Bees have vanished
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  1. #1
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    Jul 2014
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    Carroll County, Georgia, USA
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    Default Bees have vanished

    I am a first year beekeeper with a new problem I can't figure out. It is most likely a problem I caused, so if I can figure out what happened, maybe I can avoid this problem in the future. I had two Langstroth hives side by side, one in a single deep with six frames of bees, one in double deeps with thirteen frames of bees. I checked them last week and they both appeared to be fine, plenty of honey and pollen stores. I checked them yesterday and all the bees and honey have vanished. There are about twenty dead bees in one hive and zero dead bees in the other. There are no dead bees on the ground. I did see a lot of bees flying around one hive last week, right after the check, but I just figured my gals were enjoying the warm day. How can I go from two hives full of bees and stores to zero bees and honey in a week? I have the entrances reduced to about two inches, they left just a little bit of spotty capped brood....if anyone needs more information please ask. I want to continue in beekeeping next year, but I have a lot to learn.
    Natural Beekeeping Information at
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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
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    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    Quote Originally Posted by AL from Georgia View Post
    I am a first year beekeeper with a new problem I can't figure out. It is most likely a problem I caused, so if I can figure out what happened, maybe I can avoid this problem in the future. I had two Langstroth hives side by side, one in a single deep with six frames of bees, one in double deeps with thirteen frames of bees. I checked them last week and they both appeared to be fine, plenty of honey and pollen stores. I checked them yesterday and all the bees and honey have vanished. There are about twenty dead bees in one hive and zero dead bees in the other. There are no dead bees on the ground. I did see a lot of bees flying around one hive last week, right after the check, but I just figured my gals were enjoying the warm day. How can I go from two hives full of bees and stores to zero bees and honey in a week? I have the entrances reduced to about two inches, they left just a little bit of spotty capped brood....if anyone needs more information please ask. I want to continue in beekeeping next year, but I have a lot to learn.
    Sounds to me like they have absconded. I had a hive do that last year (or at least I think that's what happened.) Could be lots of causes. Critters harassing hive, too many mites, too much management interference. You will probably never know.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    take a tweezers and pull out the capped brood, look for signs of disease.

    look for guanine deposits in the empty cells of the dark brood comb.

    look for dead mites on the bottom boards.

    put the comb in a freezer if you can.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
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    1,625

    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    My guess would be mites overwhelmed the hive and robbers took all the honey but it is only a guess, following the advise given above would be the best thing for now and as squarepeg stated investigate for signs of mite infestation. You will need to study up on how to deal with mites in the future.
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio Zone 6A, Never look down on anybody unless you are helping them up

  6. #5
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    Jul 2014
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    Carroll County, Georgia, USA
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    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    Thanks for the replies, I am going today to check the brood and comb for signs of disease. I most likely have not treated for mites effectively this year, and with both hives absconding, this could be the case. Due to my inexperience, and listening to the wrong advice, I only did an extended powdered sugar shake for mites in early fall. When I checked the load again, it was high, so I then treated with an OA dribble. I have not checked the mite load since the OA treatment in early November.
    Natural Beekeeping Information at
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  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
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    Carroll County, Georgia, USA
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    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    Found lots of white poop in the combs and hundreds if not thousands of varroa mites on the catch pan. No obvious signs of disease, but I am inexperienced. Mites were at least one problem, without a doubt. I can't believe how fast they can explode in population.
    Natural Beekeeping Information at
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  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Walton County, GA
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    163

    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    AL, what lesson(s) have you learned from this experience? I take it that you regret not taking a more aggressive approach in treating for mites. The reason I ask is that we are not that far from each other and I would prefer to learn from your experience rather than repeat any mistakes you may have made. (I will be a first-year beekeeper next year.)

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    sorry to hear about your bees al. your new colonies next spring will have a huge head start with all that comb if you can protect it. sick brood will sometimes have shriveled up wings, stunted abdomens, or be otherwise deformed in some way. other times there is only a watery mess in the cell.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Great Falls Montana
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    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    Sounds like your bees got robbed out. They probably weren't as strong as they looked and the inspection made them smell like free honey. That is my guess at this distance. The mites were causing a population crash too. People who don't check mite levels and treat them if necessary are called bee supplier customers. I lost four to mites this winter so far too.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
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    Carroll County, Georgia, USA
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    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    To Hobo:
    I think one of my problems was that I did a ton of internet research and got lots of differing opinions from folks with limited beekeeping experience. It is important to know your sources, no matter what methods you may prefer. Another lesson I learned is once you decide what treatments you will use, have them on hand and ready. I went into my first year knowing mite levels were important, but when I saw levels rising, I really had no good treatment plan in place. I have found a beekeeping calendar from a Georgia club that helps me a bit and a couple of beekeepers worth checking out if you haven't already. Good luck with your bees next year.
    http://www.dummies.com/how-to/conten...-calendar.html
    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/
    https://www.youtube.com/user/fineshooter

    Thanks to everyone else that replied, I am sure I will have some more questions next year.

