Empty Hives
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Thread: Empty Hives

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    Default Empty Hives

    I have been keeping bees for about 3 years. This year I bought 6 nucs. I have 5 original hives. Today I went to do an inspection and three of the six hives are empty. Not a bee in it. Last time I checked was 2 weeks ago and they seemed fine. I was a little surprised that they werenít filling in the other frames. I picked them up on 5/23.

    I have not had a problem with bees at all. They always seemed to flourish and do well. They have morning sun and evening shade and there is a pond about 50 yards away. The only thing Iíve done different is I started open feeding a pollen substitute. As far as I know the land owners nearby donít use any pesticides.

    Does this just happen sometimes? Is there something Iím doing wrong?

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  3. #2
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    Apr 2017
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    Default Re: Empty Hives

    God, I hate to start beating this drum so early, but it sounds like mites. I am noticing issues myself right now and the Apivar won't be here until Tuesday.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
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    Apr 2016
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    Newtown, CT, USA
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    Default Re: Empty Hives

    Gearup,

    Search the Thread "Anatomy of a mite crash" on bee source and read all of It specially where I ask the OP why bees abscond a hive. Same thing happen to me last fall, around Nov. I was confused!

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    Mountain Home, Arkansas
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    48

    Default Re: Empty Hives

    Gearup, treat the empty hive with oxalic acid vapor or some miteacide and count the dead mites. Then you will know if mites are the source.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Empty Hives

    Here ya go. If you can even just take the time to read the first post of this thread, it may prove very helpful.

    https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...f-a-mite-crash
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  7. #6
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    bethel oh usa
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    Default Re: Empty Hives

    What did you see when you opened the hives? Was there any cappings on the bottom boards? Any chance they got robbed out? I lost a mini nuc a couple of days ago to robbing. Maybe look for mite droppings in the cells to confirm the mite issue.

  8. #7
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    May 2017
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    Caney, OK
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    Default Re: Empty Hives

    When I opened one hive I just saw comb. Another hive was covered in wax moth web. There were ants in all three hives. I didn’t see any dead bees. No capped brood or anything so I’m assuming they’ve been gone for a while. The other three nucs that I purchased seemed to be doing well. I watch for mites but I’ve never seen one. I’m guessing that they are red and easily seen on a bee. Did these bees die? If they died they must have died elsewhere. Did they pack up and find another home? If the problem is mites then I’m guessing they had mites before I got them.
    Last edited by Gearup; 07-15-2018 at 07:41 PM.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Empty Hives

    "I watch for mites but Iíve never seen one". That often said phrase should be added to the compedium of famous last words

    "Iím guessing that they are read and easily seen on a bee". And that.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  10. #9
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    Denver Metro Area CO, USA
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    Default Re: Empty Hives

    but it all starts with "I was a little surprised that they weren’t filling in the other frames"
    to the OP
    look up how to do a mite roll/wash, your other hives may be in trouble as mites can domino threw a yard.
    I have spent time helping guys who have "never seen a mite", show them how to do a alcohol wash on a hive and there almost 50 mites per 300 bees.... And yes back in my TF days i had never seen a mite, and my hives died,it was always something else that killed them cause I didn't have mites, and when you don't have mites you don't take the time to learn about them, how to check for them, DWV, PMS etc, cause mites are only a problem for treaters.....the internet told me so

    I’m guessing they had mites before I got them.
    yep every nuc, every package in most parts of the world is going to have mites

    Last time I checked was 2 weeks ago and they seemed fine
    Obviously they weren't, take a moment and review your inspection protocol.. Ie you don't go from seeing eggs and young larva to no capped brood in 14 days. so something may be missing.

    Get some good picts of the brood comb and we can be of more help...

    could be mites, could be something like EFB or crap queens as well, a nuc not building up early gives me pause, as does the 50% failure rate... nucs can often out run the mites till later in the year.
    Last edited by msl; 07-15-2018 at 08:28 PM.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Empty Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    And yes back in my TF days i had never seen a mite, and my hives died,it was always something else that killed them cause I didn't have mites, and when you don't have mites you don't take the time to learn about them, how to check for them, DWV, PMS etc, cause mites are only a problem for treaters.....the internet told me so
    LOL, I remember those days

