What Killed My Colony?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Alt, May 22, 2020.

  1. Alt

    Alt New Member

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    First year Beekeeper, and I'm stuck again. I don't know what killed my hive, and I so confused and frustrated trying to figure out what did. Every resource I've read about it doesn't give me enough of an answer to decide. It's like, "so you had these symptoms? Here's twenty things that may have caused it."

    I'd really like to know if I did something wrong, and if it is safe to reuse the frames, but I'm just so stuck.

    We have cold, long, winters here, and one of two colonies died around the beginning of February. Most, if not all the bees were dead inside the hive. They had only eaten a small amount of honey, there was no evidence of mice, and I treated for Varroa that autumn. I can't remember the mite count when I treated, and will be keeping track of that in the future. I tested the dead brood with the toothpick method, and based on that don't believe it was AFB. This was my much stronger hive. There was bee defecation in the hive, and clusters of bees head down in cells. There was very little brood; the cluster in the photo is the most I saw. They had a screened bottom board and wrap on. I found the poor Queen on top of the pile of bees.

    I'm sure I'm forgetting details, so please remind me. I would really appreciate someone else's input!
    ALT_8943.JPG ALT_8949.JPG ALT_8953.JPG ALT_8962.JPG ALT_8966.JPG
     
  2. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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    Gypsi likes this.

  3. Alt

    Alt New Member

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    That's very useful, thank you! But I imagine they can only tell me if disease killed them, right? Not mites or things like that?
     
  4. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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    no they will tell you what killed the bees, whatever it is..just follow the instructions on how to ship them...mites, disease, pesticide anything that may have killed them they will tell you..
     
  5. Alt

    Alt New Member

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    Really? Wow. I'll look into that. I uh... wish I hadn't gotten rid of them a month ago

    After reading more on the site, unfortunately they only accept US bees
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
  6. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    What country are you in Alt? You may have an agency that provides the same services.

    In my experience, the cluster must be on a frame with honey directly under it, and they creep upward to the next frame with honey, very little lateral movement is done by the bees when they are in cluster. I have had bees starve under a box of honey, when the young bees hatched and needed fed during an extreme cold snap. Those bees with their heads in cells starved.

    The other thing that kills is condensation. The larger the hive, the more need for good ventilation in winter. Moisture must be able to rise out of the box and be trapped so it doesn't rain down on the bees. In Texas we insulate the roof, so that the moisture sticks to the sidewalls and runs down them. We put a penny between the frame of the inner cover and the outer cover to allow just a tiny vent for moisture to escape.

    Colder climates use a quilt box or a box of hay on top to absorb the moisture. They may also wrap their boxes. Beekeeping is local, can you share where you live?
     
  7. Alt

    Alt New Member

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    I'm in Ontario, Canada. Not too much more North than the top of New York. I did insulate under the lid, but all I had for upper airflow was the usual entrance. I read recently on TheHoneyBeeSuite that bees that die head down in the cells aren't looking for honey, but trying to keep warm. Which is part of my frustration because everyone has a different opinion.

    That's good to know, thank you! I have heard of them starving with honey left, and given how advance bees are it really surprises me that they would sooner starve then shift left and right.

    I can't seem to find any online support locally, which has been frustrating.

    The article about head down bees, if you're interested: https://www.honeybeesuite.com/bees-head-down-in-cells-did-they-starve/
     
  8. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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    put a top entrance onto your hive and that will let air circulate in the hive..did you close in the screened bottom for the winter? reduce the front entrance to about 1 inch?
     
  9. Alt

    Alt New Member

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    I did have a top entrance that I made sure wasn't covered by the wrap, and I didn't cover the screened bottom, nor reduce the front entrance. Are those last two things I should have done?
    Do you think it was moisture that killed them?
     
  10. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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    YES...they probably froze to death ...they keep warm by shivering to create heat, and with an open screened bottom they couldnt generate enough heat, and by shivering they burn up calories and both starved and froze....
    how would you like walking around ontario in winter naked with no heat..or better example drive your car at winter with no heat or clothing??? thats what happened to your bees...
     
  11. Alt

    Alt New Member

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    I am new at this and here for help, but I'm not sure I agree with that. Many beekeepers in Canada use open bottom boards in the winter, and I would be surprised if the cold killed them because my much much weaker hive survived under the same conditions.
    I'll ask someone local and see what they do, I guess.
     
    Gypsi likes this.
  12. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    The one time I lost a colony to having an open screened bottom board during a freeze, they were trying to cover brood which put them spread too thin,. I didn't lose them all at once, it was outer bees and more outer bees. It was my largest hive, and I was very surprised to lose them, but they had 4 frames of capped brood just before that early freeze. Texas doesn't get that many hard freezes, but this was a nasty one. Also my hive stand is a pipe stand 18 inches off the ground (due to fire ants and skunks) which means an open screened bottom board gets a lot of wind. And it was a windy cold front.

    Because we have so much robbing around here (texas gets a lot of drought / dearths), I never have an opening wider than one inch. Unless a very large hive.

    I left my screened bottom boards on this past winter but I put a cover board under them to reduce the amount of draft getting into the hive. With the open bottom board you would be unlikely to have a condensation problem. Local help is going to be best, including choosing hive stand height and whether to use a cover board, top entrance, etc. I'm sorry we couldn't be more helpful Alt.
     
  13. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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    I dont know why people come here for help then claim its wrong and they will go ask someone local..well maybe thats what you should have done in the first place...
     
  14. Alt

    Alt New Member

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    That's interesting. Thank you for sharing that. So essentially, being a larger hive they had more brood to keep warm, which spread them out too much?
    Thank you! Everything helps.
     
  15. Alt

    Alt New Member

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    Maybe because you keep scaring them away.

    I do appreciate your help. It didn't make sense to me why a larger hive would die when a smaller one didn't, but member Gypsi explained a reason that makes sense.
     
  16. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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    explain how that has anything todo with my statement?? you asked a question got good advice then claim its no good and youll go ask some locals...so what do you think that will do for the next time you ask advice??
    you get scared because of what? you didnt like the advice?
     
  17. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    oh dear. it's easier with a larger forum, and then again there are some members on the biggest bee forum that scared me pretty badly, but with hundreds of members I found a couple that weren't too scary, to answer my questions. And that got me by while I learned more. some things are local - weather, pests, the commerical guy up the road bringing home sick bees, that's local
     
  18. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    That is a good article. A small cluster had better be in a 5 frame nuc. or they will freeze... That's happened a time or 2 too
     
  19. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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    Id like to know what the big scary monster is that the poster is afraid of????:eek:
     
  20. Alt

    Alt New Member

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    You weren't the most delicate when you told me what I did wrong to kill my colony. I feel terrible that I killed them, and you could have been a little less prickly when you told me that. Based on other threads I've read, you talk to others that way too.