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Discussion Starter #1
Hi. Introducing myself and asking:

How likely is it that yellow jackets killed my hive last fall?

New here, sort of. Appreciate all I've been reading here for years now and am going for my Master Beekeeper certification this season so am intrenched in Dewey M. Caron's Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping in diagnosing my two dead hives.

This hive overwintered last year and I just let it do its own thing as it was so robust. Now that I know a little more about splits I realize I did not manage it well last season. I have a photo of the frame that has me curious it may have been yellow jackets in the fall and then I found this article from the U of Illinois.

University of Illinois Extension "...Once it freezes, blooming ceases. The result is a very large, very hungry population of wasps that are short-tempered and sting with little provocation. These wasps do not die until there is a 5- to 7-day period when the high temperature is below 45 degree F. They search out every nook and cranny for food..."

ferncroft2014.jpg

  • Did not find the bees in a nest formation and no signs of nosema.
  • We had no fly days in our intervale for 5-6 months. Temps rarely made it into 40s F all winter.
  • The bottom of the hive was littered with deteriorated, honey bee abdomens separated at the thorax.
  • No sign of mice. No turds and no other destruction.
  • Frames of goldenrod pollen and 1.5 full frames of honey.
 

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Wasps like to kill the queen if they can get in the hive.The damage looks like hornets.I've battled with them 2 years in a row.Finally found their hives and destroyed them.If you see grey stuff on the edges inside the void I would say wasp.In my area wasp seem to be a problem in the spring and the hornets are a problem in the spring.Probably dependent on which has a higher population or who's preferred food source is available.Hornets work in a helical pattern kind of looks like what is going on on your comb.Yes hornets like to pinch all castes in half and cause mass destruction.Wasp seem to target the queen maybe pinch just a few workers to get to her.That's what I've witnessed firsthand.Wasp got one of my queens this spring,didn't pinch any workers but put the hit on the queen.:pinch:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the quick, experienced response.

Wow! Like a horror story for honey bees!

I can't say it is gray around the hole but it looks so vicious and targeted. There are bee butts hanging out of just some cells but not much and I wonder if they were trying to get away... is that silly? There is still plenty of pollen on the same frame so why would they be starved? I looked at them under a microscope and did my best to recognize any sort of disease with no luck.

Meant to add that I'm moving that apiary site which has been in place for five winters, to across the way. We do have lots and lots of wasps around here and even watched fascinated as a colony of yellow jackets built a beautiful nest from pine shavings in an old flower box in the shed.
 

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Most surely sounds like hornets.The grey would be noticeable.It was so cold this year I'm sure more so up your way than mine.It was an unusally cold winter in my area also.Bees with heads in the cell signifies starvation.I've never known bees to display cowardice and hide from an intruder.With several polar vortexs this winter it was difficult for your bees to make the jump for feed.That's more than likely what happened.Good luck with your studies:applause:Me after locating a hornets nest:banana:
 
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