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Hive Abandoned Queen


#1

My hive has been having issues for awhile now. They were a new hive, and had a good laying queen, but then one day I found her dead outside the hive. The new queen she was replaced with had a bent abdomen, though she laid well so I decided it wasn’t a big deal.

Out of no where, my hive was invested with hive beetles. I was trying to get rid of them using all the suggested means possible, and though the beetle numbers decreased, there were still a lot of them. I noticed my bees had drawn out all their comb, but where unable to keep capped honey because of the beetles. I decided to take the top box off, leaving just the bottom box (still having a lot of room to fill since their capped honey was MIA) in hopes they would be better equipped to chase out beetles (as there would be less room to cover and protect). There was still plenty of room for the bees.

I went down and checked on them recently and they were all gone! Except for maybe 50 bees. I thought the queen had swarmed. Upon further inspection, I noticed that my queen had stopped laying. Then, I realized that my queen was still there in the hive with the other 50 or so bees.

I am unsure at this point what to do. My hive is being robbed and invaded by a large assortment of other bugs because there are barely any bees to defend it. My queen is still not laying, however the other bees have still been working
Is there anything I can do for this hive?


#2

What was your Varroa Mite strategy in Aug/Sept?


#3

Unfortunately for the hive you have, it is too late in the year for it to be expected to make it through the winter intact.

This winter, freeze your frames. You can get by with a package next season as long as you have all of that comb draw out in the frames you froze. It’ll be a slow slog at first, but you can get by with a package or nuc and be up and running.

Bummer about your bees!!


#4

Hi Emily - if I were in your shoes I’d try to save this tiny colony by condensing their living space down to smallest possible & feed through winter. Nothing to lose.


#5

As RHCP asked… they probably absconded because of a varroa loading, or some other complication. It’s really sad.

It is best to replace any queen who isn’t performing at her best so your colony has the best chance. Hard to do when new to bees, but the colony is all important, not just the queen. Make sure you have varroa under control as well.

Best wishes with your next colony.


#6

I checked for mites a few different times, and each time it was not an issue in my hive so I had decided I was not going to spray them.

I did have the beetle issue however.


#7

What is your mite test method?


#8

What type of testing method did you do?


#9

It is uncommon for bees to abscond due to SHB, unless there is a “slime out”. Once the beetles start fermenting the honey, the bees will probably want to leave, but that doesn’t explain why your hive is empty. Just for completeness, SHB actually prefer to feed on bee brood to honey. They lay eggs in dead bees or brood. I have never heard of them “stealing” the honey. Slime outs happen when the SHB have raised larvae in huge numbers, and there isn’t enough brood for them so they move up into the super of honey.

I agree with the comments above, number one reason would be varroa, then the weakened hive was robbed of honey stores by bees from other hives. It would also be helpful to know how you “checked for mites”, as @Red_Hot_Chilipepper asked. If you just looked, that is highly inaccurate I am afraid, despite what you see on internet pictures. Even the white board is not an accurate way to count mites, unless you do an “accelerated drop” count, the way that @Dee describes. I have only “seen” one Varroa mite on a bee once in the last 86 hive inspections I have done. However, I always see mites on a sugar roll count - anywhere from 12 to 20 per 300 bees this year. Accurate counts are the key to preventing loss from Varroa. The fact that the queen is still in your hive, but very few bees, is highly suspicious for a Varroa loss.

This is a very good article about it:
https://beeinformed.org/2016/03/08/why-did-my-honey-bees-die/

If I might humbly suggest, next year, do monthly mite counts by sugar roll, alcohol wash or accelerated drop. If you are willing to treat, you will then know when to treat. If you don’t want to treat, you will at least know that your hive may become a focus of infestation for surrounding hives, and you will likely lose it within six months. That way you can place an early order for replacement bees for the following year. Sounds harsh, and I don’t mean it to sound that way, but it seems to happen repeatedly and you need to know what commonly happens if you don’t want to treat. :blush: