Hive Loss

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KPBee 

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I went up to my bees in the week to see if they had enough food to keep them going and were not starving. The hive was quiet and felt quite light so I opened it up. All dead apart from four clinging onto the comb. They appeared to have enough food as there was honey on the comb. The honey did not appear to be crytalised. There were some brood that had not hatched properly and had died with bodies halfway out of the comb. This has happened to the brood on occasion throughout the year. I have wondered if the neucleus I aquired was unhealthy. I asked the local DEFRA man to have a look. After sometime of inspecting them and unable to make up his mind whether the bees were diseased, eventually admitted that he was perplexed by what was happening in the hive and would return at a later date. I did try to contact him prior to wintering down but had no result.

Post feeding, I wintered down. I made sure that they had enough stores to last however, this was a bit hit and miss as I was not exactly sure how much they required but appeared to have sufficient for the amount of bees. The colony had been up and down with loss since obtaining them and I would say did not particularly increase in number very quickly. I left the cover board holes open and put the mouse guard on with an open varroa floor.

I did not inspect the hive this week in detail as I felt slightly sad and sick at the fact the bees were dead. I will however, have a proper look this weekend or early next week.

Did I winter down correcly? Could they have been diseased after all? Should I send samples away to be checked? What should I clean the hive with just incase they were diseased to start afresh this year?
 

onriver 

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That's terrible - please don't be put off, it sounds from your description as if you didn't have a queen and hadn't for some time? Maybe the numbers just declined and there weren't enough to cover whatever brood you had - there should have been some attempt at queen rearing though, if they had eggs to work with or, if not , some workers starting to lay?
 

KPBee 

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I had a Queen when I wintered down which I did mid November. I will probably find her on the floor on further inspection. I'm not put off. Just felt sad and sick. Things happen and i'm learning. The workers were not laying this was confirmed by the FERA man as I thought this could have been a possibility and asked him if that was the case. He did say however, that she was laying quite a few Drone cells. This appeared to lessen thoughout the year though.
 

Mike a 

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Check any remaining brood cappings, are they worker or drone?
If they are mostly drone then its a fair bet your queen became a drone layer.

Did you treat them back in the Autumn?

Hive
As for cleaning up, remove the frame runners first as they are probably held in by 3-4 pin nails then remove any bits of wax or propolis by scraping the inside of the hive or use a wire brush, then using a blow torch flame the wood enough to heat it through but not turn it black. This takes a little practice but don't worry if you do char the wood in places. Double check the mesh to see if its plastic coated wire before using the blow torch on the floor, if it is plastic coated then just scrap it clean if the mesh can't be taken out with ease.

Frames
Various options for these, I used to put each one in a plastic bag and stick it in the deep freeze for awhile to kill off any nasties, but make sure they are kept in a sealed container of some sort to prevent wax moths or other insects from getting at them and stood upright so the foundation / comb doesn't warp when the weather warms up.
 
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KPBee 

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Yes I did. I treated them for Varroa even though the mite levels were low (mite drop; 2 every three days). I did this in September with Api Life Var. I was going to put new frames in the hive this time around as I've got spare ones or would that just be wastefull? Call me paranoid... From memory I believe that the brood cells were worker cells I do not recall seeing any Drone cells and had not for a while prior to wintering down.

Kathy.
 
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Andy Duff 

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Sorry about your loss, IMHO bees seem to do far better over winter when there is more than 1 colony. If you can, try 2 colonies this year.
 

beebreeder 

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nosema cerana? have you anyone that can test a sample of dead bees for you?
 

KPBee 

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What does IMHO stand for?
Yes. I tried. Caught a swarm with a friend with the intention of having two hives for a better chance of survival and borrowing one from the other if I ran into difficultly. Long story but I decided that I was not going to lose my friendship over bees and could not afford another nuecleus of bees at the time.

Another question:

I've got Hoffman frames in the brood chamber and decided that I wanted Manley frames in the super however, on inspection of the unused frames (as I decided I would burn the used frames incase of disease) I realised that the top bars are wider on some than on others. Do the wider ones go with the Manley frames or the Hoffman?; is it a matter of choice? If so it makes sense to use the wider top bars on the Manley frames in the super. On measurement they are 1.6" and 1.4" which I believe is 1 3/8. Currently it appears that I have used the narrower frames with the Hoffman (this was by chance when I made them up at the beggining of the year and am thankfull that I did not use both top bars of different widths).

Kathy.
 
