Dead hive
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Thread: Dead hive

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Hillsboro, Oregon, USA
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    6

    Default Dead hive

    Hi all,
    I am new to this forum and new to beekeeping. We got our first hive this spring. We went through the summer and fall and all was well we got about a quart of honey in our honey super and had about 10 full frames of honey in the brood boxes. Additionally the queen seemed to be laying well (as far as a novice beekeeper can tell). Then fall came and I felt pretty good about the situation with the bees. I looked in on the bees on a warm day in early December and they were in a tight ball and some outside bees were moving around in a way that seemed normal to me. I went out again today and had a look at them because it was another warmer day (about 45 degrees f) and the hive is completely dead. They were still in the same place as when I looked at them in the early December still packed in a very tight ball, but all dead. Any ideas what might have happened to them? I have about 10 pictures of what the situation looked like, all of the bees in the below pictures are dead. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance! Mark






















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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Spokane, Washington, USA
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    Default Re: Dead hive

    Mark, your bees starved to death. They couldn't reach the honey in a cold snap and froze.

    did you treat your hive for varroa?

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Hillsboro, Oregon, USA
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    Default Re: Dead hive

    Quote Originally Posted by RAK View Post
    Mark, your bees starved to death. They couldn't reach the honey in a cold snap and froze.

    did you treat your hive for varroa?
    RAK,
    Thanks for the reply, I was wondering if they starved with so many bees head in. We had some very quick onset very cold days (for Portland area). Is there something I should have done to prevent it?

    I did not treat them for varroa, to be honest I wanted to not use chemicals on them and really am too novice. I didn't realize you can treat for them with powdered sugar and was assuming only chemical treatments. I have a couple of neighbors who do not treat and figured I would go with them same.

    Thanks,
    Mark

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
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    4,323

    Default Re: Dead hive

    You do have varroa as some are seen in your pics. It also appears that you entered into winter with the screened bottom board open? If so, it should have been closed. It's like heating your garage with the overhead door wide open.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
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    2,836

    Default Re: Dead hive

    Mr. Beeman, my eyes are not as good as yours (or my computer screen is smaller). Which picture shows the mites on the bees?

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Baden Wurtemburg Germany
    Posts
    560

    Default Re: Dead hive

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    Mr. Beeman, my eyes are not as good as yours (or my computer screen is smaller). Which picture shows the mites on the bees?
    I wondered about that, I see some signs of dysentery, a few chalk brood but RAK said it, they starved.
    Stephen 40+ hives. 6th year. Treat. Germany.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Louisville, KY
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    3,291

    Default Re: Dead hive

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Beeman View Post
    You do have varroa as some are seen in your pics. It also appears that you entered into winter with the screened bottom board open? If so, it should have been closed. It's like heating your garage with the overhead door wide open.
    True, but many club members have successfully overwintered with wide open screened bottoms, including myself. Although, I go like to leave closed or cracked open during winter, spring and fall, Louisville doesn't get extended periods of sub-zero weather and wind like up around the lakes.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
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    Default Re: Dead hive

    I leave my bottom boards open all winter as well - helps with the ventilation (lots of moisture in the winter here in PA) - your bees probably died of a combination of issues - starvation was part of it due to the small cluster which was likely caused by weakened state from a heavy mite load and likely your queen stopped laying early or wasnt productive enough and resulted in alot of old bees and not enough new "winter" bees which are the ones that keep the hive going until the queen begins laying again. All of those bees on the bottom board are old bees and alot of them.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Dead hive

    Whether or not you choose to treat or how you choose to treat....I'd highly recommend that you conduct an objective mite test late each season. At least then you will have some idea.
    Good luck
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Dead hive

    if you haven't thrown away the bees already, you can conduct an alcohol wash on the dead bees to see what you mite load was like - take about 1/2 cup of bees, place in a mason jar, fill up with rubbing alcohol and shake for a couple of minutes - pour through a strainer into a light colored bowl with white background or paper towel lined - you can then count the mites. the count would be x# of mites per 300 bees (your 1/2 cup sample)

  12. #11

    Default Re: Dead hive

    Quote Originally Posted by wildbeekeeper View Post
    you can conduct an alcohol wash on the dead bees to see what you mite load was like -
    I'm not sure how accurate this would be on dead bees. Many consequently dead mites will have surely fallen off already...and so the test would likely under report their numbers.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  13. #12
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    Jul 2010
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    Default Re: Dead hive

    its not as accurate as as when done with live bees but it does work - there are always mites on dead bees - i use bees collected from dead out hives to show how to conduct alcohol washes when i teach my classes and its rare that we dont get mites in the sample - youd be surprised. i dont worry too much about how accurate it is at that point as the bees are dead, but if you do a wash and get 15 mites that tells you something!

