-This yard is located at the end of an East, West valley between two ridge tops and has plenty of Southeast sun exposure. The valley opens up into a creek bottom.
-The hives are against the North slope and protected from wind
-Each went into winter with 2 deeps and 1 6 5/8 super
-Fall treatments applied
-Mite counts low
-No other pests
-No evidence of disease
-In late October all hives had good wintering numbers and brood was present
-All colonies wrapped
-All hives ventilated via upper entrance
-All hives leaning forward to keep moisture on front wall
I try to do everything by the book!! I thought I did it right. I thought?
-By the first week of December I could hear no buzzing in 9 of the 11 hives
-I went into one hive and it had no bees in it. It did have honey, pollen and capped brood
-Preparing for packages I tore the remaining 8 hives down this past weekend and its the same story for them, no bees.
-All the honey is left
-Frames of pollen left
-Few dead bees on the bottom boards
-Two hives had less than a fist full of bees dead in a cluster
-The two hives that were buzzing in December are alive and thriving
This year the farmer that rents from us stored his round bales in the same valley that my bees are in. The bales are wrapped in plastic. When bales are removed, the plastic is placed in a barrel and burned. The plastic smolders. When there is no wind the smoke just hangs in the valley like a thick fog and the hives are engulfed in it for hours.
When I first noticed this, without trying to be a jerk about it, I joked and told him that the smoke was going to run my bees out. I figured maybe he would get the hint and just take the plastic with him. Well, that didn't happen and most of the bees are gone. The hives are 2 hours away from me so I don't know exactly when they left in November.
I would be the first to admit fault in managing my hives, but because they left so early, it makes me wonder if the lingering smoke every other day had something to do with it.
Is this a plausible cause for absconding?