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Just lost 3 TBHs. Any thoughts?

 
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bildom
House Bee


Joined: 12 Feb 2012
Posts: 13
Location: Goshen, CT, USA

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 12:17 am    Post subject: Just lost 3 TBHs. Any thoughts? Reply with quote

I had 3 four foot long TBHs that were thriving this summer. They each nearly filled their boxes and had large populations, good brood patterns, large honey stores, and pollen. They were due for a pre-winter inspection when my schedule changed and did not allow me to check on them for the past 4 weeks. Today I was winterizing my Lang hives and noticed that there wasn't much activity around the TBHs. I checked on them and all of them were almost completely void of bees and honey. There were some dead bees on the bottom, but nothing alarming. There were only a few leftover cells with sealed brood and no honey. The comb looked normal and I couldn't find any evidence that they had been chewed out due to robbing or mice - just nothing there! These were second year hives that were repopulated with packages in the spring (I lost them last in an extremely harsh winter last year). I had not harvested any honey and planned to leave it all for them for the winter. I could come up with a reason or two that one hive could fail, but can't think of a reason that all 3 would fail at the same time. Any thoughts? I'll go in tomorrow and check them more carefully, but this has me stumped. This is my 4th year of beekeeping. I'm not an expert, but consider myself moderately knowledgeable. Thanks - Bill P.S. - We had an excellent summer for honey and I harvested more than ever from my Langs.
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Could be late queenlessness, varroa and/or robbing. Do you have some pictures?
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1055
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the face of it, this sounds like classic CCD symptoms, except the honey has gone too. Robbing on that scale is not impossible, but the evidence would be very visible in the form of a pile of wax flakes on the floor.

As Bernhard says, photos would be very useful here.
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JGW07
Scout Bee


Joined: 06 Apr 2010
Posts: 270
Location: USA, GA, Hephzibah

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bildom,
This sounds exactly like what happened to one hive last fall at this time. I noticed very little activity at it, and when I went to investigate, I saw some yellow staining around the entrances. I had seen the same thing in the spring with this hive, but it cleared up and it went on to do very well during the summer. When I opened the hive, there wasn't a bee to be seen except for a couple scavengers. There weren't even dead ones on the floor and no evidence of robbing--the floor was clean and the combs intact, not chewed up. There was a little bit of capped goldenrod honey, a few chilled brood half emerged, and nothing else but two dozen empty combs, a bit of wax moth webbing, and some small hive beetles.
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bbhb
Foraging Bee


Joined: 29 Jul 2008
Posts: 202
Location: USA, Colorado, Aurora

PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2014 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lost a hive similarly in October. Mine was an overwintered colony, very robust in September and enjoying a decent Fall flow. I did have some concerns in October, when the weather was unseasonably warm for most of the month and the flow had stopped. Assuming they'd be depleting stores, I was going to give them extra combs of honey, but there was no one to give it to. A few bees from neighboring hives were scavenging, but definitely not robbing (no shredded wax).

I'm undergoing venom immunotherapy and visits to my bees are limited. Also, my hive is in an outyard, so I just haven't been able to make observations as I'd like. I suspect that varroa is the culprit for me. The timing seems about right.

I'm hoping to suit up just to get post mortem pictures. Were you able to snap any, bildom?


Last edited by bbhb on Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:08 am; edited 1 time in total
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 1:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi
Sorry to hear about your colonies.
My guess would be varroa. Look for small white deposits in the brood cells. After several years treatment free and no losses, I've got a couple of hives in what appears to be terminal decline. One has a large landing board which is littered with dead bees with deformed wings. I think it may have been a bad year for varroa for some reason.
If you can post some photos of the combs, particularly the brood combs it should help us to figure out what has happened.
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andy pearce
Silver Bee


Joined: 30 Aug 2009
Posts: 663
Location: UK, East Sussex, Brighton

PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would also say varroa as this has happened to me once also. If anyone out there can give the 'how' of this in a bit of detail....where a hive goes from lots of bees to absolutely none with no evidence of dead bees...just empty combs, I would be grateful. I understand the exponential growth of the varroa and the evidence of the white frass in the cells but a more detailed what happens to the bees would be great. In my mind there should be some dead ones left....including the queen.....
A
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bbhb
Foraging Bee


Joined: 29 Jul 2008
Posts: 202
Location: USA, Colorado, Aurora

PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my case, in addition to generally being more active than ideal due to the warm October, I think my colony must have expended a lot of energy getting rid of infected bees, explaining the shortage of honey with no signs of robbing. This would also explain why there are so few bodies on the bottom board. In all of our deadouts, we have always found the queen. I keep each in a tiny jar.

My hive was one of four TBH in the outyard. Another 3-ft one like mine was also lost, but that colony was not as robust as mine going into September. I think they were Italians and that loss did not surprise me. The two surviving TBH are 4-ft hives. I don't know what kind of bees they are, other than feisty.


Last edited by bbhb on Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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andy pearce
Silver Bee


Joined: 30 Aug 2009
Posts: 663
Location: UK, East Sussex, Brighton

PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2014 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So can anyone explain the last weeks of a dying hive that results in total absence of bees both alive or dead? Even with a worker layer they seem to be able to go on well into the autumn producing those little drones.... so the hive is still occupied until there are no workers left and it ceases to be a colony as such. It is the total absence of bees that is interesting.
A
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bbhb
Foraging Bee


Joined: 29 Jul 2008
Posts: 202
Location: USA, Colorado, Aurora

PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was finally able to break down my hive and conduct a post mortem inspection. I did not find the queen in the debris. She was probably undertaken. My assessment and pictures are posted on my blog at http://bit.ly/1AD1CyK. Thoughts and comments are welcome.

Last edited by bbhb on Wed Jan 21, 2015 6:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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madasafish
Silver Bee


Joined: 29 Apr 2009
Posts: 880
Location: Stoke On Trent

PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

andy pearce wrote:
So can anyone explain the last weeks of a dying hive that results in total absence of bees both alive or dead? Even with a worker layer they seem to be able to go on well into the autumn producing those little drones.... so the hive is still occupied until there are no workers left and it ceases to be a colony as such. It is the total absence of bees that is interesting.
A


Undertaker bees keep clearing the dead bees away... until they too die.
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