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Hive Dead over winter, Need Advice On what Not to do, Far Hills, NJ, USA


This would have been my first year, I went to check on my hive, I had winterized it, with insulation all over, but the hive may have begun to fail before that. I am including pics from the hive. Not sure was it a disease, or did I over-winter, and lead to much humidity, which led to their deaths? With the amount of dead bees on the floor, not sure if the bees could get out if they wanted to. See the pics, kind of depressing, but I’ll start again. No bees were moving, while I was opening it up so I took apart the hive. The spider web is after the bees died, I assume one moved in.


Looks pretty suspicious for Nosema to me. :cry:


Sigh, I think you are right. Going to dispose of everything, I figure that area is contaminated, so going to put my new hive somewhere else. Curious what infected them? Hmm was my insulation around the hive to much, and on top of the top board below the cover? Am I right to not put the new hive in the same area as the old one? I had a lot of Yellow Jackets and hornets, in the summer. I put traps that killed most, not sure if that affected my bees.


I would confirm the diagnosis before you do that. You can send bees and comb for a free test. Details are on this web site:

You can then decide whether to try to clean up the equipment, or just start over. This article has some good summaries of the choices:

I don’t think location is an issue from the point of view of reinfection with Nosema. You may want to consider an organic treatment of any new colony with Thymol for your next colony, but @Dee is more of an expert on the timing and use of that than I am.


I agree with Dawn on the Nosema suspicion.

I don’t think that you can over insulate a hive during winter. I believe that the better insulated a hive is, the better chance a colony has of surviving the winter. You did say that you were not sure if the bees could get out if they wanted to. I believe that a colony should have a reasonable size entrance, however not facing the elements. An entrance big enough so that bees can still circulate & remove any damp air.

I also believe that the floor should be insulated as well as the rest of the hive.


“Where combs are to be reused they should be fumigated first. Stored supers and brood frames can be fumigated with 80% acetic acid which kills both Nosema spores and EFB bacteria and no doubt some of the fungal pathogens too. Stack supers, sealed as tightly as possible, with an acetic acid pad over every two supers and leave for a week to 10 days. Use Vaseline to protect metal parts from the corrosive effects of acetic acid. Air the frames well to clear any remaining fumes before using them.”



Thanks, question for you on the bottom of the hive I have mesh, and then a
white cardboard. Do you recommend I remove the white board and leave the
mesh exposed underneath for ventilation? Or should I have insulated it. I thought I had to leave it in to
stop things from getting in and it getting cold too.

One other thing if it is to cold, would the bees not move out the dead bees from the hive? There were so many bees on the bottom, it looked like more than a winter population?


I’m a huge fan of solid bottom boards: Imagine raising your house off the ground 6 feet and changing the floor to mesh screen: Then imagine the heating/cooling bill :wink:


Ok not I’m wondering if my reducer may have led to obstruction of the entrance, or maybe it was to cold for them to move the dead bees out of the hive?


I doubt it: Some of my hive entrances are only two 1/2" holes in a mouse guard.


Possible, but more likely is that there were too many dead bees that needed moving. Brings up mental images of US Civil War or World War 1 battlefields, where there were so many dead, that mass graves had to be made on the spot. Not enough manpower to move all of the bodies any further before it became unhygienic.

Nowadays, we humans expect our dead to be buried properly, but bees can’t live up to that standard.


Well put @Red_Hot_Chilipepper, Ed. That’s exactly my thoughts.


The idea that screened bottoms are not good in cold climates seems logical- however according to this article hives in the Australian snowy mountains do well with screened bottoms:



The brown spots seem to be raised. I suspect they are propolis. Scrape them and you will see. Propolis is hard when cold and like chewing gum when warm. Feces is powdery when you scrape it off. I always look on the bottom board for Varroa. You will likely find some, but the question is do you find a lot. Also look for Varroa feces in the brood cells (white dots in the brood cells). If you don’t see a lot of dead Varroa mites on the bottom board or a lot of Varroa feces in the brood cells, it’s possible they just cold starved, or they just plain died of cold. Generally if there are enough bees and they are in contact with stores, they tend to handle any amount of cold. But if the cluster is small sometimes they can’t stay warm enough. Or they get stuck in a bitter cold snap and die inches away from stores.



Nice studies, thank you for posting. :heart_eyes: