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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There's a few hundred dead bees, mostly in a pile, near one of my hives, here's some photos:

https://imgur.com/a/sNhyVmz

The dead bees have been there for a few weeks. I moved these hives a few months ago. Here in Australia, the weather has been pleasant, it's been around 10 degrees Celsius and currently in winter. These bees are in the suburbs, there's no nearby farming pesticide usage. There's a long row of beehives here, but the pile of bees are just near one of the hives. All the hives seem to be active and doing well.

The last photo is of the hive that's directly adjacent to the pile of dead bees. There's some honey in there. The plastic and dried sugar is on there because they were starving at the location they were at, before I moved them, the plan has been to remove all that when spring time approaches. This hive I did notice when I moved it, had a high honey bee population considering it was a single deep super, and it was also particularly low on honey, more than the other hives were. If you notice that some of the frames look different than others, it's because at one point when the hive was very low on honey and before I moved them to this better location, I took honey frames from other hives and gave it to this hive, replacing their empty frames.

Any idea why there might be all these dead bees? Is it something I should be concerned about, or is it normal and fine?

As a side question, can you notice in the photo how the bees have attached frames together with wax? When I open a hive to inspect it, I often feel conflicted about properly inspecting it; I often conclude that, it's not worth harming and disturbing the bees, by lifting those frames, and breaking the wax seal by doing so. Is it good to try and not have such an impact on the bees, or is it important that I lift the frames to frequently inspect them, regardless of how much wax and propolis must have stuck them down?
 

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I would skim off the burr comb. Probably there is too much space under the top cover so the bees are building up there. It won't hurt the bees to trim it back, then make sure your bee-space is not too big. There should be just enough room for a bee to walk through, and no more.
Sorry, no idea about the dead bees. Maybe a neighbor sprayed insecticide right where this colony was foraging?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Shortly after I made this post, I sweeped up all the dead bees and disposed of them. Now about seven weeks later, there's yet again a huge pile up of dead bees, and here's some photos showing such:

https://postimg.cc/gallery/dKgDhJ1

I know bees die in high numbers quite naturally. Where these hives are, there's no dirt for the dead bees to decompose in, nor are there any ants coming to eat their dead bee bodies. The hives are also surrounded by a rather tall building, and then fence, so it'd be difficult for the bees to take their dead elsewhere, they'd have to fly over quite a tall fence in order to do so.

Is it possible that these bees are dying from natural causes? Perhaps with the tall fence, that's why they're building up their dead in large quantities here? Or is this not natural, and a sign that the bees are dying from something unnatural? These hives are in the suburbs, surrounded by people's homes, it wouldn't surprise me that at least a few people use poisonous spray on their gardens.

The hives themselves are all doing well, they're producing a good amount of honey and they have a healthy, large amount of bees in them. Are these bee deaths something I should be concerned about?
 

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Hi there.

You can use a hive mat on top of the frames to minimise burr comb between frames and lid. I think in Australia it is a legal requirement to inspect the hives at least twice a year, so make sure you do so, regularly. Will make it easier to inspect the more often you do it.

Can you have a close look at the dead bees? It is said that when bees die of poisoning, which is not uncommon in urban areas, they die with their tongue sticking out.

I once had a similar incident with a massive amount of dead bees like that. It happened when I had a catastrophic honey leak while extracting my Flow Hive. It was quite sad. The bees were carried away by ants, wind and scavengers in about a week.
 

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Hiya mate.
Too many dead bees from 2 colonys imo.
Are the dead bees tongues hanging out and are they old bees?
When did you last do a brood inspection?
Are there many fruit trees flowering at the moment?
Having said this, my bees are not on a paved, enclosed area but I rarely see dead bees on the ground around the hives but there are ants, spiders, lizards and many other critters that may clean up...
 

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I can’t speak to the climate where you live but I have some hives that accumulate a lot of dead bees below the entrance by the end of each winter. Happens every winter. The bees build up normally in spring.
All of my other bee yards are 100 miles south of this yard….and over 2000’ lower in elevation….and I don’t see the same type of accumulation. Possibly because those yards get some flying days throughout the winter and can haul off their dead. Or, possibly, more scavengers because of the climate difference.
 

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I watched some videos from a Canadian beekeeper on Youtube, where he has hundreds of hives he keeps inside a huge unheated polebarn all winter. Every few weeks, he goes around with a wheelbarrow and shovel clearing out all the dead bees, and he has noted that in the spring everything normally seems fine, so perhaps this is just normal and acceptable losses during cold weather. It is also possible that perhaps your "undertaker" bees are quite efficient, dropping all the casualties in nearly the same place, so the accumulation is more noticeable. I've not seen "piles" of dead bees, but still plenty of them here and there occasionally, so its possible that the numbers are not that alarming. I also have a bit more debris under my hives, so they would not be as apparent as yours on concrete.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
There tongues are not sticking out. There's also more than two colonies there. There are not many fruit trees flowering near bye. I've checked the brood on some of the hives but not all but from what I've seen they all seem quite healthy and well. The winters here don't go below freezing so it hasn't been that cold.
 
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