What caused my colonies to fail?

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Swarm 

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That’s useful, thanks Simon.

Not sure what to make of it then? I was expecting to see loads of mites if we’re thinking it was varroa that destroyed the other colonies...the hives are all close together with only about 18 inches between each one.

I used a gas vap to vape my bees whereas the other guy used a wand type device. I’m pretty sure I used the gas vap properly (it was my first time using it but I did a test run outside the hive first and all seemed well). If anything I left the nozzle in the hive for longer than the recommended amount of time....probably just over a minute. I can’t imagine this would make it less effective though....?
I counted five in that photo, not a huge amount. There are a number of reasons that colonies fail that Ceri (mbc) has already mentioned.
Cast swarms are an unknown provenance, nice if all works out but it often doesn't. You used OA strips as varroa treatment, we've done that for two years with no dead outs so far but that's with bees monitored for a number of years so we made an informed decision.
 

hemo 

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Unless brood is present one isn't going to see a great amount of varroa. Without a host then varroa breeding isn't going to occur, any dark varroa will be older mature adults who simply are living on it's adult host.
 
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Do224 

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I counted five in that photo, not a huge amount. There are a number of reasons that colonies fail that Ceri (mbc) has already mentioned.
Cast swarms are an unknown provenance, nice if all works out but it often doesn't. You used OA strips as varroa treatment, we've done that for two years with no dead outs so far but that's with bees monitored for a number of years so we made an informed decision.
The weird thing is that the other beekeeper has also lost three of his four colonies in the same apiary. His were all nucs last Spring from a reputable supplier and were strong colonies by the end of the year...I think he got a super of honey off each. He said he’d treated them with Apivar back in the Spring. As mentioned, he also vaped his bees yesterday and assessed the drop today...there were around 120 mites on his tray...
 
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There we go again. Oxalic acid inhaled from sublimating bees is most definitely NOT a vapour.

Oxalic acid vapourises (without going through a liquid phase) around 160 Celsius. It also condenses vack to a solid at that same temperature. By the time any oxalic leaves the hive, it will be as solid, not vapour. You would be breathing in solid oxalic acid as dust particles.
Thanks for the correction, good reminder that a vapour isn’t a gas!
 

oliver90owner 

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Every time I needed to check for varroa drop, I used a clean sheet for said purpose. Is this happening here? D

Whatever the virologist beginners claim, what I know is that effective varroa clear-out, before the winter bees are brooded, provides a cohort of bees which survive through to springtime. I have not dribbled oxalic acid for twenty years and do not expect to - ever. My regular autumn varroa treatment was carefully prepared thymol pads (made to a recipe from back then) and to a size that suited my carefully controlled treatment regime. This was when oxalic acid sublimation was advised to be only carried out once annually (how things have changed over the last decade!).

I think mbc is spot on. My winter losses were around 2%, for several years, when I actually monitored it. One certain member used to report that a thick carpet of dead bees on the hive floor was ‘normal. I did not agree with that in my experience.

Yes, I did have dead bees carpetting the floor early on, but that problem disappeared with effective varroa reduction and leaving the bees, with well stocked stores, in peace over the winter. Too many get it wrong and try to blame losses on all sorts of things, IMO. Maybe OMFs and 14 x 12 boxes really are the optimum.

I’ve not used anything but 14 x 12s since changing to them a couple years after I started, although some bees have inhabited various box sizes at times. One is a colony in my garden that got into a stack of shallows. They were there for some time until I gave them a 14 x12 on top, removing the supers the following year.

I expect a good sized winter cluster in a deep National box will have bees close to the floor. 14 x 12s allow the bees to contract well up the frames, reducing any possible draught problems. Until I changed completely to 14 x12, all my colonies over-wintered with a full (as possible) shallow of stores. I never nadired shallows although shallows and frames were placed under the brood for the bees to move up the stores before clustering. They needed removing early in spring to avoid brooding in them.
 

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That’s useful, thanks Simon.

Not sure what to make of it then? I was expecting to see loads of mites if we’re thinking it was varroa that destroyed the other colonies...the hives are all close together with only about 18 inches between each one.

I used a gas vap to vape my bees whereas the other guy used a wand type device. I’m pretty sure I used the gas vap properly (it was my first time using it but I did a test run outside the hive first and all seemed well). If anything I left the nozzle in the hive for longer than the recommended amount of time....probably just over a minute. I can’t imagine this would make it less effective though....?
Hi

I'd check again for the next few days just to see if more drop. Just because the other hives had (may have had) a high varroa load, doesn't mean this one has to have one.

Not sure if you've mentioned it (the thread seems to have got side tracked) but have you hefted this last hive, how is it for stores?

