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Author Topic: bees gone....  (Read 1502 times)
Mouse
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« on: February 27, 2013, 09:18:55 PM »

I went out today since the temps were up close to 50, to have a peek at my hive. I last inspected in October, and they seemed good, they had re-queened in august, but seemed to be doing ok, had brood, etc etc etc. Now, all the bees are gone. There's maybe 50-100 dead bees on the bottom of the hive, nothing like the number that should have been in the cluster if they stayed steady to the numbers that I saw in october. No dead bees head down in the cells like it was just too cold to get to the stored hone... just empty... there's not a lot of stores left, but there are some. a frame and a half of capped honey? and all the brood is the top third honey or there abouts.

This has been my first year beekeeping, and so far, I'm getting very discouraged... I had one package die due to user error with feeding methods, one die because the queen just never laid, and I didn't have a second hive to put brood in from, got a swarm from a local beekeeper, and was going good, now this. I'm not quite ready to give up yet, but I do want to know if I could have somehow prevented this?
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capt44
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2013, 09:52:36 AM »

Sounds like a robbing situation.
I lost a hive before I realized what was happening.
My other hives I reduced the entrance to 1 inch and started using a baggie feeding system in the top.
If a hive is the least bit weak a stronger hive (feral too) will rob the weaker hive.
But with the reduced entrance the guard bees can defend the hive.
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Richard Vardaman (capt44)
Mouse
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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2013, 03:34:59 PM »

that could have been a contributing factor, definitely something to keep an eye on in future. I brought the whole shebang inside today to do a thorough inspection (I had to pry some frames apart, they sure are busy with that propolis) and did finally find bees head down in honey cells, and a very small cluster around the queen, all dead. Also found some varroa feces in the brood chamber. So, my best educated guess is that the hive was suffering from mite infestation, and just too small after the late requeening, didn't get enough stores laid by, and then died of starvation and/or cold. some of the brood cells are still full of liquidy goop, which I'm assuming is what's left of some brood after being frozen and thawed a few times. but mostly all empty. discouraging in general, and expensive to start over, but I have learned a LOT this year, and I have a whole bunch of drawn comb and some honey to jump start my packages in april. It still doesn't seem like enough dead bees in the hive by half for what was there last time I inspected, but who knows. 
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Intheswamp
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2013, 04:23:53 PM »

Did you stick a matchstick into a couple of the gooey cells for a rope test?  Probably not an issue but...

Ed
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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2013, 05:59:33 PM »

Intheswamp, can you explain how the matchstick test works? Im new and don't know...
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kathyp
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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2013, 06:10:44 PM »

not that this has anything to do with the loss of your hive, but i'd hesitate to requeen that late unless you had to for some reason.  if you get a bad queen, or they don't like her, it's pretty late to catch the problem and do something about it.

how were the stores.  how much room did they have going into winter.  how strong was the hive?
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Mouse
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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2013, 06:27:28 PM »

I should clarify, I didn't requeen on purpose! The old queen must have died, or become non productive, because between one inspection and the next, because she was gone, and they were making queen cells, and MAN was that hive mean all the sudden! I went all summer without a sting and got stung TWICE that time around. sheesh.

good thought on the matchstick test though, I was wondering whether I should do that... I'll drag out some more frames tomorrow....
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Intheswamp
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2013, 06:32:09 PM »

Intheswamp, can you explain how the matchstick test works? Im new and don't know...

I'm pretty much a newbee, too, but from what I understand the larvae that die from American Foul Brood basically turn into a dark gooey mess in the cell...later when they dry up in the cell they leave a "scale" in the cell.  In the rope test you simply insert a stick into the goo, twist a bit to coat the tip of the stick and then withdraw it from the cell.  If a gooey rope forms between the stick and goo inside the cell then AFB is assumed.  Here are two links that describe AFB and the rope test...scroll about 1/2 way down the page in each article.

http://www.centralohiobeekeepers.org/cobaprojects/beeyard/yr2010/september06.htm

http://www.masterbeekeeper.org/B_files/disease1.htm

Hang in there, it'll get better.  I'm in the learning phase, too, and have lost a few colonies already.  Undecided

Ed
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www.beeweather.com 
American blood spilled to protect the freedom and peace of people all over the world.  320,000 USA casualties in WWI, 1,076,000 USA casualties in WWII, 128,000 USA casualties in the Korean War, 211,000 casualties in the Vietnam "conflict", 57,000 USA casualties in "War on Terror".  Benghazi, Libya, 13 USA casualties. These figures don't include 70,000 MIA.  But, the leaders of one political party of the United States of America continue to make the statement..."What difference does it make?".

