Where did my bee's go?
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  1. #1

    Default Where did my bee's go?

    I'm not sure where to ask this so I will just explain what happened. I live in Mojave, Ca, the desert. We have a hive and there came a point about a month or so ago that I was worried because the girls were not out and about. My husband said it was probably too cold for them to go out or windy. A couple of days ago I opened the hive and we found that there were a couple of clumps of dead bees stuck to the frame but nothing else. We can't understand if they died and why or just left the colony. Our neighbor behind us has 2 oleander bushes in his back yard and there is one next door, so I was wondering could they have been poisened or what might have happened to them. We harvested the honey from the frames and got quite a bit of honey but the bottom box, the frames were dark brown. In an attempt to save the frames, I started scraping the wax and it was black and very smelly, I'm assuming they were dead baby bees waiting to hatch. Any one have any idea what might have happened to them? Do you think the cold killed them or something else? I'm baffled by this and was hoping someone here could help. We have 2 new sets of bee's coming in April, along with another hive kit, and we've cleaned up all traces of the former hive. But I'm just dumbfounded as to what happened and don't want it to happen again, it's expensive to replace all those bees. Thanks in advance.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Posts
    336

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    Bees can die for a whole lot of reasons and it's difficult to say without seeing photos of all the frames, how much food was left, condition of the brood, testing, etc etc.

    Dark comb is normal in the brood chamber. The "dirt" the ladies bring in from the outside makes the comb darker as well as the casings from the brood. If it was a strong sour smell, however, can be a sign of a brood disease like EFB or AFB which you'll DEFINITELY want to confirm it's not as this will only kill your other hives - using the same equipment and spreading the bacteria. But it could also be the dead brood simply rotting in the comb. Again, you'll want to do some research and/or order a test kit for EFB and AFB (if you didn't already dispose of all the brood comb which is required for the test).

    I've had hives die and I've never been able to figure out why.

    To play it safe, you will want to clean your equipment VERY WELL before reusing it. Bleach and many other methods don't work to kill some dormant stages of EFB/AFB so my favorite method is using a landscape torch and burning the living crap out of the inside of my equipment. I'll even scorch the frames to make sure all the surfaces are properly scorched and heated. The landscape torch can turn pine bright red within about .5 seconds and if properly done doesn't harm any of the equipment - and I've found the bees love it (theory being that they would naturally live in a burned out, hollow tree/log)

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    5,452

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    How did you manage the bees for mites?

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Boston, MA, USA
    Posts
    234

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    It is helpful to post some pictures of the dead bees and of the now empty brood frames where you found the clump.

    You may find these hive autopsy/necropsy links helpful. They included

    https://www.beverlybees.com/how-to-a...ey-bee-colony/

    http://mainebeekeepers.org/informati...aster-strikes/

    'started scraping the wax and it was black and very smelly"

    This is concerning, black pupa that smell can be a indicator of American foulbrood. "A good field test is to touch a dead larva with a toothpick or twig. It will be sticky and "ropey" (drawn out). Foulbrood also has a characteristic odor, and experienced beekeepers with a good sense of smell can often detect the disease upon opening a hive." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_foulbrood

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Posts
    336

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    How did you manage the bees for mites?
    Very good question.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    Quote Originally Posted by mtnmyke View Post
    Bees can die for a whole lot of reasons and it's difficult to say without seeing photos of all the frames, how much food was left, condition of the brood, testing, etc etc.

    Dark comb is normal in the brood chamber. The "dirt" the ladies bring in from the outside makes the comb darker as well as the casings from the brood. If it was a strong sour smell, however, can be a sign of a brood disease like EFB or AFB which you'll DEFINITELY want to confirm it's not as this will only kill your other hives - using the same equipment and spreading the bacteria. But it could also be the dead brood simply rotting in the comb. Again, you'll want to do some research and/or order a test kit for EFB and AFB (if you didn't already dispose of all the brood comb which is required for the test).

    I've had hives die and I've never been able to figure out why.

    To play it safe, you will want to clean your equipment VERY WELL before reusing it. Bleach and many other methods don't work to kill some dormant stages of EFB/AFB so my favorite method is using a landscape torch and burning the living crap out of the inside of my equipment. I'll even scorch the frames to make sure all the surfaces are properly scorched and heated. The landscape torch can turn pine bright red within about .5 seconds and if properly done doesn't harm any of the equipment - and I've found the bees love it (theory being that they would naturally live in a burned out, hollow tree/log)

    Sadly the old frames went out in the trash today. The smell was like something was rotten. Rather than try to clean the frames, we just ordered new ones and threw those in the trash.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #7

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    After doing research, my husband used mineral oil to lightly spray them.

  9. #8

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    The only link that worked was the American foulbrood. But thanks for the info.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    North Alabama
    Posts
    124

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    The one sure thing I have learned from Beesource, is that Mites are the cause for nearly everything.

    I have never heard of using mineral oil for mites. Very creative.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Boston, MA, USA
    Posts
    234

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweet Honey Posh View Post
    The only link that worked was the American foulbrood. But thanks for the info.

