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hundreds of dead bees under hive

 
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kathyd
House Bee


Joined: 29 Jun 2015
Posts: 13
Location: France, Brittany,Rostrenen

PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2015 10:28 am    Post subject: hundreds of dead bees under hive Reply with quote

Sorry if this is a repeat of the previous question, but as a newbie I don't know if the cause is the same or not.. In brief:

First time beekeeper. Bought bees about 2 months ago. Using top bar hive. Colony seems to be going great guns, built loads of comb (not following top bars, but that's a different issue!). Been very busy, taking in pollen and presumably nectar. Unable to view foundation during inspection last week because they've stuck all the bars together.. Weather been hot for past week or two, 30+ degrees yesterday. Short sharp thunderstorm with heavy rain this morning. Noticed not much activity this morning so went to look through viewing window. No further comb built but they're still working on it. Some bees had bits of white stuff in their mouths. BUT - noticed huge number of dead bees under the hive. Hive sits on chippings so they don't show up easily, but there are masses there when you look closely. Some seemed dessicated almost. Found some drones without rear ends. Found one or two still alive - brought one into kitchen where she's sitting on a saucer of sugar water on kitchen roll. As I carried her I could see her wings vibrating wildly, and her tongue stuck out. Even now her legs are trembling a bit although wings quieter. Tongue still out - can't honestly tell if she's drinking or not. No idea what to do - and our mentors are both away! Any advice please?
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ingo50
Scout Bee


Joined: 30 May 2014
Posts: 311
Location: Newport, Gwent, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2015 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a fellow novice beekeeper, I would think about wasp attack as the bees are injured. The other cause of many dead bees could be poisoning, would not have injuries then. What do our more experienced members think?
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kathyd
House Bee


Joined: 29 Jun 2015
Posts: 13
Location: France, Brittany,Rostrenen

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Ingo50, thanks for your reply. I posted a similar query on the BBKA FB site too, and the general consensus of opinion seems to be poisoning, or possibly starvation. Although wasps were also mentioned, there didn't seem to be enough damaged bees to suggest this was the problem - more that they'd been eaten by something after they died. I put a small amount of sugar syrup under the hive just in case they were hungry, but they showed little interest to be honest and kept trundling off to gather more natural supplies from elsewhere - there's plenty to go at around here so I'd be surprised if they were hungry at the moment. However, it turns out our neighbour sprayed his brambles with Roundup a few days ago, so I wonder if it could be that? Although I did amble round his garden yesterday and didn't see any signs the bees were over there, so I don't think I can automatically blame him. The fields immediately around our house are filled with cows, not crops, so unless the bees are travelling a long way to forage I'm not sure where they're getting poisoned... I hope it's not something that's been brought back into the hive with them and is now poisoning others too.. Sad
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Broadwell
Foraging Bee


Joined: 22 Jul 2013
Posts: 122
Location: UK, Kent, High Weald

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Roundup spraying doesn't sound great, especially now as the brambles are flowering, but I wonder if what you are describing is no problem at all. How many is huge numbers of dead bees?

After 2 months your colony will have properly got going – and that means increasing numbers of bees being born and increasing numbers dying. I wonder if, because you've got the hive on chippings – and the bodies are isolated from rotting on the soil, you are just now noticing the buildup that has been constantly taking place.

I've got one hive that is stood somewhere where nothing grows much apart from Bluebells in the Spring, the ground mostly looks like leaf mould so similar to your chippings. There is what looks like a mass grave at the foot of the landing board at all times – all the more noticeable for no plants covering it. Slugs and other beasties come and eat from the pile at night.

If they are building comb still then that is a good sign they are doing well. The white stuff in their mouths is probably just wax. The one you took inside might have just been vibrating her wings because she was cold, the tongue sticking out is because she was dying.
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kathyd
House Bee


Joined: 29 Jun 2015
Posts: 13
Location: France, Brittany,Rostrenen

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Broadwell, thanks for your reply. I must admit OH wondered the same thing about a 'normal' state of affairs. He said today he thought there were 2-300 bees, I thought more, but then I have no sense of space/number/direction etc etc and he has a degree in maths, so maybe slightly more accurate Wink. I do hope you're right - I'd hate to think they'd taken glyphosphate into the hive and were continuing to damage future generations Sad. The ones who are still around do seem to be behaving normally though, which we're taking as a good sign.
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Broadwell
Foraging Bee


Joined: 22 Jul 2013
Posts: 122
Location: UK, Kent, High Weald

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi. 2 or 3 hundred does sound like quite a few. I think you're going to have to wait and see whether this looks like a normal state of affairs, or whether there was an incident. It's hard to say how much the chippings will be preserving the dead.

In the meantime, you might want to see if there's a polite way of suggesting to your neighbour not spraying something when it's in flower!

Good luck with it.
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luk_lak
Guard Bee


Joined: 06 Dec 2013
Posts: 85
Location: Isle of Dogs, London, UK

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Considering good Queen in optimal conditions can lay 2,000 eggs daily you get 2,000 dead bees every day. So 200-300 hundred is nothing to worry about. Especially it this is one time event and the colony is fine now.

What I'm noticing in my TBH is often bees miss the entrance as they fly too low and end up on the pile of straw under the hive. Then they take off again and try once more. Maybe when they are too tired and almost dying on their last flight they've missed the entrance, landed but have no strength to take off any more and just died there.


*******************************
Lukasz - Friendliest gardener in E14
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kathyd
House Bee


Joined: 29 Jun 2015
Posts: 13
Location: France, Brittany,Rostrenen

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Broadwell - I might ask him if he'd mind spraying as late as possible in the evening after the bees have gone to bed - this'd be in line with what french farmers are supposed to do I think. Not sure if it'll help, but it's a diplomatic way to let him know his spray 'might' be a problem..

Luk_lak - I hope you're right, although I'm surprised we've not noticed it before if this is the case... or at least when our mentor lay on the floor beneath the hive a week ago to take a photo - surely she would have spotted dead bees?? Or maybe not. But I'd not thought about natural wastage - let's hope I've just been over-reacting... thanks for your input.
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ingo50
Scout Bee


Joined: 30 May 2014
Posts: 311
Location: Newport, Gwent, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have not observed many dead bees around my hives , they stand on chippings. Why don't you put a tray or something else flat with a rim around it on that area, and check numbers every 24 hrs? That way you will know the daily mortality rate and probably have a better idea about the damage to them. You could possibly send some off for toxicology testing if you are really worried about poisoning. Not sure how much that would cost mind. If you are part of a local association, they may be able to advise or help with this.
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kathyd
House Bee


Joined: 29 Jun 2015
Posts: 13
Location: France, Brittany,Rostrenen

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a good idea ingo50, thanks Smile. I don't think there are any associations around here, it's not really like the UK, but I'm trying to network a bit and meet other beekeepers. In fact a friend of mine has offered to come over tomorrow, weather permitting, to have a look and see what she thinks.
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