How should I proceed with a dead hive?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Jeem, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. Jeem

    Jeem New Member

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    I finally opended one of my two hives today and confirmed what I've suspected for a couple of months - the colony died sometime in mid-winter. All I've done so far is pull out the two outermost frames from the top box, which were both filled with capped honey. I can see many dead bees clustered in the center with a few scattered around the periphery. I can also see that there are several more frames of capped honey. These bees went into the winter in good numbers and with plenty of stores, at least in the honey department. I not positive about pollen. The only thing I did to the hive bodies to prepare for a northern Michgan winter was to wrap the exterior with 1" blue foam being careful not to block the entrance or the upper vent holes. My question is what should I look for as I fully tear apart the hive later that might give me a clue as to the cause of this calamity? And could it have had anything to do with the foam wrap? Thanks for your thoughts.
     
  2. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    moisture or cold starved would be my guess. If you didnt vent the top of the hive for condensation to escape it will collect on the top cover and drip down on the hive. Look for signs of the hive and cluster being moist. If the weather gets cold enough for a prolonged period the bees may cold starve right next to stores. When it is cold they are unable to break cluster to move to the stores. signs of this will be bees head first in the cells. There are other things like mite load that can take a hive down in winter I will let others chime in on this
     

  3. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    with a very cold winter starvation is alway a good possibility <there should be some small distance between where the dead cluster is located and any stores.

    you could take a magnifying glass and look at the debris on the bottom board to check to see if mites were present (or more importantly present in large numbers).
     
  4. adamant

    adamant Member

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    very good topic..How should he proceed?
     
  5. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    I have all 5 of my colonies die out, 1 was active up until about 3 weeks ago the colony was week but still foraging unfortunately so were the Yellow Jackets and fire antsI do believe there was not enough bees to convince everybody else stay away. there was not a single be left in the colonies all the colonies not a single bee was left. if they have starved I would have found bees head first in the cells and there would be a pile of bees in a dead cluster. that was just not the case there were no storage supplies left in the hives. and no bees. I am going to try to repopulate hive.
    Barry
     
  6. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    jeem what riverrat and tec said:

    "moisture or cold starved would be my guess. If you didnt vent the top of the hive for condensation to escape it will collect on the top cover and drip down on the hive. Look for signs of the hive and cluster being moist. If the weather gets cold enough for a prolonged period the bees may cold starve right next to stores. When it is cold they are unable to break cluster to move to the stores. signs of this will be bees head first in the cells. There are other things like mite load that can take a hive down in winter"

    "with a very cold winter starvation is alway a good possibility <there should be some small distance between where the dead cluster is located and any stores.
    you could take a magnifying glass and look at the debris on the bottom board to check to see if mites were present (or more importantly present in large numbers). "

    a question or two for you, you said "the colony died sometime in mid-winter", when? when was the last time you knew they were doing alright?
    the reason i ask is our winters are similiar to yours......typically if a colony succumbs to mite infestation in our general area, wisconsin, minnesota, etc., it will be before december. after that, as riverrat said, it will be from cold starvation or not proper ventilation, provided the colony was strong with plenty stores to last til spring, and you said you had a strong colonies with honey frames still available in the hive.

    as you go through the hive, describe what you see and find, where were the bees clustered, were the frames empty of honey with honey frames nearby.....were the bees wet, any frost or mold on the frames or the hive.....were there clumps of bees on the bottom board or a solid mass? sometimes when the weather warms, the bees will move a bit, and get caught before they can cluster back up, so they die in smaller clusters in the hive and fall on the bottom board in these clusters. and also as barry mentioned, bees with their heads in the cells means they starved.
     
  7. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    You stated that you put insulation on the sides of the hive. Did you insulate the top also? Insulation over the bees is more important is limiting the moisture from condensing under the cover before the moisture can vent out of the hive.
    After a cold period, when the hive warms the frost will melt and drip on the bees freezing them.