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Dead and dying bees - when to worry

Noticed a few more dead workers either side of my hive today than usual - probably a few dozen. I noticed one struggling and gave her a lift onto the landing board. She climbed up past the entrance and when one of the other bees flew up next to her and inspected her they seemed suddenly like wanting to clean themselves of something. It stayed there grooming itself for a few minutes before resuming its activities while the original one fell off when it reached the top. Checked again a few hours later and more bees are crawling sluggishly around without direction. Poison or does another explanation cover it?

You’re in Newcastle? I’m sure you had a lot of wet weather down there as well. When bees are locked in for a few days on account of rain etc., they still have to perform house cleaning duties. That includes getting rid of “end of life” bees. As you can imagine: if the queen is laying, say 1000 eggs per day, that means every day roughly a similar number of bees will reach the end of their life. While they are foraging, a lot of bees may expire away from the hive. When they can’t forage, a lot of bees will expire inside the hive, thus needing to be removed.

I’ll see if I can find a video to share.

We made this video a few years ago. I briefly mentioned about previous wet weather. However I should have spoken more about it. I know they’re all females, even though I called them “he”.

There were a lot more bees in the grass after prolonged wet weather than we’d normally find.

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Hi Josh, Jeff has a good point of course, and I do hope he is right - but I thought I noticed tongues out in your photo.

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Hi everyone, I conducted an inspection today all looked good and then I decided to harvest a couple of my flow frames. As I was sitting there I notice a number of bees on the ground looking not well at all until they eventually went to bee heaven. In total about 20 bees, is this normal after an inspection and the use of smoke? In Perth, lovely day and the bees are very active at the moment with the red cap gum. Also one of my framed had a hole through it again is this normal. Thanks

Yeah, Jeff, we copped the maelstrom square on but we’ve had nearly a week of clear skies since then. Eva, you’re correct about the protruding tongues on at least half of them.

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Hi @Eva , I can see what you mean once I zoom in on the image.

Because we’re experiencing deluges where I am, & my previous reply was to @BucksBees , who recently experienced 10-12 days of extreme rain in NSW, my head was focused on previous rain being the cause.

Rather it would be rain!

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Been busy the last week but would at least check they’re still flying back and forth in normal numbers. However just checked the honey super and there are hardly any bees hanging around there where it would usually be bustling. I made a little barrier to plug the gap below the bottom of the flow frames after it widened in the rains and allowed the bees through. Hardly a bee to be seen in there now.


Should I inspect the brood box or would that be putting too much pressure on them at a critical moment?

I would be doing a brood check if the numbers are decreasing for no apparent reason. One reason besides swarming & or disease would be a sudden drop in temperature. I see that on a cold morning after a cold night. A lot of the bees that would normally occupy the honey super are needed in the brood box for added warmth, then as the day warms, the population in the honey super starts to increase, as less bees are needed in the brood box.

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Dead bees still surround the hive always with a few stumbling around unable to orient themselves not far off joining them. Been a warm enough day and not seeing any significant change. I’ve put in a top feeder to give them an uncontaminated food source for the time being.

Hi Joshua, that’s a worry. I wonder if your bees are foraging in an area that gets sprayed with pesticides.

Suburbia is a patchwork of chemical warfare for a bee.:wilted_flower:

Cue a smart and creative idea for educating backyard gardeners on mindful and informed pesticide use and organic gardening

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