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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I insected my two hives in the yard and one was dead. What a shame.

This was a hive I started from a recovered swarm in late spring. It built up to a very strong hive. I fed for the entire season. I had started them in a deep with foundation and stores. They filled up an additional deep and three mediums!!

At the end of the summer however, they seemed to get weak and less populace fairly quickly. I was treating with weekly fogging of FGMO Thymol all season. The hive was weak going into winter with only 2-3 frames of bees.

When I opened up the hive today, there was a small cluster between two frames in the brood chamber. Most were clustered together over a small brood patch. The brood was brown,dry, and some had chewed? perforations. There were a few dead head first in the cells but certainly in the monority. There was plenty of honey above them as well. THere were a few dead bees on the bottom board, but nothing significant.

1: I don't know what caused a once populace hive to reduce so quickly in the fall...

2: I think the hive was too weak going into winter and just couldn't make it since there was plenty of stores..

Your comments are welcome...

THANKS!
 

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SOunds like mites to me. Monitor your mite levels so that you know if your FGMO (or other treatments) is working or if you need to do something else. I find that FGMO is an important part of my pest management strategy but if you have a hive that gets 'em bad you will need to hit the mites with something else (I used sucrocide this year with good effect) to save the colony.
 

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I, too, just lost my first hive...very depressing. Can someone give a primer on diagnosing causes of winter losses? I took a peek late yesterday when it hit fifty degrees, but I saw no bee's flying. They had been flying strong a few weeks ago at the last warm spell. When I looked inside I first noticed drops of moisture on the inner cover, only right above where the clump o' dead bees were. That moisture looked new as nothing nor any of the bee's seemed soaked or even wet. There was plenty of capped honey and I saw no brood on the few frames I inspected. I closed it up and intend to inspect for thoroughly(sp) today. What should I look for to possibly determine some reason for the loss?
Thanks
Barry
Indianapolis
 

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Since 40% of the commercial hives died this year from mites I would guess mites were the cause. You need to treat them to keep them alive. Other possible causes-
winter kill because you didn't have top ventilation or insulated inner cover or the like.
trachael mites-doubtful but you could disect to see.
lack of food

If no large cluster of dead bees you can guess it was Varroa
 

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If the cluster was small starting out in the fall, they may have just got stuck in one place caring for the brood and starved because they couldn't get to stores. Take a look at the bottom board. If there are thousands of dead Varroa, then they were obviously part of the problem. If there are only a few, I doubt they were the problem.
 

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Thanks for the feedback. I had been thinking that the ventilation was sufficient. I had an entrance reducer in place, not the very smallest though. I had hoped that the notched inner cover would be enough for ventilation. Whenever it warmed up over this winter the bee's were using it as an entrance...as well as the bottom entrance. OK...out to check the bottom board.
Again...thanks.
Barry
 

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OK...The inspection is done...depressing. On the bottomboard below the cluster was a really big pile o' dead bee's. I"m not sure if the little spots I also saw were mites or hive debris. I went through the bee's and saw just a few mites on the bee's themselves. At the heart of the cluster...bee's were head-first in the cells with all the other bee's clustered over them. Found the Queen smack in the middle. Several bee's were on the honey. There was capped honey about 2 inches from the bee's that were headfirst in teh cells. There was quite a bit of water in the hive, but the bee's were not soggy. Still I think maybe ventilation might have been a factor. I found about 2 dozen capped brood cells..no uncapped brood. I'm guessing there was still about 40lb of honey in the hive and about 3/4 of the fondant I had fed a few weeks ago was gone.
What does this mean when bee's are headfirst in the cells? Is this to protect from cold?
Any thoughts based on my observations would be welcomed.
Thanks
Barry
 

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I'm not sure if this means anything or not, but the cluster was all the way at the top of the upper box. The bottom box was empty except for a few pounds of honey in the corners. Another observation I found interesting: The comb in the lower broodbox all along the lower front edge of the hive along the entrance was gone. Back in the summer all these frames were fully drawn. Mean anything?
Thanks
Barry
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks to all for the replies. Been busy with the pinewood derby all day.....


