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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am a newbie, got my first hive in May. Northern California in the Sacramento Valley, we get to maybe 29° for a couple mornings.

I did apivar strips for the 6 weeks sept-nov (I did not test for mites so don’t know what the count was). Hive was strong. Found my queen when we pulled the strips.
Shortly after, I started noticing dead bees on the entrance and ground outside hive. Upon researching I found this to be normal. At a later point I also found 4 heads on the entrance. I gave them some pollen patties and sugar syrup even though they had the whole top deep full of honey. Put in the entrance reducer and crossed my fingers waiting for spring. Today we hit 70° so we went to check them. Maybe 3 dozen or so dead, even dead trying to hatch, various stages or larvae, but not any live bees in the hive, although I have half a dozen flying around. Did they leave? I did not see the queen among the dead, nor any queen cells.

Now what do do with the hive? The apivar package says to remove honey supers during treatment so I assume all the honey is inedible.

Very sad day for my son and I 😞
 

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Sorry to hear about the lost hive. What you describe sounds like death by varroa mite. The flying bees might be from a different hive that is robing what's left. I'm not familiar with the climate at your location, but sept-nov seems to be to late for varroa treatment.

Normally the bees can stay ahead of the varroa infection as long as the hive grows, as long as there is a big brood nest, there are so to speak more bees than mites. So there are always bees that hatch unaffected and healthy. Around summer solstice (at least here) the hives stop growing and the number of bees decline. Shortly after the bees that have to make it through winter hatch. If those winter bees are affected by the mites, the hive will slowly collapse. The affected bees notice that's something wrong with them and they leave the hive to die. That's why a hive that has been killed by the varroa mite looks (almost) empty.

The purpose of varroa treatment in summer is to reduce the number of mites, so that the bees can raise healthy winter bees. So it has to be done early enough so that the bees aren't overwhelmed by the mites and every single larvae is affected. Around here the process is usually: Honey harvest, one week of feeding, two weeks formic acid treatment with a 'slow' evaporator. So treatment is done by the end of July and definitely not later than end of august. In winter there is another round of treatment with oxalic acid dripping or (where allowed by law) oxalic acid vapor. Winter treatment is done then there is no brood in the hive as oxalic acid doesn't work with capped brood. The purpose of the winter treatment is to remove as many mites as possible, so that the bees start the new season with a low number.

//Edit:
About the honey - yes that's not consumable anymore. Apivar contains Amitraz, which is a insecticide that will move into honey and wax. You don't want to eat that. Personally I would throw out honey and wax and start fresh. But I usually play it on the very safe side, so other might have a different opinion about using the frames and the honey for a different hive.

If you start with a new hive have another look at varroa treatment - those pesky mites are alwasy there but they are manageable with effective treatment at the correct time. Also test for infection levels with powder sugar, co2 or alcohol wash to get a clear picture what's going on.
 

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The frames are fine. Melt down the wax with a steam melter - or a heat gun. That shoud desinfect them in case there was anything other than varroa. After that you can use them again.
 

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Thank you. Now what do I do with the frames? Do I scrap them and get new frames?
Personally, I would try to figure out why the hive died, before melting all of your drawn frames & honey down. Drawn frames are gold to me & to melt them down prematurely? If they turn out usable, protect them from wax moth & mice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Personally, I would try to figure out why the hive died, before melting all of your drawn frames & honey down. Drawn frames are gold to me & to melt them down prematurely? If they turn out usable, protect them from wax moth & mice.
I’ve been watching videos and they’re all agreeing with the other comment regarding varroa. And in the videos they just scraped out the cluster and reused the frames. My last question would be why there is no cluster.
I will be testing and treating earlier in the year this go around
 
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