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Author Topic: Absconded?  (Read 520 times)

Offline Variable

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Absconded?
« on: January 29, 2015, 10:58:03 PM »
Bad few weeks in the apiary.... please indulge me in my short story. (I do want your opinions, both expert or otherwise)

Earlier this month (Jan 13th) we had some nice weather and 3 of my 4 hives (including 1 nuc) were out flying. It was about a month before then that I last saw bees from any hive out flying, at least in any great numbers. I decided to take a quick look at the one with no activity. I found a dead cluster that was soaked. It was most likely condensation freezing on the cover and dripping on them when it thawed. (It was as low as 21F on Jan 1st and had been cold up until the 13th.) It was my fault for not mitigating the moisture... I got to learn a tough lesson on moisture control. I hope not to repeat that mistake. Cleaned up that mess (found the queen in the cluster and put her in a small jar) and moved on...

The Seattle area has been having some unusually warm weather. We got to 60+F on 1/26 and today (1/29) had a high of 53F. The reason I tell you this is on the 26th the remaining two hives were bringing in pollen (not sure where they are finding it) and activity at the entrances looked normal. Today I walked out to the yard to watch the bees when I got home from work. Things just did not look right... It is hard to explain the activity at the entrance but the bees, what few there were, were not acting normal....
I opened it up and found a small cluster of bees on the cover (like 15 bees) and frame after frame of nothing. The only bees doing anything in there were just starting to rob out an area of comb about 2X3 inches. Every frame has honey. Some of the frames in the bottom box (hive is two boxes/10 frame mediums) had what looks like pollen. There are about 100 dead bees on the bottom board and a small area of capping (from the recent robbing). I looked through the bees both dead and alive and could not find a queen.... I am going to look again tomorrow when I clean up the mess... I was not expecting to see that. I eventually (put the hive back together feeling disgusted and came back after sundown) took the 11 remaining live bees I could find that were clustered on the top cover and put them in a jar. I may have them tested.

This was a great hive going into fall. (or so I thought) It was the one hive from the two packages I started with that filled almost three mediums. I left them almost all their honey (I stole a few frames to give to the other hives in the fall) and almost all of it looks like it is still there.... 19 of the 20 frames still have honey. I have read in a few books and even some of the post here that bees will sometimes abscond but every reference has been to bees that just swarmed or during a time of year that is much better than January in Western Washington.  There just is not a lot of dead bees....

Of the four hives I went into winter I have now lost the two I thought I would keep. The two that were weak or at least lower numbers and a little low on stores I still have. A five frame medium Nuc split from a 10 frame medium (more queen cells and no queen) in July are the two still flying. Go figure.

Well at least the two remaining hives have plenty of honey available from the two I lost....

Any thought on Absconding or what I should look for when I clean up what is left on the bottom board?

P.S. Thanks for letting me whine a bit.
I want to beelieve.
WA Apiary ID WA14-077
8 medium hives. 5 Langstroth, 3 Nuc
See hive data at
http://twolittleladiesapiary.com/cms/node/6
https://www.facebook.com/twolittleladiesapiary

Offline sc-bee

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Re: Absconded?
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2015, 07:55:31 AM »
Do you treat for varroa? I had basically the same thing happen, sudden crash of hives in winter. Those that commented pointed to varroa as the most likely cause.

Absconding I would vote no. That is usually for new placed swarms or here in the South shb.
John 3:16

Offline GSF

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Re: Absconded?
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2015, 08:45:31 PM »
Variable; I hate to hear that for you. I think you're doing right by having them tested. Other than that I can't offer any advice. Like sc-bee said, it might be varroa.
"Life is hard, It's even harder when you're stupid."

John Wayne

Offline jayj200

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Re: Absconded?
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2015, 08:43:59 PM »
on that day three swarms came to my place. cought them all?

Offline Variable

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Re: Absconded?
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2015, 12:55:26 PM »
sc-bee,
I did not treat for Varroa at the end of fall. I did a mite count and only had 3 (maybe 4 I was not sure about one of them) drop in the 24 hours I tested. Maybe I should have treated.... too late now.... (Frankly I do not want to treat.... but it looks like many of you are correct... no treat no bees.

Looking at the bottom board and cleaning up the dead bees I only found 8 mites. Maybe Varroa is the issue... I am not so sure but lack the experience to really have a clue. The lack of dead bees in the box and the fact there was no queen (that I could find) just got me wondering.....

jayj200,
Making me jealous! We are still a few months from swarm season..... must be nice to live so far south!
Thanks for your thoughts and opinions!!

I want to beelieve.
WA Apiary ID WA14-077
8 medium hives. 5 Langstroth, 3 Nuc
See hive data at
http://twolittleladiesapiary.com/cms/node/6
https://www.facebook.com/twolittleladiesapiary

Offline jayj200

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Re: Absconded?
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2015, 01:13:19 PM »
it is very nice.

they are growing down here slower than you believe. all in fun cause nothin is going on up there

Phil says 6 more weeks of winter! I can't stand  these shirtless wether. I have not seen snow since I don't know when
Am just about ready to split my two. free to good home just new boxes in return

Offline capt44

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Re: Absconded?
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2015, 01:37:20 PM »
Here in Arkansas there are quite a few hives absconding.
One bee keeper had 1,000 hives and has lost 300 as of 2 weeks ago.
Several beekeepers around are losing hives.
I figure in Arkansas there is going to be around a 25% loss this winter.
Richard Vardaman (capt44)