My hive was thriving until a few weeks ago and then the numbers dissipated to just a handful, plus the queen. I’d this a failed queen?
Hi John, welcome to the Flow forum!
Sorry for your loss. The most common cause for colony loss over winter is Varroa infestation. What was your varroa management plan? Next most common reasons are starvation or condensation with cold weather.
If you can inspect your hive and take photos, we can try to help you with the diagnosis. Meanwhile, here is an article to give an idea of what to look for:
Thanks for the reply. I had bought a Ferro a treatment in preparation for that possibility but there were no mites to be seen at any stage. I believe that you must be correct about the condensation. We had nearly 1 month or drizzle for 24 hours a day and the temperature got down to 5c at night, rising to 10 during the day. I found the top board plug had been sealed by the bees so I opened that up but I suspect it was too little too late. We do have a humid micro climate here on Sintra mountain. What extra ventilation steps should I take. I have to say that it may have a positive spin because the hive I was using was a reversible, not a flow, so my flow hive will now be placed on the same stand, with a new nuc (langstroth, correct?) and I will try to be better prepared for next winter. It is my first venture and, to be honest, the ‘Swarm,’ was one which a friend had in their garden in a storm drain. They wanted rid of it so I got a local bee keeper to come and help…and it was an opportunity to start this hobby which I had been thinking about for a while, it was the end of September when we brought the swarm home so, by all accounts at the time, my chances of being successful were quite slim to begin with. What advice would you give me with ventilation on the flow hive 2 (7 frame) which I bought? I shall take the reversible hive, clean it up and put it in the garage. And the queen - all she has is her entourage. Should I end her or leave her be?
No that I’ve read the article, I am leaning much more toward the verroa cause. Indeed, a lot of crystalline cells and the frames look the same. There are bees with their tongues out as they died while exiting the cell and most of the bees flew away (presumably died). So, when I get my nuc I will need to first make sure it comes from good stock and where the keeper has been keeping verroa under control. I will also need to be prepared to treat them - I have a spray which is meant to be sprayed directly on the bees, I would also like to make sure my ventilation is optimum.
Well done for reading the article and inspecting.
By the time you actually see mites, it is way too late. You need to do proper mite counts using a sugar roll or alcohol wash method. If you use the Search tool at the top right (magnifying glass), you will find several links to help you. Here is one of them:
Most people treat at least twice year. If you can get oxalic acid in Portugal, I would strongly suggest using that to treat. It is cheap, highly effective and mites do not develop resistance to it. I use Randy Oliver’s sponge deliver method:
I only have a Flow hive classic at the moment, which doesn’t have ventilation options. If the vents are closed on your hive right now, I would leave them that way.
I don’t what you mean by “reversible hive”. If you have the plastic frame Flow super on top, I would take it off unless there are a lot of bees in it. It should not stay on over winter in your climate, because bees will put propolis in it which will gum up the Flow mechanism.
I would just leave them be. If they don’t have any honey stores, you could try feeding them. They probably won’t make it for much longer, but no harm in letting them try until your nucleus arrives.
Thanks. A ‘reversible’ is just what it’s called here. Slightly smaller than the flow hive and has 9 frames and no removable bottom board. Actually, I did find some mites crawling around but they were white. Today there have been lots of bees but they are robbing and the queen has come outside for a wander (She walked back inside after 10 minutes). Today was 20 degrees in sunshine - the first for a month! The spray I have is effectively oxalic acid and is ‘organic and bee friendly’. One liter serves 20 hives so I think I’m ok with that. Thanks for all the tips
Found the queen gone today and lots of robbers, so I took out the frames. Two frames with capped brood on each side (about 50 %). Two frames with pollen and some honey. The honey smelled a little off and I used a toothpick to check the brood - all a mixture of white jelly and nearly formed with tongue sticking out. Not a pleasant sight but my chickens had a field day. On closer inspection, whenever I extracted a white pupae, I saw tiny little white mites. There must have been 1 mite per cell, which I know is bonkers. Ok, so I have learned m6 lesson - I would definitely treat the swarm if I got another one in the same fashion ( from a friends storm drain). I have read and watched an awful lot since I got them last September (every night at least a video, forum topic, or a few pages of the beekeepers guide. I am a little surprised, given what I think I know now, that the bee keeper never suggested a treatment. By the way, whatever are these mites? They are white as snow. This first hive - I guess I wash the frames down and render the wax? I want to start afresh with my flow hive with a purchased nuc at the beginning of March (Portugal, 18 degree days). I also want to treat them for mites so would appreciate a little word on what not to spray…and when TO spray. Thanks D
If they look like the ones in Fig 2 of this article, they are Varroa destructor.
Impossible to advise without knowing exactly what your “spray” is. We don’t have sprays in the US at all, so I would need to research it once I have the exact name of it.
Thanks. It just called ‘stop varroa’ no contents. I think it’s a mixture of oxalic acid and sugar water. Anyway, the mites may be pollen mites or they may be varroa (white ones). I don’t know, my head hurts!
If they are pollen mites, they will not be in capped brood cells. But you are right, they can be hard to tell apart!
That’s good to know. They were definitely inside. Thanks Dawn