I checked my hive yesterday afternoon. All seemed well. No sign of ants. This morning I checked the hive and the hive was covered with fire ants and I could not hear any buzzing on the inside. I opened the hive and all of the bees were dead.
There is more to the story. And, if you have time, please read the story and help me…
- Help me root cause why my bees died
- Help me not repeat this disaster in the future
- Help me figure out what to do with frames of brood, pollen, capped honey, and uncapped honey
This is my first hive, I live in the southern US. I installed the 5 frame nuc back in March of this year. Since then, the hive had been very healthy and was growing slowly. As of last week, the bottom box had 8 fully drawn frames and the top box had 3.5 drawn frames (the rest were empty). I was not using foundation (which is an important fact as you will see).
For months we have been creating plans on where to build a new wood shop on my property. Our original shop location had to be cancelled because of power company right of way restrictions. After much deliberation, we decided the new shop location would be where our hive was located. I searched the internet to figure out how to move my hive 150 yards with about a 60 foot elevation change. I found the article below…
Early Saturday morning (2 days ago), I sealed the hive entrance. Around noon the same day, I manually moved the hive the first 50 yards which also took care of the 60 foot elevation change. I could barely handle the weight and had to put the hive down once during the move. Worried I wasn’t strong enough to make it the remaining 100 yards, I decided to move the hive the rest of the way on a dolly. The dolly jostled the hive around quite a bit during the move (I have lots of rocks in my top soil that the dolly had to go over).
I set the hive up in its new home. Kept the entrance sealed and put a large leafy branch in front of the entrance, with my plan being to reopen the entrance 72 hours later (early Tuesday morning). I left a screened ventilation hole on the top of the hive and the hive has a screened bottom board which also provided ventilation. These were the recommendations of the article I referenced above. The idea is that you need to keep the bees sealed in for a few days to trigger their natural desire to redo their orientation flights. The average temperature over the past few days has been about 85 F.
I DID NOT reinstall my ant traps. Here is an old post where I talk about them…
The reason I did not reinstall the traps was this… I inspected them during the hive move. They were full of dead oily bees and no ants. I figured my traps were a waste of time because the dead bees had given ants a way to get past the traps (they could walk over the dead bee bodies without getting stuck in the oil).
On Sunday (day 2 of bee shut-in) I looked at the hive around noon. Everything seemed fine, buzzing bees inside and no ants. This morning, ants were all over the place and all of the bees were dead.
Today I was able to determine that 3 of my combs had collapsed during the hive move. They were freshly drawn comb full of uncapped honey. The honey had pooled in the cookie sheet I was using as a SHB trap. You can see the trap in the photos in this post…
I was in shock and did not know what to do. Only about 10 bees survived. I was worried about something getting into the hive in its unprotected state, so I figured I needed to deal with the situation ASAP. I pulled every frame out to see what I was left with. I left the frames laying next to the hive and I went inside for some quick research on what to do. The internet told me I should seal the hive up or critters will get into the honey. I went back outside and robbing had already begun. At first it was a few bees, but, within 15 minutes there were hundreds. I quickly scraped off dead bees and reassembled the hive with the good frames and sealed it off to stop the robbing. I took the remaining collapsed comb and empty frames and put them in an ice chest and closed it (they probably had 100-200 robbing bees on them). I am at a point in which I think I can take a breather and decide what to do. I think I stopped the robbing because all of the exposed honey is either in a sealed ice chest or in a sealed hive.
Please give me your advice.