I'm new here, looking for answers to a wierd situation in one of my hives. Long story short:
I went out two days ago to check our hives and see if they needed feeding. It's really hot and dry here in NC and these are all new hives from package bees. Anyway, I decided that honey stores looked like they were improving but still low, so went home and boiled up some sugar syrup.
Yesterday, I returned to put the feeders on and noticed that under one hive, there was a pile of dying and dead bees. Probably a couple hundred. Tongues out and dying a slow death. I was heartsick to see it and began further investigation.
I noticed more bees clustered under the hive, hanging onto the screened bottom board and looking like they were trying to get into the hive. But why aren't they flying in the front door? Meanwhile, more bees were dropping off. I stirred them up with my smoker and tools, hoping they might re-enter the hive, but they just clustered together on a cinderblock and then moved slowly back under the hive again.
What in the world??
I didn't observe a queen bee in the mix, but I guess I could have missed her, but this was just a small group of bees, maybe two cups worth if you're cooking.
Could they be robber bees who smell the honey and are trying to gain entrance through the screened bottom board, then starving?
Also, I took the hive apart. No evidence of disease that I can find. The only problem I see is that I think the hive went hungry for a couple of weeks as there is capped brood, but only very little uncapped brood. I did see the queen and so I'll be checking for more brood in the coming days. There was a small amount of honey, and the bees are currently foraging, but lots of beekeepers locally were having to feed in July and early August. Could this all be related to our drought and honey shortage this summer? Like I said, otherwise, the hive looks healthy and strong, except for the obvious shortage of early stage brood.
I'd appreciate any input!