Dead Bee-Hives over the winter with almost no corpses.

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Ueanuwug 

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Hello lads,

long story short. I've been beekeeping for four years now and this already happened last year and again this year. Last year it were two, this year it were four hives that didn't survive the winter and there are very little corpses on the bottom (about 50-100). And I have absolutely no clue why that is. This is especially weird to me, because the first 2 years when I had losses, the entire ground within the hive usually was full with corpses. And naturally I did check last on the hives during august and september to see, if they have enough food. And there were enough bee mass in the hives (Zander, around 4-5 frames full).

Things I've checked:
- Varroa. No dead bees with crippled wings
- Food. Enough food in them still left and no bees stuck in the combs
- Not overly much bee-fecals so I would assume no virus issue, either.

My theory was maybe mices - but I didn't see mice feces, either. And I find it unlikely 4 hives go on a late swarm.


So any help would be appreciated. In best regards from Germany.
 

drex 

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They do not have to have obvious wing deformities to not have been ravaged by varroa with subsequent virus problems. What varroa treatment are you using and when? How old were the queens?
This is your second year of winter problems, you are obviously not getting something right in your management
 

hemo 

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A near empty hive may imply either late swarming or absconding.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Too many - but not nearly enough
or a colony slowly dwindling away, they will sort out their dead until the colony is so small they can't
 

Ueanuwug 

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They do not have to have obvious wing deformities to not have been ravaged by varroa with subsequent virus problems. What varroa treatment are you using and when? How old were the queens?
The hives were 1-3 years old so the queens respectively were just as old. It was three 1 years old, one 2 years old and two 3 years old hives.

Treatment I am using mechanical treatments mostly. Removing the open brood combs as there are most varroa located and powder sugar treatment. Also using the diaper (?) thing that you place below the hive to check for varroa in early and late august. And didn't find any varroa there. So I am somewhat confident that I can rule varroa out.


This is your second year of winter problems, you are obviously not getting something right in your management
That might be the reason why I am asking here.
 

Erichalfbee 

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So I am somewhat confident that I can rule varroa out.
I think unfortunately you are likely to be completely wrong.
Can you post pictures of a few brood frames?
Ignore the bees just look at the cells. Are any like this? 70FB3C03-8D96-42F6-AC55-ABD40748F03B.png
 

Erichalfbee 

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I think unfortunately you are likely to be completely wrong.
Can you post pictures of a few brood frames?
And don’t anybody start getting aggressive over this. Let’s just try to sort this chap’s problem out.
 

pargyle 

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Probably varroa ... but ... you are using Zander hives ? Do you have the sheet metal roofs with the crownboard with an open hole in in ?

If so ... you need to start closing up the hole in the crownboard - put an empty super or make an eke to go between the metal roof and the crownboard and fill it with insulation (Celotex or Kingspan). I know someone who started with a zander hive and also lost his bees last year. Also - did you leave the queen excluder in place (if so - you should have taken in out - he left a super of honey on but left the QE in place which didn't help.
 

hemo 

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Unless one is very sure of varroa tolerance then dwindling is a likely major factor with out treatment.
 

Ueanuwug 

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Probably varroa ... but ... you are using Zander hives ? Do you have the sheet metal roofs with the crownboard with an open hole in in ?

If so ... you need to start closing up the hole in the crownboard - put an empty super or make an eke to go between the metal roof and the crownboard and fill it with insulation (Celotex or Kingspan). I know someone who started with a zander hive and also lost his bees last year. Also - did you leave the queen excluder in place (if so - you should have taken in out - he left a super of honey on but left the QE in place which didn't help.
I have no idea what you are talking about, but there aren't any metal parts on my hive-roof. And no, I did not leave the queen exclude in place.


Other than that I can makes pictures tomorrow during daylight. If you have any additional things you want me to photograph, tell me.
 

pargyle 

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I have no idea what you are talking about, but there aren't any metal parts on my hive-roof. And no, I did not leave the queen exclude in place.

Other than that I can makes pictures tomorrow during daylight. If you have any additional things you want me to photograph, tell me.
There are various companies making the Zander hives - they are not common in the UK although I know the one I had dealings with was imported from Germany. It had a sheet metal roof and a crown board with a big hole in the centre of it ... your hives may not be like this so I can only comment on what I've seen here.

The more information you can provide the more chance yoiu have of getting some ideas put forward .. where are you based ?

Is your hive like these and what configuration of boxes did you have in place going into winter ?


It does not have a roof similar to this: ?
 

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Ueanuwug 

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I see. The ones I have look like the pure wooden one. The metal roofs also exist, but from my understanding are put additionally on top of the wood as a means of more protection for the wood I guess. Not using it, but that's what I know.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Treatment I am using mechanical treatments mostly. Removing the open brood combs as there are most varroa located and powder sugar treatment. Also using the diaper (?) thing that you place below the hive to check for varroa in early and late august. And didn't find any varroa there. So I am somewhat confident that I can rule varroa out.
[/QUOTE]
I'm afraid I'm somewhat confident that it was Varroosis
sugar dusting is more or less useless as is removing brood - especially open brood
Is that likely when in September it was still rather full on my last checkup?
More than likely, happens to colonies for many reasons - queen failing, varroa infestation, nosema ceranae to name but three
 

oliver90owner 

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It does seem like a varroa problem. As indicated, sugar dusting will only remove some phoretic mites. The bees need rolling in icing sugar to be really effective, as well.

I will guess the the varroa loading was high, the queens superceded and nearly all the late ‘new-brood’ (winter bees) was plagued with varroah as the brooding declined in late summer (loads of bees with lots of mites in the hive). Furthermore the queens may not have mated too successfully and the old queens were not laying strongly.

Almost certainly varroa related - as JBM states, those bees with varroosis would have either left the hive before winter (crawled away) or been carried away by the ‘undertaker’ bees (if they died in the hive).

Effective autumn varroa treatments (before the winter bees are produced) set the scene for healthy bees which can survive the winter.
 

Ueanuwug 

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Unfortunately weather today was pretty bad so no pictures. Will have to wait until better weather.
 

beeno 

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You are basically going treatment free with Integrated Pest Management tools such as brood removal. It is common if you go treatment free for colonies to die within 3-4 years. The varroa board that you put under the open mesh floor for your varroa count is very very unreliable. It can tell you that you have varroa, but not that you don't have any. The mites are carried away by ants or the majority of the mites may be in the brood. I know of beekeepers that lose their colonies on an annual basis by going treatment free.
 

pargyle 

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Know of many who lose them on an annual basis even after treating
Beat me to it .. theres more reasons for overwinter losses than varroa and the mantra that your bees will die in 3 or 4 years if you don't treat them just doesn't hold water. Beekeepers are sometimes the bees worst enemy... whilst I accept that varroa in any quantity in a colony will have a detrimental effect going in to winter I know of many beekeepers who treat their bees with a variety of treatments in the autumn and trickle OA in midwinter whose losses far exceed mine ...
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Beat me to it .. theres more reasons for overwinter losses than varroa and the mantra that your bees will die in 3 or 4 years if you don't treat them just doesn't hold water.
And on that note, I can happily report that the wild bee colony in the oak tree at my Ty Uchaf apiary have survived yet another winter (so far) this is the fifth spring that I've been at that apiary and its the same colony, and they were there before I moved in.
 

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