Is this normal?

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Field Bee
Mar 9, 2009
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WBC/Smith/National/nucs in Horsham, West Sussex.
Hive Type
Number of Hives

I hope you can see the photo that I have pasted but if not, is it normal at this time of year to have lots of dead/dying bees at the bottom of the hive? I put a tray of Apiguard on at the weekend. They had eaten all their stores so I had to feed them. So far they have had five bags of sugar. There has been a few fights going at the entrance.
Could this be the result of fighting/robbing?
I got them as a swarm in June and they have been a very strong colony. They have an inch gap in the entrance block which so far they have had no trouble defending.
I am worried this may be something to do with the Apiguard.
Please help!
I would be worried that a strong colony has no stores left already.

Did you take honey from them this year??
Sorry, can't see photo here. But I can say without favour or prejudice, that this is not, err, how should I put it, normal behaviour.

Cannot tell what is precisely wrong here. There are so many conflicting details.

Let me list a few possibilities: starvation; varroah infestation; colony robbed out; pesticide damage; apiguard treatment.

I think I have listed them in my order of most to least likely, but probably a combination of more than one.

Your observations at previous inspections would most probably indicate the oncoming problem(s) with your colony.

I fear you are in a position of probable total colony collapse for one or more reasons above.

In about a month's time your colony may need to be strong (in numbers and health), have stores of around 20kg, for the on-coming winter season.

If the food you are giving them is being robbed, as seems possible or even probable, you need some local help to enable your colony to survive.

Sorry, but that is my prognosis.

Regards, RAB
Do you have any bees in the empty combs with just their bums sticking out ?
Thats something you often see when they starve.
Yes there were some but not loads. I am giving them lots of syrup and I am picking up some fondant at the weekend. If they are starving from being robbed is there anything else I can do apart from making the entrance one bee width and keep feeding and check for holes in other places?
After reading the article about hornets possibly protecting bees, I though about catching the ones that have been in my green house and putting them on a leash attached to the outside of the hive! :boxing_smiley:
Perhaps I can train them, like we are doing with our puppy!!:)
Dead bees in the bottom of the hive sounds like starvation. You can only hope there are enough bees left. Keep feeding them until they burst - as you are doing - would be my advice. Make the syrup as strong as possible so they have least amount of work to do to turn it into stores. I wouldn't feed fondant now but you might want to keep it for the spring.
If they had been robbed you will often find that when the cappings are opened the robbers tear at the wax leaving it ragged and torn.
Hi all, just thought I would update you all on my question. I had the bee inspector round yesterday and she said that she feels the reason for my dead bees is poisoning. Got no idea where from but she looked at some of the dead girls that litter the floor around the hive and because they had their tongues sticking out, she feels this is the reason. She said everything else looked fine, so its not disease, starvation or robbing. Phew!!! Got to keep a diary if and when it happens again. Just thought those of you that kindly replied to me may be interested. :)
Thanks for the update. Glad they are reasonably OK. Only the fourth on my list.
Poisoning can be caused by gardeners using inappropriate pesticides at the wrong times, farmers spraying too early in the evenings (but unlikely at this time of the year), someone destroying a honey bee nest and then it being robbed out by your bees, or even bees feeding/watering at infected sites (if that is the correct term). Might be other possibilities too!

Regards, RAB
Did the Inspector suggest sending a sample for post mortem? I had an instance of poisoning many years ago and the PM told me what chemical caused it - A farm contractor had sprayed a field of rape when in full bloom at midday:ack2:
Because of the PM I was able to claim against the farmer who settled out of court:) Mike
She said if it happened again, then I needed to get a sample of 200 minimum and also keep some in the freezer. But she did say that it takes some time to get the results back and by that time they could all be dead! How on earth did you manage to track down which farmer it was? We are surrounded by fields and if it wants a farmer, I presume the offender could never be tracked down?
Not so. Farmers are like everyone else - they have to keep records. That includes dates. Not all crops are treated with all pesticides and certainly not on the same day, so dates are important to connect your problem with the offender, if that were to be the case.

Regards, RAB
I was very much a newbee when this happened. All I could see was pandemonium and panic at both of my colonies. Dead bees all over. I rang my mentor and he said he had the same problem - poisoning. There were about 6 fields of rape in sight of our house and one of them was being sprayed. we hot footed it over and took loads of pictures then contacted the farmer who to be fair was horrified and stopped the contractor immediately. I cannot remember the name of the chemical ******traze I think, the instructions clearly said "Not to be used when crop is predominantly in flower" Gotcha.
I have just heard that the National Trust have been doing some work round the corner from me. They are coppicing Laurel and spraying the bases with weed killer to ensure that they don't come up again. Anyone think this could be a reason for my bee deaths? Do bees have any reason to go to Laurel at this time of year? Maybe the sap from the coppiced branches?
Always a possibility, but I would think it is more likely an insecticide, rather than a weedicide.

Regards, RAB
It still may be worth entioning it to the people spraying the laurel. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of chemicals even the conservation trusts use - saves on time an manpower I guess - but even a slight breeze will carry a spray and affect anything flying. I have been affected more than once by "agricultural" spraying !

Hope your bees ok

Latest update on my initial post is that the National Trust say its not them and that the dead bees were a cast without a queen and that they had all died because of that. He also said that they use Roundup Ancide for the Laurel but it does not affect bees. Any thoughts???
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