Lost my bees over winter

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by klibben, Apr 15, 2018 at 1:08 PM.

What was the problem?

  1. Moisture

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  2. Nosema

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  3. Mites

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  4. Fouldbrood

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  5. Starvation

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  6. Other

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  1. klibben

    klibben New Member

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    Hello all,

    New guy here -- started beekeeping last year, read a few books but unfortunately wasn't able to join any clubs. I know a few people that helped get me started, but they aren't necessarily able to come over to my farm too much so I'm reaching out for some advice. To get started, I live in Ohio (USA) and we had a relatively mild winter but high winds. I have the hives in a spot with a decent windbreak to the west (and somewhat to the north and south) but this winter the wind blew in from the east quite a bit more than usual. I had a healthy hive going into the winter, no significant mite issues or anything like that from what I could tell with two deep broods full of honey, pollen, etc.

    I put an entrance reducer in to help keep out critters, and made sure to keep snow from trapping them in. Also left the top entrance open for ventilation. I did leave the screen bottom board in, as I was worried about too much wind getting up into the bottom and freezing them out. Up until about mid January they would pull out the dead bees, which I'm under the impression is normal in healthy...but then towards the end of January that stopped. We had a heavy snowfall and when I cleared the snow off the entrance ramp there were quite a few dead ones including a dead yellow jacket which surprised me...and that's the last of any sign of life I found.

    It recently warmed up enough to inspect the hive, and when I did I found plenty of dead bees in there, mostly in one or two big clusters but then lots of dead ones laying in the bottom too. The top deep was probably just under half full of honey, and the lower looked like it still had pollen in it. There was no noticeable smell other than the normal smell of a hive and dead bees. The bees had turned relatively dark, and some of the clusters looked like they may have been damp at one point and had some white mold or mildew beginning to grow on them. There was also drops of honey on the top of the lower frames, as well as on the bottom board. I had read this may be from the weather warming up/freezing too quickly and the wax contracting and expanding so that hadn't bothered me too much...but I'm trying to figure out what killed the bees so I know what to do differently next time, as well as to know if I need to dispose of the equipment or if I can reuse it.

    For the record, inspecting the corpses I only one mite (that I could tell). Like I said there was no distinguishable smell, so I'm guessing it's not AFB, and although there were some droppings in there it didn't appear to be enough for look like nosema. That's why my guess is too much moisture, although I'm not sure how to fix that going forward and I'm obviously not an expert so that's why I'm here for advice!

    Thanks in advance!

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  2. SuiGeneris

    SuiGeneris Member

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    I am not an expert, so if someone gives you a different answer listen to them!

    However, I have seen multiple sources state that a sign that your bees starved is the dead bees can be found with their heads inside of cells - which you seem to have. It may have been too cold for the cluster to move to another box with honey, so they ended starving despite food available elsewhere in the hive.

    Again, total newbie here, so hopefully someone more knowledgeable will come along with more informed answers.
     

  3. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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