Hives all dead!

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by eskay, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. eskay

    eskay New Member

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    I've got a problem that I hope somebody can help me with. Last year was the first year of Beekeeping, and I had three hives. One was very healthy going into winter, one was so-so, and one was weak.
    I finally got out to check on them recently, and all the bees were dead. Piled up outside the hives and inside. The combs are discolored, brownish, and there are signs of mice (droppings). There is still capped honey in some frames, but no sign of brood.
    They're in a location that's difficult to check in the winter, but protected from the wind and with alot of sunshine. We had a lot of snow and cold this year. Also, it warmed up the end of March and then 16" of snow beginning of April.
    Any help on the culprit? Also, are the combs still usable or should I start from scratch? I found some full frame nucs available locally, so this year might still be salvagable.
     
  2. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    It' to late now,but i would have combined the two weaker ones. With out seeing the hives i would be guessing as to why they were deadouts. If you know for sure it wasn't AFB, then the combs would be reuseable. Sorry for your loss. Jack
     

  3. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    Comb being brownish is normal. Really old comb is nearly black. Essentially, it's from all those dirty bee footprints! Only newly drawn comb is white.

    From my experience (which is not a lot, but it is also in a northern climate), I would suspect starvation. I have lost hives over the winter (in different years) where is seems like everything is fine in Feb or March, when it warms up a bit, and the bees are out flying. Then we have a cold snap and 3 weeks later they are all dead. I find many dead bees on the bottom board, and more out front. I do not know if the ones outside flew out when it was too cold and died, or if they were carried out by housekeeping bees before the rest of the hive expired. There are also bees clinging to the comb, some with their heads in the cells.

    It appears they cluster, and for some reason refuse to break and move 3 inches to get the honey. It may be because the honey has crystallized - I have no idea how that affects their use of it for food. Look at my post called "Hive CSI Needed" for photos of how close they were to the stores.

    I also wonder if, in my case, pesticides or herbicides are an issue, since I live adjacent to a farm that is free and loose with their chemicals. Is that a possibility for you?
     
  4. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    The bees piled up sounds similar to what happens when they are intentionally killed by some jackwad with a pesticide sprayer, that's probably not what happened though... not in winter anyway.
     
  5. eskay

    eskay New Member

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    Thanks for all the info. The only farm field remotely close is over a 1/4 mile away with woods in between, and the only thing I've seen him spread on it is manure.
     
  6. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Yeah, it wouldn't happen in winter anyway...

    My only other thought is that maybe Nosema did them in?
     
  7. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    My thoughts on the pesticides/herbicides was more along the lines of contaminated honey and pollen stores.
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I would go with Hobie's thinking since you should experience something of the same hurdle in regards to harshness of winter.

    Preparing a hive for winter should be a key element of good bee keeping practice in both locations. In such cases (100% winter loss) I often encourage the folks experiencing the loss to read CC Miller '50 Years Amongst the Bees' to come to some understanding of how long it took that great master to overcome the problems of overwintering hives at northern locations.

    sorry about your loss...