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Author Topic: Cause of death I.M.O.: Suffocation. (any doubt?)  (Read 360 times)
House Bee
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Gender: Male
Posts: 86

Location: Harrisburg,PA

« on: February 20, 2014, 05:25:23 PM »

I have 2 hives. We had a 43 degree day forecast on  2-1-2014 and we went out to have a look. Both hives had honey stores and sugar brick back ups. Both hives were eating at the sugar bricks, we closed em up and headed home. The temps dropped again down to the single digits until just recently. So I headed out to the farm today (2-20-2014) and found both hives with no bees flying around. Opened up what I would call the weaker hive and it was filled with dead bees over an inch high or better on the screen bottom board. The screen bottom board was completely caked with bees and such along with the entrance. There were bees dead in their tracks like they all died in the middle of doing normal things. Looked like a twilight zone episode to me. There is no other source of air besides the sbb and entrance. Both blocked and everyone is dead. Any disagreement on cause of death?

I took each frame, brushed out every dead bee I could, dumped the screen bottom board out and put the hive back together with entrance closed.. I cant pick up til Saturday because it is probably a half mile to the hives in  10" deep wet melting snow. I walked to them today gear in hand and there was no way  I was carrying back a deep and medium through that.

Any thoughts on re-using the comb and honey that is left after I freeze it? I have packages coming and they could use a good start. There are still some dead bees head first in some comb.

Also.. I popped the top of the other hive and it has lots of live bees. I then pulled the entrance reducer off and bees started filing out. There were loads of dead bees in the bottom board as well so I found a stick and swept them out the best I could. I also left the entrance reducer off figuring it would help the clean up effort.. Have I dodged a bullet for this hive? Time will tell I guess. Thoughts?



Can somebody tell me where I can find a foundation tree?
Michael Bush
Universal Bee
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Posts: 13973

Location: Nehawka, NE

« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2014, 06:51:06 PM »

Hard to say if the pile blocking the entrance is the cause or the effect of a lot of bees dying.

Michael Bush
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
Super Bee
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Posts: 1987

Location: Edgefield, SC

« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2014, 12:23:45 PM »

Could a hive actually be air tight enough to cause actual suffocation? In the summer die from restricted access and heat but actual suffocation this time of year  huh

John 3:16
Galactic Bee
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Gender: Male
Posts: 5531

Location: North Central PA

« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2014, 01:40:31 PM »

I've had bee hives on a solid bottom board with only a small entrance buried in snow behind the mouse guards survive. Was there any signs of dysentary inside the hive?
House Bee
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Gender: Male
Posts: 349

Location: Brainerd, MN

« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2014, 05:12:54 PM »

Now that you mention that I recall reading about beeks in Canada who bury their hives in the snow first chance they get. 

Keeping bees since 2011.

Also please excuse the typos.  My iPad autocorrect can be brutal.
Vance G
Queen Bee
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Posts: 1155

Location: Great Falls,Montana

« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2014, 06:40:56 PM »

I need to take a pill!  I do not believe your bees suffocated. I would bet any amount of money they didn't.  Bees can however be slow to re cluster.  They may have broken cluster to bring honey into the brood nest or core cluster area and reorganize when the temperatures suddenly dropped, probably in conjuction with a big wind.  Then with a gaping hole in the bottom spewing cold air thru out the hive, their body temperature drop to the point they became immobile.  Many probably fell on the religious artifact on the bottom making it appear plugged.  I have seen it happen to colonies in our area where the temperature can swing from sixty above to thirty below in a day--as it has twice this winter.  Both times with a big wind.   
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