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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I posted a couple of months ago that all 9 of my hives made it through the winter. Now I feel really stupid because I've lost 6. Seems to be very recent. All were in double deeps, still had leftover honey and had been packing in new. All had unsealed brood and a couple had some sealed brood. In three of them the bottom boards were covered with dead bees with some scattered small pockets of dead bees with their heads in the cells. In two of them there were just no bees there. The sixth one I'm not sure because I got tired of looking. This will be my fourth year. I don't treat. All the bees are local mutts or from an apiary that doesn't treat. Any ideas? And how do I protect all this comb from wax moths?
 

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I am so sorry about your losses! I don't have advice or ideas, but I sure hope your other hives do well for you this year. Good luck.
 

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All were in double deeps, still had leftover honey and had been packing in new. All had unsealed brood and a couple had some sealed brood. In three of them the bottom boards were covered with dead bees with some scattered small pockets of dead bees with their heads in the cells.
Have you had some unexpected cold snaps? I lost 2 in March 2013 in much the same way as you described. They froze.
It was a mess to deal with the aftermath, as I had to wait on 2 new packages, at least you have other hives.

Maybe you could donate the capped brood to one of your surviving hives? (I don't know if they're still viable or when you last inspected) Definitely give them the honey.

As for the uncapped brood, I didn't do this- but wished I had caught it in time to let the birds have at the larvae to clean the frames for me. I don't know if I'm right or wrong here, but it was a slimy mess to deal with!


If you have a freezer, that would be a good place to store the comb.

You could try dry ice and trash bags, but then I'd go back a day later (because of the holes poked for ventilation) and re-wrap them with new trash bags, vacuum out the air, and zip tie them.

Good luck with your remaining hives! I hope they prosper!
 

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Hi, well its seems too early for a pesticide issue but not sure for your area. The head in deaths tell me that these either starved or froze. How cold are your nights? And when you say bottom boards "covered w dead bees" are we talking "heaps" as in the "whole hive" or just a single bee layer? Low numbers of bees, not enough to keep warm on cold nights could be why the head in bees. Any other signs or oddities?

Thanks,

MP
 

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Sounds like the might have starved. What's the weather been like there, and are you sure there was honey in the hives that died?

Another thing to keep in mind, might be the low numbers and no emerging brood (IE: Queenless hive) perhaps the remaining bees simply died off from age, and there were no new bees to be born.

Possible the Queen might of froze during winter and survived, but then her eggs became sterile in the process... ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
A couple of weeks ago we had a few days of cool rainy weather, lows in the low 40's. They are planting around here now and doing the initial burndown with roundup but I don't think pesticide is a part of that. I don't know about heaps of dead bees but definitely more than single layer.
 

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Wags has good point. I lost 3 hives that "seemed" fine in the spring. I saw sign of eggs and larva, you see eggs and larva and I assumed everything was fine. But eggs and larva mean nothing if they are all DRONE larva. Brood does not equal laying queen....there was no FLAT capped brood....2 died off (age with no new bees to replace) and the 3rd went laying worker with all raised drone brood.

I think they starved / froze. How far from the "face in bees" was the honey stores located?

Combo of queen loss, low numbers of bees, and cold nights could have done it.

MP
 

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A couple of weeks ago we had a few days of cool rainy weather, lows in the low 40's. They are planting around here now and doing the initial burndown with roundup but I don't think pesticide is a part of that. I don't know about heaps of dead bees but definitely more than single layer.
There should be some capped brood leftover, even in a dead hive - if it's all drone brood (raised capped cells) then that would be an indicator that you had a failing queen (sterile) or a worker laying drone brood.

I believe once a queen freezes, her eggs will not produce workers anymore - just drones. Therefore the queen has essentially become a worker bee and needs replacing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
farmerdean- Don't rule out chemicals so quickly, you said hives were good and bringing in new Stuff. ??????
I'm not ruling out anything. I'm not real sure how strong they were. This was the first time I opened them this year. I did observe them earlier coming and going, carrying pollen, etc. Judging from the amount of dead bees I would say the population was pretty decent for this time of year. As for the capped brood, there wasn't much and it wasn't drone. The greatest amount of brood by far was uncapped, about half filling the cell, and shiny white.
 

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Do you not feed your bees? Curious why you waited until May to do your first hive inspection of the year.

If the weather was super cold, I could understand it - but it seems late to do your first inspection in May.
 

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farmerdean- Sounds like they were in good shape and just starting to get up and running. My guess would be that the poor
girls just got tangled up in some nasty chemicals somewhere, early apple spray or plantings? I don't treat either, but it doesn't sound like varroa, especially this early. Good luck, hope you can build back up again.
If you had varroa, most of the time I can spot them on the bottom board when you clean the bees up.
 

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Everyone failed to mention the most likely culprit, considering these hives were not treated. Varroa mites are the most likely explanation.
 

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Most of the bees that have died in this area (that I know about) died from starvation. Last fall was a tough time for bees and they went into winter very light on honey. Then If they made it through the winter, It has been so cool that there is not much nectar to keep the hive going - at a time when they need a lot of food.
Charlie
 
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