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steve_e 

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Hi -
Went to give a second Apilife Var treatment to my four hives today and found one colony pretty much dead.

It was a surprise to me (actually a shock as it's my first casualty) as it wasn't the weaker colony I'd been worried about, but one that seemed pretty strong only a week ago. If anyone could tell me what I might have done wrong (and I'm worried they starved actually) I'd be grateful:

I took two supers off a week ago (actually nine days, as I was unable to get back to them two days ago). This left just a brood box. I didn't feed them at the time as there still seemed to be a fair amount of stores in the BB and also plenty of forage around.

But today when I went back I found only a few score bees at most in a small bundle around some uncapped brood, very torpid. There were piles of dead bees at the bottom of the hive and outside the front entrance.

There was no food left in the brood box, plenty of capped brood, with many cells looking as though young bees had begun breaking their way out but not managed to get out completely.

I did notice last week that there were loads of wasps there, and I had previously put an entrance block in to make the entrance easier to guard.

Could the wasps have just cleared out the stores and not looked for (or found) nectar and starved in nine days at this time of year? Or could the bees have just consumed all the stores in a week then starved? Or is there any other explanation that I could look for?

The other hives seem fine and very active, including the one next door that I was worried about?
 

mbc 

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sounds like they may have absconded due to the smelly treatment
 

steve_e 

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Hmm - does that happen often? As I say, there were piles of dead bees both inside the hive and out - without counting them I don't know if it's a hive full but I wouldn't be surprised...
 

admin 

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If you look at the empty combs does the wax look sharp and ragged ?

Does your other hive seem to have loads more stores than the last inspection ?
Did they have any stores after you removed the supers ?

Is your other hive of an Italian strain ?


Did you have a reduced entrance ? how big was it ?

With a pile of bees outside the hive I was thinking maybe poisoning,but you say the stores are missing as well.

I will go with the hive being robbed out,or possibly an absconded hive as I have seen it before if you reduce them down to far and close them in with a treatment on.
 

Midland Beek 

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Starvation.

The problem is the hive. You take off the supers and with them all the food, and then there is nothing left in your brood box other than brood.

Single National was alright 100 years ago, but not nowadays.
 

kazmcc 

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When I first started looking into bee keeping ( about 2 months ago lol ) I was suprised by how much food a colony needs.
 

oliver90owner 

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You only hint at the brood situation on removal of the supers. Did you really check the honey arch to see if it was wide/ narrow/normal, how much stores there were in the other frames and how much open brood there was? 'Seemed to be' is a bit too subjective.

Were these two supers completely full and capped? That might give a clue.

There were likely bees 'heads into the cells' if they starved, along with chilled, capped brood. They probably survived long enough to feed up all the open brood with the remaining stores. It may not take so long. This may be something to do with the strain of bee and likely your inexperience. I see you are a second-season Beek.

There may be other reasons, of course. Wasps, robbing, varroa treatment - a combination of these. Presumably there were no wasps in the colony at your inspections?

Obviously need some more detailed information to be sure, but that would be my first guess.

Regards, RAB
 

steve_e 

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If you look at the empty combs does the wax look sharp and ragged ?

Does your other hive seem to have loads more stores than the last inspection ?
Did they have any stores after you removed the supers ?

Is your other hive of an Italian strain ?


Did you have a reduced entrance ? how big was it ?

With a pile of bees outside the hive I was thinking maybe poisoning,but you say the stores are missing as well.

I will go with the hive being robbed out,or possibly an absconded hive as I have seen it before if you reduce them down to far and close them in with a treatment on.
Hi Admin -
1 - I'll have to check this tomorrow. I was a bit too dismayed to really delve around today - and wouldn't have known to look for jagged wax on the cells.

2 There were reasonable combs of honey on the edge of the brood box, but not sure if that would have been enough. The second super was not completely full (probably about 2/3 and I was going to leave it on, but after a discussion here about taking supers off while treating I decided to remove it, believing that a mix of forage and what was in the brood box would probably be ok - and I could feed after a week (today) if it seemed to be getting lighter. Perhaps a bad decision...

