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Winter losses 2009 -10

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sherwood 

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Well I have lost 1 colony so far and will admit that I have 2 others I am worried about. The 1 loss so far is almost certainly as a severe case of nosema which I will confirm when I get them out of the freezer and get the microscope out. The other 2 are extermely week and I feel that this maybe down to the very mild winter upto mid December when the bees were out flying practically every day expending food and energy. This I feel lead to a depletion in food supplies and then came the snow and the cold when I couldnt get to the hives to check them for weight and even when I could I was reluctant to open them for fear of disturbing the cluster.
I now have fed them and hope they come through. I am about to feed all the hives and now I have secured a further supply of fummidil b and will be adding this to there feed.
So net result to date is a loss of 1 in 12 less than last year when I lost 1 in 8 but its early yet to be cheery as I said I have a further 2 to worry about one of these being an over wintered Nuc.
 

Poly Hive 

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Fed them with?

I have just caught my nucs which in the poly nuc boxes are quite relaxed and toddling about merrily on the top bars, under the poly roofs. They were disturbingly light so I have made as an emergency measure some 6mm ply ekes and I put on 3-4 lb of fondant.

This afternoon in a wind chill of some zero degrees and flurries of snow the bees are happily munching at the fondant. This is a relief as there is now a considerable space above them to the poly roof and thus it is not nearly as warm but they seem happy enough.

PH
 
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Lost one!!!

13 strong hives just after Christmas when I put in their fondant prezzie. They were flying a few days ago from 12 not 13 hives. The hive was the biggest and best colony and went into the winter with a brood box and 2 supers full of food. At Christmas they had moved into the lower super and the upper one was full of capped honey.
When they were not flying I opened up the hive. Fondant untouched. Top super full of food. lower super half consumed and dead bees still clustered between the frames. I could see no reason at all apart from the position which is on an exposed corner.
I would have wagered on this hive being the one to come through the winter! All other colonies look fine but I am going to have to feed again.
Any comments, advice or suggestions welcome.
 

oliver90owner 

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Brian,

Was this a 14 x 12? If so, and even if not, I am wondering why you should be disturbing the bees to feed fondant at a time when they were going through some severely cold conditions?

Surely a quick heft, or experience, should have been enough to tell you it did not need feed?

The only colony I have opened this winter is a nuc onto which I slid a kilogram container of fondant. The others are, so far, OK. But could still be a long way to go yet.

Regards, RAB
 
T

Tom Bick 

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13 strong hives just after Christmas when I put in their fondant prezzie. They were flying a few days ago from 12 not 13 hives. The hive was the biggest and best colony and went into the winter with a brood box and 2 supers full of food. At Christmas they had moved into the lower super and the upper one was full of capped honey.
When they were not flying I opened up the hive. Fondant untouched. Top super full of food. lower super half consumed and dead bees still clustered between the frames. I could see no reason at all apart from the position which is on an exposed corner.
I would have wagered on this hive being the one to come through the winter! All other colonies look fine but I am going to have to feed again.
Any comments, advice or suggestions welcome.
Hi Brian dont want to insult you as you may well be a much more experienced beekeeper than myself but did you by chance have your queen excluder in place if so the queen would have being trapped and the bees reluctant to leave her and unable to reach the 2nd super.
I to have lost my bees and its a bit strange still thinking about it and will post in a day or two.
 

Chris B 

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Hi Brian,
to help yourself diagnose cause of death I would look to answer the following questions:
Was there any brood present?
Did dead bees have head in cells?
Queen failure/death and isolation starvation would both be possible causes.
I would think varroa, nosema and other parasites or diseases less likely if other colonies appear okay - you've either dealt with these okay or you haven't.
 

Poly Hive 

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"Queen failure/death and isolation starvation would both be possible causes"

I would strengthen that to the most likely causes. Esp given that you thought it the most likely to come through which suggests that they were the strongest one.

Strong ones tend not to get isolated by reason of their numbers, so a Q failure is my thought.