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KPBee 

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No. I do not know anyone that can test for bee disease personally but I believe I can send them away to be tested. I think that I saw an address in the back of one of the bee books I have. Do you think that I should attempt to get them tested then? If so do they need to be fresh bodies? I did treat them for Nosema as well just as a precaution. Rationale being prevention is better than cure.

Kathy.
 

Dusty Rhodes 

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IMHO

"In my humble opinion."


Frequently means the opposite, (IMHO).

Dusty
 

KPBee 

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Thankyou. Thought it was an abbreviation for a type of bee for a minute.
 
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drstitson 

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"No. I do not know anyone that can test for bee disease personally"

are you not a member of your local association? they'll have microscope and expertise.
 

oliver90owner 

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I would say did not particularly increase in number very quickly. I left the cover board holes open and put the mouse guard on with an open varroa floor.

Kathy,

Not alot to go on but from your words above I could easily suggeast the following:

Your bees had a problem about which you local bee inspector should have some input by now.

I strongly suspect they were losers from the outset or from whatever caused the poor colony expansion. There is no reason to think they would expand sufficiently for adequate winter brood to see them through until springtime.

So we have a weak colony going into winter with an added factor to cope with - cold. I would not be surprised if a small colony were to succumb in the winter with an OMF and the feed holes (Porter escape holes?) left open in the crownboard. The cooling effect would have been considerable and likely accelerated bee loss from the cluster with a less than optimal size.

Sorry to be so blunt, but that is my take on the situation. Poor bees and poor wintering conditions. If it were a bad queen they are perhaps betterout of the gene pool. It happens. Not good as it is your only colony. If I were to have a colony as you described, the queen would have gone long ago.

In your position of the single colony and with little experience the outcome was, I believe, predictable - were an experienced beek involved prior to winter preparations

RAB
 

Luminos 

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Very sorry to hear about your loss, KPBee :( :(
 

alexander 

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Although a hive has 1000s of bees in, and you cant get attached individually, like you would a cat or dog maybe, its really sad to hear of a loss like this. I know how sad I would be if I lost mine.
 

KPBee 

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Do not apologise for being blunt. I'm learning and need advice and am trying to get to the problem so that I am better equipt for this year.

No I did not have anyone look at the bees. My attempts to go along to my local beekeeping association failed due to either my work commitments or sessions being cancelled by them.

Yes. I left the porter bee escapes open for ventilation as well as the floor and entrance block. They started dying prior to Wintering so I put the open mesh floor tray back in, which I had left in for most of the year anyway as when I removed it (which I tried on numerous occasions) the bees fought each other which I thought was strange. Initially, I thought that it may have been robbing but I do not think that this was the case. The bees would also kill the hatchlings on occasion which is why I contacted the FERA inspector as I thought that they were probably diseased and welcomed someone looking at the colony. I agree if it was an unhealthy Queen they are better off out of the gene pool and with more experience I would have replaced the Queen too but unfortunately I'm learning and I was unsure of the problem, so did what I could at the time. Throughout the year the comb and brood looked healthy.

I was also doubtful if they would survive the Winter. The Fera inspector did say that the Queen was getting confused and laying Drone cells in the worker cells.
 
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KPBee 

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Just a quick note to thank all of you who have contributed to my thread.

Kathy.
 

oliver90owner 

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Young, newly mated queens might produce a few drones early on, but that should not have continued for long.

Your bee inspector should (IMO) have steered you towards requeening, if not recommending it outright. Lessons learned. Strong healthy colonies into winter. Top insulate with no top ventilation with OMFs - it works!

RAB
 

Hebeegeebee 

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Sorry to learn of your loss.

Its unusual for a bee inspector to not be able to diagnose the problem and then walk away. My suggestion would be to seal up the colony so it cannot be robbed by anything and then ask the inspector to have a look and diagnose the problem.

If it was a seasonal inspector you saw last time then you'll get a different inspector over winter who works full time.

If you purchased a colony with nasties - in the worst case the selling apiary will need to be contacted.

On the beebase site there is advice on diseases https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/index.cfm?sectionid=24
(If the link doesn't work just google 'beebase'

Have a look through and look at the downloadable pdf books - the varroa book does have some photos of dead bees hanging out of the comb. Does anything look familiar?

I agree with RAB's comments - although a strong colony would usually survive under those conditions.
 

KPBee 

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RAB

I'm not clear.

Top insulate with no top ventilation.

Do you mean close the crownboard with porter bee escapes and insulate? If so what should I insulate with as I do not want to draw moisture in to cause condensation, damp and a build up of bacteria.

The Queen did stop laying Drones further into the year.

Kathy
 

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