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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Today I went to wrap the hive to help protect it from winter. This is my first hive, my first winter with bees. At the beginning of October I had a full hive of Italians, a healthy queen, and a TON of honey. Like Ive been told, I left the honey alone and reduced the entrance since the days were beginning to become chilly.

I go to put the weather wrap around my hive and crack the cover open to have a quick peek inside and dont see a single bee (and I'm always greeted by /someone/ on the inner cover). I go and suit up and decide to crack into the hive to check things out, only to discover that my entire hive is empty. In the middle of the hive, about 40 bees are balled around the queen, all of which appear to have froze to death. I remove the rest of the frames and see only 6 dead bees on the bottom board. The bottom frames have a few sporadic brood, some fully formed C shaped larva, and practically full grown pupa. I grab up the frames that have honey and take them to the house, along with the frame that has the queen and her 40 some workers. I lay the queen frame in the kitchen, snap some pictures and leave it. I was going to collect them later and make a small memorial since this is my first hive.

About an hour later I go to look at them again and notice they are moving slightly, so I put jars over them. I come back a bit later and notice the queen is moving around slightly. I then rush to the internet since I dont know of anyone to call to help, and cant find anything.

So my main question is: Should I put the hive back together and wish the best? What would cause my entire hive to leave before winter? Should I collect the remaining 40 bees and euthanize them in the freezer?
 

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I don't know why they left but that few bees will not make it through winter.
 

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The queen probably started failing in September hence in mid October you woulda seen bees declining in the hive as is this is what we have been experiencing here in the south around my area. That hive will not make it with that low of population so i wud kill the queen by putting her in a medicine bottle with a little of alcohol and use her as swarm bait next spring. Take the old frames and freeze them to be used as stores for next spring. The biggest mistake i made as a beginning beekeeper was not getting into my hives and looking for a failing queen. Yes you run a risk opening the hive and killing the queen but thats a risk im willing to take.
 

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I did a test hive last year to see what the mites do to a hive. What you have described was what happened to my test hive. One of the things bees do is fly out of the hive and don't return when they are sick. That sounds like colony collapse disorder doesn't it. Now did you do anything about the mites?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I had no signs of mites in my hive until late August. Even then when I did my last hive check, about a week into October, I could only find a mite or 2. I know theres always more than what you see. I was unable to do anything about them though because me and my husband both lost our jobs, the company shut down.

I heard that a few mites wont do significant amount of damage to a hive if it's strong.
 

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You have to either do a sugar shake or alcohol wash to do a proper mite check. Visibly seeing mites on bees tells you that there is a high infestation.
 

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I had no signs of mites in my hive until late August. Even then when I did my last hive check, about a week into October, I could only find a mite or 2. I know theres always more than what you see. I was unable to do anything about them though because me and my husband both lost our jobs, the company shut down.

I heard that a few mites wont do significant amount of damage to a hive if it's strong.
Sorry to here that and whoever told you that mites won't damage a strong hive shouldn't be telling you anything. Mites will kill a hive so fast you wouldn't believe it. I would advise you to study the life cycle of bees and mites. That's what I did and good luck.
 

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And a lot of first time buyers are told, they don't have to worry about mites in the first year. Especially, packages because of the brood break. Well, this isn't true and you can testify to that once you research it and are convinced that is what did it. But I think sellers don't want to overwhelm newbees with a lot their first year and turn them off to beekeeping, but it should be addressed, even on year one.
 

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that few bees wont make it thru rest of November. No way exactly to know, but if you didnt do mite count to determine your mite level you may have had a very high number of mites as the queen slowed laying. If you get bees in the spring have someone help you with them to show you what to look for. If you freeze and properly store drawn comb you can give a new hive a big jump next spring. Good luck. Mark
 

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If you and your husband both lost your jobs, the bees are your job. If you are in a local bee club, your friends would loan you a vaporizer and the "wood bleach" is cheap.
 
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