Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner
1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
40 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone,

I keep bees in two yards, one in the Hudson Valley of NY and another 2 hours away in Western MA. All 10 of my hives in NY have made it through winter and are looking great. All 8 of my MA hives have died and one nuc survived in a resource hive. My MA bees are surrounded by big working farms, growing a variety of things, while my NY bees are largely foraging unfarmed land. All of my MA bees died with dysentery in the hives, and the nuc has quite a mess at the top entrance. Anyone have any ideas? They were all treated for mites at the same time and counts remained low, all had honey left. The MA bees made late honey from something that resulted in very dark honey - wondering if that might have been bad winter food? Was it just cold enough after a dry stressful summer that they weren’t strong enough? Any ideas are helpful! Here’s some of the evidence...

Thank you all, I always get such great ideas and feedback on beesource!

62567
62568
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,888 Posts
Hi Everyone,

I keep bees in two yards, one in the Hudson Valley of NY and another 2 hours away in Western MA. All 10 of my hives in NY have made it through winter and are looking great. All 8 of my MA hives have died and one nuc survived in a resource hive. My MA bees are surrounded by big working farms, growing a variety of things, while my NY bees are largely foraging unfarmed land. All of my MA bees died with dysentery in the hives, and the nuc has quite a mess at the top entrance. Anyone have any ideas? They were all treated for mites at the same time and counts remained low, all had honey left. The MA bees made late honey from something that resulted in very dark honey - wondering if that might have been bad winter food? Was it just cold enough after a dry stressful summer that they weren’t strong enough? Any ideas are helpful! Here’s some of the evidence...

Thank you all, I always get such great ideas and feedback on beesource!

View attachment 62567 View attachment 62568
how big were the clusters in the dead hives? most time's the reason they go in the hive is they can't get out do to small clusters. your NY bees were probably stuck in the hives longer than your bees in Mass.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
40 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
how big were the clusters in the dead hives? most time's the reason they go in the hive is they can't get out do to small clusters. your NY bees were probably stuck in the hives longer than your bees in Mass.
MA clusters were definitely smaller. The summer drought hit harder in MA. My NY bees have better protection from the weather, so I think they probably get out a bit better to relieve themselves. Plenty of dead bees on the bottom boards in MA with very little evidence of mites on the slides. So... You think possible that they were just smaller clusters and the dysentery was a side effect of the clusters being small when they died? I’ve lost hives before, but never had so much poo in the hive afterwards, not across the whole yard.
 

·
Super Moderator
Santa Cruz, CA
Joined
·
1,204 Posts
Seems you're on the right track. A small cluster is more likely to stay in the hive during the cold - keeping the hive warm. As a result they don't go out for cleansing flights and use the restroom inside the hive instead.

If you note, a lot of the bee poo is on one side of the hive. This clearly shows where the cluster made it's last stand before dying off.

Either way, definitely not fun. Seems like a lot of losses in northern climates this year due to the terribly summer and the harsh winter.

One reason I packed all my stuff from Northern Utah and moved to the CA coast :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
40 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Was the very late MA honey possibly Honetdew?

Crazy Roland
I thought the same thing! I have to check in with the farmers in the area. I know there are big pumpkins fields and lots of squash and corn. I do wonder if that’s one possibility. They did bring in some VERY dark almost red honey late in the season. Not sure what that was. This was my first year in this yard, so still figuring out the area. Are there any other honeys that are particularly tough for the bees to winter on?
 

