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It was a sunny day so we opened up the hive to check what was going on. they're all gone. there were dead bees on the bottom but not enough to make me think they all died, so they took off sometime. The frames were all moldy and all the brood cells were opened. Honey was still capped wherever it wasn't broken open. The 2:1 syrup tank I had above the top frame wasn't any lower than it was in October. The opening of the feeder was actually crystallized so i don't know how much syrup was had before that happened. So now i'm wondering these things:

1) what happened?
2) are the frames salvageable for honey or just the wood itself after cleaning and baking perhaps
3) do I sanitize the boxes to prepare for a spring swarm to replenish?

I had reservations about the site due to tree cover, but we thinned out the trees and there's sky all around so it's not heavily covered.
 

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What did you do for moisture control and insulation? The hive looks like it was really wet (looks moldy) and this may have killed off the hive.

You might be able to save some of the frames and drawn comb if you clean it off, it depends on how much work you want to put into it, and your budget.
 

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Okay, those frames look nasty to you and me, but I think a bee would feel differently. Bees would rather clean up some mold than build fresh comb.

I would remove and safely store the frames with honey, dry everything out, then put a single box with a couple of frames of dry/empty brood comb back on the hive stand. There’s a pretty good chance a swarm will move in. If they do, you can add the other frames back in.

I also agree that reducing moisture should be a big goal for Mexican winter, including not leaving a liquid feeder in the hive over winter.
 

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I agree with the above comments that the bees will clean everything up. Take it apart and let it dry good. When you put it back together make sure the hive is tilted down some toward the entrance so any water can drain out. Using a quilt box will help with moisture also.
Tree cover shouldn't be a big issue. Hives may do better in the open but I don't have that luxury. All 12 of our hives are under oaks and we have very few issues. The only sun they get is in the winter or when the sun is directly overhead in the summer. We do put down woven weed fabric, or landscapers cloth, 6 to 10 ft out to help control the SHB but that's about it.
 

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...they're all gone. there were dead bees on the bottom but not enough to make me think they all died, so they took off sometime. The 2:1 syrup tank I had above the top frame wasn't any lower than it was in October. The opening of the feeder was actually crystallized so i don't know how much syrup was had before that happened.
1) what happened?
2) are the frames salvageable for honey or just the wood itself after cleaning and baking perhaps
1) Don't know, but leaving 2:1 on top of the cluster didn't help with the moisture issue you had, and possibly created it.
2) Yes, but don't bake them:), protect them from wax moths and mice.
 
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Do not worry about the mold. Put new bees on this equipment and they will clean it up and benefit from your dead colonies work. Just put the best cleanest frames in the middle of the nest if starting over with a package or surround a nuc with the honey frames or stored syrup frames and the new residents will turn that feed into bees. When your bees are actively working on 8 frames of your ten frame box, put on another. If you plan on a single brood chamber make it a super over a queen excluder with a drawn frame over the excluder. If you have no drawn super frames, put on two supers missing a center frame in both. Shake the bees off a frame of eggs and larvae and put that frame above the excluder to draw the bees up into that new territory for them. After the bees have started drawing brood comb and filling it with nectar, move the brood back down. You can also just leave it, but it will get filled with honey.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
wow I'm shocked to hear that most people are saying the mold is not that bad. I thought bees would get sick from that. Since the combs have some development, maybe I should do a package vs a nuc what do you think? For the syrup i was reading that thicker stuff helps younger colonies in the fall and winter. But also since it crystallized, little of it ever left the tank. Also wanted to clarify on something, I had the bottom board in rather than the mesh screen, again the thought process of blocking cold air from coming in. I have the Beesmart Ultimate bottom board and top, so it's already slanted forward and such. I have this 1 foot and a half off the ground on wooden frame with ant traps, wood chips on the bottom. I tried everything I could think of to mitigate moisture as best I could. I'm really stumped as to why they took off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
the other thing is mite counts weren't super high in September, but I did a 3 pack Apiguard Thymol anyways and that was my last in-depth care.
 

