Why did my bees die - summer edition
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  1. #1
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    May 2018
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    Default Why did my bees die - summer edition

    This was a new nuc in May, it never really took off and just kept shrinking uniil it was completely gone. Signes of robbing, no mites on the bottom board, no sticky residue on dead pupas. Can anyone help? Can I reuse these frames with a new nuc?













    Any help and advice appreciated.

    Z

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    Northern Lower Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Why did my bees die - summer edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Zanotti View Post
    This was a new nuc in May, it never really took off and just kept shrinking uniil it was completely gone. Signes of robbing, no mites on the bottom board, no sticky residue on dead pupas. Can anyone help? Can I reuse these frames with a new nuc?













    Any help and advice appreciated.

    Z
    Ok as I do not know what truly happened , this is my opinion. I take combs from dead outs or questionable hives and get a bucket of water from the pool.
    This water has Chlorine , algeicide and some nice fun stuff in it, obviously meant for killing pathogens. Especially in pic #2 where the dead larvae are in it. I fill the cells with the water and shake it out several times. IE rinse with disinfectant type water. if the crud is dried in I may let is set for an hour then shake it out. The comb seems cleaner and smells better. These combs I would give back to a strong hive. Or if you think you had a bad demise then burn it all, that is the other end of the spectrum. This looks to me like you were done in by Mites, and the 7-10 virus they vector, I would also make a 30 day break in the bees dieing and you using the comb over. Many pathogens have a short shelf live like a week or 2. Miejer, Menards etc carry pool stuff look for a bag of "Shock" I bag is good for like 10,000 gallons so a 5 gal bucket would be like 1/2000 of a bag, meaning a spoon full is plenty. Chlorine bleach from your laundry supplies is also fine. Spice the water so to have a slight smell , not stronger than pool smell. Realize chlorine goes away in the open air in like a week, so treat the frame let them dry for a week or more, total time away from the dieing hive 30 days or more and reuse. Others will offer their advise , I guess you pick 1 or do what your gut tells you. If you get a second die out you may want to be more drastic next time. I also would not put 10 frames into 10 different hives, use the comb in 1 or 2 put in your notes that you did this so in the future if something happens you have the history.

    GG
    PS open some of the sealed brood, look for slimy sticky gooey stuff, this in bad,, if it is just a dried dead bee then likely you are ok
    GG

  4. #3
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    May 2018
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    Default Re: Why did my bees die - summer edition

    GG
    PS open some of the sealed brood, look for slimy sticky gooey stuff, this in bad,, if it is just a dried dead bee then likely you are ok
    GG

    I did do this, and nothing smelly or runny. I am hoping to rule out AFB because of this.

  5. #4
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    Jun 2014
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    Warren County, NJ, USA
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    Default Re: Why did my bees die - summer edition

    i would say PMS that led to an abscond. there is frass. dont rely solely on mite drop. some might say look for EFB.
    this is one nuc. that didnt grow. likely you have at most ten frames effected. toss em and cough up the $30 to start fresh. then you will never have to question yourself.
    either way, find another source for your next nuc. suggest getting two so you can compare them and notice when something is not right before its too late.

  6. #5
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    Jun 2017
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    St. Lawrence County, N.Y.
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    Default Re: Why did my bees die - summer edition

    Well, my two hives just started out from a very cold spring and dwindled to almost nothing. On July 6th I fogged them with oxalic acid and started using formigilin B in their sugar water. On the 16th both hives had active bees going in and out of the hive. The second hive was a split from the first with a new queen I bought. Today, both hives are starting to show signs of activity increase with a small increase in numbers leaving and entering the hives. One more oxa treatment in 10 days and will feed formigilin B for a total of one gallon for each hive. Going to check for dead mites from a removable bottom board with a microscope in the next couple days.

  7. #6
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    Jun 2016
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    washington, vermont, USA
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    368

    Default Re: Why did my bees die - summer edition

    Blk a couple oav treatments mid summer is not enough to get a high crashing from mites under control. You may delay the inevitable but if you don't hammer those mites to NOTHING it's doubtful that they will ever regain strength to overwinter. Chances are they have virus' being vectored by the mites which is leading to increase in early mortality of the bees. Meaning they are never able to get ahead the queen is constantly just able to replace #s.

  8. #7
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    Jun 2017
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    Default Re: Why did my bees die - summer edition

    Thanks for the feed back vtbeeguy. My basic plan was to treat every 10 days. Will do so every 10 days for four of five more treatments. Do you think I should do something different?

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Why did my bees die - summer edition

    zanotti, looks a lot like european foul brood.

    if so you frames can retain active bacteria in the honey and beebread, and be the source for re-contamination

    consider sending a sample to the bee lab in beltsville, maryland (free) or ordering the vita efb test kit from a bee supply company.

    efb is a more likely reason for this in the early season, whereas pms is a more likely reason in the late season.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  10. #9
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    May 2014
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    Gainesboro, Tennessee
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    Default Re: Why did my bees die - summer edition

    Quote Originally Posted by vtbeeguy View Post
    Blk a couple oav treatments mid summer is not enough to get a high crashing from mites under control. You may delay the inevitable but if you don't hammer those mites to NOTHING it's doubtful that they will ever regain strength to overwinter. Chances are they have virus' being vectored by the mites which is leading to increase in early mortality of the bees. Meaning they are never able to get ahead the queen is constantly just able to replace #s.
    Right and if the colony is weak and the viruses have taken hold even if you killed the mites the colony would be extremely hard to fix. We don't even bother fixing them if we happen to see one. We do reuse the combs we no problems. We just let them air out for a couple of weeks. Mites and viruses, too often we underrate them. Likely the nuc was set up with high mite loads and if the supplier was really dishonest started it with frames that he should have known had virus symptoms.
    i
    Splitting a first year hive successfully https://youtu.be/ZfRTreQ-S9c

