What killed my bees?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Wausau, Wisconsin
    Posts
    3

    Default What killed my bees?

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm hoping you can help me suss out what happened to my bees... On April 27, I purchased 5 packages of bees and installed them in my top bar hives. All of the hives were built of the same wood, same outer paint, no glues or adhesives at all. They were each given 4 bars of empty comb that was left over from a winter dead out hive as well as pollen patties and fondant. The installation went fine. On May 1st I checked on the hives and everything looked good, the queens were out and laying eggs in the comb. I didn't check the hives for the last two weeks because we had a long stretch of cold weather (30s at night, 40s-50s with wind during the day).

    Tonight I checked the hives and 3 of the 5 were completely dead. There was still fondant and pollen left in the hives. Of the two hives that survived, one looks really good and healthy, and the other has larvae and capped brood, but a fair amount of dead bees in the bottom of the hive (around 100).

    I have no idea what killed off the three hives... starvation? cold? disease? But I'm worried about the remaining hives, not to mention being out nearly $400 worth of bees. I'm also feeling utterly defeated with the winter dead out and then losing three more hives, especially since it is probably too late to get more bees this season. I'm just not sure where to go from here.

    Thoughts?
    Amy

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    5,460

    Default Re: What killed my bees?

    I'm betting they starved, couldn't eat the fondant

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    10,840

    Default Re: What killed my bees?

    How are you feeding the fondant? (meaning where is the fondant with respect to the bee cluster?)

    Also, do your TBHs happen to have open screened bottoms?
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Wausau, Wisconsin
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: What killed my bees?

    The TBH have screen bottoms, but about half of it is blocked off right now since it has been so cold. And the bees were only occupying about 10 bars worth of space. The fondant and pollen were on the bottom board directly under the cluster.

    Would I be able to rebuild the dead hives by taking 1-2 bars of comb, brood and bees from the remaining hives and give them a new queen? Or will that be putting all of them in jeopardy?

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Rib Lake WI
    Posts
    1,705

    Default Re: What killed my bees?

    It's been cold enuff to make them cluster on the brood and they starved. Give them time to build up make some nucs in a month. Not to late to order a queen I just ordered 4 queens to make my nucs in the middle of June.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    10,840

    Default Re: What killed my bees?

    I'd block off all of the screens. Aside from potential cold temperature issues in the hive, open screened bottoms contribute to absconding issues with new packages. Your empty hives may not have absconded, but some drifting to the stronger hives may have occurred.

    With fondant at the bottom of the TBH, the fondant is likely out of reach when the bees are clustered. And the fondant itself may warm up more slowly than the daytime air temperature.

    Bees have difficulty with syrup that is below about 50 degrees F, and fondant may also be subject to that same limitation. Is there any significant amount of capped honey/sugar cells in the comb? You might try offering a sugar syrup outside the TBH if bees are flying. Try putting out warmed syrup each day and see what happens.

    In my opinion it sounds a bit early to split your remaining hives.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,768

    Default Re: What killed my bees?

    If it's cold they won't leave the cluster so the food has to be in contact with the cluster...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    DFW, Texas
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: What killed my bees?

    What caused the winter dead out ?Could.you possibly have transferred something with your bars?

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