Where did my bees go?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Harleysville, PA, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Where did my bees go?

    Okay— we are in PA. We winterized our hives in early November (candy board, quilt box, wrap). The hive was doing well regarding population, brood, mite numbers, Queen presence, and resources. Today was warm enough to open the hive and — all our bees are gone. What would have made them abscond?!?! I’m so sad, and don’t want a repeat performance next year.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Williamsport, PA
    Posts
    488

    Default Re: Where did my bees go?

    Same happened to me this year. Just chalked it up to "one of those things" and am moving on.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Catskills, Delaware Cty, New York, USA
    Posts
    1,691

    Default Re: Where did my bees go?

    Well, I hate to bring up varroa but bees are known to abscond from that. Varroa mites, at least here, were extremely bad last year. I had some false alcohol washes this past year, rolling maybe 1 or 2 mites, with others 5, treated all 20 hives anyway, and Iím happy I did. I had some big drops on hives that rolled low.
    Proverbs 16:24

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Seattle WA
    Posts
    1,202

    Default Re: Where did my bees go?

    It is like deja vu! Please read the thread in the bee forum section:

    https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...f-a-mite-crash

    This looks like classic case.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Harleysville, PA, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default

    Thank you for the responses. We did continually sugar shake and we treated once with Apiguard in September and then did an oxalic drip before winterizing in November. Do you still think it’s mites?

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    4,143

    Default Re: Where did my bees go?

    Quote Originally Posted by JenGavin View Post
    Do you still think it’s mites?
    Based on the information you have provided, yes. Other options less likely include late swarm with a failed requeening. Again, not high on the list.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Harleysville, PA, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default

    J.W. Palmer: So should one just treat continually regardless of sugar shake results?

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    4,143

    Default Re: Where did my bees go?

    Jengavin, I think that sugar shakes are not as reliable as alcohol washes. I also believe that an OAV treatment is a very reliable indicator of total mite load as approximately 20% of the total will fall while the hive has brood. Trick there is to time the additional treatments to kill the other 80%. I start sporadically treating with vapor in July, primarily as a monitoring tool. To me, the apiary is a single unit. All hives get treated if even one shows a higher than expected mite drop. By September I am treating pretty much every week, work permitting. I stop treating weekly once the bees stop foraging as there will be no new mites coming into the hives. I treat again in late Nov. when they are broodless and last treatment is around Christmas. I missed the Christmas one this year and all the hives have capped brood now so opportunity lost. Even with regular treatments, I had a hive come up beeless myself this past Nov.. No mite frass, plenty of honey, just no bees. It happens sometimes and we are left to wonder.
    Last edited by JWPalmer; 01-11-2020 at 11:10 PM.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Harleysville, PA, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default

    J.W. Palmer: Thank you so much for taking the time to explain. We will be purchasing an OAV with our new nucs this year!!!!

  11. #10

    Default Re: Where did my bees go?

    Hey JenGavin, I did a half treatment of Apiguard on my bees and decided not to do the full treatment because at the time the bees were already weak and when I saw them pulling brood out due to Apiguard I didn't feel comfortable about it. So on I think the 30th Dec 2019 I had a gut feeling that I should treat for mites so I put in some Apivar strips. Below are a couple of videos I took of the mites at the entrance of the hive. These little boogers are serious and as some people point out, they could be caring all kinds of viruses.

    24hrs after Apivar Strips: https://youtu.be/0h1uM9SAB5w

    About 3 Days after Apivar Strips: https://youtu.be/2DECmlpLmYI

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Campbell River, BC, CA
    Posts
    1,685

    Default Re: Where did my bees go?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Jengavin, I think that sugar shakes are not as reliable as alcohol washes.
    The sugar shake done properly is just as good as an achohol wash. The fallicay of the sugar shake is that it can be done without killing bees. If you dont shake hard enough and long enough to get mites off the bees, they will survive. OTOH, if you do it well enough to get the mites off the bees, then the bees will be damaged beyond surviving anyways.

    This is actually quite easy to validate. After you do a sugar shake, do an alchohol wash on the same cup of bees. If you have mites from the alchohol wash, then sugar shake wasn't hard enough and/or long enough to get all the mites. When you get to the point you reliably get all the mites from a sugar shake, then instead of alchohol wash, leave that cup of bees in a nice warm spot for half an hour, see how many are dead and how many flew back to the hive.

    I've got the t-shirt, been there, done that. What this exercise tells you, properly done sugar shake will kill the bees as dead as an achohol wash. If the bees aren't dieing from the sugar shake, then you aren't getting a reliable mite count either.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Catskills, Delaware Cty, New York, USA
    Posts
    1,691

    Default Re: Where did my bees go?

    We did this at a Bee Wellness workshop at Cornell with Randy O and Megan Milbrath teaching. We did the wash and shake, one came out 1 bee difference, another was the same count. The trick with the sugar shake is to let the sugar shaked bees sit for a while so they get hot, and the mites hate the warmth and disengage from the bees body; the shaking moves them off and through the screen or whatever you are using. We needed 2 jars/cups (only had 1) so a trip to the fabric store to buy tulle fabric and then was used with 2 drinking cups, like red Solo cups, for the alcohol wash. Worked good in a pinch. Tulle fabric is the fluffy/stiff looking material a ballet dancer might have in her skirt while dancing pointe.
    Proverbs 16:24

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