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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am not sure if this is CCD or not, but I opened my hives up to do some splits, and most were weak, or dead. All the dead hives had tons of honey on them...some with two supers full still!! Some of the hives had dead bees in a small cluster with a few capped brood around them, and the bees beneath the cluster had their heads in the cells like they were looking for honey. Some of these hives were very strong last fall, and no huge mite infestations. We had a late cold snap a couple of weeks ago that seemed to have gotten these last hives with the small amounts of bees killed in them.

If it is CCD, is there anything you can do to prevent it? I have been doing natural bee keeping, and have had good luck, but this has wiped out over half my hives.
 

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I have been doing natural bee keeping.
Not CCD. What were your actual mite loads? Small cluster, few capped brood, heads in cells, I'd bet it's the cold snap with too small a population that did them in. The varroa mites really seem to build up in those large Fall hives (especially untreated) and dwindle the population over the winter. The cold snap invariably had them trying to keep too much brood warm with too few bees. Varroa are not to be underestimated. They are by far the major player in the failure of hives in overwintering or dying in early spring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply. I didn't realize the mites did so much damage in the winter. I knew they could cause havoc in the summer with the deformed wings, etc, bThese hives didn't have the screened bottom board on them, so I don't know the mite loads. I check to see if I see any mites on the bees, and look for any deformed wings. There were a few hives that exhibited some mites, but the big ones seemed to be doing well. I will have to get them all converted to screens this summer and try to expand the few hives I have.
 

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You won't necessarily see mites on the dead bees. Deformed wings are merely a symptom you CAN get from the mites but it's not a sure thing. I've learned it's the huge summer hives that are almost surely dead come spring if no varroa inhibiting actions are taken. You're at a crossroads because if you are going to stick with natural beekeeping you've got to decide what to do when you find high mite loads. If you're not planning to do anything to follow the natural path there's no need to know the mite loads.
 

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>I am not sure if this is CCD or not, but I opened my hives up to do some splits, and most were weak, or dead. All the dead hives had tons of honey on them...some with two supers full still!!

When was the last time you saw them doing well? If it weren't that say some are weak now, I would assume the rest died overwinter. But if you have weak ones now, they could have died this spring. However that would be an unlikely time for them to die. If they are strong enough to get through the winter they usually do fine as long as you make sure they don't starve.

CCD is a very specific set of circumstances where the workers are mostly gone, brood still in the hive, a few bees and the queen. Usually not a significant number of dead bees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Michael bush, the hives were still strong in late November. By that I mean they were still aggressive, and since I had left plenty of honey on, they were still heavy. We had an early snow in December, then the really cold winter. I would say most of them died in winter, but I didn't crack them open. If bees were going in, I assumed they were alive, but many times that was robber bees. This is the first time I have seen them die with plenty of honey still on the hive, many times on the next frame over.
 
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