    Fixed the link:


    How to Autopsy a Honey Bee Colony
    https://www.beverlybees.com/how-to-a...ey-bee-colony/

    Hive Autopsy Chart
    http://mainebeekeepers.org/wp-conten...opsy-Chart.pdf

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Rib Lake WI
    Posts
    1,699

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweet Honey Posh View Post
    After doing research, my husband used mineral oil to lightly spray them.
    there is a lot of BAD info out there here are a few names to listen to
    Randy Oliver and Michael Palmer and they are fun to listen to

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Rome, GA
    Posts
    369

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweet Honey Posh View Post
    A couple of days ago I opened the hive and we found that there were a couple of clumps of dead bees stuck to the frame but nothing else.
    Sounds like they starved. How much stores were in the dead hive when you checked?
    Let's Eat Grandmaw ........... Let's Eat, Grandmaw.......Grammar Saves Lives

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    9,881

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweet Honey Posh View Post
    Any one have any idea what might have happened to them? Do you think the cold killed them or something else?
    Yes to both. The cold killed them.

    But it wouldn't have killed them if they had not been first weakened by varroa mites and the viruses they spread, which would not have been efficiently dealt with by the mineral oil.

    New beekeepers should use mite treatments known to work reliably, such as apivar strips, and only experiment with dodgy treatments if they wish, once they have gained a decent amount of experience with bees.
    "Thinking Inside The Box"

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Boston, MA, USA
    Posts
    234

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    agree. 90% of the time it is mites. The mites weaken the hive and compromise its immune system until some other stress provides the final end.

  16. #15

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    Quote Originally Posted by Haveuseen1? View Post
    I have never heard of using mineral oil for mites. Very creative.
    Fatbeeman started that crap with a fogger on youtube quite a while back. Then asked for a donation.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Scott county, Arkansas, Usa
    Posts
    1,379

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    I'm sorry you lost your bees. Such things happen. Learn from your mistakes and get some more bees. Be wary of the snake oil salesmen, or in this case, the Mineral oil salesmen.

    I think I remember hearing that fat bee man has moved on to OAV. I guess those old You tube vids extolling the virtues of greasy bees are still up, doing damage like a fish trap that has come undone lying at the bottom off the sea.

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

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Posts
    336

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    Your brood and pattern look healthy and I don't see any sunken cells or dead larvae in there to really suspect a brood disease.

    Also, by cold, what exactly do you mean? You're out in the desert and your definition would undoubtedly be different than our Canadian neighbors. In Santa Cruz, most people claim it's too cold to go outside at 40 degrees.

    I'd also suspect mites at this point. Spraying mineral oil doesn't do anything other than make bees sticky and probably assists in killing them. Those that claim it does work - has to be fogged through a pesticide fogger - which I wouldn't waste my money on.

    With your new packages make sure to have a plan for treatment. Ask you supplier the last time they were treated so you know what to expect as far as mites already in the package. Plan on treating them right away if necessary and again in the fall.

    Find a local supplier of a good mite treatment such as MAQS or invest in an oxalic acid vaporizer. These are tested and proven ways to kill mites giving you a better chance of success next winter.

  19. #18

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    Quote Originally Posted by mtnmyke View Post
    Your brood and pattern look healthy and I don't see any sunken cells or dead larvae in there to really suspect a brood disease.

    Also, by cold, what exactly do you mean? You're out in the desert and your definition would undoubtedly be different than our Canadian neighbors. In Santa Cruz, most people claim it's too cold to go outside at 40 degrees.

    I'd also suspect mites at this point. Spraying mineral oil doesn't do anything other than make bees sticky and probably assists in killing them. Those that claim it does work - has to be fogged through a pesticide fogger - which I wouldn't waste my money on.

    With your new packages make sure to have a plan for treatment. Ask you supplier the last time they were treated so you know what to expect as far as mites already in the package. Plan on treating them right away if necessary and again in the fall.

    Find a local supplier of a good mite treatment such as MAQS or invest in an oxalic acid vaporizer. These are tested and proven ways to kill mites giving you a better chance of success next winter.
    I believe it got to the lowest so far, maybe 18-20 degrees. And we did invest in a pesticide fogger for the mineral oil and a fan that lightly sprays the oil through the hive without soaking the bees. There were quite a few dead bee's in the past months in front of the hive. I assusmed it was the summer bee's dying off. Also, there was a point when there were some white looking dead bee's that my husband thought had died in the hive and the other bee's pulled them out of the hive. I also purchased a pollen collector to prevent as much oleander pollen from entering the hive. I'm not sure how much they would have to eat in order to poisin them but I didn't want to take a chance. Plus we were going to use the pollen for something else. I'm super relived to hear that the brood pattern looked healthy. And when attempting to clean the brood frames to use the pattern of the honeycomb to make soap, the wax and dead larve easily came off but turned out to be too much for me to mess with since we could buy new frames for my needs. IF it were affected by the American Foulbrood, would that effect the honey we harvested from the other good frames? And thank you ALL for you input and help.

  20. #19

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    From what I read, varroa mites leave evidence in the bottom of the brood box and I didn't see anything like that in there, but it would be worth it to use a different mite treatment. Better to be safe than sorry. And it's pricey to have to keep replacing the bees. Thanks for your input.

  21. #20

    Default Re: Where did my bee's go?

    Thank you very much. I've saved them for future reference.

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