An expensive lesson here in Italy

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italic63

House Bee
Joined
May 3, 2021
Messages
185
Reaction score
59
Location
Turin, Italy
Hive Type
Dadant
Number of Hives
1
Good afternoon everyone.
My face is red with embarrassment as I write this email but if really need to get your expert opinions.
I started treating my hive with Apivar strips about 6 weeks ago. The weather here in the North of Italy has been 26-30 everyday up until earlier this week. Unusually hot and so the bees were very active although there was zero nectar flow. I looked inside about 2 weeks ago to see the effect of the hot weather and sure enough food stores were down to zero and the Queen was no longer laying.
I started feeding them 1:1 syrup in 2 litre containers. They became extremely active and "pulled down" (or so I thought) all the syrup in a few hours so I gave them more the next day and the same thing happened. Syrup gone in a few hours!
I carried on like this for about a week so 14 litres of syrup. I then stopped feeding them thinking that if the Queen starts laying again she's will need some room to lay (thinking that the bees were filling the brood box with food stores).
Boy was I wrong!
I went in today and found the disaster in the attached videos!! ALL frames were completely bone dry! 99% of bees dead on the ground. No sign of deformed wings or funny smells.
My beginner's gut instinct (for what it's worth I know) tells me that they were EATING and not storing the syrup at all therefore it looks like when I stopped they just starved to death in the week without syrup.
What are your views? 😞😞
Poor bees...
 

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  • IMG_2220.mov
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I suspect they were robbed out. They had probably already been robbed when you found them bone dry in the first place. The high activity you saw may have been another bee colony robbing them out, it’s not just wasps that do this! Other bee colonies that find a weak colony will soon empty them out. This will of course involve a lot of fighting and that’s what looks like has happened.

You were likely feeding the robbers with the repeat feeding.

It’s important colonies are strong and given small entrances to defend themselves
 
I once many years ago had a colony like that and thought they were dead, a few live ones and the floor carpeted with bees . Sifting gently through them I could see they were partly comatose but with a tiny bit of life.
I sprayed them with sugar syrup and about 75% recovered as did the queen, the colony did survive.

One has to put the episode down to experience, the one failing is you didn't look in to see what they were doing with the feed or what was occurring within the hive. It happens and we learn by our mistakes, obviously the stores situation in your locale is quite dire so feeding needs to be heavy and extended.
 
When you pull frames and look at the comb do they have jagged edges round the cells rather than smooth? Robbing bees don’t care or have the time to do it neatly
I had a look. Cells look smooth and clean
 
Good afternoon everyone.
My face is red with embarrassment as I write this email but if really need to get your expert opinions.
I started treating my hive with Apivar strips about 6 weeks ago. The weather here in the North of Italy has been 26-30 everyday up until earlier this week. Unusually hot and so the bees were very active although there was zero nectar flow. I looked inside about 2 weeks ago to see the effect of the hot weather and sure enough food stores were down to zero and the Queen was no longer laying.
I started feeding them 1:1 syrup in 2 litre containers. They became extremely active and "pulled down" (or so I thought) all the syrup in a few hours so I gave them more the next day and the same thing happened. Syrup gone in a few hours!
I carried on like this for about a week so 14 litres of syrup. I then stopped feeding them thinking that if the Queen starts laying again she's will need some room to lay (thinking that the bees were filling the brood box with food stores).
Boy was I wrong!
I went in today and found the disaster in the attached videos!! ALL frames were completely bone dry! 99% of bees dead on the ground. No sign of deformed wings or funny smells.
My beginner's gut instinct (for what it's worth I know) tells me that they were EATING and not storing the syrup at all therefore it looks like when I stopped they just starved to death in the week without syrup.
What are your views? 😞😞
Poor bees...
That's actually not a lot of dead bees for a full colony when you are at the end of your season. Are you sure they did not swarm earlier in the season or the queen was killed or died ? It looks more to me like a colony that has dwindled rather than starved - when they starve you will usually see dead bees with their bums sticking out of cells looking for the last tiny bits of honey.

A colony that had dwindled for lack of new bees would not be in a position to defend itself or forage sufficiently to store nectar - not that there would be any if there was no flow. I think the 'busy activity' you saw was every other bee in the area taking advantage of the 14 litres of takeaway food you were providing ! The few dead bees on the floor probably died trying to defend against the robbers. If there was no nectar in the combs when you started feeding the robbers would not be going for that, they would go straight for the syrup and you would not see the ragged edges to the cells that are classic signs of robbing.

Feeding a weak colony when there is no nectar about is a recipe for a disaster as far as robbing is concerned - robbers from a strong colony would easily do 2 litres a day ..

Whatever happened .. it's beekeeping - we sometimes get it wrong. Learn from it and move one.

Over here the feeder you are using is called a rapid feeder ... even more rapid when every other bee in the area is helping rhemselves to it !
 
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I am in Italy too at 300m above sea level. I fed my bees a 1:1 sugar solution in August to get the queen laying at the end of the hot summer weather. Then in September and October there was a lot of ivy and golden rod.
I found that if you take honey in late July and dont feed them afterwards they die in the August heat. I also have my hives protected from the midday sun.
What do the bees forage in your area? Are there masses of beekeepers?
 
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I am in Italy too at 300m above sea level. I fed my bees a 1:1 sugar solution in August to get the queen laying at the end of the hot summer weather. Then in September and October there was a lot of ivy and golden rod.
I found that if you take honey in late July and dont feed them afterwards they die in the August heat. I also have my hives protected from the midday sun.
What do the bees forage in your area? Are there masses of beekeepers?
I live in Piemonte about 150m above sea level. As you probably know beekeeping is very popular in this area but I don't have anyone in about 3km radius.
One the local experts that has helped me in the past never feeds his bees. Wondering how they survive. Perhaps he doesn't aggressively harvest that much?
In this area we have mainly cherry, acacia and dandelion in the spring, chestnut and linden in the summer.
It was a rookie mistake on my part. Stores were already really low beginning of September and with the unbelievably long summer this year I should have done better...
 
Are you sure they did not swarm earlier in the season or the queen was killed or died ?
The queen is on the end of the hive tool in the first movie....at 30 seconds onwards. It has yellow paint on its thorax.
Stores were already really low beginning of September and with the unbelievably long summer this year I should have done better...

By the look of the bees on the floor, you must have been very close to getting back to them in time.
 
The queen is on the end of the hive tool in the first movie....at 30 seconds onwards. It has yellow paint on its thorax.


By the look of the bees on the floor, you must have been very close to getting back to them in time.
If the queen was there - it does not look like she was doing much .. for whatever reason muy money is on a a weak colony not starvation but ... they are dead - move on.

https://www.google.com/search?clien...ate=ive&vld=cid:5b356f8c,vid:vZw35VUBdzo,st:0
 

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