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Survive New england winter, to die in March


#1

It is our first year as bee keepers so we were elated when we saw a moving cluster in January. We survived the winter! We saw them taking cleansening flights in Febuary. We had very unsually warm weather for a few days high 50’s even one day where it was 64!. It had been 3 weeks since I checked on our bees, it had snowed about 2 feet, and the weather was about 30’s-40’s. We found our bees had died. Wither further inspection, we saw almost all of them had their toungs out. No signs of wing deformation. There were a few bees with mites on them, many,many nurse bees found at the bottom board. The cluster ( that I had seen in January) appeared to be located in somewhat the same spot. Many different frames in various supers were half uncapped, and capped with honey. There were a few very small clusters that were found on different frames that appeared to have starved. We treated twice in the fall with mite away strips. The first time in August, the second time in the middle of September, where I was able to see the mites just on the bees! eek! I have been told that it may have been too late and this is where the bees developed a disease. But I am just at a loss that they survived through the winter, only to finally succumb in march. It would seem to me that there may have been another poisoning I am not aware of. I did not feed any sugar syrup in the fall due to them havening tons of extra honey ( I left them with 3 medium honey supers, and 2 deeps). And from what I can recall our last inspection almost all of the honey was capped-it didn’t not look like what it does now. Also, there was wax shavings all over the bees. Any thoughts??


#2

The bad thing about that time of year is when it warms up the bees will break cluster and then if it gets cold again quickly they may not be able to gather back up and reform the cluster to stay warm enough to survive. I lost two of my three remaining hives to this same thing. Plenty of food and bees, treated for varroa, and made sure they had enough stores to get them thru. The wax shavings are likely from other bees uncapping the stored honey.

It stinks but the good thing is that you have all of that comb and stores for a package of bees to start off in. You can clean up the dead bees, scrape away any burr comb, and get the hive ready for some new bees. Make sure you close up the hive so nothing can get at it or store it somewhere that pests or other bugs can get in and make a mess of the boxes.


#3

The reason is that the bees die off and are not replaced because the colony is ill. Bees die all through the winter and if the queen doesn’t lay and the colony bring up new bees they dwindle. Eventually the colony becomes too small to move to food and keep itself warm.
You will see the same if they have no queen. Did you find her?


#4

thanks! this is was suspecting, but the tongs out made me wonder there was something else going on. BUt my gut feeling was that, the warm weather made them move, and then it just got too cold too quick.


#5

ahh, I see. no not yet, but I haven’t thoroughly searched through each box. I definitely didn’t see her in the bottom board.


#6

After fully inspecting every frame, I found one frame with residual fall brood, and the dead bees were emerging with their tongs out; which prior speaking with some fellow beekeepers I was told this was a sign of KasmirBee virus, which is from the varroa mite.


#7

Yes. Parasitic mite syndrome.
Get into the habit of testing you varroa load a few weeks after treatment finishes. If there is still a problem you can still use OAV or Amitraz


#8

Was there any brood present?


#9

what is oav or amitraz?, and yes…I mean we only treated in September because I could visibly see the mites on the bees.eek! Definitely lesson learned,


#10

Yes, only in one frame, a small portion, but the newly emerged bees were coming out dead with their tong’s sticking out.


#11

OAV is Oxalic Acid Vapor. Simple to use, you don’t need to open the hive, and treatments are cheap once you have the equipment. You need a vaporizer like this one:
https://www.mannlakeltd.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=varrox

Amitraz is the name of the active chemical in Apivar strips. You have to open the hive, you can’t use it with supers on the hive, it is a man-made chemical (not organic) and costs $8 to $16 per hive to treat, depending on how many brood boxes you have: