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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Spanaway, WA
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    138

    Default My Hive died. Why and where to go from here.

    My hive is right out side a window so I check on the outside every day. On warm(ish ~40-45F) days I'd see a few newly dead bees on the landing board, which I presume is normal winter attrition. A few weeks ago I noticed that this pattern had stopped. So I went to check no them yesterday and found that they had died. Upon inspection I noticed that they did have plenty of stores (which I had worried about earlier), but died none the less. Is their death something I could have prevented? The cluster (see pic below) looks quite small (there were also quite a lot of bees on the bottom board), though I have no personal reference of how big a cluster should be. I wonder if they just didn't have the numbers going into winter that they really needed.

    A frame above the cluster:
    clusters.jpg

    The cluster:
    frames.jpg

    This was my first hive and I've made my fair share of mistakes for sure but now I'm wondering where to go from here. After having a langstroth hive I realized that I think I'd rather have a top bar hive. Is there anything I can do with the resources from this hive? Some thoughts I had were:

    1) use some old brood comb for a bait hive (a bait hive or two sounds fun!)
    2) chop down a couple frames to fit into my top bar to give my package (coming in april) a head start. I heard you shouldn't move honey between hives though so maybe thats a bad idea? What fairly new empty comb?
    3) throw the rest out (?); the honey is no good for people since I'd been feeding.

    Thanks for input!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    627

    Default Re: My Hive died. Why and where to go from here.

    What makes you think a TBH would be better suited to you? (I have them and love them, just curious.)

    If you built a long Lang you could build it to take the frames and comb you have.

    If you build a KTBH you can crop the combs down to fit if you are sure they are free of disease. Having a few combs will really give them a head start.
    3rd yr - 1 KTBH & 4 KTBH nucs - TF - USDA Zn 6b

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,767

    Default Re: My Hive died. Why and where to go from here.

    That cluster was way too small to survive summer let alone winter. They could have swarmed before winter, mite overload perhaps. Somehow, they took off.
    Start over with a package or nuc and learn as much as you can until they arrive.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Hiltons,Virginia
    Posts
    133

    Default Re: My Hive died. Why and where to go from here.

    If you do start over the most important thing is,going into late fall make sure that the hive is queen wright.You can have all the stores they need but if you dont have a good laying queen you will have a dead hive come spring.

    www.poorvalleybeefarm.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Spanaway, WA
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    138

    Default Re: My Hive died. Why and where to go from here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colleen O. View Post
    What makes you think a TBH would be better suited to you? (I have them and love them, just curious.)

    If you built a long Lang you could build it to take the frames and comb you have.

    If you build a KTBH you can crop the combs down to fit if you are sure they are free of disease. Having a few combs will really give them a head start.
    For one I don't like having to unstack hive bodies to inspect the hive. I also like the idea of having a window that goes all the way down the hive, with a langstroth a window would be less interesting (IMO). Also I think they have a nicer look (if you bother to make them look good) and are less recognizable as a bee hive, which is a plus given the neighbors don't really know about it. Also I like the idea of getting honey one frame at a time, though I suppose that's easy enough in a langstroth.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Spanaway, WA
    Posts
    138

    Default Re: My Hive died. Why and where to go from here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colleen O. View Post
    If you build a KTBH you can crop the combs down to fit if you are sure they are free of disease. Having a few combs will really give them a head start.
    How would I know if they were disease free? One hypothesis for their low numbers into winter could be disease, so while i'd really like to help the next hive along, I don't want to do more harm than good.

    I do have a frame of two that was drawn out right before winter and went unused by the bees. Is that safe?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Cloquet, MN
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: My Hive died. Why and where to go from here.

    Why did you have 5 hive bodies on if their stores were light? It would have been easier for them to heat a smaller area. but if your cluster was that small, it they would have died anyway.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Cloquet, MN
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: My Hive died. Why and where to go from here.

    You have drawn comb left from this hive and your package or nuc will be that much ahead of the game because of it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Spanaway, WA
    Posts
    138

    Default Re: My Hive died. Why and where to go from here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Just Krispy View Post
    Why did you have 5 hive bodies on if their stores were light? It would have been easier for them to heat a smaller area. but if your cluster was that small, it they would have died anyway.
    I didn't have 5, I had two.

