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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Here is the background,

Last year we had a very rainy year. Missed several of our major flows. Come late last summer, it looked like we would have to feed, even though the hives were loaded with bees. Then we had a good fall flow (which is not typical), and all of the hives went into winter with very good honey stores.

Several hives died before the cold of January. As I was breaking down and examining the deadouts, I noticed virtually a total absence of pollen. All these deadouts, had just a handful of bees, but were loaded with honey. Some had queen cells in various stages, one had a capped queen cell.

Could these deadouts be tied to the absence of pollen? And should I have caught this in my fall inspections?

In another deadout, it appears a sudden cold snap may have caught them a bit off guard. Instead of forming one large cluster, this hive had several (five the best I remember) clusters. This hive was a double deep with a medium super left on it. Looks like they may have been bring stores from the super to the brood nest. They had some capped brood. This hive died around the first of Jan. It had been in the 60's the day before, then the temps plummeted to below zero the next day.

Thanks
Shane
 

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Lack of pollen is a problem for me here, especially in late summer into winter. I think bees need good pollen in fall to build healthy bees into winter, and I think they need some stored through winter to start early brood rearing with in the late winter/early spring. I've had deadouts in summer that had no pollen stores, but plenty of honey stored, and I blame the lack of pollen.
 

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Bees don't require pollen in winter if they aren't producing brood. The question I'd ask are how big a cluster went into winter? A large cluster would suggest that there was enough pollen available when they were producing their winter brood. The hive with multiple clusters may have been queenless. How did your late summer mite counts look?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The question I'd ask are how big a cluster went into winter? The hive with multiple clusters may have been queenless. How did your late summer mite counts look?
1. Going into late fall cluster/numbers looked good. I did not take notes, so I don't remember exactly.
2. The hive with multiple clusters had capped brood.
3. I am treatment free, so I did not do a mite count.
 

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You could take a sample of bees and send it to the Beltsville lab and they'd give you a mite/nosema assessment.
 

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A total lack of pollen means they starved to death. Bees require large protein stores going into winter as they will not be able to move away from the cluster when they start raising brood, often in early January, and if the nurse bees do not have adequate internal stores they die when they try to feed the larvae. You lose the hive.

It's cheap insurance to feed a protein patty in the fall, September here, if you do not see large amounts of pollen going into the hive. One should also check for adequate store while winter bees are being raised -- the last round or two of brood in the fall. Inadequate protein when the bees are larvae will result in normal looking but deficient bees that die in early winter. Since the bees will tyipcally use more than they bring in a that time, if you had a pollen dearth earlier you can still end up short even with goodly amounts coming in, it's another thing to check for during inspections.

Mites won't help you any either.

Peter
 

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Discussion Starter #11
A total lack of pollen means they starved to death. Bees require large protein stores going into winter as they will not be able to move away from the cluster when they start raising brood, often in early January, and if the nurse bees do not have adequate internal stores they die when they try to feed the larvae. You lose the hive.

It's cheap insurance to feed a protein patty in the fall, September here, if you do not see large amounts of pollen going into the hive. One should also check for adequate store while winter bees are being raised -- the last round or two of brood in the fall. Inadequate protein when the bees are larvae will result in normal looking but deficient bees that die in early winter. Since the bees will tyipcally use more than they bring in a that time, if you had a pollen dearth earlier you can still end up short even with goodly amounts coming in, it's another thing to check for during inspections.

Peter
Thanks Peter,

This was a hard lesson. Since they had so much honey stores, I assumed they were fine. Mistake I won't make again.

Shane
 
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