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Author Topic: I think I killed my bees...  (Read 1814 times)
yvette97206
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« on: March 18, 2007, 04:17:53 PM »

This is just devastating.  I am sure that I killed the girls by letting them get wet from the rain.  I went into the winter with a very strong hive.  Then most of them died before winter (I estimate that I had better than 80 thousand bees in my hive at its peak, healthy gorgeous and three supers of honey off them their first year), and there were literally thousands of bee bodies around the bee yard because after I took the supers off, there was no where for the extra bees to live, so my guess is that they just sat outside and died.  So I did worry a little going in to winter, but after the first of no less than seven freezes this year (very unusual for Oregon), I opened the hive in December to find a HUGE "bee ball" inside, a warm pleasant smell, and a comforting humm coming out of it.  Those girls were determined to stay warm!  The hive boxes themselves were frozen to the ground so I could not pick it up and test it for weight.  I just worry alot.  So, I started feeding them sugar water in the top feeder.  Then there seemed to be an awfully lot of water collecting on the top cover a few weeks later upon inspection, and it looked like it would rain on the girls, especially if I took off the top feeder, which seemed to be a bit of a rain catcher.  Well, then I thought, perhaps all the water on the top is condensation because I (bad mommy) did not cut any ventilation hole in the hive boxes before installing the girls.  So, I "vented" the top by placing a small stick in to make a vent in the lid.  Well, in early February it was gorgeous, had a few days in a row that were almost seventy degrees.  Lots of activity from my hive, the front was literally covered with girls enjoying the weather.  Then, first week of MARCH, it froze again.  I looked at my girls last weekend and found them all dead.  I take that back, I opened up the top and three bees flew out and away.  There were no more living ones in the hive.  I found lots of them molded to the bottom frames in the bottom box, some of the frames in the bottom box have mold growing on them and have shrunken some, but full of capped honey.  The top box (deep super) is also full of 10 capped frames of honey, and no mold in the frames, just some moldy bees to brush off the top.  The very bottom slatted bottom is full of dead bees and water.  I have several questions now...

1)  Can I brush off the dead, moldy bees and use the capped frames of honey in my hive body for the new package?  Is the mold a problem, or will they clean it?  I doubt the honey is moldy, just some bee bits and probably whatever is on the combs is moldy, and the frames in the bottom box...can I use all of it and expect that the new girls will clean it?  If I can reuse both of them, then I will have enough to start two new hives...

2)  Should I have some sort of a covered area, or some sort of a shelter for the hive in the winter?  Or do you think that I really did kill them by venting the top?

I don't think that any sort of disease had anything to do with my hive's demise as they were very strong and very healthy in February.  Although, I was quite surprised that they did not remove the dead bees from the Summer away from the hive...looked really bad all winter when you'd come out and look at them because the first thing you'd see was thousands of dead bees...but I really do think that the hive was just so big and I stole their third and fourth story when I took their supers that they had no where else to go.  Do I sound freaked out?  I am...feeling like a huge, dumb failure...

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Kirk-o
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2007, 06:13:55 PM »

Well kid if you are not makeing mistakes you aren't learning.I have made similar mistakes.I have learned to make sure the bees have enough honey for winter.When I feed them to late it just filled the hive with moister with the same results you got.The bees can use your frames again,clean them of the best you can.Keep going
kirk-o
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"It's not about Honey it's not about Money It's about SURVIVAL" Charles Martin Simmon
tig
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« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2007, 06:50:56 PM »

we don't have winter in my country so i have no idea how to handle colonies for that kind of weather, but i am sorry you lost your colony.  but as kirk said, you aren't learning if you don't make mistakes and God knows i've made a lot of them. you're lucky we have this forum and i'm sure the more experienced beekeepers will help you.
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Understudy
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« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2007, 06:56:10 PM »

Can I brush off the dead, moldy bees and use the capped frames of honey in my hive body for the new package?