    Quote Originally Posted by Just Krispy View Post
    You have drawn comb left from this hive and your package or nuc will be that much ahead of the game because of it.
    Do you think I should worry about disease? I'm not really sure how to tell if comb is safe.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,117

    Default Re: My Hive died. Why and where to go from here.

    When in doubt throw them out. You really don't know what is safe or diseased by just looking at them.
    Better to get a nuc to start over. With package you can install new frames for them to build more comb. Then you
    will know if the comb is safe or not. You can also make a split from the surviving hive if you don't want to order more
    bees.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
    Posts
    1,272

    Default Re: My Hive died. Why and where to go from here.

    large clusters rarely die, they usually diminish to small clusters before they die. The cluster heat the cluster, the inner bees are heat the outer bee insulation, they rotate, the temperature 4 inches from the cluster is not much above external temperature. Sometimes it just happens!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    627

    Default Re: My Hive died. Why and where to go from here.

    When mine died out last year I could tell that one froze in a late February cold snap because they were out of stores and wouldn't leave their brood to go to the candy I had added. The other lost their queen and dwindled out. Because of that I was able to reuse their drawn comb which was a huge advantage.

    I am still a novice so I was leaving your question to those more knowledgable but I would think you could use the honey part if not the brood area. There are two diseases that I can think of that would keep you from reusing, one is Nosema and the other AFB.

    The viewing windows on my KTBHs are wonderful! I just made a nuc that is a hybrid KTBH/Lang/Warre and put a viewing window in the KTBH part of it. It has a KTBH brood area but can take two 5 frame Lang mediums above with a Warre style quilt and roof. I have no idea if I will like it but worst case I can leave it as a regular KTBH.
    3rd yr - 1 KTBH & 4 KTBH nucs - TF - USDA Zn 6b

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lititz, PA, USA
    Posts
    710

    Default Re: My Hive died. Why and where to go from here.

    Don't throw the comb out. If you had AFB you'd have to throw the entire hive out, in fact you'd burn or irradiate it. So don't let that put you off. The simplest explanation is usually correct, and the simplest explanation here is that the cluster was just unbelievably small. How many bees were on the bottom board? Thousands, hundreds, or a few?

    Question I always ask: If you look closely inside the cells of the frames in the middle of the brood nest, do you see little white specks?
    License not replace eyes, ears, and brain.
    - Mr. Miyagi

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Cloquet, MN
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: My Hive died. Why and where to go from here.

    SOrry I thought you said there were 5 on there. You should be able to keep the frames.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,887

    Default Re: My Hive died. Why and where to go from here.

    Don't throw the comb out, there is likely nothing wrong with it and it is a good start for a new pack. The bee lab will test it for you if you are worried about AFB, but that is unlikely. You may have just over fed to a point in the fall were they back filled the brood nest so the queen had limited area to lay so they went into winter with a smaller then normal cluster, or you could have lost population due to mite/viral load. Or queen could have failed late fall or as others have said they may have swarmed, feeding can induce them to do that.

    If you are on all medium boxes, get some deeps.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Spanaway, WA
    Posts
    138

    Default Re: My Hive died. Why and where to go from here.

    Quote Originally Posted by libhart View Post
    Don't throw the comb out. If you had AFB you'd have to throw the entire hive out, in fact you'd burn or irradiate it. So don't let that put you off. The simplest explanation is usually correct, and the simplest explanation here is that the cluster was just unbelievably small. How many bees were on the bottom board? Thousands, hundreds, or a few?

    Question I always ask: If you look closely inside the cells of the frames in the middle of the brood nest, do you see little white specks?
    There's a good layer of bees on the bottom board. two deep in some areas. if I had to guess i'd say 600-1000.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,785

    Default Re: My Hive died. Why and where to go from here.

    >Do you think I should worry about disease? I'm not really sure how to tell if comb is safe.

    AFB is the only real concern and that is not what kills hives over winter. But I always look for scale in the bottom of the cells anyway. I would reuse it.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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