"We can't expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism."..."The press is our chief ideological weapon." - Nikita Khrushchev
AllenF
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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2013, 09:03:28 PM »

Finding dead hives this time of the year normally are caused by low bee numbers letting them freeze/starve or lack of food starving them.   I find most are from just low numbers.   They may be the result of queen issues, mites, disease, and aliens.  I just throw in the alien answer because it just makes sense to blame the aliens.   
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kathyp
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« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2013, 09:25:32 PM »

i go with the alien thing lots of times.  sometimes there's no other explanation....for lots of stuff!   evil

wondered if you had verified that you had a good queen laying well before winter?  you said there was brood, but was there enough to create enough bees to make it through winter.  assuming they were queenless for a little bit while they made one and she got mated, did they get to far behind in numbers to catch up for winter?
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
Intheswamp
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« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2013, 10:26:23 AM »

I'm curious about how you set them up to be overwintered.  Did you wrap the hive?  Insulate the top?  Close off the screened bottom board if you use one?  Living down here in the south we don't wrap hives or anything extreme....basically just make sure they have plenty to eat.  Your climate is far different from mine though, but I would think there's beeks that don't wrap or anything...but lots do. 

In your final inspection before putting them to bed for the winter, were there a lot of bees? 

Do you experienced beeks think doing something like Mountain Camp feeding might be a thought for next winter for Mouse?

As has already been mentioned, it seemed that your cluster was just too small to survive the cold and these were just some thoughts and thought provokers...

Best wishes,
Ed
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www.beeweather.com 
American blood spilled to protect the freedom and peace of people all over the world.  320,000 USA casualties in WWI, 1,076,000 USA casualties in WWII, 128,000 USA casualties in the Korean War, 211,000 casualties in the Vietnam "conflict", 57,000 USA casualties in "War on Terror".  Benghazi, Libya, 13 USA casualties. These figures don't include 70,000 MIA.  But, the leaders of one political party of the United States of America continue to make the statement..."What difference does it make?".

"We can't expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism."..."The press is our chief ideological weapon." - Nikita Khrushchev
jpmeir
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« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2013, 06:35:43 AM »

Thanks for the info Intheswamp.
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Mouse
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« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2013, 04:38:21 PM »

I designed my setup with an airspace in the outer "cover" as winter insulation, and partially close off my screen bottom board for winter with a board with a few holes drilled to provide airflow (I have top entrances for varmint protection). as I understand from local beeks the real worry in a healthy hive is condensation not sheer cold (as long as the hives are reasonably well sheltered that is). I was encouraged that I found no signs of condensation on the inside of the hive, so that's a +1 for my setup!

as far as the queen, I never actually SAW her (I still have trouble finding unmarked queens) but there were hatched queen cells, new capped brood, and the hive settled back down again and stopped stinging me when I inspected! So I assumed that she was there, mated, and laying well. I also found her dead in the center of the small cluster of dead bees (very sad I was too  Cry )

Because I didn't have a second hive to compare with, I'm not sure if there were as many bees as there should have been going into winter. It seemed like a lot to me, but what do I know, this is my first year beekeeping! Looking back, I think that they would have needed more stores going into winter regardless, they still had three of 20 frames unfilled, so, 10 frames of brood, with some honey, and seven frames of honey. the dead hive has a frame and a half of honey left, plus most of the honey stored around the brood.

It didn't help that I had a new baby and didn't get the final fall inspections in that I wanted to either. It probalby wasn't my best decision to start beekeeping in the same summer that I was having a new baby, but I didn't want to wait a whole year either!  tongue Live and learn??
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T Beek
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« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2013, 07:01:05 PM »

Mouse;  You didn't really say "how" your hive re-queened.   Did 'you' add a "mated" queen in August or did they swarm and create their own?  You saw "how many" queen cells?  If they swarmed in August and a queen made it back and started laying eggs you wouldn't see any until September with little forage available to naturally provide nourishment.

