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Spring Inspection

Hello
I posted a few questions last spring a few times about my hive and got some great advice from this group, Esp @Tim_Purdie!
I’m hoping to get some advice/thoughts on what I found this spring and where to go from here.

Opened my hive last weekend to find the queen and about 70% of the bees dead. The remaining bees seem very healthy and active. I treated for mites in the fall with Oxalic, fed syrup, and wrapped up the hive for the winter. Everything looked good.
This spring there was LOTS of Honey left, 7-8 full frames in the upper box and all the dead bees were in the lower box. I found 2 dead clusters with mouldy bees and comb at the center. Lots of dead bees that had died with their heads stuck in cells as well.
My questions are; can I reuse any of the old honey filled frames?, will the bees clean up the mould and dead bees from the old frames? should compress the hive down to 1 box for now? I’ve ordered a new queen but should I get a nuc with queen instead?
Any idea what might have happened? I thought I had done everything correctly last fall…
Thanks

Hello my fellow Canadian :slight_smile:

Sorry to hear the state of your bees. In my area I have been hearing of a LOT of bee losses this winter— many are reporting excess moisture in their hives seems to be the cause. I lost 3 colonies myself and I was thinking it was moisture too until I watched a YouTube video from @FrederickDunn who was inspecting his long lang to determine why his bees died. https://youtu.be/hFMyeWBDwT4

In his great video one thing he taught me was that the mites fell to the bottom board and weren’t visible on the bees. When I had inspected my dead colonies I was attentive to the bees and didn’t spot mites and saw there was moist bees on the frames so I concluded that I had a moisture issue as the cause of death— which explains the mold you will have in your hive too btw. But now I think I didn’t look at the bottom board sufficiently and it was possible I had mites overtake the colonies.

Your use of Oxalic in the fall is something I did in my second year for winter treatment and it failed and I lost five colonies—- so my experience is that is not sufficient treatment, and I use Apivar strips in the fall. And I do Oxalic 2x during the winter for good measure. I had 17 other hives survive just fine so I’m thinking that worked and would recommend that for you too.

The bees (new) will clean up the mold on the comb so I wouldn’t be concerned with that. If you have living bees you won’t likely have sufficient living population if you get a queen in there when they are ready so I would order a Nuc instead. Any new bees (watch Fred’s video for hint) will likely be raising drone bees and that is just a waste of resources. I would indeed consolidate the boxes down to one.

One final thing— are you sure your queen is dead/gone? I ask because perhaps the cluster of survivors is small but she is in there somewhere. In that case you need more bees dumped in from a fellow beekeeper— a frame of brood with nurse bees would likely get you back on track if a friend could spare it.

If you have an pictures of your frames that would be helpful in case we spot something that you haven’t described.

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I have very little to add to @Tim_Purdie’s excellent reply, except that you might want to consider extended release oxalic acid sponges, as researched by Randy Oliver:

:blush:

Thanks for the quick response and great info!
Yes Tim I’m located in Acton, just east of Guelph.

After reading your response, going through the frames again and doing a bit more research (including that video) I am fairly sure the colony was on the small side going into winter and then was over run by mites. The 1 Oxalic treatment I did in the fall probably wasn’t nearly enough.

I’ve attached a few pictures of the old frames for you to take a look at when you get a chance. Am I correct in thinking all the yellow granular material in and around the cells is mite droppings?

I upgraded my queen order to a full nuc, added Apivar strips and more Oxalic pads.
Unfortunately I am a little late getting it in and won’t get it until mid/late June.

Hopefully this season is a little more successful!