·
Moderator - In Memorium
Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
Joined
·
6,881 Posts
With nothing to really go on other than your discussion of the honey, I would suggest that they were consuming something with a very high ash content. This is one of the reasons that pure sugar syrup is actually better as a winter feed for northern bees than the honey they collect.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Struttinbuck

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
126 Posts
Same issues here in central MA. It was a bad year with the summer drought and the fall robbing. Clusters were small and weak, and it was cold for an extended period.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,888 Posts
They did bring in some VERY dark almost red honey late in the season. Not sure what that was.
probably chinese bamboo, they overwinter just fine up here on it, did you look and see if there was any pollen left in the frames? lack there off will cause them symptoms similar to what you saw.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,247 Posts
did you look and see if there was any pollen left in the frames? lack there off will cause them symptoms similar to what you saw.
What do you mean by this statement wild? that the lack of pollen will cause dysentery and/or cause the bees to defecate in the hive?
also you say "most time's the reason they go in the hive is they can't get out do to small clusters."

I've never heard of this nor have I seen it in any of my winter deadouts. I'm interested to hear more.

22bones: Until wild responds I'd look under a scope for nosema apis in their guts, it's not that common any more but it hasn't disappeared either.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
The beekeeper, the bees, the equipments, the med. treatment, feeding are the SAME, only different location.
I had the same problem, only distance between bee yards was 1000 feet. People around me have chickens,
and the their good attract the bees, neighbor spray the bees...to get rid of them.Another two neighbors use
round up and spray their flowers to protect from deers. The worst is no farming, but TALSTAR, almost everybody
use this insecticide on their lawn or back yards to kill all insects.DOT and electrical company use herbicides
to kill weeds on side of road and under power line. Talstar is sold by FMC, 4,6 billions industry. If You call
state bee-inspector, he will come for free, he will find that cause for deaths is varroa, but he will not take
sample of dead bees for Lab test.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
602 Posts
Yes, honey sounds like Japanese bamboo or knotweed (same plant, different name). Its invasive often in wet spots and along streams. Native planters don't like it but beekeepers sure do. They should overwinter on it fine. I'd be interested to hear if others think differently on that....
I understood wild to be saying that once the cluster gets too small they are more likely to deficate in the hive if there are no good flight days because they need all the bodies to maintain heat. I have seen that the bigger colonies are more likely to fly earlier so there may be something to this. Some of our colonies winter in surprisingly small clusters and are very quiet so they metabolize less and need to deficate less (i think, anyway). So I think this theory would only hold true if the cluster size is below what the colony was aiming for. This leads me to think that there is some underlying situation causing the cluster to shrink too much which results in bees staying in to maintain warmth when some of them should have been out cleansing....
 

·
Registered
5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
Joined
·
3,891 Posts
Yes, honey sounds like Japanese bamboo or knotweed (same plant, different name). Its invasive often in wet spots and along streams. Native planters don't like it but beekeepers sure do. They should overwinter on it fine. I'd be interested to hear if others think differently on that....
I understood wild to be saying that once the cluster gets too small they are more likely to deficate in the hive if there are no good flight days because they need all the bodies to maintain heat. I have seen that the bigger colonies are more likely to fly earlier so there may be something to this. Some of our colonies winter in surprisingly small clusters and are very quiet so they metabolize less and need to deficate less (i think, anyway). So I think this theory would only hold true if the cluster size is below what the colony was aiming for. This leads me to think that there is some underlying situation causing the cluster to shrink too much which results in bees staying in to maintain warmth when some of them should have been out cleansing....
Amibusiness,

Good observations,
Not proven but IMO less bees means each bee is a heater bee more often, IE eat then shiver.
where with more bees the role of heater bees happens just as often but to a larger pool of bees.
so the smaller cluster ends up getting more waste inside each bee due to eating more often.

once I see the cluster get down to 2 frames or less seems to be the downward spiral to a dead out.