Twind59,

Sorry for your loss too. It is a bummer. But with 3 more hives, its doesn't hit me TOO hard..
That missing comb sounds like the hive got robbed or a critter got in?

MB,

I concur with your comments. I inspected the hive today. No dead bees on the bottom, no mites on the bottom either, and a small cluster of dead bees around the brood area.. Just not enough bees. Next time I'll know better and join them with another hive.

Question, what do I do with the remaining frames. Most are full of pollen soaked with honey. THere are a few frames with uncapped honey, and few with capped honey.

Can I just leave it in my garage? Is it OK to use it in my other hives? SHould I just put honey frames in my other hives or the pollen ones??

Thanks to all in advance....
 

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I don't think varmints made the open space in the combs. It looks like bee work...all uniform and smooth. I'll be puting the frames full of honey in the freezer in a plastic bag. I don't think I want to just leave them unattended.
Barry
Indianapolis
 

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twind- Years ago an old beekeeper told me that the major problem with wintering a colony was the moisture given off by the bees as they consumed the honey they stored. This moisture will rise to the top of the hive and condense on the inner cover where it will drip back down on the cluster-eventually killing it. When you find a large cluster of bees as you describe you can be pretty sure that they died from the above or less likey-from starvation. Studies have shown that even small clusters can raise the cluster temperature and move to a new location when they are short on food within the frames they cover.
Save yourself the hassle of winter losses by putting a layer or two of foam on top of your hive. Last year I inspected hundreds of hives and most beekeepers were using at least one 2" layer of foam board on top. Few beekeepers doing this lost any to condensation. Of course leave a top opening of 5/16" x 3 or 4" is required to vent some of this moisture.
 

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>What does this mean when bee's are headfirst in the cells? Is this to protect from cold?

It's normal in a cluster to have a lot of bees in the cells. I think it decreases the size of the cluster and conserved engergy. But if there is no honey around and all the cells have bees in them then usually they cold starved. In other words couldn't move to stores.

If you have other bees, use the stores to stock them up. If not, save them for your next bees. The garage is probably good. Seal them up so the moths and mice dont' get in. Duct tape around the seams can help with the moths.
 

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I just put it on a bottom board with an entance block. (Make one from a one by two by cutting it to legnth) and tight lid. In other words if there's a notch in the inner cover you need to slide the outer cover back against it to block the notch and put duct tape on the seams on the hive. I have never put them in a plastic bag. I'd be afraid of mold if they aren't frozen. But if you have room in the freezer, you could put them in a plastic bag in the freezer.
 

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Hello all. I am a new beekeeper and just lost my first and only hive. I whacked out all the dead bees and put the frames in two large sealed garbage bags in my garage while I repaint my hive boxes (My five year old daughter wants to paint rainbows all over them, how can I resist?) Is this the proper way to store the frames until I resart with new bees this spring? Also, one of my frames had a small area of slightly grey color to it, is that anything to worry about?
 

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Hey ozzy,
You said "Studies have shown that even small clusters ...". What studies are you talking about? I'm interested in small clusters and would like to read anything about their winter survival.
Thanx, :cool:
 

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katbeecharmer,
if you don't have freezing temps in your garage, you might want to either drop those frames in a freezer for a couple of days or maybe use some PDB or whatever that stuff is to kill any moths that may be hiding in there. But use it correctly, I can't advise on the proper usage. If there are any moth larvae or eggs on the frames, you have them sealed in right now.

The grey might be mold, the bees can handle that. Just make sure there wasn't anything that killed the bees besides mites/starvation.

-rick
 

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Rick,

Thanks for your advice. Do you think that since we had freezing temps until late last week my frames will still be okay without freezing them?
- kat
 

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What studies are you talking about? I'm interested in small clusters and would like to read anything about their winter survival.
Thanx,

db_land, I have a 5 deep frame nuc that was full of bees that I have just about made it all winter with. I fed heavy this past fall and most of the frames were full of honey. It has been warm winter which probly helped. I added a medium nuc on top of it in Jan. with a quart jar of syrup which I have refilled 2 twice(3 quarts total) during warmer spells. Only have about 4 to 5 days before the 1/1 syrup is open fed. Hope this helped you.
 
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