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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
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    94

    Question Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    Today is one of those days as a first year beekeeper I ask "Now why did I decide to do this again?!". I would appreciate some feedback and advice on this situation.

    I have two hives I got from packages in April. Both seemed to be doing reasonably well all spring and summer building up their numbers pretty well. Both hives have filled two-eight frame mediums with brood and stores.

    After our main nectar flow ended about a month ago, I noticed their honey stores seemed to be pretty light so I started feeding them 2:1 sugar syrup. They have been eating a quart every 2-4 days.

    The hives had been getting a few hive beetles. Nothing huge, I would just see 10-15 scurry on the inner cover when I opened the hive. I installed the Freeman beetle trap and that knocked the number back down. Other than doing a few powdered sugar treatments to chase beetles into the trap I have not used any kind of treatments.

    A few days ago, I began to notice one of the hives had bees crawling in the front of it and scattered across the field in front of the hive about 50 feet or so. I would estimate the number was 50-100. This is still going on. Bees crawl in the grass and try to fly but can't. I lift them up and they can generally fly only 5 feet or so. Their wings appear to be okay to me and the bee's overall health appears good. I can provide a picture if needed. My second hive seems to be unaffected.

    I did a little reading and saw where this could be a problem caused by higher levels of varroa mites. I opened up the hive a did a powdered sugar roll with 1/2 cup of bees. Only one mite came off. There were a few, maybe 30-40 mites in the Freeman oil tray since I put the oil in about a week ago. I did, however, see at least two bees that had deformed wing virus. That is the first time I've seen this.

    Another unusual observation was there was quite a few less bees than I'd seen in previous inspections. There weren't enough to cover the combs even 50%. There was no brood to speak of, capped or uncapped. I did see a significant number of eggs though (one egg per cell, not a laying worker). The hive is LOADED with pollen and stores. I mean there is a ton of pollen in there. I did not see the queen but assume there is one since there are eggs.

    Would anyone care to offer me some opinions as to why there are bees that can't fly, no brood, and less bees than normal? I must admit I'm pretty baffled by this. Thanks to anyone for giving me some feedback and advice on what to do.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Skiff, Alberta, CA
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    605

    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    Any neonics close to you?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
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    94

    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    That is a very good question. I should have covered that in the original post. I know bees can forage up to a four mile radius but I'm struggling to find any place even in a four mile radius that could have used a significant amount of pesticides. I live in a subdivision with huge lots that is surrounded by a lot of woods and government land that is unused. There is no agriculture that I know of know of outside of some people having a small gardens in their back yards. There is a lake that is within a couple hundred feet of the hives but the water there is not contaminated or poisonous.
    Last edited by honeyman46408; 07-27-2014 at 08:26 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
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    989

    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    Crawlers are a non-specific sign of hive parasites. Summer Nosema (the imported cernua strain), tracheal mites, and a host of virus transmitted by Varroa will exhibit crawlers. I observe that Oxalic vapor treatment often resolves crawlers in just days. I do not have an explanation why a treatment whose target is the reproductive stage of the Varroa also resolves DWV and non-specific crawlers, but the impact is incontestable.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
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    7,106

    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    Did you boil the sugar syrup?
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    Yes it was boiled.
    Last edited by honeyman46408; 07-27-2014 at 08:27 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Lawrence, Kansas, USA
    Posts
    305

    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    Crawlers are a non-specific sign of hive parasites. Summer Nosema (the imported cernua strain), tracheal mites, and a host of virus transmitted by Varroa will exhibit crawlers. I observe that Oxalic vapor treatment often resolves crawlers in just days. I do not have an explanation why a treatment whose target is the reproductive stage of the Varroa also resolves DWV and non-specific crawlers, but the impact is incontestable.
    +1, I don't have the problem, but one of my club members does, and a couple of long time beeks were thinking Varroa as well.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
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    1,789

    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    does boiling cause a change in the sugar syrup that might cause an issue for the bees?
    Stuck in Texas. Learning Permaculture in drought, guess I will teach permaculture in drought. The bees are still alive.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    Thanks to everyone who commented so far. Any other comments/feedback?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Newton, NC
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    I'm new also but I was told to boil the water, take it off the heat and then add the sugar. I heard that boiling the sugar is not good for the bees. Like I said I'm new at this too so if someone else could verify this info that would be great. Monica

  11. #11
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    Sep 2013
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    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    Quote Originally Posted by moni3 View Post
    I'm new also but I was told to boil the water, take it off the heat and then add the sugar. I heard that boiling the sugar is not good for the bees. Like I said I'm new at this too so if someone else could verify this info that would be great. Monica
    I was having someone else prepare the syrup for me and didn't provide them any guidance on how to make it because I didn't understand how dangerous it could possibly be to the bees. I pulled off the syrup for now since both hives seemed to have enough honey for now. I may put the feeders back on after watching them for a few days.

    There are so many things that can go wrong! If this is what was causing the crawlers I hope I haven't harmed them so badly that they can't recover.