    I can actually remember posts (not from MSL), that would go something like "my hive is dead, why? I know it's not mites because I am treatment free". Then a whole lot of posts would come up suggesting anything from chemtrails to cell phone towers. Anything, long as it wasn't mites. And if someone did actually suggest mites, they would be shot down in flames by a crowd of angry folks, for having the temerity to suggest such a thing. The M word was about as toxic as the N word.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  12. #11
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Empty Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    but it all starts with "I was a little surprised that they weren’t filling in the other frames"
    to the OP
    look up how to do a mite roll/wash, your other hives may be in trouble as mites can domino threw a yard.
    I have spent time helping guys who have "never seen a mite", show them how to do a alcohol wash on a hive and there almost 50 mites per 300 bees.... And yes back in my TF days i had never seen a mite, and my hives died,it was always something else that killed them cause I didn't have mites, and when you don't have mites you don't take the time to learn about them, how to check for them, DWV, PMS etc, cause mites are only a problem for treaters.....the internet told me so


    yep every nuc, every package in most parts of the world is going to have mites


    Obviously they weren't, take a moment and review your inspection protocol.. Ie you don't go from seeing eggs and young larva to no capped brood in 14 days. so something may be missing.

    Get some good picts of the brood comb and we can be of more help...

    could be mites, could be something like EFB or crap queens as well, a nuc not building up early gives me pause, as does the 50% failure rate... nucs can often out run the mites till later in the year.
    I’ll get some pictures tomorrow and post them. Thanks for the advice.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Empty Hives

    Gearup,

    You say you have 5 original hives you have had for 3 years. Have they been treated for mites? How are they doing? Mite crashes usually occur middle of the second year. At least that was the way it was for me.

    I started with premium, throw away your chemicals, beekeeping like it was in the old days, bees. They suffered with mites just like I was told they would. Otherwise, they are good bees.

    I made a couple of 2 frame nucs with some good Queens for emergency use that I have not used. When you get your situation sorted out if you want them you can have them if you can pick them up. Or I can help you out next Spring.

    I live just East of the Ok. border.

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Empty Hives

    Duplicate
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Empty Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by AHudd View Post
    Gearup,

    You say you have 5 original hives you have had for 3 years. Have they been treated for mites? How are they doing? Mite crashes usually occur middle of the second year. At least that was the way it was for me.

    I started with premium, throw away your chemicals, beekeeping like it was in the old days, bees. They suffered with mites just like I was told they would. Otherwise, they are good bees.

    I made a couple of 2 frame nucs with some good Queens for emergency use that I have not used. When you get your situation sorted out if you want them you can have them if you can pick them up. Or I can help you out next Spring.

    I live just East of the Ok. border.

    Alex
    Alex,

    I started with 2 original packages in 2015. I split those in 2016. One was successful and the other not. I recombined one of them. This year I split two more hives successfully. Both hive were doing great until today when I noticed that one of the hives had no cappped brood. I took 3 frames full of eggs, larva and brood and swapped them with the broodless hive thinking that the queen died or they killed her or maybe I accidentally did. It just dawned on me that if the queenless hive was queenless because of mites I probably infected the strong hive.

    All the original hives seemed to be doing great. Lots of brood and lots and lots of bees. I always thought mites would be visible as the pictures I saw showed them on bees and they were big enough to see with the naked eye.
    Last edited by Gearup; 07-15-2018 at 09:34 PM.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Empty Hives

    Splitting is one of the strategies employed by TF beeks in that the bees can out breed the mites. I hate to say it, but I bet it's mites. They can be seen with the naked eye, but they are usually on the underside. If you are seeing them on their heads and thorax of bees while looking at a frame, they have them very bad. I you have drone brood you can find mites on them.

    I knew I was in trouble when I scraped Drone/burr comb and found some larvae with two mites.

    I have never done an alcohol wash, but I have done a sugar roll, which I no longer do either. Mites are there so I OAV twice a year when brood-less.

    Check out Randy Oliver site "Scientific Beekeeping". Lots of good info there.

    I guess the first thing I would say to do is figure out how many Queens you have so you can decide how many colonies can make by combining bees and resources.

    There is a treatment called OA Dribble that might work for emergencies. The method and formula is also on Randy Oliver site. I've never used it so I don't really know.

    OldTimer and MSL know a lot more about this than I do.

    Keep us posted.

