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When I looked in the hive that died this is what I saw:

-plenty of honey in the upper chamber
-very small cluster of bees with the queen, taking maybe 2 alleys, they have eaten all the honey on the frames they occupied, some of the bees were inside the cell head down.

Why was there so little bees when in September there was so many?
Why they didnt make it to the second chamber?
Is there a way to help bees cross into the upper chamber in the winter?
 

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You didn't mention your mite treatment. What did you do for mites in the fall when the hive was still full?
 

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Were you able to confirm you were queenright going into winter? Formic Acid can be pretty harsh on the processes inside the hive and often leads to queen mortality. If you did confirm they were all good, it likely wasn't mites that knocked them down - something else to rule out.
 

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Why was there so little bees when in September there was so many?

Keep in mind that bee numbers in September mean nothing.
What really means anything at all - how many healthy winter bees are present in the seemingly strong September population.
By about end of October only your winter bees will still be alive.
 

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I have had 12 out of 14 hives make it through the winter, 11 hives very strong and one hive with small cluster of bees with a queens and very small patch of brood, similar to yours, my conclusion on this hive, the queen is no good. She couldn't keep the population going through the winter.
 

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I have had 12 out of 14 hives make it through the winter, 11 hives very strong and one hive with small cluster of bees with a queens and very small patch of brood, similar to yours, my conclusion on this hive, the queen is no good. She couldn't keep the population going through the winter.
:)
The queen does NOT keep the population going through the winter.
Keep it in mind.

Well, in Florida maybe? I have no clue about FL beekeeping.
 

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I like to place one drawn but empty frame into the upper box as fall ends to allow for cluster space as the bees move up throughout the winter.
This is one of those head-slapping moments. I have always been concerned that my top deep (double and triple tens) gets so packed with capped honey that unless a little arch of open comb is left open at the bottom of the middle frame the bees will be unable to jump the gap easily and form a decent cluster in the top deep. Maybe inserting a frame of drawn but open comb as fall ends in the middle of the top deep is the answer! But can they all cluster there? I suppose they would expand out to cluster on adjoining frames of capped honey, right? I have always been confused as to whether or not bees can form a decent cluster on capped honey, as I would assume they need open cells to do it properly.
 

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This is one of those head-slapping moments. I have always been concerned that my top deep (double and triple tens) gets so packed with capped honey that unless a little arch of open comb is left open at the bottom of the middle frame the bees will be unable to jump the gap easily and form a decent cluster in the top deep. Maybe inserting a frame of drawn but open comb as fall ends in the middle of the top deep is the answer! But can they all cluster there? I suppose they would expand out to cluster on adjoining frames of capped honey, right? I have always been confused as to whether or not bees can form a decent cluster on capped honey, as I would assume they need open cells to do it properly.
A good question. But as the hive loses brood going into winter would that not make open cells available? Unless feeding sugar in the winter causes them to fill up those empty cells.
 

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Were you able to confirm you were queenright going into winter? Formic Acid can be pretty harsh on the processes inside the hive and often leads to queen mortality. If you did confirm they were all good, it likely wasn't mites that knocked them down - something else to rule out.
Can you elaborate on the "often leads to queen mortality"? My experience with formic acid is that about 5% of the queens go missing/are replaced during formic acid treatment period. In my opinion, that is not "often".
 

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Can you elaborate on the "often leads to queen mortality"? My experience with formic acid is that about 5% of the queens go missing/are replaced during formic acid treatment period. In my opinion, that is not "often".
Formic Acid has a reputation of killing mites, by also killing your bees. I know many beekeepers who have gone queenless after Formic Acid. After discussing their treatment method and if they followed the instructions, it appears they did everything right. It's a nuclear treatment option, and things usually get a reputation by more than 5% queen mortality.

Sounds like you're having good success with it, but even 5% is unacceptable in my yard.

Regardless, it's a fair question to ask the OP.
 

