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I am in a suburb North of Dallas Texas. I have been keeping bees in my back yard for a few years now and for most of that time had two hives, one purchased and one pulled from a sprinkler box. I lost both of them late 2019 (the one from the sprinkler box was always very weak and didn't produce much honey - the other swarmed then the ones that stayed got taken over by moths - before that I had gone three years with the same two hives). So I got a nuc from Texas Bee Supply and installed it May 2020. It picked up very fast, seemed very strong, and had plenty of honey by November which was all left in the hive.

Then all of a sudden in early January there were a ton of bees dead in front of the hive and within a week they were dead with zero activity in the hive - they went from active when it was warm to dead very quickly (I don't think it ever dropped below 35 degrees here by that time so there was almost always at least some midday activity). When I opened up the hive there were lots of dead bees inside the hive, and hive beetles dead too. (Pictures included.)

I did not treat for mites since installing the nuc and stopped visual inspections in November. After that I had just left them alone to do their thing over the winter.

Any ideas on what caused this so I can prevent it in the future?
 

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Hi WJClint

better info can be determined if we see the pictures of the combs, Like Maybe comb 1,3,5,7 in the top box.
then we can see Any stores
any brood
any Queen Cells

And BTW with out fall Mite counts that will be the prevailing Opinion as many/most hive death in todays bee worlk is Mite Vectored.

GG
 

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I'll get more pictures and post. I assume it was mites because I was so lax on that, but I have not had that problem with my other two hives, and the decline was very very quick and I didn't know if that was consistent with mite problems.
 

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Mite crashes can seem instant but it could be the mites vectoring other diseases that did them in. I fight mites through January here, usually get them all by the end of it and I Formic Pro spring and fall and OAV through the winter. I have 2 neighbors who lost their bees last year and the 1 neighbor had 2 huge busy hives that "suddenly" died out in the fall. They were all "thinking" of treating, I'm not sure they did.
 

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The hive is four 8 frame boxes, the top two were supers, the queen excluder was on top of the bottom two boxes. The very top box has about three frames of honey and the first super has about 6 frames of honey. I have not looked through the bottom boxes yet, but assumed it wasn't starvation since there was quite a bit of honey still in the top two supers.
 

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When I opened up the hive there were lots of dead bees inside the hive, and hive beetles dead too.
This is the only thing about your story that I find a little inconsistent with a mite dead-out. That and all of the dead bees in front of your hive. That being said, I still suspect mites, because otherwise, it is a typical mite dead-out.

The hive is four 8 frame boxes, the top two were supers, the queen excluder was on top of the bottom two boxes. The very top box has about three frames of honey and the first super has about 6 frames of honey. I have not looked through the bottom boxes yet, but assumed it wasn't starvation since there was quite a bit of honey still in the top two supers.
This is a bad set up. Do not leave your queen excluder in your hives separating your brood (and the queen) from their food. You may have created a starvation event if the nurse bees would not leave the brood (trapped with the queen below the excluder) to access the food. Always pull the excluder when you have stopped making honey for the year.
 

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This is the only thing about your story that I find a little inconsistent with a mite dead-out. That and all of the dead bees in front of your hive. That being said, I still suspect mites, because otherwise, it is a typical mite dead-out.



This is a bad set up. Do not leave your queen excluder in your hives separating your brood (and the queen) from their food. You may have created a starvation event if the nurse bees would not leave the brood (trapped with the queen below the excluder) to access the food. Always pull the excluder when you have stopped making honey for the year.

Thank you for the advice about the excluder - I'm just going to get rid of it altogether as it seems to cause more problems than it is worth.
 

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Thank you for the advice about the excluder - I'm just going to get rid of it altogether as it seems to cause more problems than it is worth.
I wouldn't get rid of it; it didn't belong where you had it but they are a valuable tool when used properly.
Let us know what you find when you examine the frames that were below the excluder.
 

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If there was no honey under the excluder, they probably starved. If they did have honey it was probably mites
 

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If there was no honey under the excluder, they probably starved. If they did have honey it was probably mites
That was my thoughts too; or a combination of the two. Mite load increases the activity and stores consumption rate. Worth doing a mite wash on the dead bees.
 

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This is a bad set up. Do not leave your queen excluder in your hives separating your brood (and the queen) from their food. You may have created a starvation event if the nurse bees would not leave the brood (trapped with the queen below the excluder) to access the food. Always pull the excluder when you have stopped making honey for the year.

I agree with this the bees won't abandon the queen in the winter I think they starved
 

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I agree with this the bees won't abandon the queen in the winter I think they starved
I wonder if this is entirely correct. It is generally accepted that the bees will starve in place before they abandon brood, but if broodless, as would be the case in northern climates, the bees apparently will move up through an excluder and abandon a queen. It would take an examination of the lower boxes to get closer to knowing whether the excluder was a factor or not. I think the odds more likely not. Mites are most often the main cause of deadouts.
 

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I wonder if this is entirely correct. It is generally accepted that the bees will starve in place before they abandon brood, but if broodless, as would be the case in northern climates, the bees apparently will move up through an excluder and abandon a queen. It would take an examination of the lower boxes to get closer to knowing whether the excluder was a factor or not. I think the odds more likely not. Mites are most often the main cause of deadouts.
the Op is from Texas around Dallas, I would bet he had brood in the hive, so a really good chance they wouldn't leave the brood, but I would still go with mites.
 

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I’m forty miles north of him, no brood in the ten hives I checked yesterday.....
the other reason he may have had brood is if he indeed did have a mite problem, up here the bees keep raising brood even into the winter trying to outbreed the mites.
 

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Well I have seen it more than once, So I take the "Bees will Abandon the queen" side of the discussion.

Learned the QE issue already.

GG
The bees wont abandon brood but if the queen does not have a lot of her babies around her she will be left in the cold below the excluder sucking her thumb.
 

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The bees wont abandon brood but if the queen does not have a lot of her babies around her she will be left in the cold below the excluder sucking her thumb.
Right Frank
2 different things
Can or may not be at the same time.
Here spring with Russians will be brood less for several weeks.
IF they pass thru the QE at that time the queen is left behind, All 3 Queens actually were stuck part way thru the QE.
Lesson learned and reinforced.
Could be Italians would have brood and either starve out or split or elongate the cluster.

GG
 
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