I have four hives over on an orchard/farm. They are next to a stream, in a wooded area tucked just outside the main city. These hives were booming early in the season. They were bringing in the honey. Now, all four hives are troubled and even failing, even the healthy little hive I brought over just a week ago.
Confused, I did an inspection of all 4 hives today.
What I found in 3 of the hives was a healthy queen, tons of brood, good nurse bee coverage, but VERY few foragers. Honey stores going DOWN instead of up. Supers that were full are now being consumed, because nothing is coming in. Little activity at the entrance, but lots of brood, all healthy looking bees inside.
The one hive had gone laying worker, and I put a hive on top of them a week ago. That laying worker hive is unchanged, but the new hive is starting to decline. NOT supposed to happen during the flow, especially with so much brood. What on earth is going on? Poison?
Just on the other side of the woods, 1/4 mile away are large, upscale neighborhoods. Manicured lawns, neat and tidy gardens. As I drove by, I noticed on the corner of the entrance, a number of signs for mosquito spraying, lawn care and landscaping, and pest control stuck in the ground.
I believe those signs are the answer. Why would ALL the hives that were booming 2 weeks ago are suddenly be failing? It's bug season, and suburban people don't like bugs, and a lot of spraying goes on in those neighborhoods.
I spoke to the farmer, and he is upset. HE hasn't been spraying anything, just because of the bees. Not even week killer. I asked the farmer if the city sprays for mosquitoes, and he said, "They used to... Not sure if they have this year yet." And then he looked at me and said, "Oh man, your bees must be going over there." (Pointing to the nice neighborhoods) "This is when everyone sprays for spring, so the sudden decline makes sense . Why don't the bees stay over here with all this good stuff I have for them?"
I'm pretty sure we figured it out. Pesticide poisoning fits the evidence.
Now the question is what to do? Have any of you experienced pesticide poisoning?
The farmer wants me to feed the hives and see if they recover. I'm more inclined to pull the hives out of there before they fail completely.