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Formic Acid has a reputation of killing mites, by also killing your bees. I know many beekeepers who have gone queenless after Formic Acid. After discussing their treatment method and if they followed the instructions, it appears they did everything right. It's a nuclear treatment option, and things usually get a reputation by more than 5% queen mortality.
I don't know what other people are doing that causes mortality issues with formic, but that's all I use and I have never had a problem.

Could it be just 'luck'?

Or am I doing something different, that has a better rate of success?
 

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I don't know what other people are doing that causes mortality issues with formic, but that's all I use and I have never had a problem.

Could it be just 'luck'?

Or am I doing something different, that has a better rate of success?
I know folks here in NE Georgia use it every year during our dearth in July and August. They also say they have to be real careful of the temperatures during the days in 14 day treatment. If it gets too hot (like over 100F) during the day it can cause bees to die.
Formic Pro states:
Optimal treatment temperatures for Formic Pro are between 50°-85°F/10°-29.5°C.
Also, ventilation is very important. Formic Pro says to have a full width entrance and to close off screened bottom boards, so the local folks provide holes in the upper parts of the hives.
I have not personally used it. What I have read and been told is that you can use oxalic acid if you are careful to time the treatments so you catch different parts of the brood open during that time.
 

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the key to using formic pro is the first three days, watch the weather and time it so the first 3 days are within range and you might lose a few really old queens that were going away any way. never had a problem with formic going way back to the original miteaway II, and I actually liked that better than the current versions.
 

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I know folks here in NE Georgia use it every year during our dearth in July and August. They also say they have to be real careful of the temperatures during the days in 14 day treatment. If it gets too hot (like over 100F) during the day it can cause bees to die.
Formic Pro states:
Optimal treatment temperatures for Formic Pro are between 50°-85°F/10°-29.5°C.
Also, ventilation is very important. Formic Pro says to have a full width entrance and to close off screened bottom boards, so the local folks provide holes in the upper parts of the hives.
I have not personally used it. What I have read and been told is that you can use oxalic acid if you are careful to time the treatments so you catch different parts of the brood open during that time.
That might explain it- up here in ME my temperature windows are generally pretty decent. I usually can find a period when the temps stay under 80*. I also keep the strips frozen/cold and in an insulated cooler with ice packs. I apply them in the evening as the temp is dropping so they don't thaw too quickly, and I make sure there is one extra box on, adding or removing as necessary.

I use screened bottoms with sticky boards in to check the drop. I also run a small top entrance in addition to the bottom entrance.

I am currently contemplating the idea of an experiment of keeping a single strip in on a semi-permanent basis (as long as temps allow)...hmmmmm, maybe three groups- a control using the standard two strip protocol, a second group using the optional single strip extended protocol, and a third group using the standard two strip protocol followed by maintaining a single strip for an extended period...
 

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the key to using formic pro is the first three days, watch the weather and time it so the first 3 days are within range and you might lose a few really old queens that were going away any way. never had a problem with formic going way back to the original miteaway II, and I actually liked that better than the current versions.
Ya, I liked the MAQS II as well. I have the nagging feeling that this 'Pro' version is less effective, but I don't have any of the others left to test the hypothesis.
 

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The manufacturer of Formic Pro warns of the increased danger of queen loss, so its shown in its data. I use it and lost a queen once and I was well within recommended temps. For me, it is worth the risk, especially before OA could be used with supers on. However, I only use it when queens are still available.
Given the OP's good survival rates of other hives, I would guess the queen was injured or killed by formic or other causes and the hive went queenless late in the season.
Of course, it is still possible that mites were the cause of death. There is a lot of time between treatment in late August and the end of foraging for a hive to be overwhelmed as the bee population declines. J
 

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Would you be better off if you didn't have a second chamber?
I had a mysteriuos decline of population last winter. In spring there was lots of capped honey, that the bees didn't consume. I made the mistake to leave the hive with 3 boxes over winter. The most plausible explanation for the decline was that the bees couldn't maintain temperature.

It took a whole summer, emergency queens, hive relocation, sugar syrup feeding etc. to recover the numbers.

It is autumn now here in Australia and it is time to prepare for wither. I am intending to leave one box only.
Is there any advantage in having two boxes? Never thought that they might want to go up. Thx
 
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