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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm finding an inordinate number of (mostly) drones on the ground in front of one of my booming hives. I picked up 450 carcasses, a big layer of them, the result of less than a week of deposition, and this morning a couple of hundred are crawling around. It's really about 90% drones and 10% workers. Some appear to hve been pulled from their cells before fully developing, but most are mature. They don't seem to be able to fly, but I'm not noticing either k-wing or deformed wing.
 

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Foundationless?
 

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Are you at the end of a flow or between nectar flows?

Same thing happened to me last year, at the end of a flow, but as far as I can tell, not this year. This year the primary Spring/build up flow lasted longer and is just now tapering off as the thyme flow kicks in.

It happened to my two strongest hives which I also had added a foundationless frame that became a drone frame, mostly. They cleaned it out between flows. The drones had signs of DMV - pretty severe.

This occurred in May 2013, and in August, I treated them with thymol, then later hopguard. These hives lasted that long despite heavy signs of varroa vectored viruses. I later split these hives in October. Got a couple really good queens from them.

I'm assuming its hygienic behavior. The weird thing is, some of the drones had distended phalluses. Check out the photos to see what I am talking about. I picked up a few and took photos of this strange phenomena. Maybe when I picked them up with my gloves I clumsily squished them and popped out their innards? Not sure. I posted this on BL a month or so ago when Randy Oliver posted that someone he knew witnessed the same thing.

Here are the photos. By the way, the grass in front of the hives covers most of the carcasses. The actual drone kill was more severe than the photos suggest:

http://s1370.photobucket.com/user/gnk952/library/Drone Eviction 2013?sort=3&page=1
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Gus, when you say DMV are you talking about th virus that causes deformed wing? I'm not familiar with that acronym. My drones are thick outside the hive as yours are in your pictures. I have sent in a batch to be tested in Beltsville, so hopefully I'll hear something soon. Could be some kind of pest problem, in which case I'll hope that the hive can wait until July, when I can treat with formic or oxalic acid, in the lull between spring and fall flows.

I also wondered if it could be "cultural " and not pest-caused. The hive was so packed with honey when I checked today - they're filling and even capping comb as it's being built! There was a lot more drone laying this spring than I've seen before, so maybe they're kicking out the drones, or even hauling them out of the comb before the drones are ready to emerge, so that the cells can be used for nectar storage. That's pure speculation. Or it could be hygienic behavior. I just extracted and gave the hive a box and a half of empty comb to work with, so hopefully that will relieve the pressure somewhat.
 

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Karen, sorry for the typo, I did mean to write DWV - deformed wing virus. You can see that in some of the drones I picked up. But yes, I'm guessing it could be either hygienic or just a reaction to an oncoming nectar dearth. Now that I think of it, probably just a reaction to a dearth. In one of the photos, you can see two workers "escorting" out a drone.

I only noticed this behavior in 2 large hives that didn't swarm.

I'd be interesting in hearing about your results from Beltsville, good luck, I'm sure it's nothing serious.
 
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