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Dying bees

 
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arthurchenderson
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Joined: 26 Jul 2015
Posts: 2
Location: northallerton

PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 2:12 pm    Post subject: Dying bees Reply with quote

I have recently acquired a colony of bees which I have had for just over one week. I am seeing quite a lot of dead bees on the ground in front of the hive, around 50 in 4 hours and a number dead on the floor close to the bee entrance. Is this normal or do I have a problem Question
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1574
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi and welcome to the forum

Yes that level of die off is rather concerning. Is this a full size colony or a nuc or swarm hived this season? How old is the colony?

Are the dead bees perhaps drones that are being evicted? Or perhaps brood got chilled for some reason and is being removed.... can you tell if they are adult bees or pupae, drones or workers? If the latter then my guess would be that you have a problem? Can you examine the dead bees and take note of the state of their wings.... it may be that you have an outbreak of deformed wing virus.... baby bees have wings that look like they are made of melted plastic and cannot fly. If you do an internet search you should find plenty of images that will help you identify drones from workers and bees with deformed wing virus. Unfortunately you will not be able to post a link to a photo album until you have a few more posts. Deformed wing virus (DWV) can be an indication of a high varroa mite infestation but is not exclusively the cause.
Poisoning is also a possibility of course.... do you have agricultural crops near by that may have been sprayed?

Or it could be that they are getting robbed by another colony or wasps.

Drone eviction and robbing should be easy to diagnose as you should see bees fighting/tussling at the entrance or on the ground below the entrance.

Sorry that I can't offer a definitive diagnosis at this stage but more info is needed.

Hope it's just drone eviction and nothing more sinister.

Regards

Barbara
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arthurchenderson
New Bee


Joined: 26 Jul 2015
Posts: 2
Location: northallerton

PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2015 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara

Thanks for your feed back. The bees appear to be a mixture of worker bees a few drones and some small not fully formed bees. There is farmland next to the hive, however there has been no recent crop spraying. The weather since I got the bees has been 18 to 20 deg so unlikely a chill. I will check the wings and revert and also for mites
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1574
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2015 7:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The not fully formed bees suggest brood chill, varroa infestation and hygienic behaviour or if they are drone pupae possibly low stores and they cannot afford to keep them.

Brood chill can occur at those temperatures if there are not sufficient bees to cover the brood or space has been created within or above the brood nest and the bees are unable to fill and warm all the space. It sometimes happens when the brood box has been checker boarded or an empty super put on above or if the hive has been split.

How old is the colony? Young colonies don't usually have problems with varroa in their first year. Has the colony swarmed this year? A brood break caused by swarming usually helps prevent varroa levels become too high, so if they are an established colony and haven't swarmed this season, then there is more chance varroa is the problem. If they are exhibiting hygienic behaviour you might want to hang fire on treating them, if varroa is the problem as that would suggest they are dealing with it themselves, but you would need to monitor it closely.
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