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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
:(

Well it's been so nice here lately with an early spring, so I checked out my hives. What a let down. 9 out of 13 had died.

A couple had a massive, I repeat massive amount of dead bees on the bb. The others were just empty. The bees were gone! There was no starvation. Plenty of honey in all hives. Was this CCD? It's terrible! The 4 hives that did survive appear in good shape. I took a peak under the inner cover and they have good numbers.

I use sbb and there were no puddles anywhere. The hives were dry. One of the guys in my area thinks it was varoa. I did not treat last fall. In fact I have never treated. I hate chemicals. I wanted to go "natural". But if this is the price of going "natural" then I think I'll start treating.

Has anybody else experienced a lot die off?
 

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I lost 1 of 2 this spring. Some starvation, but plenty of stores in the hive. They made it all the way to late Feb. When the weather warmed slightly is when they died. The other hive seems to be OK.
 

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I wouldn't call it CCD... thats a term used too often, and really seems to be related to commercial hives that are trucked all over the country.

Might be useful to test the bee remains for nosema, check for AFB or any other brood diseases, and check the mite levels in the remaining hives.

I think some people have really suffered this year. Another local beekeeper told me he suffered 14/15 dead in one yard, and 4/5 dead in another.

I went into the winter with 6... 2 fairly weak(splits from last summer that never took off). So far I'm at 5 (1 weak was dead).

I'm planning to supplement with protein+pollen patties (GlobalPatties... they have an Ontario Distributor), and will be testing for nosema spores (Father coming to visit, and bringing his microscope). Need to do hive inspections, try to determine why the one hive died, and then decide if I need to treat for various issues (nosema, AFB, mites, etc).

If you are determined to go drug-free, you might want to explore alternative treatments for issues like mites... icing sugar treatments to dislodge mites, drone-brood removal, etc.
 

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One of the guys in my area thinks it was varoa. I did not treat last fall. In fact I have never treated. I hate chemicals. I wanted to go "natural". But if this is the price of going "natural" then I think I'll start treating.
I'm sorry for your losses- that's disheartening for sure. I lost my first and only hive this winter (their queen died in November), but I have two new colonies coming this Spring.

Everyone is different, but if i were you I would take those remaining four healthy hives that have not died of varroa or died of anything else, and I would split from those and hopefully go into next winter with 8 strong hives of mite resistant bees locally acclimatized. Sounds like you have 4 hives full of winners to breed from- don't quit and make them treatment dependent at this stage of the game- you are going in the right direction- breed from the hardy survivors!
Just my own humble opinion. :)
 

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Do you at least monitor for mites?

I do a sticky board in the fall now and then treat where it's needed.

Kind of sounds like you don't have any evidence to work with which stinks.

I guess the bright side is you have lots of drawn comb to work with now.

K
 

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I went into winter with my first and very strong hive. I have a small cluster
at the top, and plenty of honey. I did have lots of dead bees on bb also. I did treat for varrora and installed a drawer
on the bottom. I hope I have enough bees to go into the new season.
I am concerned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Do you at least monitor for mites?

I do a sticky board in the fall now and then treat where it's needed.

Kind of sounds like you don't have any evidence to work with which stinks.

I guess the bright side is you have lots of drawn comb to work with now.

K
You're right. It stinks not knowing. And no I did not monitor. I did an alcohol wash once but I was clumbsy and found it hard and not really indicative of anything. I took an over simplified approach. I used russian bees which are supposedly more varoa hardy and I used sbb but that's pretty much it. I just let nature take it's course. I saw a friend use formic acid and I didn't like all the hassle that went with it so I never tried that.

If anything, this loss has taught me that I need to become a better beekeeper. I remember a thread about "beekeeper vs beehaver". I silently took pride in the fact that I considered myself a beekeeper and not a beehaver. But I will humbly take my lumps. They're my girls and I love 'em so I gotta get more involved.

But my question remains: the bees were missing, gone, absent... is this caused by varroa?
 

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To monitor for mites, do the sugar roll method instead of the alcohol. Doesn't kill the bees and is really easy to do. I think it provides a good estimation of mite load assuming you follow the instructions.
 

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I did a quick search on absconding - not that yours did, but some of the threads did give some other possibilities for you to ponder.

As far as treatment is concerned, a formic pad is about the easiest I can imagine, shim the hive, throw the pad on top and remove in 21 days.
 

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Hey MichelinMan:
Don't feel like you are the only one. I have lost 7 of 19 so far and a couple more are iffy. I did counts but the one thing I did different was I did not us fumadil at all last year, spring or fall. Most of my deadouts are in one yard (6 of 9) not sure if that means anything. Nosema Ceranae might be the problem, we don't have Tracheal Mites in N.S.
Keep up the fight
Perry
 

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I had 38 out of 50 hives survive which is about a 24% death rate. I fed all of my bees except one yard in the fall. The yard that I did not feed only 2 out of 13 made it. The biggest problem out in eastern PA is starvation. I do not treat my hives and rely strictly on breeding from the best hives in Spring.