PH
 

jezd 

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I was at our local BKA meeting the other night and it seems losses for some beekeepers colonies are very high, I have lost some but mainly those that I messed around with - I was made aware that strong colonies (50%+) have died even though they are next to frames rammed with stores, the bees simply stayed put and starved.
 

Poly Hive 

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Not unusual in a hard winter. Sorry to say but seen it all too often, lots of stores and bees clustered by them but starved.

Now oddly enough I call this death by weather.

PH
 

jezd 

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Not unusual in a hard winter. Sorry to say but seen it all too often, lots of stores and bees clustered by them but starved.

Now oddly enough I call this death by weather.

PH
The discussion widened and it was suggested that 12 frames with stores in one brood box maybe better served to the bees as double height and 2 x 6 frames allowing the bees to move up and down (sides blanked off).

Thoughts?
 

Poly Hive 

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To my mind it makes no odds if the colony is weak, and or the weather is cold and the cluster is "stuck" where the food is, if they canna reach it they die.

PH
 

jezd 

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To my mind it makes no odds if the colony is weak, and or the weather is cold and the cluster is "stuck" where the food is, if they canna reach it they die.

PH
but these are not weak colonies, he has 10 from 20 already dead but all had been good strength...
 

Poly Hive 

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In that case I have no idea and suggest he gets samples analysed as soon as.

Poisoning of some sort?

PH
 

jezd 

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Not poison, just cold bees that didnt jump frames I suspect.
 

hedgerow pete 

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well I have just been through all of mine at the shed the big brood is doing fine a little light on food but ok so i fed them with some pollen sub and a small frame feeder of syrup

as for the three nucs they are all dead so for me its 3 down and one not to go

at the out apiary where i have a set of 48 small nucs , we have losed 12 so far
 
T

Tom Bick 

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2009 early swarm from my hive last year that was housed and then later moved from my allotment due to lack of space has not made it through the winter. This hive was moved to a clients big garden last summer and had expanded well and produced a good amount of honey it was also a reasonably big colony when we did our final inspection last year and left them to see out the winter expecting to see bees in February the only thing not carried out on the bees was oxalic acid treatment I realized that this was going to perhaps give us a higher mite problem at the start of the year but not one we could not deal with.
The confusing bit for me is and I am not that experienced only a few years is on hearing of the demise of the colony I went to inspect and found a small cluster of bees about the size of your fist no more than a few hundred on the center of the frames with the queen amongst them expecting to see 1000s of dead bees on the floor of the hive infact only say another 100??
The hive was I must say a wbs on omf and insulated 70% full of stores with a big block of Apifonda awaiting them if they wanted it
I have being thinking about this lack of bees for a week now and came up with my own conclusion that perhaps they have being disturbed aver a period and have flown to defend the hive and perished however a more experienced beekeeper has looked at the hive with the client and his conclusion is similar to other hives in the area with depleted bees is that last November being so mild the bees where out foraging and of course not able to locate anything and perished this seems more plausible.
The question is as I am relatively inexperienced in this is this common and will this lack of bees in the hive become a cause of failure in many other hives this year
 

Chris B 

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Hi Tom,
the dwindle you describe is fairly common and would usually be down to a failed queen as the root cause. Older bees die off naturally (yes away from the hive) but this is not a problem if replacements are coming through. When did you do the last inspection? And was there any brood?


Brian,
Oxalic acid overdose? How many bees when you treated and how much did you put on them?

Chris
 
T

Tom Bick 

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Hi Chris
To be honest I am not able to remember the exact time of the last inspection quite late it may well of being late November and I never removed frames it was just to give them the Apifonda on the previous inspection the queen was spotted and it still had a good amount of brood and the queen had being laying well upto that point.

Obviously bees die but overwintering bees live longer and the dying bees will I assume fall to the floor or remain stuck to the frame to be cleaned out by the bees left once the weather improves. I appreciate your reply and your experience but still dont understand why a good colony entering the winter is left with only a few hundred dead bees in February and not full of dead bees.
Perhaps you are right and all the bees I saw in November are all quite old and although brood was present not enough to replace the colony during that warm and active November
 

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