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Lost a hive - don't know why

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First winter as a beek. Went into winter with 5 good colonies and lost one. Trying to determine why they did not make it. (Also happy that have 4 good ones going into spring.)

Looking for your thoughts as to why the die off and perhaps I can make myself a better beek next year. It was a very nasty winter here, but I know bees survive in worse. Here are a few facts

Treated for t-mites with grease patties. They had 4 patties and they went thru about 2/3’s of these. This hive did not have any V-mites earlier in the year, but I did find mites on the bottom board. I use SBB, and in the winter put the board back in (covered with a bit of Vaseline) In two of the pics you can see the mites. But this is not 1000’s of mites and this was from Nov until today. Perhaps it is too many but I don't know.

Did they starve? Not sure, there was some head down bees dead on a few of the frames. What is strange to me is that on one of these there was food just a few cells away. I got a pic of this posted, all bees in this pic are dead, some are heads-down others just hanging there... On another frame about ½ of one side of the frame was dead heads down dead bees.
There was honey/stores on the outer 3 frames (6 total) were almost untouched of the top box, with the inner 4 consumed.

No brood, but I did find ~10 cells with dead capped brood, there was dead larva in a few of these and a few fully formed bees.

I did find some spots all over the top frames, and top of the inner cover. I don't know if it was just caused where a bee died, nosema or what. There is a pic of this. In the fall I did give them 2 galls of fumagilin-b solution. This hive was bursting at the seams with bees in the fall when I took the supers off. In the late fall during my last inspections there were lots of bees, not sure how they all fit in there, during inspections they would 'boil' out, with 20 frames full of honey/stores or brood.

Today when I took the hive off The bottom screen was full of dead bees, but the entrance was still accessable. Snow was deep but the hive entrance was never coverd in snow, as these sit on a high stand. I have top venting, (popsicle sticks) between the inner cover and top cover. Not a lot of wind where these hives are at as it is protected by landscape, and I did wrap the central boxes with roofing felt.

I would be interested to get your thoughts to help me do a "Post-Mordum". My best guess is that for some reason the queen died, perhaps she was overwhelmed by mites, or died for some other reason. This hive did loose a queen late last year, but did raise their own new young queen who was laying just before fall started. Originaly the commercial queen was Italian.

There was still about 200bees left alive today. I looked hard but for sure there is no queen. I brushed the remaining bees out and then scrapped the dead bees out of the frames, and cleaned up the equipment. Put it back together and sealed the entrance. It still will freeze these next few nights, so that should kill any mites left in there. Unless I find a reason, I will use the drawn comb and honey for splits/swarms this spring.

Here is a link to the pics.


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Premium Member
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I don't think it's mites although you have enough on that board to know that you could treat at some point. I'm not crazy about the looks of the inner cover but I'm not terribly concerned either. In my experience, bad Nosema is quite the mess. Looking at the frames, I don't see the number of bees that I normally see in a deadout. Usually I see lots and lots of head down bees. Sort of like you mentioned when you said a half of a frame of bees. I worry a bit about them raising a queen late. I don't like hives going into the winter with old bees. Could your late queen have been a little too late? Based on what I see and read, you should have no reason to stop you from using the old frames and comb.
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