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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last winter 3 out of 3 made it. I went into this winter with 6. One of them is already a deadout. Help me diagnose.

History: I demareed the hive in late spring, without finding the queen. Midsummer, the top part had the queen, so I bought an Olivarez queen for the bottom colony. Three weeks later there were eggs and larvae, but I don't know if it was the Olivarez queen or if they had requeened themselves. I fully divided the colonies. In November I noted that this "bottom" colony hadn't taken their fall syrup like the other colonies had. Mild winter so far.

Mites: Amitraz in spring, formic midsummer, amitraz in fall. At no point did I note a large number of mites on the pull-out bottom tray.

Today's inspection: Tiny cluster. Some dead bees on bottom board but not a lot. Lots of drones for this time of year, roughly equal numbers to the workers. No eggs or larvae. Small amount of capped or emerging brood, all drone. Good amount of honey and pollen. Didn't find the queen but didn't try super hard. No obvious signs of excess moisture. See pictures.

Conclusion? My guess is queen issue. Maybe they went queenless or the queen became a drone layer. But winter bees live for a long time, and it's only January, so shouldn't I have noticed a low population in fall, or still have a good worker population now? Not sure. Mites are of course always the default answer, but I really feel like I treated the @#$#* out of them and never saw white on the top of cells or anything like that.

Here are some pictures. Note that the white crystals on the bees is just sugar, added before I figured out it was a deadout, partly to see if it would stir up some visible activity.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/q5JXcirep9peJ9589

Let me know what you think and what I can learn from this.
 

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Look at your own pictures - nothing but drones.
:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Drones could either mean a drone laying queen or laying workers. I guess either way we're talking queen issue. Maybe I squished her or she just ran out of semen.

The good news is that my other colonies will get drawn comb with some honey and pollen in the spring.

In terms of what I'll do differently in the future, I guess two things come to mind. One is obviously to pay more attention to queen status in August and September when there is still time to requeen. The other is to note that one disadvantage of two queen systems is that one good queen could mask issues with the other. My guess is that the over abundence of drones was not apparent until several weeks after the colonies were separated. Of course, it should have been apparent on the brood combs, but I guess I missed it or it didn't develop until November. *shrug*

The other 5 colonies seem fine based on weight, bees visible through the hole in the inner cover, and the sweet banana smell of alarm pheromone when disturbed on a snowy winter day. 🙂

Thanks all.
 

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In terms of what I'll do differently in the future,
To be honest there may not have been a whole lot you could have done to prevent this. Since we have had varroa, a small number of queens fail in winter and often without much seemingly wrong with them in fall. Even the bees don't know, if they did they would have superseded.
 

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Just curious. How did you deliver the Amitraz?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Apivar strips. I follow the instructions except sometimes the strips stay in for an extra week or two depending on vacation plans, weather, etc.

(I don't usually use the names Apivar, Apistan, or Apilife-Var because they're confusingly similar. I find it easier to remember amitraz, tau-fluvalinate, and thymol.)

The formic was Formic Pro, specifically the lower dose for the longer time period as I feel the higher dose is risky in the heat of summer.
 

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(I don't usually use the names Apivar, Apistan, or Apilife-Var because they're confusingly similar. I find it easier to remember amitraz, tau-fluvalinate, and thymol.)
I understand the potential for confusion. On the other hand, there are any numbers of homebrew delivery methods for Amitraz. And thymol, in addition to homebrew, can be delivered by Apilife Var as well as Apiguard. Pitch in oxalic acid…vaporization, dribble and shop towel applied concoctions….and the confusion expands even more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yeah, you're right. I'll try to use the proper brand names on the forum. I got in the habit of using the chemical names before I got my bees when I was just reading papers and stuff.

For me the fool-proof convenience of the strips is well worth a few dollars per hive, not to mention the timed release of a more precise dose and compliance with the law.
 
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