What's wrong with my hive?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by arkiebee, Apr 27, 2011.

  1. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    Hey guys - as you know we have had a TON of rain - over 12 inches. I checked on my hives before the rain started and all were buzzing and things looked great. I just walked out there and noticed a BUNCH of dead bees outside of one of my hives. I noticed them on the landing board and I took a stick and pulled a bunch more out. Then I noticed a lot of dead bees on the ground. It started raining . again . and I couldn't peek under the cover. There was a live bee or two in there, but it wasn't too active - it's cold & rainy too. I put a super on this hive just a couple of weeks ago and they were really thriving - just curious as to what is wrong? I have never had this happen before. All of my other hives are doing well - some crazy bees were even flying out in the rain! It even looked like there was some larvae in the bunches of dead bees??? :confused:
     
  2. charmd2

    charmd2 New Member

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    Is the top cover leaking? that would be first guess. The weather temp has been reasonable so if they had nectar they should have been able to get to it.

    They did have tons of nectar right? With the hive booming and nothing coming in for a week with all the rain they could have theoretically starved trying to raise brood.
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I don't think I will hazard a guess until you get into the hive. Do so at the first possibility.
     
  4. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    For what it's worth, I always see a few dozen dead bees after a lot of heavy rain- on the landing board, in front on the ground...
    One possibility is not that the rain killed them, but the days of rain prevented the housekeeper bees from tossing out the normal daily mortalities... so when the rain is done they drag out dead and the raindrops on the wet landing board glom onto the dead bee and prevent the housekeeper from flying off with them like they'd usually do, so maybe they just dump them outside the door and go back in...? All speculation of course, but lots of folks see dead bees outside the hive after a heavy rain.
     
  5. Murrell

    Murrell New Member

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    You like us probably have had almost 8 days/night of continuses rain and storms with 3 more days predicted.

    I started giving 1-1 syrup, 4 days ago they are taking a quart a day.
    They have a lot of brood and I believe they need help !

    Ok, I'm going to the back of the bus.

    Murrell
     
  6. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    In between showers yesterday I took out a new cover & inner cover - just in case there was a leak even though I didn't notice one before. I popped the cover and saw a ton of small ants on the inner cover. Underneath was dry. I peeked down inside through the new super I put on and saw bees on the top frames of the hive body - they were not too active, but they were still there. I did change out the inner cover to get rid of the ants.

    In the mass of dead bees, I saw a bunch of dead bees that were of different color/markings - could this have been a swarm going into a weak hive? And the battle was on?

    I will get down inside as soon as I can when the weather will allow it.
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Perhaps robbers?

    a arkie snip..
    they were not too active

    tecumseh:
    perhaps hungry. hungry bees have this low energy appearance.... they tremble from their hunger and don't have enough juice to even fly.

    at the level of dead bees you describe and a 'weak' hive there may be little left in the hive in the form of feed resources.
     
  8. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Also, if the open area of the inner lid is down, or if the inner lid hole is blocked, the ants will eventually kill the hive. Turn the inner lid so the open area is up and the bees can get into it. Otherwise, they cannot fight off the ants.
     
  9. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    I changed out the inner cover all together. I always make sure that the open part is UP. When I was in the hive & reversed it, they had lots of honey - but I will put a jar of 1 - 1 on it this afternoon when I get home from school and scrape out some more dead bees. I don't know if the weather will permit me to get inside. It is NOT raining, but it is cool here today - 50s.

    If I saw a bunch of ants on the top of the inner cover, does that usually mean there are a lot more inside the hive? I figured that the bees would kill them or be able to handle the small ants??
     
  10. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    They normally congregate on the inner cover and make robbing excursions into the hive. That's why the bees must have access to the area.
     
  11. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    No good news. I went out and saw even more dead bees. I peeked inside and pulled out some frames on the top hive body and I saw some brood, but not very many bees. I saw larvae with the caps open, I saw new bees that never came out of the cell. I saw some drone brood that looked yuk. I saw some bees with their heads inside the cells - dead - so it all boils down to starvation because I saw NO honey, nectar when they had a lot of honey & nectar when I reversed hive bodies - so I am guessing a robbing situation?? I didn't see a queen, but I didn't go any further either - I bet she is dead.

    I did notice a funky smell? and THAT worries me! Some of the bees that were mashed was a dark mustard colored fluid.

    I put two feeders on them and reduced the entrance to a tiny hole, but I bet even that won't save them. With the amount of dead bees on the outside of the hive on the ground it looks like a battle and that little hive didn't do so well.