  14. #13
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    Rockford, MI
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    Default Re: Dead hive

    Never said on the bees, but I do see some on the top bars and the bottom board edges. I also believe I saw a few shb on the bottom board... left side.


    And yes I do have a large screen that can be zoomed in many times. lol

  15. #14
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Baden Wurtemburg Germany
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    Default Re: Dead hive

    Right click on a photo, choose open in new tab. Hover above photo in the new tab then click, this should enlarge the photo. I still didn't find any varroa
    Stephen 40+ hives. 6th year. Treat. Germany.

  16. #15

    Default Re: Dead hive

    Here is a practice I applied in November to one of my hives that was "light", as I too am going into my first winter. I don't know how many brood boxes you keep on your hives, but you should do a weight test when cold weather is on the horizon and the fall flow is over. For me I use 8 frame hives and have one deep and one medium for my brood chamber.

    Get behind your hive and lift the back end. If it is heavy to lift and feels like it should weigh about 80-100 lbs, then the bees should have enough honey to feed them through most the winter; but you need to check again every month or so. If it is light, you need to feed them 2:1 sugar water until the cold weather comes or when they stop taking it. For my "light" hive, they sucked down the first 3 quarts in 2 days, but have taken over a week on the second batch, so I'm going to stop feeding them for awhile. Now, if they are still sucking it down when the cold weather comes, you need to continue to feed them with something that won't freeze. I personally don't have any experience with that situation, but I'm sure there are plenty of beesource threads to give you some ideas on what sugary substance to feed them.

    That's my little tidbit of feeding advice being a fellow newbee.

    Another piece of advice is to always have two hives. That way you have something to compare with. In my case I have four hives, two in one location and two in another. In both locations, I had one strong hive and one weak one. If you only have one, it will be tougher to figure out if you have a strong or weak hive. In both my "weak hive" cases, I had to eventually replace the queen in late summer/early fall because, in both cases, there was no noticable larva or capped broad. Once I did that, they were back on the mend in about a month. I know you didn't have that situation as you said your queen was still laying at last check. But, I just thought I'd mention it.

    Hope this helps a little.
    Started beekeeping in 2013 and having a blast with my 12 small cell hives!!

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
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    Hillsboro, Oregon, USA
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    Default Re: Dead hive

    Hi all I was at church this morning and then lunch, so I am just getting back to the thread now.

    Thanks for all of the helpful replies. I do still have lots of dead bees, so I can test for the mites.

    There was lots of honey left in the hive, so I'm not sure if there was anything I could have done when it got cold to help them get to the honey. Maybe I could have tried to run heated air into the hive, I'm not sure.

    I did run with the open board, It (usually) does not get very cold in Portland. It does get below freezing regularly in the evening, but it is not very common that it is below freezing during the day. So for ventilation I thought it would be better to have the bottom board open.

    Will you tell me what you saw in the pictures that showed the following:

    Chalk brood
    dysentery
    Mites


    I had never seen any small hive beetles, but I do see something that looks like them in the picture now that you mention it.

    Any advice on how to protect against chalk brood? If I find it on my existing comb (how do I find it?), how do I treat it? I've seen that many places say destroy the comb, is that the recommendation? How do I know if there is chalk brood on the comb, or do I just destroy all of the comb that was in the hive?

    Thanks again all,
    Mark

  18. #17
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Spokane, Washington, USA
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    Default Re: Dead hive

    Mark, your pics do not show any sign of nosema or chalkbrood. Varroa... possible because of the small cluster. If you had a solid bottom you would be able to see if there were varroa. In order to prevent starvation you need to feed bees in the fall. Did you feed your hive any syrup?

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Dead hive

    Mark, if you want to be treatment free, consider buying local resistant bees.


    http://oldsolbees.com/

  20. #19
    Join Date
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    Location
    Grand Rapids, Ohio
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    Default Re: Dead hive

    What was the breed of bees????
    Do you have pic of the brood or was that all the capped brood in the pic?
    Snarky. Thanks, Berry

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Vancouver, WA, USA
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    Default Re: Dead hive

    Quote Originally Posted by The Honey Householder View Post
    What was the breed of bees????
    ............
    They look like Italian ones from the pics.

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