Interestingly my well insulated hives (2x4 insulated walls) have never had the poop inside and seem very calm in the spring. Also IMO heat loss means more heat needed. Wish I had more time to take measurements.

stay well

GG
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,247 Posts
My experience is small population, small cluster deadouts have no feces in the hive. In fact many small cluster are caught away from the feed and hardly move at all it seems. No feed to eat, no digestive by product to expel. To boot the feces is black colored, a red flag in and of itself.
Best I can tell is that it's only sick bees that have defecated inside the hive no matter the cluster size, either found living or after death. Even then bees by nature try to go outside to crap and to die if possible. The impulse to remove themselves and their afflictions from the colony for the good of the colony appears to be stronger than remaining with the population for any reason I can think of.
The issue described by these MA beekeepers smacks of sick bees and gut issues in the form of Nosema apis, not small clusters unable to make a cleansing flight or choosing to defecate inside the hive in order to continue as a heater bee, or low pollen stores. I wonder about tainted food stores.
For certain high ash dysentery and defecation caused by disease are not the same and the accounts don't lend themselves to common dysentery IMO.

I'm interested to hear from wild on this before discounting the theories any further.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,888 Posts
as to the question on pollen in the hives, Mass. had a drought, very possible there was a lack of pollen in the hive, I have seen where the lack of pollen causes the bees to use up their body reserves to try and raise the early brood, causing them to go in the hive with the smaller clusters.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
44 Posts
I'm in Southern MA and we're experiencing notable bee losses throughout the State. The State Inspectors are discovering a high rate of Nosema that's caused colonies to collapse. Last year we had an unusually warm winter followed by a "severe" drought (which led to robbing and higher mite infestation) followed by a normal winter. In addition, The Gov. of MA by way of legislation brought the mosquito spraying program under State jurisdiction (was by county). So any towns that had banned mosquito spraying in their municipalities - too bad. Some have lost their hives to spraying.

You might be interested in sitting in on the MDAR's zoom meeting 3/22/21 at 7PM EST. They're going to review both USDA & MDAR bee surveys. Should be interesting. Here's the info on it: https://www.mass.gov/doc/apiary-newsletter-spring-2021/download
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,247 Posts
I'm in Southern MA and we're experiencing notable bee losses throughout the State. The State Inspectors are discovering a high rate of Nosema that's caused colonies to collapse. Last year we had an unusually warm winter followed by a "severe" drought (which led to robbing and higher mite infestation) followed by a normal winter. In addition, The Gov. of MA by way of legislation brought the mosquito spraying program under State jurisdiction (was by county). So any towns that had banned mosquito spraying in their municipalities - too bad. Some have lost their hives to spraying.

You might be interested in sitting in on the MDAR's zoom meeting 3/22/21 at 7PM EST. They're going to review both USDA & MDAR bee surveys. Should be interesting. Here's the info on it: https://www.mass.gov/doc/apiary-newsletter-spring-2021/download
Thanks, I plan to listen in.
No response yet from mdar to the email I sent off inquiring about these circumstances.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,676 Posts
I've had this happen up here in central ME, especially when the temps go sub-zero for long periods. It gets worse if I haven't insulated and if I didn't feed Fumagilin in the Fall.

I lost some hives this Winter, broke my wrist and hand before I got insulation on and couldn't do it. They were fine before the sub-zero set in, then croaked. The ones that didn't croak were badly splattered on the outside when they finally got a period warm enough to get out. I don't know how bad the insides of the survivors are yet, my hand/wrist still isn't up to a lot of disassembly of triple deeps.

The ones that croaked died fast, the sub-zero period was combined with high winds for several days. The wind got in through the gaps between the boxes and they just couldn't handle it. I had more hives than I wanted anyway, they built up too fast last Spring and all went from normal at the start of May to swarming before the month was out and I caught them all. I split one that I thought I caught before it swarmed, but I was actually too late so I ended up with more than double what I started with.

It will be interesting to see how the insides look because I didn't feed Fumagilin this past Fall either- the goldenrod ran late and I still had supers on.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,640 Posts
What is the current position on the value of Fumigillin? What was it, 4 or 5 years ago that some manufacturers quit producing it. One story was that it generated dependance. I have some colonies this winter pooped up around upper entrances with very dark staining and some on the frames. Some scary small clusters. I have not used Fumigillin for at least 8 years.
 
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Top