  12. #11
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    what type of bees did you have al? some colonies can eek it out for the first year or two before succumbing to mites. makes me think that they came heavily loaded and/or have very little natural resistance.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Villa Rica Georgia
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    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    Al
    I sent you a PM

  14. #13
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    Jan 2013
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    Wilkesboro, NC, USA
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    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    so sorry to hear this for you, wish i had an answer for you

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    Al you are not alone in this, every year thousands of beekeepers experience the same thing, some leave the hobby disillusioned.

    Sounds like you did the best for your bees you knew how, based on the advice you received and reading you did, so no need to feel bad.

    Now you have that added experience and will be better prepared next season. The combs etc can be re used, just need to store them over winter in such a way they will not get destroyed by pests such as mice or wax moths.

    As per Squarepeg, it would be interesting for us to know what bees you used or where you got them. Some bee strains have little or no resistance to varroa and if not treated will succumb most likely the first season.

    BTW you have the same name as me, I too go by Al. (Or maybe AL is your initials not sure).
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  16. #15
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    Jul 2012
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    lafargeville ny usa
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    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    a single or couple of powder sugar treatments will kill a few mites. in the war against mites powder sugar is not much use if there is any problem at all, really useless. oxalic dribble is good after brood rearing is over but, be carefull, queen damage or absconding can happen with an overdose or multiple doses. oxalic acid vapor, or a number of other commercial treatments should be considered. from spring to late summer mite numbers normally double, in the fall after brood time they can explode. see the ny-bee-wellness site or Ontario bee association site. ny beewellnees avoides oxalic acid vapor as it is not technicaly approved in the us, Ontario bee likes it for good reasons.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Al you are not alone in this, every year thousands of beekeepers experience the same thing, some leave the hobby disillusioned.

    Sounds like you did the best for your bees you knew how, based on the advice you received and reading you did, so no need to feel bad.

    Now you have that added experience and will be better prepared next season. The combs etc can be re used, just need to store them over winter in such a way they will not get destroyed by pests such as mice or wax moths.

    As per Squarepeg, it would be interesting for us to know what bees you used or where you got them. Some bee strains have little or no resistance to varroa and if not treated will succumb most likely the first season.

    BTW you have the same name as me, I too go by Al. (Or maybe AL is your initials not sure).
    Thanks again, to everyone, for all the replies. Thanks for the words of encouragement, Oldtimer. My name is Alan, but I do go by Al. The bees I had were from a local migratory honey farm that runs about four hundred hives. They were great bees and seemed to perform very well during the flow. I picked them up in the spring as nucs working three frames of brood. Within a month they were both working eight frames, and by the early summer, 12-15 frames. My son and I actually witnessed the stronger of the two hives swarm in July. They did so well in such a short period of time, I had a friend ask for the source, as he wanted the same bees. The guy I got them from is a third generation beekeeper and the bees are an Italian strain. His name is Allen Bradd and his farm is Sweetwater Honey Farm in Douglasville, Georgia. I can't say enough nice things about him and his bees, they were top notch. I am certain my inexperience played a large part in their disappearance, but I will not give up. I am now so fascinated by honey bees, I can't give up. The thing I have enjoyed the most, in my limited time in the hobby, is the fact that each hive is almost like a puzzle or game that often present differing challenges to overcome. I don't see how anyone could not love these bees, they are truly incredible.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    Well sounds like you've had a great experience.

    Commercial beekeepers of course need top producing bees. But they also cannot mess around with hives dying of mites, or having production affected by mites, so mostly just blanket treat all hives for mites most likely twice or more per year. If they did not do this, they would not be commercial very long.

    So that's what you got. Highly productive bees, that need beekeeper intervention to take care of mites. Some of the mechanisms that some TF beekeepers claim their bees use to defeat mites such as brood breaks, swarming, hygiene, etc are counterproductive to the productivity that commercial beekeepers need in their bees. So if you get bees from the same source again, they will need a mite treatment program in place, and they will serve you well.

    As per Mathesonequip, sugar dusting will not cut the mustard, something stronger is required.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  19. #18
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    Mar 2014
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    Walton County, GA
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    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    As per Mathesonequip, sugar dusting will not cut the mustard, something stronger is required.
    Are you saying that sugar dusting is a treatment method that kills mites? I was under the impression that sugar dusting simply made it easier to see the mites so you could gauge how much of a mite problem that you have.

  20. #19
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    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    with a screened bottom board, it dislodges a percentage of mites that fall through, thus eliminating them from the hive.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Bees have vanished

    That's the problem Hobo, it does not kill a whole lot of mites.

    Some people mostly new players, get the impression that if they sugar dust the entire hive they will get rid of the mites, unfortunately this sometimes turns out to be fatal to their bees if there is a mite issue & the sugar does not eliminate it.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

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