Bees are gone

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by RonnieBee2011, Mar 25, 2011.

  1. RonnieBee2011

    RonnieBee2011 New Member

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    I am a relatively new beekeeper (started one hive in May, last year). The hive seemed to thrive all summer & by all indicators was doing well thru the winter. I did not add any honey supers or attempt to harvest honey in order to make sure there was enough for the bees to winter over. The last inspection I made before winter was early Nov. Everything seemed fine. I did not inspect again until one quite warm day in early Jan. All I did then was carefully lift the top & look in to determine if the colony still seemed healthy. Everything seemed fine except this was the first & only time the bees were agressive. I did not use my smoker & did not completely remove the inner cover, but when I lifted, they attacked. I was stung about 8 times. The weather has been pretty warm for a couple weeks now, so earlier this week I went down to reverse the upper & lower deeps, feed & medicate. To my surprise the bees were gone. There are maybe a 100 worker bees in the hive. There is no queen & no drones that I can see. There is quite a lot of honey in the hive. The upper deep frames are filled with capped honey. In the lower deep there seemed to be quite a lot of uncapped honey. I examined the remaining bees pretty carefully & don't see any sign of varroa or k-wing or anything that seems abnormal. They appear to be healthy, but maybe a little sluggish. There were a few dozen hive beetles present. There is no brood or larva. There is no sign of dead bees. The bottom board was pretty clean & there is nothing around the outside of the hive. I did have to replace the mouse guard over the entrance recently, but there was a definite hum coming from inside so I did not open. I had already ordered a new queen in February, but was told it would not be delivered until May 11. Now I am trying to figure out whether I should still order a new package at this date & if so should I clean out everything or leave the existing honey for the new bees.
     
  2. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    not sure about your climate but if it was in the summer I would say your bees absconded do to small hive beetle. It would be to early for that to happen here. But in georgia maybe.. Hopefully Don will chime in and be more helpful hes in georgia.
     

  3. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    RonnieBee2011, One thing i would do for sure, is put all the excess honey and frames in the freezer. I don't know if you have enough bees to stick in a nuc and order a queen, or shake them off and put them on their own,(if there is just a couple hundred) and freeze all the frames,and order a package.If there are not enough bees to protect the honey and empty frames, the wax mouths and shb will devastate them. Jack
     
  4. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    What Jack said, plus
    I would try to gather about 50 bees in a jar and send them to Beltsville for testing. It sounds like CCD, but could easily be Nosema Cerranae, or even pesticide poisoning.
     
  5. rast

    rast New Member

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    It could be one of a lot of things, but the unusual aggressiveness is a good clue to a hive that lost its queen.
     
  6. RonnieBee2011

    RonnieBee2011 New Member

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    Thanks to all of you that have responded. After posting to a couple forums & doing some research I think I have sort of concluded that I somehow became queenless before my January inspection. I can't find any evidence of disease or mites. I live in a rather remote place on a mountainside with no agricultural activities anywhere near, so I don't think it was poisoning. Although, I do have one neighbor a few hundred yards away that thinks a mountainside is supposed to look like a golf course development lawn. The few bees that remain seem healthy. I did feed medicated syrup in the fall. I am now trying to figure out what to do. I had already ordered a new queen on advice to re-queen every year, but my supplier says it will be May 11 before delivery. They also have stopped taking orders for packages for the year (Rossman Apiaries). I don't have freezer space to freeze all the frames, so I'm trying to figure out how to preserve the honey that is in the hive. There is a large amount of uncapped honey. Should it be preserved as well? Thanks to all of you that are willing to help this newbie. I'm learning. Experience is a brutal teacher sometimes.
     
  7. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    Put what you can in the freezer for 24 hrs, take them out and store in a plastic bag (trash bag) with para mouthballs. Do this till you get them all. Then when you get a package of bees,air the frames out 24 hrs before you use them and you will be fine. I was thinking the same as rast and you, that the hive was queenless,being a small cluster and aggressive. Jack
     
  8. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Do as Jack says other than the moth balls. Freeze a few frames at a time until you get a box frozen for 24 hours. Seal the bag with tape and you don't need moth balls. The uncapped honey may ferment, depending on the water content, so keep it as cool as possible. If some does ferment, I would set the fermented frames out to be robbed after you get new bees.
     
  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    not moth balls but moth crystals.

    I would like to ask where you obtained the bees?
     
  10. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    tec. i know what your saying,but the mouthballs i get at the MFA feed store are (para mouthballs). they lasted longer than the crystals when i used them. I use xentari bt now, from what i've read it's alot safer, and more environment friendly. Jack
     
  11. RonnieBee2011

    RonnieBee2011 New Member

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    The bees came from Rossman Apiaries in Moultrie, Ga.
     
  12. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    'Mouthballs'? ...i hope you are not eating them? :shock:
     
  13. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Ronniebee writes:
    I did feed medicated syrup in the fall. I am now trying to figure out what to do.

    tecumseh:
    fumidil?

    for what it is worth (and I ain't so sure it means anything at all) at the most recent North American Bee Keeping Conference there were a lot of east coast bee keepers (primarily hobby type folks and small side liners I presume) who made lots of loud discouraging remarks about obtaining bees from southern Georgia. it is difficult to totally discount their stories... which sounded quite a bit like your own.
     
  14. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    Omie,it would take way to long to gather enough to make a meal. :( So this old hillbilly will stick with mountain oysters. :lol: Jack