Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
143 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I checked on a hive earlier today and I have a dead out. I can't complain really, my second in over four years, but sad nonetheless. I'm thinking died due to small cluster and a cold snap. I'm hoping you might be able to give some insight. Attaching pictures in case they might help.

Here are the known details:

@It appears most died in a cluster but definitely not all.
@There was plenty of honey and nectar and pollen all around.
@Very few had their tongues hanging out, so it makes me think it wasn't starving. In the first picture they are right on top of nectar.
@It doesn't look like it was a huge cluster, but this was an NWC colony, and I'm not sure what to expect from that since this was my first year with her.
@I would guess there were on the bottom board maybe 2 cupsful of bees.
@The only thing that thought odd was what I think is just mold. If you will look at the 3rd picture that shows the queen cup, you can tell there is something darkish around it. It is only on this one frame (of 24).
@I did find the queen. :(
@There was no brood, only one single cell. The bottom box was mostly open cells and some nectar and honey. The top two boxes were mostly capped honey.

It feels like this may have just happened, because their bodies are fairly movable. Not crunchy. We did just have some temps drop into the 20s. Doesn't look like they starved. They didn't abscond (have queen). I don't have lot of forensic experience so I'm looking to learn how to evaluate. Any input appreciated.

image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,826 Posts
Did you test for mites in the late summer/early fall?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,866 Posts
I agree with both the previous posters. There has to be sufficient bodies to generate enough heat, which may be the problem. Mites may have contributed to previous, seasonal deaths that limited the cluster size, or mites may have spread a sub-lethal virus that just needed the stress of winter to tip the bees over the edge.

I would not normally expect brood at this point, especially from NWC. I would rule out any queen issues.

I appreciate the pictures. Forensic work is so hard without visuals, and what you try and explain to me verbally has to be translated and interpreted visually.

I'd get ready to give it another shot next spring.

Grant
Jackson, MO
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
143 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Beemandan, no, no mite test but after doing some reading I was waiting for the question. :eek: There was evidence noted in this hive by the state inspector - dwv. I know this is something I need to get comfortable doing. At least the sugar roll won't kill them.

Grant, I've got queens on order, so that's a good thing. I have wondered... If we know mites exist in all our hives (and hopefully end up co-existing), it seems risky to split those hives. But finding untreated nucs is difficult too, so what is the methodology? Test for mites and just split the least infected?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,826 Posts
There was evidence noted in this hive by the state inspector - dwv.
Just so you do know, you can't depend on DWV to determine if you have a serious mite load. Little or no DWV is no guarantee. Often a heavily parisitized colony of bees won't exhibit any DWV. On the other hand, a lot of DWV...and it is pretty likely.
Good luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
143 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Did not know that, Beemandan. Could DWV mean something else?

A somewhat related question. I had to be inspected because of the potential that I might sell some nucs. The only comment the inspector made was on that one hive, and it was just noted mites present due to the DWV. When I received the inspection certificate, it simply stated how many hives inspected and that mites were present. Now I realize that there probably ARE mites present in all of the hives, but no mention was made of that by the inspector in the other hives. I'm just wondering how this typically works, with regards to selling. It seemed as if this certificate was stating all of my hives had mites.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
143 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Ok, another question. I am still very green with winter management. I have yet to check my notes on this hive, but I recall that it was jamming. When I found it dead, I had 2 medium stacks filled with honey over the bottom fairly empty medium. I found the cluster on the outside frames on the bottom, maybe 1 frame in, can't remember. It leaves me feeling I should have moved a frame of honey down and put one each on the outside of this bottom box. Which tells me I need to be checking the location of the cluster going into winter, yes? Or maybe it's not the cluster yet, but I need to be finding the brood and putting honey around it, is that correct? That sounds like a duh question...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,826 Posts
Did not know that, Beemandan. Could DWV mean something else?
Generally speaking the presence of DWV indicates mites. But....the lack of DWV does not necessarily indicate a lack of mites. Quite frequently colonies with heavy mite loads do not exhibit significant DWV.

Mostly, at least in GA, inspections are to make certain that there isn't any AFB. Mites are a given...they're in every hive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,287 Posts
I all is try to be persent when I get inspected. I just learn to much. This was the first year that most didn't get inspected and the ones he did do I had no heads up. :-(
But I did buy most of his stuff and painted his house last summer
David
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,062 Posts
If the cluster gets any smaller than a softball, it stand about no chance to survive below freezing temps for very long. No concrete number but I find clusters smaller than a softball in Dec will never make it in my area.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,433 Posts
Check the brood area for tiny white specks on the sides of the cells. If present, your hive died from parasitic mite syndrome -- too many mites, resulting in weak bees that died off fast in the fall and then the remainder died from the cold.

In those conditions, the bees don't clean the cells properly and leave the white specks, which are mite feces. Diagnostic for PMS, that's how I know my brother lost a hive to mites winter. Mite damage can be insidious, the bees look and act pretty normal until cold weather comes along. Then the bees that have been heavily parasitized while the brood cells are capped weaken and die, often outside the hive, and suddenly you have a tiny cluster and the cold gets them.

Peter
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,021 Posts
If the cluster gets any smaller than a softball, it stand about no chance to survive below freezing temps for very long. No concrete number but I find clusters smaller than a softball in Dec will never make it in my area.
I agree, that's about the smallest size that will make it in my area also when you get temps below freezing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
143 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
So then my options would have been to move to a nuc, or to house in a box over another hive, or???
 

·
Vendor
Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
Joined
·
54,108 Posts
>Could DWV mean something else?

DWV has been around long before Varroa, but Varroa spread it a lot more.

I always look for signs of Varroa. If you have a solid board or a tray under a screened bottom, look for dead mites. If it was Varroa, there will be tens of thousands of them. Also look for Varroa feces in the brood cells. A small cluster in a sudden hard cold spell (like sub zero) sometimes just can't keep warm enough.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
143 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Seems like putting a small cluster (that might be mite infested) on top of another hive might be risky then. Sounds like making it a nuc is the better way to go.

Btw, I'm just realizing, there was very little pollen in those frames in the brood box. Mostly nectar, some honey. That must spell trouble too???
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,062 Posts
Sounds like your paying your dues and learning...... something we all have to do. Still doing it on my end. Trying to learn to overwinter nucs... I kill more bees that way than any other method!
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top