I suspect this colony just swarmed itself out and didn't have time to recoup in strength before winter and/or simply went queenless at some point because there were not enough bees to take care of the business of heating the colony.

SPRING creates more hazards for honeybees than any other time of year IMO, especially for new beeks.

Unless there was significant damage to the comb (it looks like the caps are just ripped off with lots of wax debris on bottom with the dead) I also doubt it was a robbing situation, especially if it was "appearing" strong in October.  

Robbing would have presented you with lots of dead both inside AND outside.

It also sounds like you may be providing too much ventilation, especially over winter.  I'd recommend closing that SBB and placing insulation above your inner covers at a minimum.  Air space is more effective "below" your hive than above it.

3 of 20 frames "unfilled" is too much empty space IMO.  Each late Fall a Beek must squeeze their colonies down in size by removing "all" empty boxes and frames to fit just bees, honey and pollen.

Don't despair when you kill bees.  WE ALL KILL BEES.  Good and bad beeks alike.  They are wild insects and we are forcing our ways onto them.
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Mouse
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« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2013, 09:42:32 PM »

as per re-queening, I'm almost 100% sure that they just went queenless, and built their own queen. Now, I can't always find the queen even when she's in there, but that hive was NOT acting normal, and building queen cells. I've counted.... mmmm.... five queen cells? I forget exactly. All empty. I did find the dead queen in the middle of the very small dead cluster. <sigh>. so they had a queen going into winter, but my guess is just didn't have enough time to build the hive back up, esp. coming right at the end of the season like that.

no damage to the comb, all seems a-ok there. I took everything out today and cut out the ex. crooked comb, scraped the propolis, etc. Put the divider back in, and I'm ready to start over when my packages come in april. There does seem to be some consensus that the Italian Queens do not do as well in the frozen tundra of New England since they don't stop laying early enough? I'm considering ordering a mated queen from somewhere local if I can, and re-queening, but, that makes the whole project even more expensive.

you would close the SBB completely even with a top entrance? I was concerned that if I closed it completely there wouldn't be enough airflow to prevent condensation. It's easy enough to put a piece of foam insulation inside my roof for next year, I think I even have one laying around somewhere...

I'm still confused about how relatively few bees were dead in the hive.
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T Beek
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« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2013, 09:53:41 PM »

Five empty queen cells can mean up to 5 swarms cast from your once thriving colony.  The one found was likely the sole survivor and one of the five.  Colonies that cast late season swarms are usually doomed unless the beek knows it happened and can take some corrective action.

Since approximately half the bees leave w/ each swarm, plus they also take a lot of honey, effectively dooming a remaining colony in too big of a space to properly keep a small cluster warm and with minimal stores to make it through 5-7 months of no available forage....guess that says it all.   Sad

Better luck in 2013!  No better teacher than hands on experience.
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greenbtree
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« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2013, 02:16:19 AM »

The learning curve at first is STEEP!  Hang in there, it will get better.  If you can afford it, start up again with two hives.  It is helpful to be able to compare them when you are learning, and if something goes wrong you can grab a frame of eggs from the other hive.  If you can find a mentor, it would be great, especially if you can follow them around on their inspections to see what healthy normal hives look like at various times of the year.  I didn't have that option, and I know exactly what you mean when you talk about not knowing what is normal.  It can be almost crippling.  But I got through it, so can you, just keep plugging away.

JC
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« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2013, 04:05:59 AM »

Hi Mouse

Please have a look at this:

Quote
CCD, Colony Collapse Disorder

Signs and symptoms

A colony which has collapsed from CCD is generally characterized by all of these conditions occurring simultaneously:[31]

    Presence of capped brood in abandoned colonies. Bees normally will not abandon a hive until the capped brood have all hatched.
    Presence of food stores, both honey and bee pollen:
        i. which are not immediately robbed by other bees
        ii. which when attacked by hive pests such as wax moth and small hive beetle, the attack is noticeably delayed.
    Presence of the queen bee. If the queen is not present, the hive died because it was queenless, which is not considered CCD.

Precursor symptoms that may arise before the final colony collapse are:

    Insufficient workforce to maintain the brood that is present
    Workforce seems to be made up of young adult bees
    The colony members are reluctant to consume provided feed, such as sugar syrup and protein supplement.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder

Your description of the tiny cluster with the queen in the middle is the telltale sign of CCD. I have seen it repeatedly myself, there is nothing you could have done to prevent the loss of the hive.