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wow I'm shocked to hear that most people are saying the mold is not that bad. I thought bees would get sick from that. Since the combs have some development, maybe I should do a package vs a nuc what do you think? For the syrup i was reading that thicker stuff helps younger colonies in the fall and winter. But also since it crystallized, little of it ever left the tank. Also wanted to clarify on something, I had the bottom board in rather than the mesh screen, again the thought process of blocking cold air from coming in. I have the Beesmart Ultimate bottom board and top, so it's already slanted forward and such. I have this 1 foot and a half off the ground on wooden frame with ant traps, wood chips on the bottom. I tried everything I could think of to mitigate moisture as best I could. I'm really stumped as to why they took off.
they likely had a mite die off they did not "leave" in the manner you think, they fly out to die in the field, one at a time till mostly gone.
try not to need the feeder on for winter,, feed early enough to get the syrup "capped" then remove the feeder.

GG
 

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Focus on the perceived moisture as if killing the bees (mold) is incorrect.

This hive just faded in late autumn due to most likely mites (hence only few bees left to see because they still could fly off).

What you see is just an indication that the hive was empty for a long enough time while the local winter (assuming coastal WA) is most likely is mild and humid. In cool and humid condition most any old comb full of residue (and expecialy with bee bread) will be moldy.
The most nasty looking frame(s) likely got few drips of the sugar syrup to them - to promote the mold even better.

This is one reason you want to check your hive periodically and clean out the dead bees and ventilate the empty hive asap.
Those dead bees (when left rotting in the hive) give off additional moisture and promote even more mold.

If you are swarm chaser - I'd use those frames just as-is in a trap.
Don't even bother cleaning much.
If you get a package, I'd reuse them too without loosing much sleep.
Nothing toxic in those frames and the bees are great at cleaning.
Just keep the frames well spaced in some ventilated place for now.
 

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A mite treatment in WA in September is probably too late to do any good.
What do you mean by a three pack of Apiguard?
 
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My guess is your mite treatment was too late. Not sure of your weather, but bees will not take syrup below 50f. Leaving a feeder on below that is counter productive and probably did contribute to the mold issue. Feed sooner so they have it in the hive and capped before winter.
Read up on the mite cycle and winter bees. You need to have mite level low with good nutrition when winter bees are being produced. They need to be the healthiest possible to survive the winter and lead the colony in the spring until the queen is up and running producing more bees. J
 

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Up here in the frozen north, it's really important to monitor for mites. This requires some form of mite monitoring method that gives you a %, at various points throughout the season.

It's really common to ask a beekeeper their mite level and to have an "i don't know" response.
 

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Up here in the frozen north, it's really important to monitor for mites.
It’s important everywhere. You get long cold winters and those bees have to be especially durable to survive. Here….our bees either produce brood year round or only shut down for a few weeks so we have mite factories going on all the time.
They are a scourge.
 

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It was a sunny day so we opened up the hive to check what was going on. they're all gone. there were dead bees on the bottom but not enough to make me think they all died, so they took off sometime. The frames were all moldy and all the brood cells were opened. Honey was still capped wherever it wasn't broken open. The 2:1 syrup tank I had above the top frame wasn't any lower than it was in October. The opening of the feeder was actually crystallized so i don't know how much syrup was had before that happened. So now i'm wondering these things:

1) what happened?
2) are the frames salvageable for honey or just the wood itself after cleaning and baking perhaps
3) do I sanitize the boxes to prepare for a spring swarm to replenish?

I had reservations about the site due to tree cover, but we thinned out the trees and there's sky all around so it's not heavily covered.

1. Mites are the most likely cause
2. Frames are probably fine
3. How would one sanitize? I suggest leaving in the sunshine for a few hours.
 

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the other thing is mite counts weren't super high in September, but I did a 3 pack Apiguard Thymol anyways and that was my last in-depth care.
Sadly september is too late to get mite control done.
Bee numbers are dwindling by then but mite numbers are still increasing, meaning you are not getting a healthy population of winter bees raised.
Without healthy winter bees the hive has no chance.
 

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PS- I would recommend downloading Randy Oliver's varroa spreadsheet and follow it to get a better sense of timing for your treatments. I also prefer using what we call a "dead drop count" or DDC 24 hours after my single OAV treatment. To do that you would need to insert an inspection board after your treatment, then afterwards go to mitecalculator.com to figure out your infestation rate. I'm aiming for low single digits and will keep it up in 3 day intervals until I interrupt the mite cycle. Wishing you the best. Remember the only time you fail is when you quit.
 
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