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Why did my bees die - summer edition

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    zanotti, looks a lot like european foul brood.

    if so you frames can retain active bacteria in the honey and beebread, and be the source for re-contamination

    consider sending a sample to the bee lab in beltsville, maryland (free) or ordering the vita efb test kit from a bee supply company.

    efb is a more likely reason for this in the early season, whereas pms is a more likely reason in the late season.
    Alot of nucs are made off of Almond bees so mite levels and viruses could easily be out of control. Especially if the keeper was feeding patties thru winter. Just in my season my strong hives can easily produce 10,000-15,000 mites a year.
    Splitting a first year hive successfully https://youtu.be/ZfRTreQ-S9c

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Why did my bees die - summer edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Tennessee's Bees LLC View Post
    Alot of nucs are made off of Almond bees so mite levels and viruses could easily be out of control. Especially if the keeper was feeding patties thru winter. Just in my season my strong hives can easily produce 10,000-15,000 mites a year.
    understood. can you tell by looking at the op's photos whether it is a viral vs. a bacterial infection that led to the gradual dwindling and collapse of the colony?
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #12
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    Jun 2016
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    Default Re: Why did my bees die - summer edition

    Well, dwindling - my first thought is queen issues. But that brood was looking acceptable - the poor bees tried. So, we can rule out queen issues at the end, anyways - though if they swarmed or superceded a weak queen, then the hive could dwindle while the new queen is getting set up. And while they were weak, they could be robbed. I'd rule out queen issues though. That hive became unable to feed brood very quickly.

    Also with dwindling - what was the pattern of the capped brood? before the hive was dwindling? was it spotty capped brood, or fairly solidly laid? If solidly laid, I would rule out a brood disease. So, solidly laid for me is fewer than 10% of cells missing in a section, so not many where 2 empty slots are touching.

    If you never saw solid capped brood, or don't know what it looks like, just don't risk it - toss the comb. (you can reuse the wooden frame, put new foundation in. Bees don't lick the wood frame much.)

    But... the elephant in the room here... what were the mite levels? Best way to tell is by using an alcohol wash. If that was not done, you should look for mite frass - tip the comb upside down, look for tiny white flecks on the ROOF of the cells (so the bottom when tipped upside down). Looks like tiny dots of powdered sugar. If you see more than 2 in a 7x7 grid of brood cells, then you had a mite infestation. 7x7 is 49, so 2 in that size grid is 4%, and that starts adding up to dead bees really quickly.

    I had a hive dwindle to nothing - I did not treat in fall, they overwintered, come spring they had 2 frames with bees and beaucoup mites. And eggs. SHe was trying.

    I would suggest looking into treating as soon as you get your bees, next time, in the spring - get a clean slate going on. If you have any other colonies in the yard, treat ASAP. Use Apivar, or if you're doing OAV, do it until you see 30 mites or less drop on the screened bottom board insert (or clean the solid board, put a placemat in for 2 days) at day 2 post treatment. Might take 5 or 6.

    Losing a hive happens to us all. Gotta try to learn from it.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Why did my bees die - summer edition

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    understood. can you tell by looking at the op's photos whether it is a viral vs. a bacterial infection that led to the gradual dwindling and collapse of the colony?
    I truthfully cannot be certain with the pictures. When I see viruses I typically see multiple problems, uncapped purple-eyed stage brood, bald brood, EFB melted down larvae, chalkbrood, and sometimes DWV. Often times I see a queen laying a fair bit of eggs but it never amounts to anything. I believe one of the biggest issues we face is accurate diagnoses of what truly is causing the issues. It is is hard as often one problem leads to another and in my experience we have to sort thru what started the whole thing. As many know I always blame the mites/viruses first and go from there.
    Splitting a first year hive successfully https://youtu.be/ZfRTreQ-S9c

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Why did my bees die - summer edition

    Here is one of your pics, with arrows drawn to indicate larvae that appear to be infected with EFB, there are more that i didn't arrow. Although having said that, the hive has been dead a while so impossible to say with 100% certainty.

    Your mite treatment regime was inadequate and mite numbers were likely high, although little or no evidence of death by mites from your pics, would need to see some capped brood. If there really was near zero capped brood through the hive, could have been EFB killing the brood before it got to capping stage.

    No honey stores visible.

    Could be a combo of factors.

    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Why did my bees die - summer edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Zanotti View Post
    Can I reuse these frames with a new nuc?
    unless you get a definitive diagnosis reusing the frames would be risky not only for the new nuc, but for any other colonies near by if it turns out to be efb, because efb is very contagious and spreads easily by simple drifting and eventual robbing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Tennessee's Bees LLC View Post
    I truthfully cannot be certain with the pictures.
    same here tb, and without being certain it's hard to make the call on reusing the frames.


    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Here is one of your pics, with arrows drawn to indicate larvae that appear to be infected with EFB, there are more that i didn't arrow. Although having said that, the hive has been dead a while so impossible to say with 100% certainty.

    Could be a combo of factors.
    excellent reply coming from a well-seasoned beekeeping veteran.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Why did my bees die - summer edition

    Viruses or efb we never throw away the combs. Just let them air out for a while. AFB would be a different story but thankfully none of that has ever been here. I just sent in some comb and bee samples to the University of Maryland and using the old combs seems to be working for us.
    Splitting a first year hive successfully https://youtu.be/ZfRTreQ-S9c

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