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Well, I thought I was going to come out of my first season smelling like a rose. No such luck...

Today I decided to do an inspection of my one and only hive since I haven't opened it since October. When I last looked at it, the two deeps and the super was full of capped honey. Everything seemed in order. I hadn't feed them since May and their numbers grew quite quickly. Didn't notice anything was really wrong until I opened it.

What I found was the super was about half full of honey with a few hundred bees still in it. I chose today because it was in the low 70's and our fruit trees are in bloom and covered in bees. Took the super off and started digging into the first deep. No honey and no bees. Comb looks black and there is quite a bit of mold on the outside few frames. Few dead bees in the cells. Not looking good.... Took it off and started pulling frames from the bottom deep. No better. No honey and lots of mold. Got that deep off and found about 3 inches of dead and moldy bee carcases on the screened bottom board. There is all my bees... :cry:

Dumped out the dead bees and put everything back together. Immediately put my entry feeder on, although it's probably way too late to bother with that.... No queen found either..

Lesson learned is while some people can not feed or treat their bees, i feel that mine just wasn't established enough to take this step. Maybe later. I believe the mold is from poor circulation due to all the dead bees. I shall start checking this more frequently in the Winter as well.

I'm planning on getting another package and queen and trying it again. Any reason not to do this?

This site has been a great resource and I've learned quite a lot in my first year of beekeeping but I seem to always screw up my first go at things so this doesn't appear to be any different. Maybe next year will have much different results.
 

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about half full of honey with a few hundred bees still in it.
Sorry to hear about the loss. It tough when we loose our pets.
Never mind looking for a queen, did you see any sign of larva in that top super? If so then she is in there someplace. I assume you removed one unused deep when you put the feeder in. If there are no larva there is no use feeding anything though.
 

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i didn't look for it, but will tomorrow. I also plan to remove one of the deeps tomorrow as well. I was thinking that I'd start feeding them to keep them going and install a package sometime early April. Anyone know if the old bees will integrate with the new additions?

Thanks for the feedback Naturegoods.
 

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Without a queen and without queen cells (you didn't mention any) this hive's a goner; probably before you can get your package.

If you do get your package and there are still bees, you could take the 3 days to get the new queen established, and then do a newspaper combine, with the weak hive on top.

Or... let 'em die off. There may have been a disease, and you don't want to risk infecting a new hive. If it were me, I'd start fresh, let this hive perish, and thoroughly clean it. Depending on the condition of the comb, (you mentioned mold) I'd consider dumping that too.
 

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I don't think it was a disease, but rather my stupidity in letting them starve. Going into Fall, I checked and they had the entire hive packed. Today the deeps were empty and one a few frames in the super had honey. I didn't see any queen cells so either I still have a queen (doubtful) or she died with the rest.

I'll check them tomorrow morning to see how many are left since most were out collecting nectar. Sugar doesn't cost much so I may try and see if I can get them through the next few weeks and do the newspaper combine like you mentioned.

This whole thing has been quite discouraging.
 

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With the warmer weather the few remaining bees may live but be on the lookout for a laying worker. As a last resort in a queenless broodless hive a worker may start laying, but she lays nothing but drones. Screws up the comb she lays in, looks like bullets sticking out they are so long.
The social structure of a hive like that is so screwed up I would not want to try to combine it.
Hate to be a terd in the punchbowl but it seems you also lost about 100 pounds of honey you left on the hive. How much does a package cost there?
That much honey, either you're in a great location or that was an extraordinary queen and a huge colony. Or both.
This summer will be better and knowing what you know now, you'll do better:)
 

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In beekeeping, the lessons are learned the hard way. Sometimes even if they have plenty of honey, they still die (in my area anyway). The good thing is - "There's always next year". That's my motto anyway. Good luck.
 

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You mentioned all the "mold" you find on the outer edges of the top deep and then the tremendous amount of mold in the bottom deep. Could excess moisture have chilled the bees?

I'm brand new and reading every forum thread I can find to learn all I can. It just doesn't seem normal for "mold" to be in a beehive.

I'm with you though, with two deeps and a super full of honey, you did all you knew to do and I would have done the same.
 

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I have about the same climate as you do. My hives that had more than 6 deep frames completely filled with honey still have some honey stores. Those with 5-6 frames (the least that I started winter with) are just now getting some feed.

With the amount of honey that you are talking about that is missing I wonder if your bees died earlier and you are seeing robbers. If you put the feeder in there you will encourage that. Do the bees in the hive seem clustered or spread out in the hive?

I had one hive die in late January. It looked fine from the outside because there was always some activity. When I pulled the cover though I could see that the activity was just some robber bees. I took the frames left and gave them to other hives and sealed up the hive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
@Naturegoods: Yes, I definitely learned something from this dead out. I read so much about natural beekeeping and letting them feed themselves. I thought that's what I was doing. Appears they need more than I thought.
I do have a great area for bees. I have an orchard full of fruit trees, blackberry brambles everywhere and tons of wild flowers. Plus I was amazed at how fast the queen filled the brood chamber so I had a good situation that I let slip through my hands. Live and learn.

@Queen: Indeed. Next year will be better.

@beekeeper1756: I have read that mold is fairly common. I don't think this is what killed off my bees since almost all the honey is gone. I do think it got worse as the dead pilled up at the bottom as it blocked off the air flow and may have made the situation worse. I think next year I'll take the hive off the bottom board and monitor that from time to time.

@beedeetee: They are clustering in the super. I do see them trying to defend against robbers though. My Italians are very light in color and I routinely see almost black honey bees trying to get in. They are kept at bay by a group of guard bees though. I put on an entrance reducer early last fall so I really think they simply starved. It wasn't a very cold Winter here so I think they just went through their stores faster than anticipated. I think next time I'll keep putting on supers until they quit filling them. That amount of stores plus a little feeding should help minimize them starving at least. I'm sure something else will replace it though. :doh:
 

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here is some advice to give feed well in the spring, feed heavy in the fall. use something like Honey B healthy to help them out. Inspect your hives reguraly. and sometimes deadouts happen. Just start again do your best.
 
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