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Went into the winter with two hives. Both are double deep 8 frames. Both had been treated with Apivar and mite counts were good. We had a warm wet winter. One hive seemed to be struggling and then we had a full week of rain and then a full week of temps from Below freezing to mid 40’s with more rain.

Inspected the struggling hive today temps mid 60’s. Dead, looks like they starved out. I don’t it some Mt Camp sugar on them right before the rain started but I guess it was to late. Bottom deep all empty cells. 2nd deep had 3 frames with honey on one side and a cluster of dead bees on one of the frames. Cluster maybe tennis ball size.

Took apart the second hive. Good number of bees although they were pretty much out of food. I gave them the three frames with honey from the dead out. I looked at every frame and no brood, eggs, or larvae. I looked for the queen but did not see her. I wonder if the last ten days with mornings below freezing got her? This hive was growing before the bad weather set in. The did have some pollen.

I have a 3# package coming next Saturday, and the soonest I can get a local queen is the first week of April. I was thinking about putting a frame with new eggs from the package queen in the old hive hoping if they need a queen they will start making one before the local queen is ready.
 

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I don't believe your hive starved. With that small amount of bees sounds more like they succumbed to mites. Don't have to be lots of them when the winter bees are raised in order to compromise your winter nest. They simply have to many bees die out before spring and sputter out and fail. Last be very careful about taking stuff from a package however since you have drawn comb you could grab a partial frame of eggs. They won't have much invested into it but be careful. Good luck
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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We have had some of that same cruddy weather here in VA. My hive inspections today showed a lot less open brood than there had been last week. Plenty of capped brood, some eggs, and hives still strong with bees. I think lack of incoming pollen caused the queens to take a break. Noted that all the pollen patties were gone and most of the sub in the feeder, but not all. No pollen in the frames. Around 15:00 weather got nice and the bees were out foraging in force, primarily pollen. So, get a patty on that broodless hive before you write off the queen. She may very well be gone but she might be waiting for brood food.
 

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Alison did a full check yesterday afternoon and confirmed one colony that we were sure was dead was dead. It was the newest and weakest. The NUC on the front porch also succumbed...we hadn't tried overwintering a NUC previously. However, one of the other five colonies that we thought was done has a small, but very much alive cluster which was good news. The two losses are our first winter losses since she started beekeeping three years ago, so while it's disappointing, it's a better situation than some local folks who haven't faired so well. All five remaining had food added and hopefully, we'll start getting some warmer weather going forward.
 

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Do you know if the Apivar was effective? A mite check now is feedback about whether that plan worked.

For the dying hive, realize that all the mites have concentrated onto the live bees. If you combined them with the other hive, then they got more than bees. You can check the dead bees in a hive for mite to see if the levels were too high. Do an alcohol wash on them as though it was a bunch of live bees.

Consider treating for mites now in your surviving hive, and in your upcoming package. This broodless time is a great opportunity to start with a clean slate. I have been treating fall and winter with OAV, and I am very happy with consistently low summer mite counts. But I will treat anyways every fall/winter, until I get a mite drop post treatment of 10-20. That holds me over quite well so far.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
After the Apivar I did a mite count. Got 2 mites in the alcohol wash. I also hit each hive with a single OAV treatment in January on a +50f day. I did not do a mite wash after the OAV.

Our weather this week is supposed to be decent, only one day of rain and temps are nicer. I added a pollen patty to the hive yesterday afternoon, and figure I will check them again this weekend in the hopes that maybe I will have some eggs. If no eggs, do you think they hive will survive until I can get a new queen in 3wks?
 

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If no eggs, do you think they hive will survive until I can get a new queen in 3wks?
That means 6 weeks until you start getting new bees. If the hive truly is queenless, I'd say there's a good chance the hive won't survive this delay.

I'd do my best to beg, borrow, or steal a new queen ASAP.





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Hopefully, your Queen was waiting for pollen as JW suggested. I don't know how long it will take her to start laying if that is the situation.

Be wary of laying workers when searching for eggs.

Good luck
Alex
 

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If possible, check the second/treated hive again for mites. Sometimes the bees go robbing, and bring back a bunch of mites. I had a hive do that - I saw them come back from robbing on 11/1 (their return flight was pretty different, like robbers but the same dark carniolan bees I've had, and no fighting from the house bees). They were dead by 1/5. So, 8 weeks to die from imported mites.

If the bees went robbing after the Jan OAV, then you will find 1) lots of mites on the dead bees and the bottom board, and 2) little mite frass in the cells in the center of the hive, or where the brood is. This is important feedback about whether your hives died from robbing a deadout - could happen again this year.

So just to be clear, your bees might not have had mites until the went robbing a weaker hive dying of mites on a fly day in the winter.

I plan to OAV about every 3 wks in the fall, after a fly day, to kill off any imported mites. I don't have many beeks around so far, but new ones crop up here and there... in fact, when I find a nearby apiary, I treat their hives with my OAV rig to protect my hives...
 
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