Sudden package die off
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Denver Metro Area, Colorado
    Posts
    4

    Default Sudden package die off

    Today I inspected my hive and noticed a very large number of dead bees in the bottom of the hive (I would guess around half to 2/3 of the entire hive). What happened? Can the hive be saved? What do I need to do?

    I installed a 3lbs package 3 weeks ago in my TBH. Last week we had a late spring snowstorm (Denver Metro Area, Colorado). Two days ago, the first day after the storm, I noticed a large number of dead and dying bees in front of the hive (I would guess around 100 but it was difficult to tell). After that their activity seemed to return to normal and today was the first day I had time to inspect the hive.

    Prior to this the hive seemed to be doing well. They drew out several foundation-less frames. The queen was and still is present. There are tons of capped brood (I even noticed some starting to emerge today).

    I have been feeding them syrup since I installed them and today the feeder was empty. I also gave them a brood patty when i installed them, which is mostly still there.

    I am a first time bee keeper and this is my only hive.

    Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks.

    ***EDIT**
    Adding Images

    HiveExterior.jpg
    The hive exterior

    HiveInterior.jpg
    Hive interior showing dead bees and sparsely populated comb (Note, when the package was first installed they managed to carry off all the dead within the first week. All these dead bees showed up within the last week after my last inspection)

    CombWithBrood.jpg
    Comb with brood
    Last edited by Ender; 05-22-2017 at 09:29 PM. Reason: Adding images

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Denver Metro Area, Colorado
    Posts
    4

    Sad Re: Sudden package die off

    Anybody?

    I can provide more information if need be.

    I have two theories myself:

    1. They starved. If they ran out of syrup right before the snowstorm and hadn't put any into stores but instead used it all for comb and brood rearing, could they have starved in the two days of the storm when they would have been unable to forage? How could I identify this?

    2. Pesticides. I live in an urban area and its possible one of the neighbours used some herbicides or something. Could that have caused the die off? How could I identify this?

    Note: the hive does seem to be recovering somewhat with increased foraging activity. I am hoping that a good portion of the capped brood has started hatching and will be able to save the hive. I am planning on doing a full inspection again this weekend but don't want to disturber them to frequently.

    If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask.

    Thank you for you help and advice.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Richmond Illinois USA
    Posts
    109

    Default Re: Sudden package die off

    It's pretty hard to say - doesn't sound like starvation though - you've been feeding and they've been storing. Pesticides are a possibility. Do you have neighbors that fog for mosquitoes?

    Anyway, with your first crop of brood about to hatch out, just keep feeding, and hope for the best. Good luck,

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    WaKeeney, KS, USA
    Posts
    156

    Default Re: Sudden package die off

    Hoping you may have gotten some older bees in the package that were near the end of their work time but that does seem like a lot all at once. The capped brood looks ok and will be emerging soon to bring up the numbers. Keep feeding light syrup.

    Were there any dead bees outside the hive? Any out of the ordinary chemical smells?
    Last edited by Delta 21; 05-25-2017 at 10:06 AM.
    2nd year with bees. 3 Top Bar hives in my back yard.
    Zone 5b/6a. 'Crackpipe' OAV.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Lilburn, GA, USA
    Posts
    732

    Default Re: Sudden package die off

    It sounds like you inspected the hive three weeks after install? Could the bees have died during the storm because it was too cold in the hive?

    What is their water source?

    Cute hive btw, where did you get it from?

    Best solution would be to add some brood comb if you can get some?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ender View Post

    I installed a 3lbs package 3 weeks ago in my TBH. Last week we had a late spring snowstorm (Denver Metro Area, Colorado). Two days ago, the first day after the storm, I noticed a large number of dead and dying bees in front of the hive (I would guess around 100 but it was difficult to tell). After that their activity seemed to return to normal and today was the first day I had time to inspect the hive.
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Denver Metro Area, Colorado
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    4

    Default Re: Sudden package die off

    Answers:

    Thomas Frazier:
    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Frazier View Post
    Do you have neighbors that fog for mosquitoes?
    I am not explicitly aware of anyone fogging but its a possibility.