Also, how many frames of bees are there? A quick look with a torch on a mild day won't hurt them, just crack the crown board (if it's not see through), have a quick look, shut it and let us know.

There's not much you can do until it properly warms up apart from ensure sufficient stores, but might reassure (or otherwise) to know.

Simon
 

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Until I changed completely to 14 x12, all my colonies over-wintered with a full (as possible) shallow of stores. I never nadired shallows although shallows and frames were placed under the brood for the bees to move up the stores before clustering. They needed removing early in spring to avoid brooding in them.
Isn't that what nadiring is? I was of the understanding that regardless of when it's done or how long for, putting shallows under the brood is nadiring and putting them above the brood is supering.
 

Do224 

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Hi

I'd check again for the next few days just to see if more drop. Just because the other hives had (may have had) a high varroa load, doesn't mean this one has to have one.

Not sure if you've mentioned it (the thread seems to have got side tracked) but have you hefted this last hive, how is it for stores?

Also, how many frames of bees are there? A quick look with a torch on a mild day won't hurt them, just crack the crown board (if it's not see through), have a quick look, shut it and let us know.

There's not much you can do until it properly warms up apart from ensure sufficient stores, but might reassure (or otherwise) to know.

Simon
Yeah I’ve hefted it...feels pretty heavy to me, certainly much heavier than the dead hives. This is my first year though so I’ve no experience of what ‘heavy’ should feel like...

I’ll head over to the apiary again this afternoon and check the drop again.
 

madasafish 

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Yeah I’ve hefted it...feels pretty heavy to me, certainly much heavier than the dead hives. This is my first year though so I’ve no experience of what ‘heavy’ should feel like...

Cheap digital luggage scales # and a loop of rope to lift the front or side/back of the hive is very helpful to establish rough weights. If weighing one side /end , weigh the other side/end and add to get a total .. or double one value to get a cruder approximation. I weigh without roofs but weigh with floors and cb.

# iirc approx £10- ebay a few years ago.
 

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Gilberdyke John 

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I use 3M safety googles: 3M Goggle Gear Safety Goggles, Scotchgard Anti-Fog, GG501SGAF-EU : Amazon.co.uk: DIY & Tools

Re a couple of earlier posts about the full face mask; they are terrible.

Better with the split mask IMO. The face masks always steamed up on me very quickly meaning I had to remove the whole mask frequently to wipe down the visor whereas if you go with the half mask and proper googles you can keep the mask on and remove the googles, give them a quick wipe and put them back on. The half-mask googles don't seem to steam up as quick either.

Also works out cheaper and is easier to store.
As a child WW2 gas masks were commonly found still hanging up behind the door of store cupboards. They usually had small container of lens anti fogging stuff in the pack.😎
 

madasafish 

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As a child WW2 gas masks were commonly found still hanging up behind the door of store cupboards. They usually had small container of lens anti fogging stuff in the pack.😎
I use Muc-Off Premium Anti Fog Treatment £6 Ebay and Amazon. Spray on glasses. Last 4-6 days works a treat with masks.
 

Do224 

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My inspection tray showing 24-48 hr mite drop.

4A9FA4E4-E2C8-47F5-AF66-235C230976BC.jpeg8DE5DF44-F070-4D3D-81FB-69013EC25A44.jpeg
 

RichardK 

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That is not bad at all! When I did mine late summer I had masses more than that...& you've not treated since they arrived in June right?
 

Sanntos 

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Seems to have been oxalic strips in late June, July. But three of four colonies have now died, and same for fellow beekeeper
 

Do224 

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That is not bad at all! When I did mine late summer I had masses more than that...& you've not treated since they arrived in June right?
Ironically, my surviving colony didn’t even get the OA strips (I was close to putting a super on them so couldn’t use them). They’ve had no treatment whatsoever until I vaped them on Sunday (my three failed colonies had OA strips throughout the summer/autumn)
 

robmort 

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Thanks for the correction, good reminder that a vapour isn’t a gas!
Wrong - vapour is indeed a gas.

Whether it goes through a liquid phase is irrelevant.

See R. H. Petrucci, W. S. Harwood, and F. G. Herring, General Chemistry, Prentice-Hall, 8th ed. 2002, p. 483–86.
 
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Wrong - vapour is indeed a gas.

Whether it goes through a liquid phase is irrelevant.

See R. H. Petrucci, W. S. Harwood, and F. G. Herring, General Chemistry, Prentice-Hall, 8th ed. 2002, p. 483–86.
Absolutely. Until he mansplained that, I imagine no-one had any idea what you were talking about ......
Thanks for putting me right (again) !!
 

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