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  17. #16

    Default Re: Empty Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Gearup View Post
    Iím guessing that they are red and easily seen on a bee.
    I was teaching a series of beekeeping classes. I had shown the students a sticky sheet with some mites so that they had actually seen some. Then I challenged them to find any mites in an established hive. We removed every frame and each was examined by a dozen students. A sharp eyed student spotted one mite. I applied a treatment of Apivar. Two weeks later the hive had dropped nearly 3000. YeahÖ.they are visible to the naked eye but still hard to see on a bee.

    Every nuc, every package and every colony of bees in the US and most of the world has them.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Empty Hives

    Some varroa reading material and information

    https://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/varroa/
    ďThe single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.Ē -George Bernard Shaw

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Empty Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Gearup View Post
    I noticed that one of the hives had no cappped brood. I took 3 frames full of eggs, larva and brood and swapped them with the broodless hive thinking that the queen died or they killed her or maybe I accidentally did.
    In that particular case it was probably not mites. If a hive is dying of mites during the brood raising season, they will normally have capped brood because in the final stages the adult bees are too weak to remove the dead ones. Sounds like that hive was queenless, which could be for several different reasons.

    However mites, or mite related issues, are one of the most common causes of hive deaths, if not the most common cause. So if you lost 3 out of 6 hives the logical thing is to check if any of that was mite related.

    Also, seems like your original hives are doing OK, but it was 3 of the 6 new ones that died? If so, it could be that your original hives are from a line of bees that have reasonable mite tolerance, but the new hives are from a line that can succumb quickly if not treated.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Empty Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    In that particular case it was probably not mites. If a hive is dying of mites during the brood raising season, they will normally have capped brood because in the final stages the adult bees are too weak to remove the dead ones. Sounds like that hive was queenless, which could be for several different reasons.

    However mites, or mite related issues, are one of the most common causes of hive deaths, if not the most common cause. So if you lost 3 out of 6 hives the logical thing is to check if any of that was mite related.

    Also, seems like your original hives are doing OK, but it was 3 of the 6 new ones that died? If so, it could be that your original hives are from a line of bees that have reasonable mite tolerance, but the new hives are from a line that can succumb quickly if not treated.
    The one thing I did notice of the six nucs. Some of the queens were darker than what I’m used to seeing. All my other queens are basically red in color. Some of the queens in the nucs are dark almost black. I had trouble finding the new queens because I was looking for a mostly reddish queen. I’ll check today and see if the remaining nucs have the dark or red queens.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Empty Hives

    One of the biggest problems that I see, is that certain high-profile individuals, some of whom have acquired guru status within the beekeeping community, are constantly bragging that they have been "treatment-free" for 10, 12, 15 years ... or whatever it is. Now I strongly suspect that what they are suggesting is that they have been adopting a "chemical-free" approach, but have most likely (which needs checking, of course) been adopting physical treatments (perhaps unwittingly) during that time - such as splits, brood breaks, drone comb removal and so on - which have succeeded in keeping their mite populations down to within manageable levels.

    And so the beginner reads about these "treatment-free" success stories, and - assuming that what is being meant is "chemical-free" - then proceeds to adopt a simplistic chemical-free beekeeping approach. All appears well for a couple of years (which reinforces the notion that 'chemicals' are unnecessary, and that those that use them are misguided) ... and then one day, when the Varroa population eventually overwhelms those colonies ... well, we know only too well the rest of that story.

    But what troubles me is that - in some cases having lost their entire apiary - the TF belief-system is so firmly established that they then proceed to talk about 'trying again' ! Like - they've learned absolutely nothing from that experience ... it must just have been 'bad luck'.

    At the risk of repeating myself, it appears that a confusion exists between the terms "treatment-free" and "chemical-free", and the two appear to be used inter-changeably. But - when I raised this particular issue on the Treatment-Free sub-forum a month or so back, I was shot down in flames and scolded like a naughty schoolboy, with that thread being duly locked. Apparently there is a 'rule' in force for the TF sub-forum which forbids any enquiry as to what "Treatment-Free" actually means !

    So - apparently, "Treatment-Free" can mean whatever you choose it to mean - and by this Humpty Dumpty local definition it has therefore become a term devoid of any real meaning. Is it such a surprise then that posts regarding sudden colony loss keep reappearing here with some regularity ?

    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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