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dead bees

2628 Views 8 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  George Fergusson
I have two hives that had lots of honey, but all of the bees are dead. Some of them are stuck in the comb, but dead. No sign of wax moths, hive beetles. Suggestions?
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James -
I am terribly sorry to hear about your bees. I got some of your honey via "the exchange" and it was wonderful!
Don't forget to protect the equiment now. Start again in spring!
I'm afraid our bees have succumbed to the cold snap, too. It's frigid out there - do we have to do anything with the supers that are out there? I'm sure anything living in them is long gone now... :(
Make sure you clean out the dead bees in the hive and if some are in the comb try knocking them out. when it begins to warm up they will get moldy. You can just leave them on the stand if you don't have any place to put IF you have cold temperatures, make sure mice cant get into them.
Ann: I will have to disagree with you on the cold snap killing the bees. Cold weather dose not kill honeybees. Any Canadian beekeeper can testify to that. One cause could be patristic mite syndrome (PMS) a healthy hive will suddenly crash in winter because the lifespan of too my bees have been shortened due to mite infestation. Another reason could be tracheal mites.
Honeybees can survive prolong periods of very cold weather provided that they are healthy and have proper stores. Since James said he had plenty of honey in the hive they did not die form starvation.
Ann, Why do you think that you lost your hives?

I would leave them till a bit of warm weather comes. Then look and listen for any signs of life.

I have many times written a hive off because I thought they had died because I saw no signs of life and could no hear them.

Only to find them fine when the weather got better. They had just been clustered up somewhere I could not hear them.

There is nothing going to move in, except mice this time of year. So as long as you have mouse guards on, I would just leave them till it warms up.
It was warm, and hubby went in, because there was absolutely no activity in what we had hoped would be the hive that would make it, our 'big hive'. He found hundreds and hundreds of dead bees, no life at all. He checked all the way to the top of the bottom super (we are running all mediums, so three equals two deeps).

In the smaller hive, the one we fought to save back last June (see this thread), a few bees rose up when he went in, so he didn't go any further.

We have mouse guards on both hives. I'm conjecturing that they got caught by the cold snap and couldn't get to their food. One of our beek friends said they probably had brood to cover and wouldn't leave it when it got cold. It was truly warm up until mid-January here, amazingly so, I don't doubt his theory. We've already bought replacement bees.
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>I'm conjecturing that they got caught by the cold snap and couldn't get to their food. One of our beek friends said they probably had brood to cover and wouldn't leave it when it got cold.

That's a plausible explanation Ann. I was worried about mine getting all fired up brood-wise back in December and early January when daytime temps were in the 50's and night time temps were often above freezing. I resisted the urge to feed them some pollen, hoping they'd have the sense to hold off wholesale brood rearing until spring really arrives.

Then around the end of the first week of January, winter DID arrive, with a vengeance but as of last weekend, they were doing fine so I think they did hold off brood rearing. Smart bees.

It's also plausible that your bees were weakened by mites late last summer and early fall when they were raising their overwintering bees and that they just dwindled to the point where they didn't have the numbers to maintain a sufficient cluster. I lost a number of hives for that reason last winter. This winter I'm hoping the situation will be different.

For what it's worth, I'm ready for spring! February is here and I expect to see moderating temperatures and a gradual awakening as the days get longer. Maple syrup season is just around the corner.
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