Thoroughly stumped

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by CeeGee, Jul 13, 2012.

  1. CeeGee

    CeeGee New Member

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    I'm going into my sixth year doing this, and the first couple were pretty "educational" to say the least, so I kind of know what a dead hive, diseased or swarmed looks like. That said.....


    Two weeks ago checked the hives in prep for pulling supers. My uber-hive was rocking, as usual. Everybody happy, busy, content, etc., about 75-80lb. to be pulled when they finished capping, as they almost had. Steady stream of incoming and outgoing. I did not bother opening the brood boxes.

    Eleven days later, as I show up with leaf blower and kids to carry supers, there are 3 full supers, perfectly capped, and about a total of about eight bees wondering around looking rather lost. The other hives were still fine, with brood of all stages, full supers, etc, but this hive had nothing. No brood, bees, ripped Q cells, nada. The supers were there, full and capped, but nobody guarding it. It didnt even show signs of being robbed (ripped cappings, etc), so I'm assuming whatever happened, had just happened.
    This hive is in the middle of the row, if that should make any difference.

    Just when I thought I was getting the hang of this, too.....
    Anybody know what happened, and what I could have done to prevent it?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I don't know what happened, but here's a story I heard today.

    The beek said he watched a hive swarm. Every last bee left, hung on a tree for awhile, then left. Two days later, they returned. Marked queen and all.

    There are some strange happenings in the bee world these days.
     

  3. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    Thats absconding, but usually there is a reason for the absconding--no nectar, no pollen, few to no honey stores, maybe a forest fire smoking the hives constantly, something. paper mill stinking them out usually is something.
    Barry
     
  4. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Yes, I know the usuals, but this guy was a long time keep and said there were no known reason for them leaving and he surely didn't understand them returning. Maybe CeeGee can think of something going on around his hives that might have caused it.
     
  5. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    Sounds just exactly what happened to most of my hives last fall and this spring. They just up and left, had plenty of stores and was a strong looking hive.

    Was told it could have been nosema ceranae
     
  6. CeeGee

    CeeGee New Member

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    I didnt see any of the usual nosema signs, but I may have missed something.

    We did have a HUGE storm a few days before (in between my last cursory super inspection and finding them gone) - 80 mph winds, lashing rain, the works. Could that have anything to do with it, though my other hives are fine?
    (A massive branch came down right in between this hive and the one next to it, with less than a foot to spare on either side. Got real lucky there or I wouldnt even have been able to pull the honey)
     
  7. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    ceegee,
    very curious, i have read instances of hives swarming as iddee suggested. i have a question, so approximately 25 days elapsed from your last check of the brood boxes, and 11 days after the two week check, finding no bees? when was your last inspection prior to 25 days ago, and what did your brood boxes look like at that time?

    just a quick look up about absconding from hive & the honey bee (can't find my xyz right now):
    in part:
    "absconding can be defined as the abandoning of a nest by a colony which forms a swarm and presumably reestablishes itself elsewhere, and is generally due to either disturbance or lack of resources," ie, nectar, pollen, water, better resources elsewhere.

    i have also read as barry suggestesd, other than the obvious of pests and disease, and the reasons for 'typical' swarm behavior, smells, newly painted equipment, poor ventilation, difficulty regulating temps, too hot, too cool, beekeeper manipulation, and many other reasons, or speculation.

    interesting one hive left and the other two are 'still standing'.
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    could be a simple matter of multiple swarms (swarm and after swarms) since these typically depopulate a hive completely. the typical circumstance is multiple virgins hatching and none killing the others. some signs should remain in the lower body (below the honey) of multiple hatch queen cells (typically spread over a good number of the frames).

    and a snip...
    I didnt see any of the usual nosema signs, but I may have missed something.

    tecumseh:
    the newer form of nosema doesn't really display any of 'the ususual signs'. I think this misconception has lead to a lot of misunderstanding especially by a lot of northern bee keepers who typically associate staining with nosema. there are clues within the brood nest that the newer form of nosema is the likely problem but these are very subtle (constant quantity of dead bees in frame feeder that never gets completely cleaned out and a somewhat soiled/dirty appearance of the brood nest).
     
  9. CeeGee

    CeeGee New Member

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    In the last inspection of the brood boxes, everything looked pretty normal (I only looked in the top brood box - I dont like to tear them up completely often, if I can help it), there was brood of different stages, good temperment, no overt signs of pending diseases. There were no recent paintings, or heavy manipulations, but it has been pretty hot lately, though I have sbb and the lid was slightly propped up.
    It could be multiple swarms and they went overboard and forgot to leave someone at home. And I have been looking up more about N. Ceranae, and I see what you mean about more subtle signs.
    ( http://scientificbeekeeping.com/field-trial-of-several-nosema-treatments/ )

