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Hello again:

I know a few of you wrote about what you thought happened to the bees. Well upon closer observation they appear all dead. They were clustered together towards the center of the hive with plenty of honey stores on the sides. They all appeared to have died in place and some fell to the bottom of the hive. I must have underestimated how much honey I had in the hive. I must have well over 10 lbs or more of honey. It looks like some were stuck in the comb like they couldn't find honey and starved but I can't believe they couldn't find the honey. Can anyone tell me what could have happened. I have some pictures I could show anyone interested in looking. I had proper ventilation in the hive but when I checked out the bottom entrance it seemed like it could have been blocked. The top was clear and vent holes on the top of the supers were clear. The weather was and had been weard this winter and they survived through the second week of February, but after checking during a recient cold spell they appeared to have died. Any thoughts I'll try to have some pictures put on if I can figure out how to do it.

Thanks BarreBee [email protected]
 

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Barre, I don't know what causes it for sure, but I never seen it happen until 1987, when the Varroa arrived here in NC. I have seen it numerous times since then. I'm sure you can guess what I think is the cause.

OH, I forgot, the trachea mite got here the same year.

[ March 25, 2006, 12:28 PM: Message edited by: iddee ]
 

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Thracheal mite use to kill hive in the middle of food stores.

If varroa contamination is bad, it deminishes colony as soon as last bees emerge. Mites concentrate into last brood. After that bees use get bad nosema and let feces on frames. - So with me. Varroa is easy to see when last bees emerge.
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Are there stores around the cluster? Seems like with Tracheal mites they aren't very good at clustering and this sounds like a tight cluster.

Are there a lot of Varroa on the bottom? Are there bees with deformed wings?
 

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What was the size of the cluster? There is a big difference between baseball, grapefruit and bowling ball size clusters. Remember that as the hive ages through the winter you will lose a good number of bees. A hive may go into winter with sufficient bees to weather the first part of winter, only to diminish into a smaller and smaller cluster, ultimately dying with a late winter cold spell.

You may also try to determine if there was a late season brood buildup last fall. Without a good fall flow or fall feeding, they may of just went into winter with old bees if the queen did not create young bees for winter.

Sometimes its not desease. Its just mother nature in other ways.
 

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I had two hives that died this way, too. Both roughly musk-melon size or smaller, carniolans. They were both dead, tightly clustered, at the top of one box but not able to bridge the gap up to the next box. All the food eaten immediately around them. No nosema.

There are so many possiblities, and it is hard for a beginner like me to put a finger on exactly which one. T-mites, v-mites, weather. I'm going to make sure I keep on the mites, but I'm chalking these two up to weather and will insulate better next fall.
I wonder if it isn't because of the sort-of warm weather that causes them to consume more, then the cold weather that doesn't allow them to move as freely when they run out of honey.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
On three of the frames I took out, I had a baseball size cluster on one side along the top edge. A small melon sized on the other oppisite side, and one frame the bees were scattered over the frame. These frames were taken from the center of the hive. Directly under that super was a pile of bees the length of the hive about 1 1/2" deep. At the edge of the clusters is where the honey was. It looks like they died and some fell to the bottom in place. The scattered frame did not have any honey on it. :eek: I'll check for mites and deformed wings next time I look at the hive.
 

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I suppose that deformed wing bees have carried out in autumn. They do not stay in hive many days and they are not any more in winerball. Ofcourse mites can be seen on bottom.

ScadsOBees, you had too much room for bees.
One box is enough if ball is not able to rise next box. Often it happens that upper box is empty and food is in first box.
 

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Exactly what just happened to my only hive. Battled varroa mites all summer before resorting to chemicals late in the summer and I didn't treat for tracheal mites. Newbee error in hindsight trusting the supplier that his bees were tracheal resistant and I didn't need to treat. Made it through the roughest part of this unseasonably warm winter just barely hanging on. Three weeks ago they were covering five frames of brood and bringing in plenty of pollen but a HUGE number of "k" wing bees. Figured if I could just nurse them through until temps warmed enough to treat for tracheal I just might make it. Last week the temps never made it to 50 and the whole hive crashed with nearly a full medium of honey less than 3 inches away. Nurse bees were too busy covering the brood and not a sufficient number to bring honey down. Classic hive loss "according to the books" since this hive was started from a nuc last spring and this would be their second spring. Good news out of the whole deal was experience AND I've got a ton of feral bees in the woods around my house (it didn't take them long to find this hive and begin robbing- had I not been paying attention I would have thought man, they are going to pull through after all) so I closed up the hive and threw up a swarm trap with some of the empty old brood comb on their flight path and it didn't take them 30 min to begin examining the swarm trap. Already got replacement bees on order and I might get lucky enough to pull a non-AHB feral swarm.

Slightly frustrated but LOVING the experience,
David
 

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Lately folks have been pointing to viruses vectored by mites causing the malformed wings and colony deaths. So, some wonder if we put bees on this comb will the virus still be there to kill the next colony?
 

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Good point Mark. As a biologist professionally, I am inclined to agree that there is often more going on with a massive dieoff than meets the eye. In any organism/ecosystem the primary stressor (in this case both VM and TM) severely weakened the colony and made it suseptible to any number of pathogens that in and of themselves would only be a minor irritant in a healthy colony. When that fine "threshold" of survivability/critical mass was crossed, there was little likelihood of recovery. With "most" parasitic pathogens, killing the host does not make much reproductive sense but many viruses do use this strategy as any suitable host that comes along can contract and then spread the virus. Interesting thoughts regarding the comb being the repository.....I'll have to ponder that one since I have no doubt your TM free bees come in contact with my infested bees while foraging but only my colony dies and yours while infected continues to thrive.

P.S. While my comments may not agree with the books, there is only one "book" I trust to be correct and live by...all others are just someones theories awaiting confirmation, rebuttal or denial...

David
 

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> if we put bees on this comb will the virus still be there to kill the next colony?

Assuming you will not repopulate a hive immediately upon the death of the colony, virus transfer of this type would be very hard to acieve. Virus transfer such as with egg laying, feeding, mating of the queen, mite infestation, and other vectoring could be achieved.

Once the hive dies, the virus dies also.

Baterium such as AFB can grow and become infectious.

With few exceptions, viruses will die when the host dies, given a normal amount of time. And bacterium such afb will continue to be a problem.

Virus such as DFW and other mite associated viruses normally are transmitted via the mite. Bee transfer of the virus to other bees normally does not happen without the mite pressure. I say "normally' as this is an area that is being researched as we speak.

Viruses die, bacteria normally does not, when a hive dies. Viruses such as DFW, is not lurking in comb from a dead hive killed over winter.

[ March 26, 2006, 09:58 AM: Message edited by: BjornBee ]
 

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Ford,
If you're asking the age of my queen she wasn't marked but the queen that came with the nuc last spring was superceded in June 2005 (or I killed the original fumbling through the hive) and IF this is the replacement/supercedure queen she was approx. 9 months old.

Bjorn- I'm figuring as rapidly as the feral robbers began to work the deadout, any virus was possibly/probably still viable and would provide an excellent vector transmission route. I'll keep an eye on the three known feral hives in my neck of the woods this summer to see what if any impact they suffer. Be hard to point the finger at my hive as any culprit but provides an excuse to tromp through the woods.

David
 
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