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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Yesterday in one of my most productive yards I noticed substantially reduced activity at two colonies. One (hive 1) of these was from a large swarm early spring and was really big (2 deeps + a medium honey super), the other (hive 2) was an overwintered VSH colony. I opened hive 1 and found no bees in the honey super. I then dug deeper and found very few bees in the deeps - maybe 200 bees and a queen. They clearly had been robbed out and very little brood was present. Hive 2 was very similar, with the exception that I couldn't find the queen. I suspect that hive 2 had failed to requeen themselves. I had last checked on both hives about two weeks prior and did not see issues, but did not get into the brood chambers. At that time, however, hive 2 was extremely aggressive, which was unusual for that hive and makes me believe (at least now) that there must have been queen issues. There were torn down queen cells present to support this idea.

No signs of disease were observed in either hive.
None of the other colonies in that yard were presenting signs of trouble and in fact were storing large amounts of cotton honey.
No sign of dead bees at the entrance.

Ideas?
 

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i have no answers for you, but i did have an almost exactly the same scenario happen to me last month. i dropped 2 hives at a friend's house. one was an overwintered colony from a late swarm that i caught last summer. it was in 2 double deeps. the other was from another over-wintered colony that i started from a package last year. i had split this hive in april of this year, and the mother queen had grown the hive to start filling out the second deep when i delivered the hive in early june.

i checked on both hives in late june, and they appeared to be doing OK. in subsequent visits, i could tell some robbing was going on but hoped they would get through it and get on with things. when i went to check on these hives last weekend, they were both dead with 0 bees present. no apparent idea as to why they left. maybe they got robbed out and finally decided to look for more hospitable digs? i have no idea. weird thing though.

sorry for the threadjack. just wanted to let you know that it happened to me too.
 

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They clearly had been robbed out and very little brood was present.
>maybe 200 bees and a queen...

Sounds kind of like CCD...

lack of bees is only one symptom, the fact that they were robbed out says its probably not ccd. the symptoms say that the honey can sit their and neither bees nor ants will touch it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
lack of bees is only one symptom, the fact that they were robbed out says its probably not ccd. the symptoms say that the honey can sit their and neither bees nor ants will touch it.
There was still some honey remaining. Clearly some of it had been forcefully uncapped, but there was some untouched. We are in a major cotton flow right now, so robbing isn't a huge deal.
 

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>I opened hive 1 and found no bees in the honey super. I then dug deeper and found very few bees in the deeps - maybe 200 bees and a queen. very little brood was present
Brood pattern? Any open brood? When you looked two weeks ago what did the brood pattern look like?
It take 21 days from egg to hatched bee, so two weeks ago was she laying? got pictures?

You know what i'm going to say. so I will leave you with that.


>Sounds kind of like CCD...
No brood with CCD?

>Varroa?
a little early in the year but maybe.
 

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When was the last time you inspected the brood boxes. I thought that the strong hive collapse from varroa at the end of summer was a common scenario for a heavy varroa infestation. I have only experienced fail to grow as a symptom. Where I see a lot of capped comb inter laid with young brood I know the bees are dragging out dead or varroa infected brood. With being into the hives often it is easy to catch things early but I know that is not always possible. After a hive gets robbed out it is hard to determine what happened first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
When was the last time you inspected the brood boxes. I thought that the strong hive collapse from varroa at the end of summer was a common scenario for a heavy varroa infestation. I have only experienced fail to grow as a symptom. Where I see a lot of capped comb inter laid with young brood I know the bees are dragging out dead or varroa infected brood. With being into the hives often it is easy to catch things early but I know that is not always possible. After a hive gets robbed out it is hard to determine what happened first.
Its been probably over 5 weeks since I was in the brood chamber on both of these hives. I have too many hives to be in them at a more frequent basis, particularly ones that seem to be rapidly expanding, like hive 1 mentioned above. After our spring flow I do a post flow inspection and then super them again for the summer cotton flow.

Varroa crashes for us are typically late fall. We're in a major flow right now and strong colonies are raising massive amounts of brood.

The lack of lots of brood makes wonder if the queen was failing, but what would explain the huge population loss?

I plan on keeping a much tighter watch on this particular yard.
 

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I was not taking into account the different climate. We are winding down. Really I guess you would have had no reason to go into the brood boxes when the population was good. If you knew why the numbers dropped it wouldnt be half as maddening. Keep an eye on them for sure.
 

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I know I am just being discarded but I will make a believer out of you yet.

>Yes. Thank you for responding. There was some brood
The pattern? spotty? Intermixed ages?

>The lack of lots of brood makes wonder if the queen was failing, but what would explain the huge population loss?
Dwindled because the inability to raise new bees. Has anyone ever seen a queen fail like this before, this quick and not been supersedured? And two at the same time?

>I plan on keeping a much tighter watch on this particular yard.
Yes keep a close eye on the open brood pattern, especially when the flow slows down.

The hives that crashed do you have any new comb in either hives that has had one brood cycle in it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I know I am just being discarded but I will make a believer out of you yet.

>Yes. Thank you for responding. There was some brood
The pattern? spotty? Intermixed ages?

>The lack of lots of brood makes wonder if the queen was failing, but what would explain the huge population loss?
Dwindled because the inability to raise new bees. Has anyone ever seen a queen fail like this before, this quick and not been supersedured? And two at the same time?

>I plan on keeping a much tighter watch on this particular yard.
Yes keep a close eye on the open brood pattern, especially when the flow slows down.

The hives that crashed do you have any new comb in either hives that has had one brood cycle in it?
Most of the brood remaining was older capped brood. I saw no open brood at all. All frames in both colonies had comb that had many brood cycles through it. Not sure how any of this matches EFB, at least not the EFB that I've seen before.

A more likely scenario would be a large pesticide kill led to massive population loss resulting in the inability to rear more bees. I know the cotton has been sprayed within the last 2 weeks. I also know what was applied. The obvious rebuttal to this theory would be: why aren't the other colonies in this yard showing the same problems. My only response to that is that different colonies can focus foraging activities on different sources. I see this all the time when collecting pollen. Two hives from the same yard collect distinctively different pollen. I posted a picture of this earlier this season and nobody really seemed to notice.

I'm not dismissing your EFB theory, and I will be looking more closely at this yard. I did open another similar sized colony after I saw these two losses, and found a beautiful jam packed broodnest.
 
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