Just because there is honey in the hives does not necessarily mean they did not starve. Were the clusters on the honey when you found them or were they seperated from it. When you find alot of dead bees at the bottom of the hive that is usually a sign of starvation although it could be symptoms of other things.
 

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MichelinMan,

I am sorry for your loss -- Was this your first year using SBB -- How cold was the worst for you up in Canada.

I am not yet a true believer that the Russian Bees are the answers to the Varroa mite. I am thinking that the Queen at best is hybrid.

Last summer, I dusted my bees with 10X sugar and in the fall, I applied Formic Acid pads. I didn't do a varroa mite count before or after the treatments, but I should have. This winter, I had better luck as only two of mine died. Of course our winter is not as severe as yours.

Do you know how old the queens were when they went into winter. I had read that summer queens lay more eggs than the spring queen, which means more winter bees, which makes your cluster stronger.
 

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I did not treat last fall. In fact I have never treated. I hate chemicals. I wanted to go "natural". But if this is the price of going "natural" then I think I'll start treating.

If you do not treat you need to plan on having losses. You need to develop a plan to recover those losses; ie splits, nucs, etc.
 

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MichelinMan - I would suggest first marking all of the equipment that bees died in and storing it in a bees safe place. Next take one of the "marked" hives and place it, on a sunny day , in the spot where one of your healthy hives was. Remove a "marked" frame, set it back in the bee safe place. Next, go to the good hive you just moved , remove a frame of brood(Eggs) , swap in a NEW frame, and place the frame with eggs in the '"marked" hive. The field bees will return to the "marked" hive and make a new queen. Closely monitor the development of both hives. If both hives, population corrected, develop similarly, that "marked" hive did not die of disease(hopefully). This allows you to test for pathogen effects with out the cost of a package, just the cost of a frame of eggs.


Roland
 

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if you found the alcohol method clumsy, try again. google Medhat Nasr. Alberta's provincal apiarist. Call him. They developed a really good and easy alcohol wash container. You can use blue windshield washer fluid temp to -35...cheaper.
I am Trying to find the mite shaker bottle, can not find it. Any how i made my own, real easy
Two pint sealers with the bands only. Then you need some screen, it has to bee bigger than the household screen. Cut it to fit inside the one band. It would be better if the two bands could be soldered together so that when the bands are on the two jars, the jars would be attached like siamese twins sort of thing...easy as pie to make

Any how to continue..
Gather about 300 bees from your yard. Take from the brood nest. Take a test from 15% of your hives per yard. Some strong, some weak, some just plain medium. Review the link i will post at the end of the message to see and easy way to gather the bees.

Add in the washer fluid. Now you have two options. Shake the dickens for eight minutes or let set for 1/2 hour. Then tip the jar upside down.

The point of the method is the bees will stay behind the screen and the washer fluid and the varroa will go into the other jar. Raise the jar above yoru head so you can see the bottom. Count seven or more mites in the late summer, you need to treat. Count less than that in the spring, might need to treat.

The other way is to count the bees and then the varroa divide the two and get a percent. However 1/3 cup of bees is about 300 bees, so if you get about a 1/3 of a cup, just count the mites and divide.

http://www.capabees.com/main/files/pdf/varroathreshold.pdf

here is the link, scroll down and it shows a quick and painless way to get the bees from the brood.

Remember varroa doubles every month. So if in March you have 1%, April will be 2, May will be 4% etc.
good luck
 

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some good advice here, i would mention that sugar roll only gets about 70% of the mites according to Randy Oliver so the alcohol method is best.

i would point out that the remaining hives are likely sitting with high mite loads. i would consider testing and doing a treatment if needed before splitting or you may just be spreading a big mite load around
 

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I can’t begin to imagine the challenges for bees to survive a Canadian winter. To survive your bee colonies must be very vigorous and extremely healthy….at the top of their game. Varroa mite parasitism is still our number one enemy. If you hope to keep bees in Canada without ‘treating’ for mites you are going to need an active plan to address the issue. I believe that you are going to be disappointed if you just ‘don’t treat’. You may want to search Michael Palmer's posts. He lives, I believe in Vermont, and, I believe, keeps bees without miticides and has developed a strategy to do so successfully.
Best of luck to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thank you for all the ideas and support. I will start this spring by testing for mite counts and treat as required. What I can say about the hives that did survive is they were among my strongest. So if I do splits from them I should get strong bees (I hope). Plus, I ordered 3 nucs to make up for some of the loss. Hope we get a better summer than last year. Thanks again for all the responses.

Luc
 

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We just covered this topic during our latest county bee meet. Nosema ceranae is being considered as a possible culprit for "lost bees". They appear healthy and do very well. Then during the winter as the nosema effects them the ladies become disoriented. When they finally are able to take a cleansing flight the disorientation is so strong they don't make it back. Thus the hive just empties. Anyone else heard of this?
 
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