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I foolishly bought the AFB test instead of the EFB test. I used that test and it was negative. I have an EFB test arriving Monday. When I went in I saw barely any larva to test. I saw barely any brood and no eggs. I did see the queen though.
Does it make sense to feed them? There is some honey and nectar in the hive. I feel bad just waiting and doing nothing.
Barring the abnormal situation in the colony, the queen would be shutting down anyway. With too few bees to do a mite wash it I would say the situation is beyond grim. How many bees are in it and are you seeing similar symptoms there?
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
This is the same colony that I originally was asking about. I really cant guess on how many bees are there.

I could say that the whole hive is only one deep. The super I added months ago is just empty except for a frame that I put in from another colony, my bigger hive which was doing better.

All I know is there are a lot less than the last time I checked three days ago.
 

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I really hate to say it also but sounds like they are doomed.
It is hard to get a count on how many bees are in a hive. You can pull a few frames and see how well they are covered with bees and then tell us how many frames are covered.
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
Not one frame is covered. Mostly I see a bunch here and a bunch there. I remember what it looked like when all the frames were covered. :(
 

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Not one frame is covered. Mostly I see a bunch here and a bunch there. I remember what it looked like when all the frames were covered. :(
Not good!

Could you get pictures of brood area from the other colony? This may help other people meeting similar issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #46 ·
Yes I will get some images next time I go in there. It really was a sad sight. I had a good cry over it the other day. I feel highly responsible.
 

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Yes I will get some images next time I go in there. It really was a sad sight. I had a good cry over it the other day. I feel highly responsible.
You should call the state apiary inspector to help you get past this issue and give suggestions on how to move forward.
The issue is current and the evidence is fresh for them at apiary to make the diagnosis fast and easy.
That is what they are there for after all, and you need to know how to handle this situation if you continue to keep bees.
 

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Mite feces in just about every one of the OP's cells. Would check some larva with a stick, but doesn't look like AFB (but I've never seen it in person). Wouldn't disagree that it looks a little like EFB, years ago I sent a similar looking situation to Beltville (not nearly as bad as OP) and it was not EFB. But that says nothing about OP's situation at all.

That's what it took for me to get serious about mites.
 

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I foolishly bought the AFB test instead of the EFB test. I used that test and it was negative. I have an EFB test arriving Monday. When I went in I saw barely any larva to test. I saw barely any brood and no eggs. I did see the queen though.
Does it make sense to feed them? There is some honey and nectar in the hive. I feel bad just waiting and doing nothing.
No, don't feed them. They're already dead they just don't know it. I'd "alcohol wash" all of the remaining bees and then make sure nothing robbed the boxes out. Test for EFB, if negative... great.
You currently have or had a very heavy mite load.

Here's one of your pictures. Mite feces is this white, speckly looking stuff on the sides of the brood cells. It's difficult to see in pictures sometimes, depending on the angle, but nearly every brood cell in your pictures appears to have some of it. Just circling some of it. Really there could be a whole red circle around all of the brood cells. When you're inspecting tilt the combs and look into the cells at the walls. Don't confuse this with larval shuck (last skin shedding before it pupates). That should be basically at the very bottom of the cell and looks like a little white pile of skin (which is what it is). Very different looking than the mite feces (and bigger).

Beehive Vertebrate Pollinator Natural material Mesh


Not my pic, but... The squiggly white stuff at the very bottom is the last larval shedding. The white stuff on the walls is the feces.
Brown Flower Liquid Plant Petal


Another not my pic, but annotated that might help.
Vertebrate Organism Circle Pattern Font
 

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I foolishly bought the AFB test instead of the EFB test. I used that test and it was negative.
That may be a blessing. Of all of the things it might be, AFB seems the least likely, but the worst thing imaginable. You've rulled that out, you go on.

Does it make sense to feed them? There is some honey and nectar in the hive. I feel bad just waiting and doing nothing.
Speaking as someone who saw this happen this year in a teaching yard - no. What will happen if you do that is they will get robbed out and anything the sick hive has will be transferred to the other hive(s). I would also probably close down that entrance to the smallest reducer since you say there's honey in there.

In one of those pics it looked like sacbrood, but since nothing really looks good, PMS seems likely.

@evangeline have you done mite monitoring on these hives during the year?

Not my pic, but...
Those are awesome pics! Do you remember where you got them?
 

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Discussion Starter · #52 ·
The EFB test today was negative.
The population is even lower today.

So by process of elimination is the problem mites?

