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Author Topic: Possible CCD? need input  (Read 4085 times)
rtztgue
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« on: February 11, 2011, 01:07:18 PM »

I used to raise bees with my father and decided to take it up again with my children... so this last year I got a hive in the Tacoma area.   This hive did Fantastic!!!  I really mean it.. from day one they were out and working, our neighborhood has a lot of maple trees and plush gardens (neighbors spend a lot on their yards)  so the bees had japanese maples and regular maples... then the flowers and plants and gardens being put in etc...  honey production was great.  They were also docile in that not one person reported being stung, while also being noticeable to the gardeners and landscapers.   A couple of days ago we had our 3rd straight day of bright sun and 50 degree weather (sorry midwest)  so I decided to take a quick peek at the bees... and they were gone.   Here are some basic facts.

1.  I did not treat the bees at all, for anything.   My thinking and research led to a possibility of treated bees  leading to ccd.  So I opted for them to be left alone.  Plus this hive was strong.

2.  Very few bodies were found.  perhaps a few hundred on the bottom board.  Other than that it was like a ghost hive.

3.  It must have happened early since most of the honey is still there.  In fact I am harvesting it now.  These frames are full.  2 full size supers for the base,  base has a wide opening perhaps 1/2 inch.  then a queen excluder and then 2 shallow supers.   the bees had started on the top super before I closed it up for winter.  That one is maybe 1/4 full.

4.  I sealed the bottom opening with a reducer,  possibly to late.  I think the first time I noticed ice on the cars and ground I went out and put the reducer on.  I also opted not to have a top board on the hive... just the lid.    Keep in mind,  in Seattle-Tacoma we have mild winters.   We had perhaps a week of snow this year.  And my grass is already starting to grow, and needs to be mowed soon.

5.  The reducer kept getting moved and misplaced.  I had to find it and replace it more than once.   I am beginning to believe perhaps my bees were dead shortly before I put on the reducer.  And that the reason the reducer was being moved is because other insects were carrying off the bodies of the bees and moved the reducer to gain access..... seems weird, but when I opened the hive a few days ago I found the reducer on the base a good 3-4 inches inside the hive.  along side another reducer I had used.

6.  All equipment is new.  I did not want to take a chance with old supers... so the equipment is new, painted with oil based outside paint.  Using the black plastic frames which these bees built up in a heart beat.

7.  The bees came from an apiary in California.  I am not sure which one since our local supplier drives down and picks them up. 

8.  I will be ordering a new package, but I am toying with the idea of a different supplier.  If i can find one that may be ccd resistant... or something like that.   Unless of course I find out it was something I did.

 
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VolunteerK9
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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2011, 02:21:59 PM »

Just a few guesses since no one else has posted.

Constantly displaced entrance reducer makes me think that some sort of critter could have been harassing them possible absconding (doubtful though in the winter)

No treatments maybe means high mite load doing them in.

Pesticide kill from some of the gardens that your bees frequented (but I'm thinking they wouldn't have left, they would just be dead)

Or you could be right that it was CCD.

I have no idea and the only way to maybe find out is to send some of the remaining dead ones off to a lab for analysis.

I hate if for ya and wish I could be of more help. The only upside is you have a good starter in drawn comb for your next ones.
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wd
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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2011, 02:46:34 PM »

I'm inclined to think it was some thing other than ccd http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=15572

Perhaps a critter as mentioned,  I haven't seen bee's move reducers. 

Just curious, Are there other hives / bees close by that you know of?
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rtztgue
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2011, 07:52:08 PM »

No hives that I know of... probably another reason they did well with production.  They have not had any competition.  I did hear mention that a farmer has a few hives, but he is at least a mile away, if not 2-3.  I know bees can and will go that far but I certainly have not seen any other hives.   If it was a critter, what could they have done to the hive so quickly.  The queen would have had to been killed and then the other bees attacked or something.....  maybe I'll just name this hive the mary celeste, put a new hive in and hope for the best. 
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don2
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2011, 09:51:28 PM »

Can I do this?

http://georgiafaces.caes.uga.edu/?public=viewStory&pk_id=4025

don2
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Acebird
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« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2011, 11:13:39 AM »

Quote
Pesticide kill from some of the gardens that your bees frequented


If you are a non smoker you can taste some organic honey that you know is organic and then taste your honey.  If yours has the after bite then throw it away and find out what neighbor killed your bees.
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Never thought I would do it!
kathyp
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« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2011, 11:58:18 AM »

sometimes they just leave.  might have lost the queen early and drifted off to other hives. 
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don2
Doak
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« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2011, 05:49:03 PM »

The colonies that I lost that I thought may have been CCD, The wax moth nor anything else didn't touch the hives for at least 2 months,"60" days.
The other two colonies that I thought was normal loss were invaded immediately by wax moth and robbers and etc.  :)don2
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2011, 12:28:53 AM »

>If i can find one that may be ccd resistant... or something like that.

No one can decide what CCD is... they certainly don't know the cause, nor can the predict that bees can "resist" something they can't define.

It's not the first bee die off.  I would just keep going.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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WPG
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« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2011, 08:15:27 PM »

You shouldn't use a queen excluder during the off season.
 If the queen can't move up to the food the colony won't either.
A few might work the supers before they need to cluster, but it sounds like you forced them to abscond.

Also sounds like an animal was trying to get in to the abandoned honey.

Any bees you get this year should work just fine, and have a head start with food already in the hive.
Don't take all of it for yourself yet. Maybe half.

Better luck next time.
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Javin
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« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2011, 09:09:31 PM »

To second what WPD said, you shouldn't have a queen excluder during the winter.  During the winters, the bees will cluster to keep the hive warm, and move around the hive consuming the honey for energy.  If the excluder is in place, the queen will quickly be left behind the "ball" of bees, and freeze.  It's possible that with no queen, they decided to abscond rather than try to build queen cells during the winter.

Also, I would very, very strongly recommend that you not use foundation (or at least use the smallest cell foundation you can find, currently 4.9mm) if you're going organic.  The standard foundation has been proven to be too large, making it difficult for bees to fight off varroa.  My strong suspicion is that foundation could be the smoking gun that caused CCD in the first place, but that's another debate all together.

The movement of the excluder is most likely due to a mouse or some other critter that loves to nest in the warm honeybee hives over the winter. 

Best of luck with your next try!  Since you're in Seattle, you may want to try a swarm lure to see if you can't get some local stock to start your next hive with.  I don't believe AHB is a problem there.  Bringing in packaged bees may guarantee you what breed you get, but they'll have to climatize to your area before they'll be stable.  This can take several generations.
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