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Mystery ailment - to me anyway!

 
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Alan B
House Bee


Joined: 14 Apr 2014
Posts: 24
Location: Kent

PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2015 9:34 am    Post subject: Mystery ailment - to me anyway! Reply with quote

Over the last few weeks I have had bees falling into the grass with very extended abdomens. In the grass they appear to try and manipulate their abdomens with their rear legs as if trying to move something within. They appear distressed and die within a few hours and now what started as a few bees appears to be happening in increasing numbers. I read in Storch's 'At the Hive Entrance' about what he terms the 'May sickness'. He refers to defective insultation as promoting development of the disease. Does anyone think this is what I am observing or is it something else? I was not aware I had defective insultation in my Warre Hive, but I guess we have had a pretty cold spring (SE UK).

Any suggestions/solutions would be appreciated.

Many thanks

Alan
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1582
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2015 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Assuming you mean defective insulation, I doubt this is the problem, especially with a Warre quilt. My concern would be poisoning. Place a sheet of cardboard on the grass below the hive entrance so that you can better monitor their number and behaviour. Do you have agricultural crops locally that have been sprayed? Are you seeing any faeces on the front of the hive... yellow streaks?
Just a thought, but these aren't drones are they.... when you say extended abdomens, that makes me wonder? Apologies if that is a stupid suggestion, but it is difficult to know people's level of experience and a beginner may certainly describe a drone as having an extended abdomen, I would think. Could it be that your girls are already evicting drones?
Can you post a photo of them?
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Broadwell
Foraging Bee


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

PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2015 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to follow up on where I think Barbara was going with 'Are you seeing any faeces on the front of the hive... yellow streaks', I think I've seen what you're describing before, and put it down to Nosema.

You said extended, I would describe what I saw as swollen abdomens. I thought they might be virgin queens on the ground outside the hive at first. I'd left a sheet of plastic underneath a hive floor all winter and this had meant the floor had stayed very damp. That was my guess as to why this hive got Nosema. They survived fine though once I removed the plastic.

Maybe your hive is a bit wet for some reason, that is, if it is Nosema?
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Alan B
House Bee


Joined: 14 Apr 2014
Posts: 24
Location: Kent

PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2015 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Barbara and Broadwell

We are some way from crops to see if spraying has taken place, but there is no faeces at the entrance. Hive appears dry.

Barbara is right to ask about our experience as this is our first full season. My wife had also asked whether they were drones and looking again they do appear to be so. We did have a swarm a few weeks back, but it did not occur to me that it was drones being ejected this early in the summer.

Whilst I will not be complacent given the second contribution to my question, it reminds me that I should look for the simple answer rather than jump to a more complex one.

Thank you both

Alan
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