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Discussion Starter #1
Well just found number three hive to be no longer in existence. Had built up to 5 this summer and now am down to 2. Lost 2 to SHB but this one has me curious. No SHB, no wax moth and plenty of stores, all appeared to fine. Checked the hives this weekend and this was empty. It was almost completely robbed {still had 4-5 frames of honey and 4-5 frames of pollen left} robbing was evident though. But this is what is kind of strange to me. I found a total of "4" dead bees in this hive. I could find no reason why they left! Oh well like I said "I am not complaining" Just curious to what may have been the cause of this? I figure it went queen less and the girls drifted to the other 2 hives. Any thoughts?
 

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Yeah Rob, it sounds like another case of Fall Dwindle Disease, or Colony Collapse Disorder, call it what you like. Read up on that other thread. There is an initiative underway to collect reports of these kinds of colony loss.

George-
 

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Can you details some more information Rob-bee?

This past year we had a good drought in my area. (Not sure where you are.) Many hives shut down for a good extended period. Did you get a good fall flow? Did you feed to encourage a fall brood cycle?

I saw many hives have trouble rearing fall brood, and some did not start up brood without feed. Seems this long period in the summer, also promoted late season swarming and perhaps needed queen replacement. I find at least 1/4 of hives that swarm, do not even become queenright again, without beekeeper intervention. I had one group of 4 hives I took queens from, have three die off without raising a queen.

What was your fall brood cycle like? Was there late swarming?

We now know about SHB. Many times for a strong, properly maintained hive, to be killed outright from SHB, it may be an indicaion of other lacking management or needed attention.

I would be eliminating and focus on what you did, what was known, and what could of contributed to this situation. You may of done nothing wrong. You may of missed something.

Something like a bad fall flow and old bees going into winter may cause hive deadouts. Sometimes with the beekeeper saying "I seen the queen" or "They had lots of stores".

Review eveything in your mind. And if it was a desease, was there anything you did to contribute to it? Is there something to learn from it? Something to do different?
 

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I saw similar events as Bjorn mentioned this year. We had a dearth that started approx first part of Aug and I never really saw any fall flow. 1st of Sept I got into some hives and they had small clusters (NWC)as is typical when they have no flow as they start shutting down. The thing that concerned me is that there was no brood in some of the hives as a result or very little. I didn't have any hives swarm to my knowledge it was just a very long dearth period.

I started feeding but some hives were fairly small and had a hard time putting enough nectar away. They did start rearing brood but with such small clusters they had difficulty keeping brood warm and storing excess sugar syrup at the same time. I started feeding in my outyards first as I felt it would be easier to baby my home colonies if necessary.

As of a check yesterday, I had lost 0 outyard colonies. Two of my 13 home colonies were dead... One didn't get enough feed put away although they still had some... the other had an entire super of capped honey. Both colonies had very very small clusters and I don't think they could maintain cluster warmth. In both hives I found stranded brood that got chilled as cool temps had forced the clusters to consolidate. I think these were some of the necessary winter bees that they needed to survive.

Bottom line: In my opinion, both of these hives died as a result of beekeeper error. I didn't recognize early enough that they needed stimulative feed. Usually the fall flow was sufficient. I think the numbers of bees in the hives at the time I started feeding were insufficient to accomplish the task and probably should have been combined.

That said... I still have a 5 frame nuc doing well. so go figure.

I personally think that most winter losses are avoidable. I learned a valuable lesson that I won't forget.

I said all that to say that Bjorn's comments struck a cord as to what happened here. Maybe you had the same type of problem.

A beekeeper near me told an aquaintance of ours that he's found at least one of his yards 100% dead. He is now trying to feed TOO LATE some of his other colonies.

I feel for you. I started winter with 36 colonies so its easier for me to take losing a couple. Tough when you lose more than half. Hope you are able to figure out the cause.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The first year I was a new-bee and was in the hive EVERY week! I could not keep from looking inside. I tried to leave them alone but I just couldn’t. Went threw winter with no losses! The second year {this year} I got one swarm and split another and head a total of 5 hives. Tried to leave them alone and only look inside once a month. I lost 2 to SHB before I knew what was happening. Installed Checkmite-Plus in the fall and SHB traps to try and save remaining 3. All appeared to work well. All the hives were strong, all had brood, and all were bringing in pollen. We have had plenty of rain, and a lot of warm weather so far this winter. I could not observe any reason at all for this to happen. No dead bees out front and like I said only 4 -5 inside on the bottom board. I did the same thing to all 3 hives and this is the only one {so far} that has been abandoned. BjornBee I have reread your post and cannot think of any contributing factors that could explain it. But I am still new to beekeeping so I could be missing the obvious.
 
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