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Author Topic: Empty hive.  (Read 1871 times)
Fox Creek
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« on: January 02, 2013, 07:37:38 PM »

Today was warm, 55 degrees, with lots of sunshine. I checked  the bee yard and could see three of my four hives were active. (cleansing flight). I checked the inactive hive and found it empty of bees. Four plus deep frames of capped honey still present. This hive did very well going into winter. Plenty of resources. No mites. We have had lots of rain lately also a short period of snow. Can some of the more experienced beekeepers give me some ideas as to what may have caused this?
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AllenF
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« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2013, 07:54:43 PM »

Low bee numbers in the fall and they could not heat the winter cluster.   What had your treatment for mites been?
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Fox Creek
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2013, 08:35:09 PM »

Low bee numbers in the fall and they could not heat the winter cluster.   What had your treatment for mites been?

As I have followed the advise given, "The Practical Beekeeper, Idiots Guide to Beekeeping", I have not had mite problems. I do not use treatment. All four of my hives looked great going into winter.
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kathyp
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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2013, 09:05:38 PM »

have any yellowjacket problems, or wasps?  i have lost hives like that and i'm pretty sure that it was late loss of the queen or harassment from yellowjackets.

were there any dead bees in the hive, or were they all just gone?
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2013, 09:50:58 PM »

How close are you to agricultural land? Do you have a lot of corn or soy crops within 3 miles of you?
If so they have collected systemic poisons in weak doses, condensed it ( turned it into honey) and when they started using it the poison levels were high enough to cause the colony to collapse. Remember how bad they said DDT was and they measured it in levels of parts per million, the new systemics are measured in parts per billion and they are more neurological. Was there capped brood and maybe open brood still in the hive?

Sometimes when a hive loses a queen, when the brood is gone the bees move into a near by hive. In this case all of the brood would have hatched.
Let us know.
Jim
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Fox Creek
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« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2013, 10:15:16 PM »

have any yellowjacket problems, or wasps?  i have lost hives like that and I'm pretty sure that it was late loss of the queen or harassment from yellowjackets.

were there any dead bees in the hive, or were they all just gone?

I counted 7 dead bees. They are "just gone". Wasp, yellowjackets? Only the one or two you may see i.f.o. the hive.

As to agriculture. I live in the Sierra Nv. mountains, about the 3000 ft. level. I have no agriculture within 10-12 miles.

Jim. All of the brood was hatched. Perhaps the Queen perished and the bees did as you suggest. "moved into the next hive!"
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2013, 10:16:35 PM »

What about the brood? Is there any.
Jim
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Fox Creek
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« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2013, 10:22:49 PM »

What about the brood? Is there any.
Jim


Jim. I updated my last answer, in answer to your question. Thanks!
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2013, 10:27:38 PM »

Thanks for the up date. You may find 1 hive is much stronger due to this.
Jim
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Fox Creek
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« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2013, 10:37:19 PM »

Thanks for the up date. You may find 1 hive is much stronger due to this.
Jim

Thank You!...I feel alot better now!
Mark
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2013, 10:55:02 PM »

How many of your hives have more than one super on them?
Too many may cause you problems. Around here the commercial beeks only winter over with one deep. Then again, they seem to be doing a lot of feeding.

Most of my hives have just one medium super left on above the brood box and I expect to remove them in another month and expect them to still have all of the honey they had on them in the fall. Actually I think they are still putting on a little weight on the hives but at the same time they are starting to build up and are using some of what is being brought in to feed the brood. We have had a very mild winter and the flowers are still blooming. They are very active from 9:00 AM until about 3:00 PM. I was out working in the shop until 9:30 PM building 7 new bases and 1 hive had about 20 bees clustered out side of the hive just above the entrance.
Jim
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BlueBee
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« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2013, 11:18:15 PM »

How close are you to agricultural land? Do you have a lot of corn or soy crops within 3 miles of you?
If so they have collected systemic poisons in weak doses, condensed it ( turned it into honey) and when they started using it the poison levels were high enough to cause the colony to collapse. Remember how bad they said DDT was and they measured it in levels of parts per million, the new systemics are measured in parts per billion and they are more neurological. Was there capped brood and maybe open brood still in the hive?
Iím not trying to be argumentative here, but there is crop land all around me and I have not had large die offs.  I have rarely seen a bee on a modern soy bean plant and I donít think Iíve ever seen one on corn.  Corn and most of the modern soy beans are not big sources of nectar for the bees.  Hence I think it may be a little premature to suggest pesticides from those crops are getting concentrated in winter honey stores.  If there is a study that suggests otherwise, it would be interesting to read.

