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Total Colony loss


Sugar roll and bottom board count during weekly inspections, as well as visual comb inspection of open combs that had eggs and larva in them. Is there a better way?



How do you do the sugar roll? Like this?

If so, you have done your best, and this was just really bad luck :blush:


Yes, university of Florida extension has a similar brochure for mite count.


if there are any bees and a queen- I would reduce them down in a smaller Nuc hive- preferably a four frame one. If they are going to have any chance- being in a much smaller space will be their best bet. They will have a chance to stay warm- and keep pests away.

Last year I had a hive swarm on me early in spring. All season i tried to build it back up again- adding frames of brood. It never got strong. I realised too late I should have reduced it down to a small box early on.


Some measure for failing hive or any hive is remove unused frames and boxes. Condense hive so they can protect the frames they have. Freeze any questionable frames and rotate with other questionalble frames or give to strong hive that can use them. Comb is valuable and needs to be protected. Give them a frame of brood if you can. Consider requeening. Reduce entrance size especially if hive is well ventilated with screened bottom board. Cross your fingers.


Thanks Bubba, I’m going to pick up a empty nuc box and consolidate what I have left. If I can find the queen, I’ll requeen.



According to Sia there was an infestation of wax moth present in the hive.

Cheers Ed


Wax moths infestation is the result of a weak failing hive not the cause of a hive to fail. It was already failing. I have wax moths and bees deal with them. No infestation.


Correct: I’ve never seen wax moth or SHB take over a healthy, thriving colony.


That’s the core of my question/concern. The hive seemed fine, healthy and thriving two weeks earlier. If there was no swarm, no mites, and queen was active (the current remaining bees are healthy but very few in numbers) what would cause the hive to fail so rapidly?



I’ve had hives that appeared thriving during one inspection and were as you described during the next. For all we know, swarm prep started the moment you closed up the hive 2 weeks ago when they were thriving.


Let’s also remember that stressed bees will abscond, an entirely different behavior from swarming. As I described in my previous post here, my best guess and the most likely scenario in my colony loss was weakening/failure to build up due to varroa. Wax moths came afterward, and the majority of bees took off.

With their sophisticated communication & decision-making abilities it’s easy to see how bees would conclude at some point - where to our eye, they might still seem like a viable colony - that a normal incursion of wax moths will overtake them. So they decide to cut losses and leave.


In the heat of summer hives need good ventilation. A screened bottom board and some ventilation at the top. It can be to hot to successfully raise brood. I like to shade hive with foam or wood. Like a ball cap brim so side of hive is shaded. During dearth some sugar syrup feeding helps stimulate brood rearing. As population decresse remove empty boxes. Go from 2 brood boxes to 1. OK this part of from Google Search. Beekeepers are likely to see the adult stage of the moth as a first indicator of it’s presence. The damage is done by the larvae as they eat themselves to full size. Wax moth eggs hatch into larvae after five to eight days depending on ambient temperature. The eggs require a damp atmosphere to hatch. Freshly hatched larvae burrow into the comb towards the midrib, often the hole is so low in the cell it forms part of a semicircular gutter that is chewed out of the midrib itself. They are gross feeders and grow and feed for between one and six months depending on ambient temperature. The larvae are at their most destructive in areas that are dark, warm and poorly ventilated. Here is link if you want to read more or search wax moth life cycle. http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/waxmothlifecycle.html


Thanks. The more I read these reply posts, the more I’m thinking I had a mite problem that I didn’t discover till it was too late. Although I did visual inspection and powdered sugar test initially and treated with vaporize Ox acid, I stopped after three treatments. A very hard lesson to learn.



I also like to shade my hives in summer with a basic piece of wood that overhangs and shades the entrance and walls a little. Here in South Australia we can have heat waves where it is over 40C for a week or more. Blasting heat. I have a bad feeling this summer is going to be a record breaking scorcher.


The ventilation thing:
If it’s 90 degrees F outside and I’m trying to air-condition my house to 75 degrees, will I achieve this easier if my entire floor was open to the outside atmosphere?
I’d think it would work the same way for the bees; they evaporate water to cool the hive. If it’s 100 degrees outside and they prefer their hive to be 95, how can they possibly achieve the target temperature if 1/4 of the hive is open letting the 100 degree air inside? It seems like it would be a losing battle.


I am thinking I have miss read your question somehow Ed.
The bees bring in water on to the base of the hive and the bees fan the water droplets to evaporate which cools the air which is then fanned up into the brood area.
As for your house if the air conditioner has a recycle function then that should be selected as the unit will be cooling air that has already been cooled previously. The house should be closed up to prevent hot air entering.


During a dearth there is often little or low quality pollen. It could have been a nutritional problem that weakened your hive. This is a cut and paste. But look at the difference in brood / bees in colonies with no quality pollen or pollen supplement. …

. The presence of pollen in the hive is of critical importance to the health and well-being of the
colony. Brood rearing is synonymous with colony development, since pollen is the principal
protein source for bees. No matter how good the queen is, inadequate pollen supplies will prevent
brood development.
The amount of pollen required to raise one bee is estimated at about 10 loads. A strong colony
may rear as many as 200,000 bees over the course of one year, which would require 2,000,000
pollen loads or about 20 kg (45 lbs) of pollen. As a rule of thumb, one kilogram of pollen is
needed for every one kilogram of bees (9,000 - 10,000 bees).
Pollen production by a colony varies and in many areas it may be insufficient. Colonies
experience pollen shortages most frequently in late winter / early spring, when brood rearing has
started while pollen sources have not become fully available yet. To ensure large bee populations
during the primary nectar flows, beekeepers stimulate brood rearing through supplemental
feeding from early spring onward. Supplemental or substitute pollen feeding has become a
standard management practice in commercial beekeeping. This type of feeding may also be
applied during periods of pollen shortage throughout the production season.
Many different formulations have been developed for supplemental feeding. Even among pollens,
there is considerable difference in food value. To illustrate the difference in quality, colony brood
rearing was assessed

Avg. no. of bees
Pollen Formulations produced / colony
Honey alone 575
Honey + soybean flour 2,600
Honey + soybean flour + 12.5% pollen 4,900
Honey + soybean flour + 25% pollen 5,500
Honey + soybean flour + 50% pollen 7,300
Honey + cakes of pollen alone 8,600
Please note that a pollen substitute is a replacement of pollen while a pollen supplement is a
formula that also contains natural pollen.
Collecting Pollen
Ideally, pollen should be collected from one’s own disease-free colonies.


Many do not like screen bottom boards. I use on all my hives. They beard less with screen. Seem to do fine. When I get a chance I will put indoor out door thermometer and see what the temperatures are inside compared to outside. .


That’s what Ed is saying too :wink: