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Discussion Starter #1
My hive is suffering badly from a gradual die off. At this point I think I have eliminated SHB, mites and have sent samples to be analyzed for disease (no results yet).

When considering possible pesticide effects I just thought about them being sprayed, but if that was the case they should all die in a relatively short time. My problem has extended over 3 weeks.

That brings several questions to mind:

1. Do bees collect nectar or pollen from poisonous plants? We have purple nightshade and, I am sure, other dangerous plants.
2. If they do collect nectar from such plants and make honey from it will it kill them?
3. If bees collect nectar from plants that have been sprayed with pesticide and make honey from it can it cause a die off such as I have?
 

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>1. Do bees collect nectar or pollen from poisonous plants? We have purple nightshade and, I am sure, other dangerous plants.

Bees work nightshade. I have never heard of it being poisonous to bees to work it. They sometimes work California Buckeye and it kills them if they do, but they tend not to work it if other things are available.

> 2. If they do collect nectar from such plants and make honey from it will it kill them?

Some of them... yes.

> 3. If bees collect nectar from plants that have been sprayed with pesticide and make honey from it can it cause a die off such as I have?

Most pesticides that are sprayed are short lived (lessons learned from DDT)... but yes, they can bring them home and they can affect the hive for a while.

There are other things that cause a "failure to thrive". One would be skunks. Look for soggy piles of dead bees around the hives and evidence of animals trampling down the grass and sometimes scratches on the front of the hive. A failing queen, of course can be an issue. Chalkbrood or European foulbrood can set things back. Not everything is a full blown case either. Sometimes it's a low level. A high level of Varroa can spread viruses that can cause a failure to thrive...
 

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In my area there are at least three plants that kill bees.Those are Yellow Jasmine aka Confederate Jasmine,summer Ti-Ti,and Oleander.The summer Ti-Ti,not to be confused with the regular,earlier Ti-Ti, causes something called purple brood.I have read that there can be poisonous honey made from jasmine.If that purple nightshade you refer to is Datura I don't believe it harms bees.My bees regularly work Brugmansia which is a close relative,and are not harmed.
 

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I had my first case of chalk brood this past spring. I was not to concerned about it becasue it was only in part of a frame or two. i thought no big deal. I was later shocked at how much of a difference it made in that colony in comparison to my other colonies. There is a lot of bees in the brood of just part of a frame.

So as you check your hive for indications of what may be going on. take the small stuff seriously. You do not need to find entire frames in trouble to end up with a dwindling hive.

Failing queen, predators, they got into something and hopefully it is temporary. And of course diseases would all make my list of most likely. I would add swarming but I do not often see a hive appear depleted after it has swarmed.

If you are post build up and swarming I would suspect predators first. First comes the bees. then the bee eaters. that is sort of how it works. I have a Blue Jay that has learned to stalk my virgin queens on their mating flights. having witnesses a queen flying in the past few days i can see how they make an easy target. they are not fast flyers.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Would it be prudent to pull all the honey frames (not brood) and start feeding sugar water? I am still getting orientation flights each day and want to preserve the new bees until I can get a queen installed.
 

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Does anyone know if Mountain Laurel hurts them? The leaves are definitely toxic to humans. Ours is blooming now but the bees seem to be avoiding it. They're after something in the tree canopy.
 

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CajunBee They suspect their Honey may be killing their bees. Read the thread.

You could remove the honey and feed them sugar water so you can either confirm or eliminate it as a concern. process of elimination sort of thing.

There are other things I would want to check in the hive as well.

How much brood is there?
Are there any eggs?
Was there any break in brood for any reason?
Did this hive swarm?
How much honey do they have and are they storing up honey or using it as fast as they can gather it to tend to brood?

Even if bees can find nectar is it enough nutritionally to meet their needs? Some types of plants produce nectar but in quantities that barely sustain the effort for it to be gathered.

I woudl feed a dwindling colony for not other reason than it is dwindling. I would then look for the cause of the decline. possibly never figuring it out.
 
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