As for the original post, my guess would be the loss of your queen or some pest was making their existing home so miserable that they decided to abandon ship and hope for more success elsewhere.  Maybe you lost your queen before the winter bees were brooded up?  As the summer bees die off (fly away to die), you end up with no bees.
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Fox Creek
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« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2013, 12:48:16 AM »

quote author=tefer2 link=topic=39771.msg336130#msg336130 date=1357174142]
Mites, let us know how the other three end up.
[/quote]

I see you changed your post after most had responded. It may be hard for you to believe, I have yet to see a mite in my bee yard. I have not the experience to tell you why, other than the reasons I have posted. Is it because I have followed the advise of certain experienced beekeepers? I cant say for sure. Is it because I live in the mountains at 3000 ft., not near agriculture or other beekeepers? I cant say. If you want to insist, I have mites, if it makes you happy...well....keep insisting I have mites.

P.S.  if I misunderstood you, forgive me.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2013, 01:34:16 AM »

I have mites and I still have bees.  I think people blame the mites for everything when there are lots of other things that can go wrong too.  If Fox Creek says he doesnít have mites, Iíll take his word at it.  I have hives with no measurable mites and hives with mites.  Both are possible.  New hives/swarms are much less likely to have measureable mites than established hives.  Plenty of other reasons for a hive to fail besides the mites. 

When I got started I asked a couple of the local commercial guys around me (400+ hives) if I need to treat for mites because everybody on the bee forums blames the mites so often.  They both laughed and said they donít treat for mites.  If the commercial guys around me can make a living off this crazy business, their input is worth some careful thought.

Now granted, the mite life cycle in Michigan is probably MUCH different than in milder climates or California.  We probably have a longer period without brood and a better chance of the mites dying out in large numbers before brooding restarts in early spring.

Fox Creek, youíre not going to get a definitive answer to your question because nobody knows for sure what happened.  All we can do is guess.  My guess is you had queen issues in Sept/Oct and didnít get enough/any winter bees brooded up.
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2013, 05:54:05 AM »

Mark,
Where did you get your bees from? I ask the because it may be that your bees are survivor bees that have developed the genes to recognize mites in the larva and clean them out. I have 14 hives, one of which is an observation hive with clean out trays. I never see mites on the bees and only see one or two mites a week in the trays. Sometimes none for weeks. I just checked the trays of the other hives after a 24 hour test and on average found one mite per hive, some none, one had two. Good hygenetics can make all the difference.
Jim
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2013, 08:24:01 AM »

I always look for signs of mites.  Dead Varroa mites along with dead bees on the bottom.  If you find thousands upon thousands of mites, then it is probably mites.  I also look for little white flecks in the brood comb (Varroa feces).  If you lack both, then it's doubtful it was mites.  Also, I would expect a lot of dead bees if it was mites.  Since they are gone, and not dead, it sounds more like other issues or a slow enough die off that they hauled out the dead as they succumbed.  Sometimes they abscond.  Sometimes they die.
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Fox Creek
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« Reply #16 on: January 03, 2013, 07:11:56 PM »

Mark,
Where did you get your bees from? I ask the because it may be that your bees are survivor bees that have developed the genes to recognize mites in the larva and clean them out. I have 14 hives, one of which is an observation hive with clean out trays. I never see mites on the bees and only see one or two mites a week in the trays. Sometimes none for weeks. I just checked the trays of the other hives after a 24 hour test and on average found one mite per hive, some none, one had two. Good hygenetics can make all the difference.
Jim

I bought my bees from Olivarez honey bees. They are located about 150 miles from my location, North of Sacramento. While I plan on buying a couple more of these, I plan on making splits from my hives and using queens raised in my bee yard. I never planed on getting this involved. However from information I have gleaned from the excellent books available, it is quite clear, the road to success is breeding from stock which will survive in your climate.

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Fox Creek
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« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2013, 07:23:57 PM »

I always look for signs of mites.  Dead Varroa mites along with dead bees on the bottom.  If you find thousands upon thousands of mites, then it is probably mites.  I also look for little white flecks in the brood comb (Varroa feces).  If you lack both, then it's doubtful it was mites.  Also, I would expect a lot of dead bees if it was mites.  Since they are gone, and not dead, it sounds more like other issues or a slow enough die off that they hauled out the dead as they succumbed.  Sometimes they abscond.  Sometimes they die.

   Michael, Thank you for your responce. As for Varroa mites, every time I inspect my hives,  I look for the dreaded Varroa. So far so good for me! I have not seen one on a bee, on comb, or on the screened bottom board. No little white flecks.
   If the  loss of  my queen is the reason for the loss of the hive, why did I not have laying workers? (my question as I am new to all this).
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2013, 09:32:26 PM »

They will sometimes move into another hive if one is near by when they do not have brood or a queen to anchor them to their hive.
Jim
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Fox Creek
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« Reply #19 on: January 03, 2013, 09:45:24 PM »

Thank you Jim, I have learned alot with this site.
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