Yes, but you don't have to brush off the bees. The new bees will remove the old ones and clean up the rest.

Should I have some sort of a covered area, or some sort of a shelter for the hive in the winter?  Or do you think that I really did kill them by venting the top?

I am not sure on either one. I don't think venting the top would have kept the heat in. That may have been a factor.

Don't feel like a failure. We have all had a hive go on us, some have had lots of hive pass on us. You will be able to do better next time and then pass along the wisdom to others.

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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Joseph Clemens
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2007, 10:14:58 AM »

My advice, keep more than one hive, preferably several.
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Scadsobees
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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2007, 01:17:08 PM »

Not sure of the configuration of the hive, but just cracking the inner cover with a twig won't hurt anything, unless rain could blow in through that crack.  If you had a telescoping cover over the inner cover, that sounds right.  I do that with some of my hives, and they had to deal with -10f here.

I'd guess there was something else at work, either mites or ccd or whatever.  The three bees that flew off might have been robbers, so I'd make sure that what you have is somewhat protected so that the new bees have lots to start out with.

You shouldn't need any covered area as long as you have a decent cover on the hive.  It is the condensation that will more likely kill, unless you have rain drippping into the hive.

Rick
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Rick
kathyp
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« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2007, 02:54:17 PM »

she and i live close to each other.  if it had happened earlier in the year, i'd think maybe they got wet and/or froze.  we had nasty, sideways rain.  that's when i was using roofing paper to try to keep the rain out.

February was pretty nice.  the cold days in march were not so bad as the earlier cold and wet. 

disease?  mite explosion during warmer weather?  didn't take syrup because it was to cold?

it was a crappy winter, but not as wet as some.  more deep cold for extended periods of time....but again, most of that was earlier in the winter.

sorry you lost your hive.  that sucks.
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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
Denise
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« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2007, 04:40:02 PM »

We came close to losing one hive due to the same reason. Mold everywhere. The screened bottom board was totally covered in dead moldy bees and all the frames in the bottom box were moldy. Total yuck. This part of Oregon is always wet and crappy all winter so we just need to be more diligent with the ventilation techniques.
I have noticed an upswing in moisture as soon as we use the hive-top feeders. The underside of the lid just gets soaked. Now that it is warm enough for the ladies to fly every day, we can probably get away with a boardman feeder instead.
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"I saw me life pass before me eyes. It was really boring." - Babs, Chicken Run
kathyp
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« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2007, 05:32:17 PM »

i finally decided that the bucket feeders were the way to go for me.  i didn't want to put anything inside the hive that would add more moisture and didn't want to encourage robbing with an outside feeder.  i figure if i do this right, i don't have to worry about feeding all winter except maybe to swap out some empty frames for some that are full of honey.  the buckets are easy and if a little drips in, it goes right through the bottom.
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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
yvette97206
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Location: Sandy, Oregon at the base of the Mt. Hood foot hills


« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2007, 10:30:17 PM »

Yeah, that sideways rain was a real problem.  Frankly, I was surprised at how much honey was actually left in the hive...almost totally full.  Guess I won't be worrying about starvation so much anymore!  I appreciate all of the input, and I think, after hearing all of this, is that I will not continue to use the top feeder.  It is a huge waste of space and the girls obviously didn't need it.  Was a real water-catcher and seemed to collect alot of condensation.  I have a frame feeder and will use that when necessary.  I have already bored a few vent holes in each box, I am really surprised at how important that is.  I am so afraid of the cold and their tiny little bodies freezing to death that I doubted it's importance, so my mantra for next winter will be "Let them be"...I have not given up.  Girls, the bee day is  April 3rd in Colton...you going?  Go to the Oregon Beekeepers Association web page for the info.  I would love to meet the neighbors...
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kathyp
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« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2007, 10:55:37 PM »

i'm going to have out of town guests.  i have yet to make it to a meeting.  what is "the bee day"?
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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
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