    Delta:
    Quote Originally Posted by Delta 21 View Post
    Hoping you may have gotten some older bees in the package that were near the end of their work time but that does seem like a lot all at once.
    I considered this but it seems like too great a number, I also checked many of the dead and none of their wings looked old and frayed which I thought meant they were younger individuals. That being said this is my first hive and I might be misinterpreting what I see.

    Quote Originally Posted by Delta 21 View Post
    Were there any dead bees outside the hive?
    Yes there were some dead outside the hive although not nearly as many as inside.

    Quote Originally Posted by Delta 21 View Post
    Any out of the ordinary chemical smells?
    There was a smell but I would not have called it chemically, more of yeasty. I think it was coming from the brood patty. I checked the syrup and the smell was not coming from it.


    Yunzow:
    Quote Originally Posted by Yunzow View Post
    It sounds like you inspected the hive three weeks after install?
    Yes I did, I also inspected 1 and 2 weeks after install and everything seemed fine to me then.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yunzow View Post
    Could the bees have died during the storm because it was too cold in the hive?
    Possibly.. It wasn't really THAT cold, only around freezing and a couple degrees below. Could that have been cold enough to kill that many? If so, I am going to have a problem because it gets MUCH colder than that during hard winter here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yunzow View Post
    What is their water source?
    They have access to a couple chicken waterers around 20 ft away.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yunzow View Post
    Cute hive btw, where did you get it from?
    I built it myself of course!

    Quote Originally Posted by Yunzow View Post
    Best solution would be to add some brood comb if you can get some?
    Being my only hive and having rather unusual top bars I don't have access to any additional brood comb. That being said there are about four bars that are nearly completely full of brood so hopefully that will be enough.


    Thanks for everyone's help and support!

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Denver Metro Area CO, USA
    Posts
    1,902

    Default Re: Sudden package die off

    I had a swarm trapped on 5/13 die in the trap druing the storm, I moved them to the yard and put 1/2 gal of 2-1 on them before the storm.. a few sluggish ones left in the bottom. No issues with the outer traps/nucs/hives in the same yard. They took all the syrup and still died, no resources in the comb so I assume they starved

    I don't see any capped stores above the brood in your photo, feed 2-1 till they stop taking it!
    you mention capped brood but not open or eggs
    if you don't have much they may have been cannibalizing the eggs/younger larvae to provide protein for older brood

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Forsyth, Missouri
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    663

    Default Re: Sudden package die off

    Do you have a divider board in the hive or is it open beyond the drawn frames?
    With that much brood the bees would have been spread out purity thin trying to keep the brood warm.
    Look to see if they start pulling dead brood out and if so I would say they died trying to save the hive.
    Zone 6b 1400'

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Denver Metro Area, Colorado
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    4

    Default Re: Sudden package die off

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoot Owl Lane Bees View Post
    Do you have a divider board in the hive or is it open beyond the drawn frames?
    With that much brood the bees would have been spread out purity thin trying to keep the brood warm.
    Look to see if they start pulling dead brood out and if so I would say they died trying to save the hive.
    I do have a divider board. It was probably 5 bars back from the last comb in order to make room for the feeder so there was some open space.

    I noticed only 2 dead brood in the pile of dead bees. The hive did seem to be what I would describe as "brood bound" (as opposed to "honey bound") it seemed that every available cell on every fully drawn out comb had capped brood and there was no real room for stores or even eggs. That being said, today I checked and almost half of the brood seems to have emerged. Their cells are now empty (except for a few which now have young brood and eggs) and the number of bees in the hive seems almost back to what it was last week before the storm. Also now the bees seem to have much less variety in their markings and colorations from what they had before (presumably because now a much greater number have the same mother and are the same age).

    I guess if they died by spreading themselves too thin in order to save their brood, then they did a successful job of it (even if they took heavy losses in the process)

    My hopes are back up now that they seem to be recovering somewhat from whatever event caused the losses. I will continue to feed as much as I can and see what the future holds for them.

    Again thanks everyone for your input.

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