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Author Topic: Looking for answers to a Lost Hive  (Read 1735 times)
dirktaggart
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« on: December 31, 2008, 08:00:12 PM »

This is my second year and I started with two nucs in 2007.  First year, went very well everybody strong, harvested 2 medium supers from each hive and they came through the winter in Buffalo OK.  This summer one hive was strong and one with fewer bees.  In September the strong hive had two full supers and the weaker on had two empty supers, but still many bees in the brood frames.  We had a warm (relative) day in December and I checked each hive out.  The strong was was doing well, but the weak hive had no live bees.  The bottom brood frames were uncapped and empty the second was about 75% capped and weighed about 50 lbs.  How can I determine what happened?

Thanks in advance for your help.
Tom
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rdy-b
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« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2008, 09:28:55 PM »

Did you treat for mites along the way?-RDY-B
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BjornBee
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2009, 08:36:17 AM »

Some things that could help....

Mite counts
Fall brood numbers
Last sighting of the queen
Location and positioning of the dead bees
Cluster size

*It sounds, if I read this correctly, that some bees were in the brood chamber (Head first?) which could indicate just a too small of a cluster to handle the cold and the froze out. Of course this is what killed them, but not the reason they died. A failed queen, dwindling due to t-mites, and other things probably doomed this hive prior to them actually dying off.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2009, 01:22:53 PM »

My first suspicion is always Varroa.  So I look for those in the dead bees on the bottom board first.  My second suspicious is usually that they starved.  If the dead cluster is not in contact with honey at all that's a likely reason.  Sometimes a cluster just dwindles too much to keep warm on the nasty cold nights.  This could be things that have been mentioned like t-mites, heavy v-mites loads, not enough young bees going into fall or just a hive that didn't got split late and didn't build up enough.
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dirktaggart
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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2009, 11:50:03 AM »

As a novice with just a few hives and wanting to do things naturally, I assumed that I wouldn't be exposed to the problems of the big boys.  But after your postings, I went back to the hive and collected 15 bees, and found 2 mites.  So I will do some more reading on treating for mites and use a sticky board to monitor them this summer.  I have attached a  picture of one that I found.  Thanks!
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2009, 12:18:54 PM »

Varroa mites affect everyone at some level.  It will take some management changes to handle them naturally or some treatments to handle them with more brute force.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beespests.htm#varroa
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Michael Bush
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BjornBee
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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2009, 03:04:50 PM »

dirk,
Don't feel bad. You fell for the ole' new beekeepers syndrome.

It goes like this.....

New beekeeper reads all about mites, gets scared the crap out of when attending the local new beekeepers course and hears about all the potential problems, hears all about how most beekeepers lose at least half their hives while attending the local club meetings, and so on.

But new beekeepers thinks that not dumping all those chemicals into the hive is the way to go. (and I agree) So he decides not to treat the first year. And whether they have 2, 4, or 10 hives, they all magically make it through winter.

This of course is where some really "bright" beekeeper automatically jump into queen breeding while plastering up a website and claiming to have "survivor bees" and has the magic answer for all our problems for us to buy. (Don't laugh...I've seen it happen)

The rest of the "lucky" beekeepers go into their second year with the confidence that they must be doing everything right, since their bees survived.

Then comes the second year "reality Kill", that has them backtracking and seeking answers.

So what happened? What most beekeepers in this boat did not realize, is that when they got those packages that first year, almost all package producers treat for mites just prior to shipping. So in reality, your bees were treated against mite loss that first year. Coupled with a natural brood break by the nature that packages are installed, you have overwhelming chances that the bees will make it the first year. This same type advantage is seen with nucs, coupled with brood breaks, the power of a first year queen, and other factors. Reality is that splits and first year nucs make it through the first winter in almost 100% of the cases.

So the first year is a given....any beekeeper doing NOTHING can have hives survive.

The second year is when mites begin to catch up and take their toll. It's this second year that is the most dangerous. It's this second year that most beekeepers actually get their first taste of a dead hive, and begin their education over again, into what it REALLY takes to be successfull at beekeeping.

I'm not saying all this applies to you. But this is the pattern of most beginner beekeepers. And it is repeated every year. The first year success is a freebie. The "new beekeepers" are really those in their second year.
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Cindi
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« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2009, 04:45:16 PM »

Bjorn, well said!!!  That actually sounds like me when I first began beekeeping, smiling, hee, hee.  I had great success with my bees the first year.  The second year, well, I lost all the colonies to extremely high varroa mite issues.  I had no realization how destructive these mites were, even though we were taught some stuff about them.  Oh yes, those learning curves....have a wonderful and awesome day, great life and health, love and live this life of ours to share and love.  Cindi
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2009, 06:56:24 PM »

Quote
So what happened? What most beekeepers in this boat did not realize, is that when they got those packages that first year, almost all package producers treat for mites just prior to shipping. So in reality, your bees were treated against mite loss that first year. Coupled with a natural brood break by the nature that packages are installed, you have overwhelming chances that the bees will make it the first year. This same type advantage is seen with nucs, coupled with brood breaks, the power of a first year queen, and other factors. Reality is that splits and first year nucs make it through the first winter in almost 100% of the cases.

So the first year is a given....any beekeeper doing NOTHING can have hives survive.

The second year is when mites begin to catch up and take their toll. It's this second year that is the most dangerous. It's this second year that most beekeepers actually get their first taste of a dead hive, and begin their education over again, into what it REALLY takes to be successfull at beekeeping.

Which is one of the reasons I keep saying it takes 2 years to aclimatize bees.  The 1st year is a freebie and the 2nd year is the cut bait period.  If you still have bees after 4-5 years of no treatments, then you can claim survivor bees.
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