    (I also found this: 1. Asymptomatic-–the infection builds slowly the first year, goes unnoticed, but can be detected microscopically in foragers.
    2. Replacement–The bees rally by rearing more brood, even through winter.
    3. False Recovery– This may occur the second summer, during which the colony rebounds somewhat. However, in this phase the infection starts to move into the house bees.
    4. Depopulation and Collapse–Finally, the bees “lose ventricular function” (they can no longer digest food), stop eating (and stop taking medicated syrup, or pollen supplement), and simply starve to death in the midst of plenty. Most adults die far from the hive, leaving only a handful of young bees and the queen.
    Colonies can collapse either during summer or winter, but the character of the infection differs. During cold season collapse, most bees are infected, and spore counts exceed 10 million spores per bee. Contrarily, under warm season breakdown, less than half the bees are infected, and spore counts are generally much lower. Forager bees just die in the field, and the colony shows no symptoms other than dwindling away.)
    Which pretty much describes it....especially #2

    What I cant find out is what to do with the frames and hive now. If it is infected, will it die off after X time without a host? Apparently fumagilin is implied to be effective, but, having never treated with anything, ever, I'm unsure if putting a split in there and feeding them the fum. will be effective, or do I need to feed an already strong hive the fum. before it gets too bad? I've got 6 in this row, and I'd REALLY hate for it to spread! (Obviously I'm now keeping a tight watch on the others in this yard and extra cleaning the tools before entering the other yard.)

    Thanks for the replies, this is helping
     
  10. Zookeep

    Zookeep Active Member

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    when you took the hive apart was there brood of all stages in the 2 bottom boxes? and did you look for a good amount of open queen cells as tec had said?
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a snip...
    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/fiel...ma-treatments/

    tecumseh:
    always a good source and a very worthwhile read. Randy does write quite long articles but they are often time full of useful tidbits and he takes an extra effort to directly state the practical application of his writing.

    another snip..
    What I cant find out is what to do with the frames and hive now. If it is infected, will it die off after X time without a host? Apparently fumagilin is implied to be effective, but, having never treated with anything, ever, I'm unsure if putting a split in there and feeding them the fum. will be effective, or do I need to feed an already strong hive the fum. before it gets too bad? I've got 6 in this row, and I'd REALLY hate for it to spread! (Obviously I'm now keeping a tight watch on the others in this yard and extra cleaning the tools before entering the other yard.)

    tecumseh:
    for nosema careana and possible contaminate frames sunshine is your friend. freezing frames also likely helps some. doing both likely covers all the bases (unless you are fortunate to have in your state a radiation chamber which it is my understanding kills everything).

    mind you in what follow I am not in total disagreement with Randy Oliver's take on treatment and feeding....

    I have found with nosema c that how you feed bees (a hive) and fumidil play a critical part. frame feeder and most mass feeding devices only gets you more dead bees in the feeder. anything that places the feed above the brood nest and trickles out the feed and medication slowly is essential (baggie feeder or boardman type feeder built into my migratory hive coves are the two things I have successfully employed). you do need to feed at least one gallon of medicated syrup (and if memory serves about 5 grams of fumidil).

    It seems like in his most recent article Randy also suggested a connection between a hive not utilizing (ie taking up) pollen patties (early winter in California) as being somewhat predicative of hive having problems with nosema C.
     
  12. CeeGee

    CeeGee New Member

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    Thanks guys - No, no signs of any Qcells, brood, dead larvae, nothing. Just empty, with just a few dead bees on the bb (like 3 or 4 total, none of which were the Q).
    I'm taking this personally, as it's the first hive I've lost in years (mind, I only have 9 or 10)
    Tecum, have no shortage of sun and will freeze afterwards (my radiation chamber is on the fritz), good call. Going to try putting in a split and feeding the fum. as suggested
     
  13. dragonfly130

    dragonfly130 New Member

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    Any idea on queen's genetic background? Also mite levels?

    I've been hearing of this from other's but usually during fall. Have not seen it yet myself but it does seem to be getting more common. I have some theories but nothing more than that. It may possibly be genetic. Possibly it's being caused by mite level's. The common denominator in the beek's I talked to that had this happen was no mite reduction program in place. Not saying that's the cause but so far it's the only thing I have to go on having not experienced it myself. Oh and I do mite treatment's. Simply anecdotal which to most doesn't amount to much. Yet theory has to start somewhere!

    I don't think you did anything wrong sometime's stuff happen's. Nothing wrong with not treating either if that's your thing.
     
  14. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a snip..
    I'm taking this personally, as it's the first hive I've lost in years (mind, I only have 9 or 10)

    tecumseh:
    you don't need to feel sooooo special! I removed (often times I refer to this as 'kicking bottom boards') two dead hives yesterday. one was pretty much salvaged and the other a total moth eaten mess.
     
  15. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Hi Dragonfly130. Welcome to the forum. :hi:

    It's great that you "plunged right in" to a tough question. Hope you feel comfortable with us and you join in with the regular posters.
    How about a thread in the "introductions" department, tell us a bit about yourself, your hives and where in the "little" USA you are located.
     
  16. CeeGee

    CeeGee New Member

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    tecumseh: I refer to this as 'kicking bottom boards' That's good - I may start using that phrase
    two dead hives yesterday Out of how many? For me, this is a 10% loss! :lol:

    Dragonfly, Welcome, and thanks for the input. Yes, genetics may play a part (and dont they in everything?). She was 1/4 Russian, and 3/4 Ohioian and really one of my best - tempered, good layer, great production.... oh well. Mite count was pretty good, though it's been a couple months, but there were no overt signs of serious infestation, both pre and post mortem.