    I would love to hear other feedback/responses/advice.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Gloucester, Virginia
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    157

    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    I have never felt that sugar water was good for bees, properly prepared or not. I don't feed my bees. I am very careful about how much honey I take from them, it's best leave them plenty to live on.

  13. #13
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    Sep 2013
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    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    Quote Originally Posted by Beeophyte View Post
    I have never felt that sugar water was good for bees, properly prepared or not. I don't feed my bees. I am very careful about how much honey I take from them, it's best leave them plenty to live on.
    Thanks - I understand your position. These are new hives I'm trying to get established and felt they needed a little extra help. I haven't taken any honey from them.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Alachua County, FL, USA
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    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    Boiling causes two issues carmelizes sugars and Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), a neurotoxin formed when sugars are heated. "HMF is practically absent in fresh food, but it is naturally generated in sugar-containing food during heat-treatments like drying or cooking. HMF is toxic to bees."
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  15. #15
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    Oct 2013
    Location
    Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
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    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    Are the bees crawling around on the ground drones? I see them in front of my hives this time of year when the workers kick them out so they don't have to feed them.
    I eat my peas with honey. Ive done it all my life. It makes the peas taste funny. But it keeps them on the knife!

  16. #16
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    Sep 2013
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    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    Quote Originally Posted by AmericasBeekeeper View Post
    Boiling causes two issues carmelizes sugars and Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), a neurotoxin formed when sugars are heated. "HMF is practically absent in fresh food, but it is naturally generated in sugar-containing food during heat-treatments like drying or cooking. HMF is toxic to bees."
    Thanks for the input on this. I've tried removing the syrup altogether for now since it seemed like they had plenty of stores. I remember reading not to scorch the syrup but I obviously did not understand how serious of a problem simply boiling the syrup is. Hopefully this isn't a mistake I can't recover from.

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeGora View Post
    Are the bees crawling around on the ground drones? I see them in front of my hives this time of year when the workers kick them out so they don't have to feed them.
    Thanks for replying. The bees aren't drones - they're workers.

  17. #17
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    Apr 2012
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    Bell County, KY, USA
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    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    Quote Originally Posted by AmericasBeekeeper View Post
    Boiling causes two issues carmelizes sugars and Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), a neurotoxin formed when sugars are heated. "HMF is practically absent in fresh food, but it is naturally generated in sugar-containing food during heat-treatments like drying or cooking. HMF is toxic to bees."
    I thought HMF was only a concern with high-fructose corn syrup.
    Never heard anyone say not to boil sugar water before.

  18. #18
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    Morro Bay, California, USA
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    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    HMF is the "dehydration" product of Fructose. Any fructose-containing compound will form it when heated, especially acid ones. It has no generic relationship with HFCS despite being used as a scare term by folks opposed to the use of the corn product. There was a thread this week about wax melter honey, which is patently high in HMF.

    Acidifying syrup with external acid solutions in a pH balancing scheme is likely generating beaucoup HMF inadvertently through excess acidification.

    Note: dehydration in the context of organic chemistry is different than making beef jerky or fruit leather. Refers to the removal of hydroxyl and hydrogen ions from the structure.
    Last edited by JWChesnut; 07-28-2014 at 07:40 PM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    Well I have some good news for now anyway. I removed the sugar syrup last night. I checked them this morning and this evening. There appears to be significantly less crawlers now. I'll post another update in a day or so.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Some bees crawling in grass in front of hive

    Unfortunately I was wrong and the crawling bees are still a problem. At any give time there are 25-50 bees crawling around and probably more I can't see. I feel so bad I feel like crawling around in the grass with them (and that's not an exaggeration).

    One hive has the crawlers (blue hive), the other doesn't appear to (yellow hive).

    The crawling bees from the blue hive have continued and I did a frame by frame inspection of both hives last night. I found big, healthy looking queens in both hives. I saw very few eggs and almost no brood in either hive. The lighting was not the best last night and I could possibly have missed some eggs. As I had feared, the bees in the blue hive are dwindling fast - some frames have enough bees to cover mostly all the frame but most don't have even 50% coverage, some much less than that. Yellow hive numbers appear to be fine. Both frames have plenty of honey and pollen. The blue hive is especially LOADED with pollen. The only positive news is the Freeman beetle traps are working wonders. I saw about 3 beetles all night.

    Up until about a week ago, both hives were being feed 2 to 1 sugar syrup through extra supers on the top of the hives. I removed this since they appeared to have a lot of honey. I keep stretching to think of anything that could be causing the crawling bees. Some of the sugar fed to both hives said something to the effect of "Pure Granulated Sugar", not pure cane sugar. My wife prepared it by boiling until the sugar dissolved. I didn't know not to tell her to not boil it past dissolving and don't know if this was done. The sugar appeared clear with a slight yellow tint. I obviously did not know boiling the syrup was bad for bees. I don't know if this had anything to do with it or not.

    I have started collecting samples of the crawling bees from the blue hive and plan to send them to the Beltsville Bee Lab.

    I am considering removing some of pollen frames from the blue hive and reducing it down to maybe one super so the bees can guard the frames adequately. I would love any input or suggestions on where to go from here. As always, thanks for any advice.

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