It is caused by your bees collecting contaminated pollen and nectar from plants treated with systemic neonicotinoid pesticides.
Seed treated corps as well as flowers and trees growing along treated lawn in parks and on golf courses provide this contaminated food for your bees during the summer.
It often causes queen failure, leading to supercedure, just as you describe it.
During winter the colony succumbs to the accumulated effects of the poison and all the adult bees leave the hive to die.

Please try to identify the source of the contamination.
If you can't keep your bees away from the treated plants you maybe shouldn't consider getting more bees, as they might well die again next winter, no matter how carefully you look after them.

We need to get these pesticides banned asap, then our bees will be able to thrive again.

 Sad
« Last Edit: March 03, 2013, 05:06:05 AM by Stromnessbees » Logged
T Beek
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« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2013, 04:55:57 AM »

Hi Mouse

Please have a look at this:

Quote
CCD, Colony Collapse Disorder

Signs and symptoms

A colony which has collapsed from CCD is generally characterized by all of these conditions occurring simultaneously:[31]

    Presence of capped brood in abandoned colonies. Bees normally will not abandon a hive until the capped brood have all hatched.
    Presence of food stores, both honey and bee pollen:
        i. which are not immediately robbed by other bees
        ii. which when attacked by hive pests such as wax moth and small hive beetle, the attack is noticeably delayed.
    Presence of the queen bee. If the queen is not present, the hive died because it was queenless, which is not considered CCD.

Precursor symptoms that may arise before the final colony collapse are:

    Insufficient workforce to maintain the brood that is present
    Workforce seems to be made up of young adult bees
    The colony members are reluctant to consume provided feed, such as sugar syrup and protein supplement.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder

You description of the tiny cluster with the queen in the middle is the telltale sign of CCD. I have seen it repeatedly myself, there is nothing you could have done to prevent the loss of the hive.

It is caused by your bees collecting contaminated pollen and nectar from plants treated with systemic neonicotinoid pesticides.
Seed treated corps as well as flowers and trees growing along treated lawn in parks and on golf courses provide this contaminated food for your bees during the summer.
It often causes queen failure, leading to supercedure, just as you describe it.
During winter the colony succumbs to the accumulated effects of the poison and all the adult bees leave the hive to die.

Please try to identify the source of the contamination.
If you can't keep your bees away from the treated plants you maybe shouldn't consider getting more bees, as they might well die again next winter, no matter how carefully you look after them.

We need to get these pesticides banned asap, then our bees will be able to thrive again.

 Sad



While I might agree that pesticides are a problem for Honeybees (and all life) I do not believe by the OP's description that there were "tell tale" signs of any poisoning or even CCD.  The 2 have not been completely linked as far as I know.  In fact, most experts still have not agreed on what CCD even is or what may be causing it, although pesticides are certainly under much suspicion.

Seems Stromnessbess may be on a mission of sorts, the "certainty" is a bit unnerving.  I wonder, where did that description of CCD come from?  We all need something to do I suppose  grin

What's killing the Honeybee?  WE ARE KILLING HONEYBEES but its not 'all' about pesticides and/or CCD.  Confusion surrounding the subject doesn't really help.  BEEKS and bees need science and more than just a passion for bees.

As for wikipedia....well by their own admission they can't always be trusted.

Mouse;  Yes, close your SBB and create 'dead air space' below it for winter.  You can leave it wide open all summer if you want, there are pro and con arguments for leaving it open or just cracked so you get to choose  Wink.  With a top entrance moisture/condensation is allowed to escape outside.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2013, 05:33:49 AM by T Beek » Logged

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Stromnessbees
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« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2013, 05:14:01 AM »

I am sure that Mouse will be able to do his own research into CCD and neonics now, and that he is going to be aware, that a lot of disinformation is spread by the pesticide corporations, which would lose billions if these chemicals were banned.

If he goes round to his beekeeping neighbors he might find that they have similar problems with keeping their bees alive, and that in areas without these pesticides, bees are still thriving.

Never mind all the other pollinators that are disappearing wherever these pesticides are used, as well as the birds, whose food source (aphids, worms, beetles, etc.) have been killed off.   angry

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