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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Wish i knew how to post a pic. Few weeks ago it was warm and the bees were everywhere. Then it got cold again. Now its warm again and not a bee in sight. Opened the hive to see if i could find a cause other than it got real cold real fast (again) .. There was still a LOT of capped honey to be found. No living bees. On top of the frames was a white powder looking substance. Like someone sprinkled parmasan cheese on them. Hive was treated for mites last fall. There was a dead cluster in the super with all the honey. Any idea what the problem was? My main concern is the parmasan cheese looking stuff. I thought maybe wax bits from them opening up honey throughout the winter, but everything i read is about bees being clean and them letting bits of wax falls seems a bit unusual. Any thoughts would be appreciated. First winter with bees. Bit demoralizing, but we are going to keep keeping bees until we get it right
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Not sure how to post a picture. The only time the hive was touched since winter set it was yesterday. Has been a very very cold winter here in michigan and i didnt want to bother them
 

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Not sure how to post a picture. The only time the hive was touched since winter set it was yesterday. Has been a very very cold winter here in michigan and i didnt want to bother them
Likely the white stuff is just crystalized honey from frames above. With what little information you give and knowing what the season has been likely your bees have brood they won't leave to move to stores. Many hives starve in March/April with Honey just inches away, especially during a cold snap when the bees cluster smaller and can leave space to honey.. During the recent warm spell your bees were likely above foraging through combs which may have had crystalized honey and it and wax fell on the below frames or as mentioned robbers bees foraged in you upper supers. If you can't post a picture take a look at the combs. What you find will answer your questions. Are you finding a cluster with dead bees head in cells? Is the cluster dead on the bottom board, is the cluster wet (condensation). These clues will help us diagnose what is wrong. You most likely will be able to reuse the comb, the new bees you buy will clean up the combs in amazing order once a nectar flow start. Also look for queen cells, brood
(bees will cannibalize brood when starving but leave capped cells) and let us know what you find.

Top Feeding either a good quality patty or 1:1 sugar water in early march will help support brood feeding needs ( which has been reared since the end of January in your hives) and save many hives from starvation.

This year is bound to be a better year so don't give up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Im at work right now, but thanks for the info. I intend to do a complete go thru saturday. I will look for things you mentioned, and will do on not giving up. We loved having bees, just gotta get better with them :)
 

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I have a question about all those dead bees with their heads stuck in the comb. Do I try to get them out or if I put them in a hive with new bees, will the new bees clean them out? Will leaving them in cause a problem? I tried to get them out, but can't really without damaging the comb.

We had an extremely long and brutal winter, and neither of my hives survived, but I didn't really expect them to as a first year. Hopefully next year will go better.
 

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Dead bees in with their heads in cells with honey inches away is common for early spring starvation. Bees in the north start raising brood the last week of January and will not leave brood to move to stores. If there is not enough stores at the brood nest and the bees are not fed above the cluster they will starve over brood with honey inches away. This spring there has been virtually no nectar/pollen flow in the north due to weather and this type starvation will be unfortunately common. With enough warm days ( 55 and above) bees can move honey from adjoining areas into the brood nest but a couple of cold days and a tight cluster combined with brood demand will cause them to succumb. Sometimes you will still find capped brood, Often you will not find much brood in these areas as queens will stop laying, brood when starvation conditions begin, bees will remove dead larvae on warm days and sometimes cannibalize brood.
 

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> but everything i read is about bees being clean and them letting bits of wax falls seems a bit unusual.

Wax bits on the bottom board are normal. They let all the uncapping wax fall on the floor all winter. Reuse the equipment. Don't worry.
 
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