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Pesticides? Or something else?

1325 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  kenargo
I posted this on the main forum, and it was suggested I put it over here (not sure why I didn't put it over here to begin with). Anyway... quoted my replies from the original.

Opened a top bar nuc today for the first time in a couple of weeks. I noticed a few bees struggling outside the hive about a week ago. Today before I opened the hive I noticed a lot more.

They were walking around, not really flying, and their abdomens were pointing "down". They hadn't stung anything. Their wings look good. The ones that are still alive seem relatively "lively", when I pick them up the struggle and stick their stingers out, but they do not move their abdomens. Inside the hive there were a number of dead, maybe half a cup total. The hive looks otherwise OK, strong amount of bees and brood. Was planning on transferring them to a Langstroth tomorrow, but that is on hold until this sorts itself out.

I scooped the dead bees out, noticed that some of the dead ones were still very slowly moving. Almost all the dead ones had their tongues out.
I have two other TBH's about 20 feet from this one and they are showing none of these symptoms.

Here's some pictures.

Food - yes, they have capped honey at the top of their bars, quite a bit actually.

Hot - it's been in the mid-70s most of the last two weeks. Not hot at all.

Mites - No, I didn't see any mites on any of the bees, didn't look too closely. But I did do some glancing at the piles in my hands and saw none. This was a swarm I caught in early June. They were queenless, I added a mated queen a few days after hiving them.
Two other hives about 15-20 feet away, only looked in one of them today. But they had no symptoms, and have not noticed any of this in or in front of either of them, though.
Is that body posture synonymous with any particular "pathogen"? Would it help to move them to a new location where I don't have any other hives? I have a few options.

I will check the nectar tomorrow, this isn't a particularly strong hive... wouldn't it be odd if they were robbing?
There is a host of bugs outside the hive feasting on the ones that are crippled outside. Here's the view inside today:

I see zero evidence of mites on the dead bees and saw none when surveying the live ones. Queen still alive and laying.
I have a hive that is in the process of raising a new queen (currently queenless). It's too late to be trying to get a queen mated here so tomorrow I am planning on caging her and putting her into the queenless hive with a candy release.

Before I do that, is there any chance that this is a brood disease or somehow "genetic"? I do not want to transfer the queen over if that's possible.

How should I dispose of the remaining bees? What should I do with the comb and what honey they have? Doesn't feel like it'd be a good choice to eat it. There's still a good amount of capped brood.
Checked quickly again today and found the above scene. Took about half of the bees back home with me in a jar so I could look at them more closely. So many of them were still very slowly moving. Tongues out on many/most. I did not notice as much "hunched" over as I did the other day.

Also, these dead bees are SMALL. No mites spotted. I've seen them when I'm shaking in packages, so I'm fairly confident I could spot them if there were any decent amount of them.

Any ideas? I'd like to know what to do with the comb/brood/honey/queen.

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You may want to check with your local beekeeper organizations. Here is Washington the University does free diagnosis of dead hives and I suspect in your state there maybe a similar service. Tongs being out does indicate a poisoning episode but testing is really the only certainty.
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