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Discussion Starter #1
So, I was looking at my hive this evening and over the course of a saw minutes saw several bees stumble from the hive and fall to the ground in front of the hive. Looking around I noticed 10 or 15 bees lying in front of the hive.

Some were slowing moving around.



Some were huddling together.



These two broke my heart.

And some had already given up the ghost.



It's too dark to open my hive right now right now. I will open up it up tomorrow and check it out but in the mean time I was wondering if anyone could hazard a guess as to what there problem was? That hive is 45 days old today (6.4 weeks). Are these just workers from the original package that have come to the end of there live? Or is this a sign of something more serious?
 

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they look too young with all the hair but Im not very seasoned at such things. At any rate, I wish you luck. Dead bees always are a downer.
 

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The first and last image look like young bees to me while the two together look like older workers. I did notice a blemish on the abdomen of the third image. Could that be from varroa feeding before she emerged and it weakened her?

Dying bees - Mozilla Firefox_2014-05-26_22-19-01.jpg
 

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That's kinda strange, I just did a removal of a healthy looking hive this weekend, got them home , and I'm not seeing a lot of bee traffic, but I'm seeing bees stumble out one by one acting like zombies. Kinda like they were poisoned. I was feeding the pro health to them. Jar had been on a different hive about 2 weeks, although I wouldn't think it could turn poisonous. So I removed it yesterday early and did away with that feeder altogether. I opened it up last night and got stung on the face twice , I used foundation less frames and they were all daisy chained inside of them (I'm guessing trying to build wax) they are starting from scratch , and they can't leave due to me clipping one of the wings from the queen when I found her. But there SHOULD be traffic and I'm just not seeing it. I'm pretty sure the lady didn't poision them. And there's still about 4 solid frames of bees. It's kinda got me puzzled, that's why when I saw your post. . . I was thinking this same scenario is happening to me as well
 

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I spent some time reading today and found out that if bees are starving they can have these symptoms, the bees i picked up had only been in the persons house for 4 days. In that time they built 3 decent sized combs, started collecting honey but none was capped, i removed them, brought them home, when they started acting like zombies i thought that maybe the prohealth was doing it to them, so i took it off the hive and kinda figured the bees had plenty of wildflowers to eat currently anyways, well more started dying and acting like zombies, see the bees used all their calories when they swarmed and built the comb, i took them home and they had to start from scratch again. THEY WERE STARVING. i took a jar of honey that turned to sugar, and went out there and scooped it out on-top of the frames and they started eating it like no tomorrow. AND installed a boardman feeder. I also reduced the entrance to about 3/8" to minimize robbing on a weak hive. Moral of the story, now there is LOTS of traffic, (when they were out of food they never left the hive, only to come outside like zombies and die)

So dont be a dummy like me and check to see if they have plenty of food in their hive. Thanks guys for all the info. My hive looks 1000% better after about 6 hrs
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Oh Mary mother of god.

I came home from work early today so I could check on the bees before it got dark. I wanted to see if they were doing OK and pop open the hive and take a look at things.

This is what I saw when I when I got to the hive.



The front entrance was clogged with dead bees. Warning, it only gets worse from here.

The bees were very quiet. Only a slight hum at me taking the hive apart and nobody was flying at all. Granted it was nearly 7pm but the whole hive seemed to be moving in slow motion. Opening up the hive and taking at look at the first frame things did not look good at all.



First thing I noticed, there were no stores at all. Not a drop of nectar, not a pinch of pollen to be found anywhere in the hive. These were the same bees I had watched 4 days ago carrying leg load after leg load of pollen into the hive. How could this have happened?

Looking down at the bottom board I could see extent of the disaster.



An inch of dead bees littering the bottom board. Oh the humanity!

Taking a closer look at the brood, things didn't look any better there.



The caps on the brood looked tattered at best and wholly missing in some cases. While in other cases the heads of the brood seemed mangled. Some looked like they had been neatly decapitated, while others eaten half off.



Zooming in on the bottom board, things didn't get any prettier.



The bottom board was littered with not only dead bees but remains of lots of brood. At first I thought they were all covered with mites, but now looking at the photos I think the things stuck to the bodies are wax particles from tattered brood caps.

So what do I do now? I spayed the bees with a 1:1 sugar solution to try and give them some food right away. When I did this all movement in the hive stopped and a thousand little tongues came out an immediately started lapping away. I added the top feeders back and will check them again tomorrow morning but I worried that something is more seriously wrong then simple starvation. And how could they be starving anyway? Everything is blooming like crazy right now!

I did the stick foul brood test but I didn't see anything that looked ropey to me. But hell if I really know what it really should look like. Were they just robbed out of everything? Man, I am the worst beekeeper in the world.
 

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Bees get slow and sluggish if they have no food; I've seen this 1st hand but you also have some indications that it could be something more.

The easy 1st step is to get some food on them to keep any starvation die off to a minimum.