3 No Italian strain as far as I'm aware. Both original colonies are from local beekeepers who don't buy in Queens or nucs.

4 I put an entrance block on about two weeks ago after noticing a lot of wasps hanging around (all four colonies). They're normally in my garden where I can see them on a daily basis, but I moved them out to a temporary site a few weeks ago so I could improve their permanent site.

You only hint at the brood situation on removal of the supers. Did you really check the honey arch to see if it was wide/ narrow/normal, how much stores there were in the other frames and how much open brood there was? 'Seemed to be' is a bit too subjective.

Were these two supers completely full and capped? That might give a clue.

There were likely bees 'heads into the cells' if they starved, along with chilled, capped brood. They probably survived long enough to feed up all the open brood with the remaining stores. It may not take so long. This may be something to do with the strain of bee and likely your inexperience. I see you are a second-season Beek.

There may be other reasons, of course. Wasps, robbing, varroa treatment - a combination of these. Presumably there were no wasps in the colony at your inspections?

Obviously need some more detailed information to be sure, but that would be my first guess.

Regards, RAB
Hi Rab -
1 I didn't check anywhere near as closely as you're indicating above (not even sure what a 'honey arch' is). The honey in the end frames seemed quite substantial, and the frames towards the middle with brood on were much lighter.

3 I'll need to check back to see if there were bees with their heads into cells. There is a lot of capped brood left though (I'll check tomorrow to see how much). Yes, very inexperienced beekeeper so very likely I didn't notice something I should have done.

4 There were a few wasps in the colony over the last couple of weeks, not huge numbers but enough to spot a couple in each super which I disposed of whenever possible.

One other thing that might be relevant is that they seemed quite bad tempered a week ago, where they are normally very mild - I ended up getting stung three or four times in quick succession. But since I was taking away their stores I kind of assumed they had a good reason to be irritated.
 

mbc 

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still think they absconded due to thymol vapour leaving some brood and a few young bees too weak to defend their stores which would have subsequently been robbed. Classic case
 

wilderness 

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sorry to hear of your loss.

Make sure you close the entrance completely to stop further robbing and spread of disease.
 

mbc 

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Sorry but this is just not true.

PH
I agreesorry to hear of your loss.

'Make sure you close the entrance completely to stop further robbing and spread of disease.'

Horse has already bolted
 

chycarne 

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Sorry to read about this, we had a similar problem last December (2009) had the food too far away from the cluster. Really sorry to loose that hive and it was a shock (even though that night it went down to -7'c and the whole week was under -3'c. The previous week we had seen some flying and form the overwintering succesful ones... (day temp was +12 (which in January was odd then the following week all snow broke loose...)
This summers problem was / is hive starting up, the Queen was slow to get going and so numbers much reduced now and below what we would like, and no the other hives cant spare a frame - I would rather be positive about what I have rather than damage one, just in case, harsh but...they may have to come into the poly tunnel under very restricted conditions if the weather is very bad!! As to food usage, bees seem to be eating machines!! is it going to be a hard winter or something?! we almost had a problem keeping up...
Good luck with your efforts, keep watching the bees they are amazing, each day I see something new.
 

steve_e 

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MBC, I'd like to believe it was Thymol vapour - would make me feel less culpable.

Wilderness, thanks. I was thinking of blocking it up but haven't yet done so - not really thinking it through I thought I'd leave it open for the few dozen remaining but I can see that's pretty pointless.

I'm going to go back out tomorrow and collect the hive to examine it further back at home.
 

Chris B 

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still think they absconded due to thymol vapour leaving some brood and a few young bees too weak to defend their stores which would have subsequently been robbed. Classic case
Possible but statistically unlikely.
The clues are all consistent with starvation - torpid bees, large number of dead bees, and no remaining stores. Bees with heads in cells would confirm it.
 

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