inquiry into dead-outs they otherwise just can't explain.

    One thing's for sure, they will definitely be able to tell you what the white stuff is.

    Remember that bees can starve to death in a hive full of honey they can't break cluster to get to, so be prepared to fairly consider that possibility. If the queen starved during the winter, that would doom the colony and explain the laying worker evidence; if a great deal of bees died out, the few left might not have even been able to support a laying worker for very long.
    Beeless since 2012; coming back in 2014. Suffering from apicultural withdrawal!

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