Have you taken a smell of the comb; is there any odor that you can detect? Something else to test would be to stick a match or toothpick into a capped brood cell, stir it around and pull it out slowly; does it string out when you pull out the match? Last; if you can pull out a brood see if the brood appears to be in a cocoon or casing?

Last thing to try; take a number of bees and place them into a sealed jar and leave them in a warm place for 4-5 days while you check other things. What you are looking for (and you may find them on the bottom board (aka, insert the board under your screen) are small larvae (fly larvae to be exact).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
OK they are much more active this morning. I think the food did them some good. They were carrying out dead brood so I collected a few. They all seemed to be headless or have badly mangled heads. I did the the AFB poke test last night and the only thing I could see was looked like a brood that I had squished with my stick. Caps are tattered but not dark or greasy looking. I noticed no bad smell coming from the hive.







 

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I am so sorry for you. I thought they were starving at first when reading your initial post, but nothing prepared me for those pictures. I cannot offer up anything of value outside keep feeding them and please keep updating. We can only learn from you at this point.
 

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If spraying them with syrup helped, I would keep feeding. And the lack of a bad smell is a good thing. Hows the local forage? Down here in California the drought seems to have brought on a dearth rather quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Robbers... #$%!% robbers.

So I went into work late this morning so I could watch the activity at the hive as the morning progressed. I had suspected robbing of some kind so had put the entrance reducer back in place. I didn't have to wait too long to see what was happening. Around 9:30 they came in force. At first, circling around the hive innocently for a few minutes, then they made a go at the entrance. One or two at first, then five or ten at a time. They would land and try to barge there way through the now reduced entrance. Each time a little rolling battle would ensue with two or three bees in a ball tumbling off the porch and on to the ground in front of the hive. After a short time a great commotion was happening in front of the hive.



I'm not sure if the robbers made it into the hive today or not. Eventually, I had to go to work and couldn't see how this little drama played out. But I can now imagine how the last week or so have went. Without the entrance reducer in place the local wild honey bees were taking everything edible out of the hive, leaving my bees weak and slow. With no honey left, an opportunist hornet (or 10) must have come by decided that the heads of brood were the next thing on the menu. The dead adult honey bees were probably killed by the robbers, the hornets, or just starved to death.

My notions of my own little honey bee utopia are fairly crushed at this point. But I think I begin to realize now a little more about the difficulties of being a beekeeper. And while I am saddened by the poor state of my bees, I am also reminded of this Richard Dawkins quote:

Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous...
 

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We learn from experience. You care, you learn, your bees will thrive in their beautifully stencilled hive:)
 

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There are solutions for nearly every problem in beekeeping. It sucks what you are going thru but stop sounding so defeatist. This site has tons of info on robbing, robber screens are simple to make for pennies. We need to manage the bees. Even in the worst case scenario, a total loss of the hive, what makes you think there is some reason you cannot start again with more knowledge? I would venture to say that there arent too many people frequenting this site that havent lost a hive, if they have been fooling with bees longer than the blink of an eye. I have only been keeping them since last year, I have suffered a casualty, one out of two. I am battling to keep one alive now, and may just give the bees to a stronger hive if it does not turn around quick. Look, Im pulling for you, Im pulling for your hive, but you just need to continue to study this site,learn, and be proactive. Im really not trying to be rude, but Whoa is Me died long ago. Good Luck, i hope you can turn it around. G
 

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Well,
Your good photos and documented account have been keenly noted by
this new beekeeper. All information that comes out of good fortune, or disaster,
is valuable.

I'm learning from you, if that is any consolation.
 

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I think that they were starved and ate the brood for nutrients. If you feed them and perhaps give them some pollen they should turn around soon. Good luck!!!
 

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I think that they were starved and ate the brood for nutrients. If you feed them and perhaps give them some pollen they should turn around soon. Good luck!!!
Does that really happen - cannibalism? I can see the wasps moving in for a protein snack which could explain why the caps were removed and the heads eaten off, but really did not consider the bees eating their young. :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #17
So it appears that, yes, honeybees will cannibalize there own young, at least according to this study. So waps may not have been the head eaters but in fact the guilty party may have been starving bees. I had no idea this was even possible.

biggraham610, sorry if I'm sounding mopey. I have a penchant for the dramatic in my writing. I am not going to give up.

virginiawolf, I am on the hunt for protein patties right now. Anyone know where I can buy these in the Seattle area? If I can't find any this morning, I will find some brewers yeast and make patties tonight.
 

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I am sort for all of your problems. Your photos are excellent and helpful. What camera and lens do you use to capture such great photos? Hope you have resolved your problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
For most of these shot, I used a Nikon D40x and Nikon 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor Lens. The body is cheap and dependable and the lens is magic but kinda pricey.

My bees are doing better. Still kicking myself for not realizing what was going on sooner.
 
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