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Several dead bees in nuc

2311 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Daniel Y
So I installed one package and a nuc this weekend and all went pretty smoothly. I wasn't able to inspect the nuc as closely as I had hoped during the transfer because I was worried the bees flying around wouldn't find their way back, and of course they did.

My concern is that I did notice a few, 5-6, dead bees face in the cells. There were no dead bees on bottom of the box and these bees looked recently dead? Not decayed. I wish I had pulled a couple out to get a closer look but I was focused on getting them installed.

Should I be concerned?
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A nuc should be a complete but small functioning hive. as such it has bees of all types and ages. including those that are old and dying. A half dozen bees is nothing to be concerned about. Just because we can box up bees and haul them all over the place. keep them for a time in a space that is far less than adequate. As well as riffle through there homes at any given whim. does not mean 1. they can tolerate it. 2. it is good for them. or 3. it does not result in killing many of them.

Any time you handle you bees for any reason. you will kill some of them.
I was actually quite surprised that our new nucs had no dead bees except a couple that had been crushed by the top cover during inspections. Evidently our new bees are quite "hygenic". A few dead bees are to be expected, although some hives are particularly good at hiding the evidence. At some point in their development they serve as undertakers, carrying out the dead.

There is a brood break involved in making nucs if a new queen was introduced. This means at some point you will lack adult bees of the right age to be undertakers. Normally others will take up the slack, but priorities in the hive needs may let the undertaker job slip.

But 6 is a very small number. Good thing you didn't get package bees and learn how many are in the bottom of those!
Thanks Daniel and Phoebee, seems no matter how much I read it will take a while to be able to interpret what I see in person.
One thought I had. Bees are often head down in the cells. Cleaning, repairing, or feeding or storing food. What made you think they were dead? If they were dead. Another possible explanation is the Nuc was given a frame that had been in a dead out. And a few bees had yet to be removed.
Well, I was more concerned about handling the frames and not squishing the queen so I did not give them a long look. Hopefully in my first inspection I will be more relaxed and observant.
It takes a while to recognize what looks normal. Once you do the strange starts to stand out. But keep in mind at her peak you queen will lay as much as 2200 eggs a day. in time you will have an equal amount of bees die each day. What you want to see is a healthy population remain. Most of the bees from any colony are actually in the hive. they spend the majority of their lives in there. bees are extremely vulnerable and ill suited to survive individually. Leaving the hive is the last job they will have.
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