We recently removed our winter covers (it's been a painfully overcast, cold spring) to find that we'd lost 6 of 7 hives- and, as young, new beekeepers, we're baffled as to why. I wonder if someone here might be able to help us trouble shoot..
First of all, they didn't starve. There's still honey in them. A couple of hives had had mites in the fall, but we'd treated. There was no sign of dysentery. There were still lots of bees in the hive when we found them- and a curious thing was that in one of them that was being robbed of honey by the surviving hive, a couple of bees were removing the dead (would they do this if it wasn't their hive? There was a pile of dead at the top of the frames, under the cover, that had started to mould, so it's not as though they stood a chance at getting it cleaned up, but is it possible that they were survivors- if they weren't, wouldn't they just rob?).
Is it possible that we left our covers on too long? It's been a really overcast, cold spring, and it's when we were told by a nearby (long-time) beek to remove them, but..?
I've attached a couple of pictures, which might or might not show any clues (again, I'm at a complete (uneducated) loss)- but I'd appreciate any thoughts you seasoned folks have, immensely. We really want to keep keeping bees, but with a loss like this, we're a bit daunted..
Now off to order a few books to use as reference so I don't have to boggle down the forums in the future..
Oh- And the hive that's left? Everyone looks healthy & happy. Lots of workers, brood, queen looks good.
*Photos to come when admin approves them- oh, being a newbie.