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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Had a strong hive through most of the winter. They were out flying on the few warm days in January. Then February hit and it was cold for most of the month. Very little activity on any of my 3 hives. Last week when it was warm, opened up this hive and found a few barely alive bees. The cold last night (12F) finished them off .

I did a alcohol wash on a cup of the bees and found no mites. (Had been doing OAV into the winter). Enough honey left, and fondant on top as a backup.

The frames in the top box are spotted with I think either dysentery or nosema. Not sure which. Do the attached pictures provide any clues what killed this hive?
 

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My understanding is that the nosema apis pathogen causes dysentery in the bees. The nosema damage the lining of the bees digestive system and they end up with too much water in their gut, hence the diarrhea. But this looks very similar to that. Fecal matter in the hive or massive amounts at the entrance are tell-tale signs since bees do not defecate in the hive. We have the nosema ceranae now, but that does not cause dysentery symptoms in bees.
 

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By February they would have been starting to brood up. If there numbers were on the low side they can easily starve "locked on brood". In the lead up the small cluster may not be able to easily heat enough for the bees to take advantage of breaks to leave to defecate and the frames can get pooped up. Those early patches of brood are do or die as the previous seasons bees are timing out. The last bees do starve as they burn up their last calories trying to keep the cluster temperature up. IIf all other conditions are right it takes much colder than 12 F to kill the bees.

When the colony goes below critical mass many symptoms start to show up and can confuse what may have been the initial management issues dating back to the previous summer and autumn. I bought a microscope and was gearing up to test for Nosema but have not had much problem with it so the scope is gathering dust. I dont get a fall flow to tempt me so I feed up to a target weight and make sure mites are under control early.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
What were you feeding them? How much were they using? A couple of pics of the worst frames and bees might help.
Added Fondant made with apple cider vinegar and a bit of honeybee helper. The other hives have the same fondant and are not showing problems. I also added a pollen patty in early Febrary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
By February they would have been starting to brood up. If there numbers were on the low side they can easily starve "locked on brood". In the lead up the small cluster may not be able to easily heat enough for the bees to take advantage of breaks to leave to defecate and the frames can get pooped up. Those early patches of brood are do or die as the previous seasons bees are timing out. The last bees do starve as they burn up their last calories trying to keep the cluster temperature up. IIf all other conditions are right it takes much colder than 12 F to kill the bees.

When the colony goes below critical mass many symptoms start to show up and can confuse what may have been the initial management issues dating back to the previous summer and autumn. I bought a microscope and was gearing up to test for Nosema but have not had much problem with it so the scope is gathering dust. I dont get a fall flow to tempt me so I feed up to a target weight and make sure mites are under control early.
The brood patches seem like a very possible scenario. I plan to take the hive completly apart later this week, and I'll see how much brood is present, and if the bees are clustered around it.

If Nosema is the problem, should I replace the wax then bleach the wood frames? I plan on sending some comb to the beltsville lab for analysis.
 

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The brood patches seem like a very possible scenario. I plan to take the hive completly apart later this week, and I'll see how much brood is present, and if the bees are clustered around it.

If Nosema is the problem, should I replace the wax then bleach the wood frames? I plan on sending some comb to the beltsville lab for analysis.
Do a search on fumigating combs with glacial acetic acid There should be some info there; It is not readily available in Canada but may be in US.
 

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Had been doing OAV into the winter
When did you start doing the oav and how frequently?
 

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Apple cider vinegar (5-6% acetic acid) ... I did use this in my sugar syrup feed, but it had too much odor and started a robbing frenzy...now I use lemon juice to help with the ph factor and make it easier to digest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Do a search on fumigating combs with glacial acetic acid There should be some info there; It is not readily available in Canada but may be in US.
Found a number of good videos on fumigating combs with glacial acetic acid. Looks simple, but the temperature needs to be above 70F. For us that means most likely June. There is also a study on using fumigation vs heat, vs irradiation, and the fumigation was least effective against nosema ceranae . The study also implied that treating used comb proactively provides an environment with fewer pathogens.
 

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There are lots of cases of "dysentery" type issues being reported in MA this year. Some of mine are also displaying increased staining on the hive entrance although it is the typical yellowish color and not dark or black.
Has anyone contacted the state apiarist, Kim Skyrm, regarding this yet?
[email protected]

The current scenario smacks of the old Nosema apis infection. I have a gut feeling it is apis.
I plan to scope some in the next few weeks when I begin to work my MA bees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
There are lots of cases of "dysentery" type issues being reported in MA this year. Some of mine are also displaying increased staining on the hive entrance although it is the typical yellowish color and not dark or black.
Has anyone contacted the state apiarist, Kim Skyrm, regarding this yet?
[email protected]

The current scenario smacks of the old Nosema apis infection. I have a gut feeling it is apis.
I plan to scope some in the next few weeks when I begin to work my MA bees.
Good idea. I will contact her.
 
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