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GedB 

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Hi, I'm very new to beekeeping, I collected my first nuc last Spring and enjoyed a wonderful summer of watching my colony grow and tasting some of the best honey - EVER! I have just gone through my first winter season - unsuccessfully.:cry:
I haven't done a bee course yet, COVID put pay to that, so I've been learning online as much as I can. I'd treated Bella (Buckfast) and the girls for varroa mite in the autumn. I left a super and the brood box with honey to help them through their first winter. I added insulation into the roof and fed them candy in early Jan just in case. I had noticed that if the temp was above 10 degrees C a few bees were popping out to see the world, then recently it all went quiet. I've just been out to see how they are and they've all died.
They hadn't touched the candy, there was plenty of honey still left in the super and the extremities of the brood box, but not where the swarm was. All black and empty there, bums sticking out of the comb.
So, a couple of questions if anyone can help? Can you spot anything obvious I did wrong? Can you point me in the direction of a blog / guide for what to do with all the frames - how much do I clean them etc. Do I start again, with another nuc? Sad, but hoping to start again, just keen to learn from my mistakes and I don't know what they are yet.
Thanks
 

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The Poot 

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A few questions-
What varroa treatment did you carry out and when? There’s a lot of varroa poo in the cells.
Did you leave a queen excluder on as they didn’t find the food in the super?

You obviously tried to do the right things, so don’t beat yourself up (I certainly did at my first year loss!) and you’re clearly keen to learn from it, so good for you.

Looks to me like starvation was the main cause of failure.
I‘m sure others will be along with their opinions.
 

Murox 

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Couple of obvious questions - was there a queen excluder on top of the brood box? and what/when did you treat with in the autumn?
For future reference, the fondant should be placed directly on the top of the frames directly above the cluster. perhaps you can describe how you had the hive set up?
 

Erichalfbee 

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Not a lot of varroa poo.
We’re there dead bees on the floor?
Was the QX on?
 

drdrday 

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Hi GedB, and welcome to the forum! :welcome: I'm really sorry to hear you lost your first colony. I'm far from an expert myself, and I'm sure others will come along with more advice, but it does sound like starvation. Did you leave the queen excluder in?
Did you count or assess the number of varroa in any way whilst/after you treated them in the autumn?

If you belong to a local association they might be able to help you out with a nuc in the spring.
Don't be disheartened, it happens, but it's also great when things work out for your bees, so don't give up and have another go.
BTW, I name my queens too :) (Anthea, Buttercup and Crocus currently)
 

ericbeaumont 

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Looks like varroa reduced the nest size and isolation starvation finished them off. There's chewed brood in there where bees have recognised the problem, and dead emerging brood. Dysentery (on the top bar) suggests a stressed colony.

Suggest you burn combs containing brood or poo and keep those that are clean or with stores; make sure the box is sealed to prevent access to robbers or mice.

At the very least I'd scrub all parts of the hive in washing soda and hot water; dysentery may be caused by stress or a symptom of nosema.
 

ericbeaumont 

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a blog / guide for what to do
 

GedB 

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Thank you everyone for your kind replies. The varroa treatment was Api Life Var wafers, I followed the instructions and placed strips in each corner and replaced them weekly (over 4 weeks I think?) I was looking for signs of varroa, but couldn't identify the mites on the bees or in the inspection tray (might have just completely missed what I was looking for though).
When I got them ready for winter, I took the queen excluder out in the hope they'd be able to reach the honey in the super - so there was free access to the super. Then I put the fondant over the hole in the cover board, which was on top of the super. They were all pretty active when I put the fondant in, so I was worried that I disturbed them too much doing this.
Thanks for the advice on what to do next Eric. The frames in the super still have honey in and look clean (to me) - what do I do with them, should I extract the honey, scrape back to the foundation or leave them for the next arrivals?
 

Murox 

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You are very unlikely to see mites on the bees; the thing with Api Life Var is that it requires a minimum ambient temperature, around 18 degrees and if treatment starts late and/or night time temperatures fall below that then its less effective.
 

ericbeaumont 

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should I extract the honey, scrape back to the foundation or leave them for the next arrivals?
As you haven't fed syrup and the fondant was on late the honey won't be tainted, so by all means extract. If you do, keep the box in a warm room for 24 hours to get the honey to run out more easily. Your local BKA will probably have an extractor for hire (have you joined?).

Keep the combs! They're like milk bottles: re-use them for years if they're in good nick. Store them sealed.

Your next colony will bring sufficient stores and is likely to go to work collecting nectar, so here's no real need to keep super honey.

Brood stores, on the other hand, are worth hanging onto for those occasions when a nest runs short - in a nectar dearth, or in autumn, or to feed a nuc - so look after them.
 

Somerford 

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Thank you everyone for your kind replies. The varroa treatment was Api Life Var wafers, I followed the instructions and placed strips in each corner and replaced them weekly (over 4 weeks I think?) I was looking for signs of varroa, but couldn't identify the mites on the bees or in the inspection tray (might have just completely missed what I was looking for though).
When I got them ready for winter, I took the queen excluder out in the hope they'd be able to reach the honey in the super - so there was free access to the super. Then I put the fondant over the hole in the cover board, which was on top of the super. They were all pretty active when I put the fondant in, so I was worried that I disturbed them too much doing this.
Thanks for the advice on what to do next Eric. The frames in the super still have honey in and look clean (to me) - what do I do with them, should I extract the honey, scrape back to the foundation or leave them for the next arrivals?
I strongly urge you to join one of the local Wiltshire associations then you can find a buddy who can guide you

I am the ex chair of WBKA
KR

S
 

GedB 

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I strongly urge you to join one of the local Wiltshire associations then you can find a buddy who can guide tou

I am the ex chair of WBKA
KR

S
Thank you for the advice, I've just contacted Cirencester BKA who would be my closest.
 

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