    But all my other hives are buzzing like nothing has been wrong
     
  12. charmd2

    charmd2 New Member

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    I thought it might have been that. Sorry. With the feeder you are giving them a chance anyway
     
  13. Murrell

    Murrell New Member

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    I'll probably get some feed back but;
    I was told a long time ago that March and April were hive killing time.

    The hives are generely short on stores, the Queen is laying in High Gear, the workers are trying to feed many new larva, make wax to expand, the field bees are looking for pollen & necter to rebuild the stores, which may or may not be really all that avilabile.

    Then Bang a week of rain, way below normal temps etc. and you may have a starving hive.

    After 3 days of rain and more perdicted, I'll start feeding cheap { when compared to a hive of bees ] Sugar syrup.

    I'm going !

    Murrell
     
  14. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Murrell, I totally agree with that... I had one last week in similar condition to arkiebees, and they were just flat starving... but even after feeding them they still didn't set off working like they should, so I gave them a frame of eggs to boost their morale and get queenright in case they needed to... a week later they are back to normal.

    When reversing the hive bodies, sometimes you're just putting all the good stuff within easy reach of robbers and far enough away from the cluster and brood that the hive can't defend their resources. A robber-screen might have helped, but it's too late for that now. Next time you'll know to either wait until there are natural resources flowing into the hives to start reversing, or put robber screens on, or reduce the entrances, or feed... any of those should make a big difference in preventing this in the future. Don't feel too badly... beekeeping is a learning experience... I killed my first hive inside of 12 hours.
     
  15. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Hey, I reversed the boxes on a hive once............

    In 35 years of beekeeping, I think that was the only time, tho. I still don't understand why people do it.
     
  16. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Ben's writes:
    When reversing the hive bodies, sometimes you're just putting all the good stuff within easy reach of robbers and far enough away from the cluster and brood that the hive can't defend their resources.

    tecumseh:
    you are suppose to move brood down and not stores. as (I think?) Iddee is suggesting in about half the hives I have this manipulation is unnecessary except for checking and possibly cleaning off the bottom board. this manipulation (which I now like to perform twice a year and not once) does provide two bit of unknown but useful information... 1) how much brood and bees are in the bottom box and 2) how far up they have moved in the stack. #1 should suggest to you how much feed you need at the top of the stack and #2 how exposed a hive is to small hive beetles and wax worm. I wish I had a crystal ball to reveal to me these two basic questions which will impact the survival of half my hives but at the current time I must rely on muscle and not some psychic power.
     
  17. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Good info to know, yes, but why not reassemble the hive as it was prior. To reverse just means the bees have to rearrange everything. It also means the heat will rise up and away from the brood, when they need it the most. The bees will move down on their own as the flow kicks in.
     
  18. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    Everything I have read and told was to reverse your hives in the spring to allow the brood to go up? And I have always done this, but this is the first time I have lost a hive under these circumstances. It seems like in the bee business a person learns things the hard way. This is the first hive I have lost in three years - so I do feel fortunate there as I have tried to be ahead of the game AND LUCK! There can't be too many bees left in there, and I am afraid my queen is dead and I saw so many dead larvae, new bees in there because they just didn't have enough workers to take care of them. I can't reverse this situation I don't guess? but how do I fix it? I put two jars of syrup on them and even at that reduced the entrance to save some of the bees, do I combine it with another hive or wait and see what happens?

    This morning at 5 am, I went out and put syrup on the rest of my hives and reduced all of the entrances. Probably the rest didn't need it, but to be on the safe side I did it to all. I saw some clover blooming and if we get some sun here for a few days, it should start coming on.
    This just makes me sick to lose a healthy hive to starvation, but from the looks of "different colored/marked" bees dead outside the front, I bet they were robbed out.

    Mother Nature - please forgive me. :(
     
  19. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    I'm from the old school, all the old beekeepers i know reverse the brood boxes (once or twice in the spring). Like this year with all the cold weather and rain, i've had more hives wanting to swarm than i've had in years. When i inspected them the bottom brood box would be almost empty (little patches of brood here and there) with some patches of pollen. The top box would be full of brood with swarm cells and the outer frames with honey.I attributed it to my inability to work my bees and reverse the brood chambers to give the queen more room to lay. Not to be argumentative, why didn't they move the queen down :confused: so far i've had six hives this way? jack
     
  20. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Yeah, but if you reverse the boxes, particularly when you're moving too fast and not paying attention to what's in them, sometimes you'll end up putting a box of honey on the bottom while the brood which is just below the honey, is up above and too far away to put up a good defense of the honey. It happens occasionally, and is a good lesson to slow down and pay attention to what you're doing... or take preventative measures to ensure that mistakes made won't bite you in the butt too badly.