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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was a guest at a beeclub meeting last night and a gentleman submitted he was there to find out why his bees have died. Here are the particulars....He has (had) about 40 hives. 19 of them died within 2 days of each other. He has been feeding HFCS (source unknown) but nothing else (no pollen or substitute). He is in a rural area and we have been having quite a bit of cold weather lately. When ask if the bees died with their heads in a cell, he replied no. He said the combs had stores.

This person is really a bee haver because he could not answer some rather elementary questions. The most telling answer to a diagnostic question was that the bees died in multiple clusters on the bottom board. He described it as balls of bees that were dead. Although he did not say when (sorry, didnt ask) he said his varroa count was low. He has sent a frame off to Texas A&M for a little lab work to check for disease(s).

Do we have an answer? My thought was a few bees got into something that poisoned them (you know how snoopy they are at this time of year). However, there is just not much reason to have poison out right now. He does live in a rural area so there is a chance of a farmer getting corn ready to plant and the bees getting into the inoculant dust on the seed corn. Can't really see this as it has been too cold and it will be two weeks before anything can be planted because of the wet ground.

Anybody seen this before?
 

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I've not had the problem when i was feeding hfcs, but i have heard of cases if the hfcs was heated to a certain temp. it can kill your bees. That would be something i would look into. Jack
 

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My guess would be there wasnt any hive top ventilation. When it got cold the bees had moisture dripping down on the cluster. Especially if he was feeding. If the bees had stores I would wonder why he was feeding liquid this early in the year. I would think if feed was needed the mountain camp method would be best right now
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
They go somewhere and buy HFCS and put it in 55 gal drums. They say they leave it outside. Don't know how the distributor was holding it though.

Rat, good thought about the moisture. Condensation along with our 100 hours of below freezing may have been a problem. BTW, we have been feeding down here for a few weeks. Some started the first week in Jan. Usually not a problem, but it could have been this year. Very unusual weather for North Texas. We usually play golf alot in January :D .
 

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Setting in the Texas sun, I would say it overheated, along with the moisture problem. Both, or a combination, is very likely the culprit.
 

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Probably not the case here, because he said their heads were not in the cells, but FYI: I have had a hive starve with full supers of stores just because there was a gap between the top of the stores in one super and the bottom in the next. (I had put on a super from another hive in fall.) The cluster would not cross the gap.
 

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I would suspect Flyman that the tag of 'bee haver' (I have bees) makes the statement of 'died within 2 days of each other' a bit iffy?

I would not suspect moisture or excessive heat or cold. if there is a likely suspect it is much more likely hfcs... which is known to be difficult on the bees gut. some dismantling of the hive would tell a lot. since he the 'bee haver' saw some need to feed the next likely suspect is simply starvation.
 
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