Fall has definitely fell here in the PacNW. It'd be more accurate to say we bypassed autumn and went straight to winter w/three weeks of the cold (50's is cold here) and rainy. :-x Anyways - mid 70's and sunny yesterday and finally had a chance to break in and open up the hives for inspection and maintenance. I've sad news to report on two of my hives.
One hive is dead 100%. Loads of honey, "bee-bread" but no live bees whatsoever. Dead larvae, dead emerging (newborn) bees and a small blanket of dead ones on the bottom (SBB). A couple of dead wasps too.. which I'm guessing were the agents of demise.
Second hive has no activity going in or out either. Upon inspection, I see the queen come right out on top of the frames of the top deep. Wow - this is a first... she has 4 or 5 attendants... and that's it that I can ascertain. This was my most productive hive. I felt like the queen was crying "rescue me" or something but I am remiss on what to do. I've reducers on all the hives, and have for several weeks (since the rains). There is no robbing going on - unless we factor in the yellowjackets. I fear they are causing havoc - possibly even on strong hives.
The other 8 hives = STRONG. Loads of activity when weather permits. Theres a lot still blooming actually. Fields of dandelions likely being key. Orange and yellow pollen being harvested. I was only able to swap one deep frame in one hive (one empty for one full honey from the dead hive) because they are full packed of capped honey otherwise - 2 10 frame deeps on all of them.
First with the practical ~> what to do with 2 deeps (so far) with loads of honey, etc.,? I was, of course, thinking to swap frames for empties.. but they're are none. Should I park the deep above the inner-cover on some of the live hives and let them work it? Is it possible to save until Spring (I could store indoors, where-ever, as necessary) or will the honey crystallize and be worse than worthless? I'm keen on the idea of placing packages in well-stocked deeps next spring if that is a possibility... otherwise I do want to make best use of the sad situation.
Now with the curious ~> what's the prognosis on my lonely queen hive? any feasible rescue scenarios this late in the season?
Any ideas on what could have caused, and how to determine with certainty, the very rapid demise of two strong hives?
Well, it's been all stellar experience to report thus far my first season. Too good probably! :-\ I guess I was overdue for a bit of bad news.. but I'm not taking it laying down. Any help/advice greatly appreciated. Weather forecast is for a bit of dry and more-temperate weather for the next week +.