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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi - I'm a new beekeeper and I really need some help identifying what has happened to my package of bees.

Short version: received package mid April, fed the bees a 1:1 syrup in a top feeder (not boiled - just hot water to mix), and within the first week there were a number of bees crawling around the hive - buzzing unhappily. No mites on the white board below the screened bottom board. No deformed or K wings, no evidence of dysentery. Thought about tracheal mites and offered a grease patty, but they weren't interested. 10 days after installing the package we had a big temp change and snow - from 80 degrees to 35 in a day. The hive was sheltered by a fence and tarped, but at the end of the storm there was a large pile of dead bees on the screen - possibly starved. Freaked out, and began feeding from jars directly on the frames, but there were still bees crawling around the hive and dying. Found the queen a week later, with about one frame of bees. One week later, still feeding, there are fewer than 50 bees on the frame.

I've considered pesticides - I'm in a suburb - but the hive is in an unlikely place to have been sprayed.

Any ideas? This has been very depressing and discouraging, and I'd appreciate any direction you can give.
 

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I'm not an expert but I'm guessing insecticide. If it's sprayed from a plane it drifts badly. You can smell it miles away. Does your city fog for mosquitos?

Could your tarp
have trapped too much moisture in the hive?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the ideas.
It would be too early here for mosquitoes (I'm in Amarillo and we are still having 40 degree nights), and the tarp was only on for two days and didn't cover the front entrance. It could have been varroa, but I never saw one on a bee or on the white board.
 

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Sounds a bit like poison to me also. If so it does not necessarily have to be sprayed right onto your bees, there could be flowering plants somewhere else being sprayed.

There was a case where I am, of an ignorant person didn't like bees flying in their yard, so intentionally put out poisoned honey to kill them. That's pretty extreme probably not the case for you, but there are many ways bees can be poisoned.

Your 50 bees are not going to survive. But poisoning events tend to be seasonal, if you can find some more bees in say, a months time, could be worth trying again.

It's also possible that the bees arrived infected with something, without passing judgement because that is not possible without knowing, my advice would be try to get the next bees from a different source, just as a precaution.
 

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Were it earlier in the year I might suspect someone spraying apple blossoms. Are there any fruit orchards nearby that were in bloom in the past few weeks?
I knw how heart breaking it is to loose your first colony. But you need to pick yourself up and try again. I hope all works out for you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks to everyone who replied. I think my neighbors like me, but my hive is back in my dog run so they'd have to get past two slobbering Labradors.

It could be lawn chemicals in either our yard or elsewhere, as there aren't any orchards or farms around, just community parks. The hive is isolated though and the dog run has no grass.

That would mean commonly used chemicals - how's a bee to survive??
 

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What kind of sugar are you using in your syrup?
Also, are you adding anything else to it?
 

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In urban and suburban areas it isn't uncommon for people to use various insecticides on their ornamental plants. Some ignore the label directions and may apply to blooming plants. Always a possibility.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I'm using white granulated sugar. I started with no additives, then put another jar on with Mann Lakes Pro Health at the feed stimulant concentration. They didn't take either syrup well.
 
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