This was my first year with bees. I wanted to stay treatment free per Bush's beekeeping and others. I really wanted to stay chemical free as much as possible.

1) for the dying hive, do I need to do the alcohol wash now?
2) for the other hive, it looks much much better, population is still lower than they were but they are happier and have more honey. What are the next steps for that hive?
 

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Now at least you don't have to needlessly burn your equipment.


Ah, so the Treatment free comes out at long last.

If it makes you feel any better, it's not unusual for newbeekeepers to fall for the "treatment free" - look at Mr. X who does TF - let's keep bees without chemicals, yay.
 
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I wanted to stay treatment free per Bush's beekeeping and others. I really wanted to stay chemical free as much as possible.
Absolutely no shame in either of these goals. Your mistake was in trying with package bees. If you are serious about treatment free then try to source bees from a local (or at least semi local) long term successful TF bee keeper. Will at least stand a decent chance of succeeding. Verses the 7 in 1,000 with commercial bees.

If chemical free is more important than 'chest thumping' TF then research thermal. Yes, it is a treatment but effective and 100% chemical free. Also expensive and slow... But all beekeeping is a compromise of some sort.
 

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Sorry to hear about your bees, evangeline. Don't be too hard on yourself.
Beekeeping can be a harsh taskmaster.
As one commercial beekeeper said , (paraphrasing): "I've killed more bees than you'll ever have. "

Learn from this and go forward. There are a lot of good things to be gotten from keeping bees that have nothing to do with honey, beeswax, etc.
Keep your head up!
 

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Discussion Starter · #57 ·
Now at least you don't have to needlessly burn your equipment.


Ah, so the Treatment free comes out at long last.

If it makes you feel any better, it's not unusual for newbeekeepers to fall for the "treatment free" - look at Mr. X who does TF - let's keep bees without chemicals, yay.
Thanks for your response.
 

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Discussion Starter · #58 ·
Absolutely no shame in either of these goals. Your mistake was in trying with package bees. If you are serious about treatment free then try to source bees from a local (or at least semi local) long term successful TF bee keeper. Will at least stand a decent chance of succeeding. Verses the 7 in 1,000 with commercial bees.

If chemical free is more important than 'chest thumping' TF then research thermal. Yes, it is a treatment but effective and 100% chemical free. Also expensive and slow... But all beekeeping is a compromise of some sort.
Thanks William I appreciate your suggestions and I will look into thermal. I do like your idea about sourcing bees from a TF beekeeper. I imagine that will be hard to find. If its not possible then I wont continue with bees because I dont get any pleasure from killing bees just to stay treatment free.
 

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Discussion Starter · #59 ·
Sorry to hear about your bees, evangeline. Don't be too hard on yourself.
Beekeeping can be a harsh taskmaster.
As one commercial beekeeper said , (paraphrasing): "I've killed more bees than you'll ever have. "

Learn from this and go forward. There are a lot of good things to be gotten from keeping bees that have nothing to do with honey, beeswax, etc.
Keep your head up!
Hi Arnie, your post was really nice and encouraging. I am learning a lot from beekeeping and from this forum as well. I appreciate you taking the time to respond.
 

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So by process of elimination is the problem mites?
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately... 9 times out of 10 mites is the answer to the problem.

As far as what to do now, the dying one has been dead for a month. It just might not have known it yet. The other is very likely absolutely crawling with mites. It wouldn't surprise me if you opened it up and the brood looked really similar to the stuff pictured. Have you looked at it recently? If it doesn't look like trash consider yourself lucky, but that does not mean they're OK. Do an alcohol wash if you wish, but if the hive next door died of varroa this other one is almost certainly well on its way or perhaps just a couple weeks behind when you noticed it on the other one. Slumped larva and dying brood isn't normal and should always be noted in even the smallest quantity of "one". Now there's absolutely one-off larva death, that's nature. But it's not normal. Like I said, I bet the brood in the other hive also looks like trash.

Best course of action would be to not bother testing for mites and to do a treatment. Oxalic acid dribble is the lowest barrier to entry. You could do one now and do one again in a couple weeks when they're most likely broodless. But if there was massive drift from the neighboring hive it's probably all over anyway without having some longer-acting mite treatment in place while the drift was occurring.

Keeping bees isn't particularly difficult (IMO), but keeping bees TF with all of the baggage that term has with it might be nearly impossible for a new beekeeper without proper resources including money and the stomach to find colony after colony needlessly dead or dying from an introduced pest that they do not have the evolutionary tools with which to deal with right now.
 
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