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Winter Deadouts :( Ball Ground, GA, USA


I lost 2 of my 5 colonies. Sad I know, but this is an opportunity to learn as well. The Flow Hive is doing great BTW, it was other colonies that failed.
I followed what I thought were all the right steps going into winter - I made sure the girls had food, I treated for mites in the late summer and early fall with oxalic acid vaporization, Apivar strips and I even used powdered sugar to get some mite counts before treatment.

I will say this - I had hive top feeders in place less than a week before a short cold snap hit and maybe that food changed the moisture levels in the hive as it never got capped. You can see a lot of uncapped, wet stores in the frames.Maybe that put humidity levels over a tolerable level?

I’d love any learned opinions.


Sorry about your hives: Sometimes they just die.
Guess where all the mites from those dead-outs went? Better get the vaporizer out and try to save the remaining three.


Chopin y’know. It was befitting.


Man, this is getting depressing with so many hives dying. I am glad people are sharing their losses so we can learn but seems to be quite a few posts of dead bees.

Sorry for your losses Bobby. Hope the other 3 make it.



Excuse my ignorance guys, I just don’t get it. Why do so many hive throughout north america die over the winter. If its not starvation and mites, then is it the cold or something else?


Hi Bobby, I’m sorry to see your dead-outs. Was there a little bit of AFB in those few cells in the top box of the second hive? Or are those caps like that because of the ants? I’m wondering if the populations were strong enough going into winter. They had lots of food, no problems there. Maybe you need to think about some added insulation for your hives going into winter. Even though you have small entrances, I wonder how you’d go if you had the same size entrance, however instead of facing outwards, they faced the ground. That would stop any cold wind blowing straight into the hive.

I know myself that if the entrance is too big during winter, the bees will build their own propolis barrier across the bottoms of the frames. I didn’t see any of that on your frames. Maybe the populations were a bit low for the volume of space inside the hives. A small colony might do better in a well insulated nuc box, for example. That way they have a smaller volume of air around them.


@Rodderick Rod it could be Nosema, Varroa related viruses, lack of food, too small to keep warm, pesticides or other chemicals, Queen died, Queen not able to lay (badly mated), Damp, Chalk brood, unable to get at food (separated from food by empty frames).

The list goes on - only a lab report would really be able to tell - I lost a small hive - they had food but not enough bees to keep warm and the queen die. She was a lat mating so possibly badly mated


It’s mites, I’m living proof.

Last year I treated coming out of winter with OAV, mid-Summer with Apivar, and late fall with OAV. I had 0 losses out of 41 hives.

This year no treatment in the summer or fall, and I’ve lost 20 out of 50 hives so far. I’m expecting 50% losses.

Previous experiments in years past yielded the same results. Where I am, I must treat in mid-July/Early August or it may be too late. Those bees are the ones responsible for raising my winter bees.


Yes strange isn’t it. I usually get away with one treatment of OAV after harvest and over winter in one box. The only time I have had to treat more is when I had a colony robbing out another somewhere and they brought mites with them after I had treated.

Yes I totally agree with that.

Sorry Bobby that it happened to you and thanks for letting people see what a deadout looks like


Hi Jeff, I believe the cell damage was from the scavenging ants. The entrance direction is an interesting idea but I’m betting that the deadouts were caused by an array of factors. One of which could very well be low pop and volume. Thank you for pointing that out!


What is strange is only one of my hives of the 3 deep brood box configuration have perished, and that was late summer.
I have no reason for it though. It may be dumb luck.


How many of the 50 are 3 deep highs?



At least 20 hives. Some of those 20 are 10 frame hives that are double deep/single medium. As I replace equipment I’m going to all 8 frame stuff.


I looked over my notes and I think I may have determined a little bit about what led to the collapse of the first box in my video.
I first treated the apiary via 3 rounds of OAV beginning April 23rd, did another 3 rounds beginning on August 20th -BUT the dead out bees from box one got Apivar rather than OAV ( https://youtu.be/fRAcG4MS7KA?t=11m10s) while they were still in their double-stacked nuc because the wand wouldn’t fit through the entrance. Thing is, it was only one strip rather than 2. I only used one because I’d just added the second box but I probably should have used two
A third treatment for the year was done (with Apivar) 3 weeks after my August Oxalic Acid Vaporization treatments because the varroa mite load was still too high. Here’s the kicker though, the Apivar strip was still in that double-stacked nuc because it hadn’t been 56 days yet! They never got another treatment.

Now the second box is a little tougher to put my finger on what exactly I did incorrectly but mites do indeed seem to be the culprit there as well.


I’m no expert quite yet, but I’m betting on mites. My hive died too -

There was a fair amount of uncapped stores in mine, but I also had a moisture quilt on it starting in October. One day in September I saw workers carrying off newly hatched bees with DWV. I treated with vape but obviously too little too late.


Yes Eva, you have typical signs. Bees half emerged with proboscis protruding, pierced brood cappings and guanine deposits at the tops of the empty cells.
I notice a lot of honey seems to go uncapped in these colonies, I suspect they were already on their way out and didn’t have the workforce to process the syrup being given in the autumn.
Only remotely related but an interesting observation nevertheless, Ivy nectar crystallises quickly and remains unspoiled through the winter. It does attract the bees’ water of respiration and “melts” at the periphery of each cell so in that way it helps keep the hive dryer and the bees are able to suck up the honey without having to go out for water.
So many old beekeepers in the UK say Ivy is no good for bees because they can’t use it but here is a classic case of two organisms that have obviously co-evolved


So interesting about the ivy - we have lots of it on the property & around the neighborhood. I didn’t feed with syrup in fall, but instead placed a newspaper sheet across the tops of the frames with a layer of superfine sugar (dry).


Hi Bobby, I have a downward facing entrance right now. It’s a trick I learned in the early days for doing a split when you don’t have a bottom board. You simply put a super on a lid, bring it forward enough so you form an entrance that faces downwards, then put the nuc of bees in the box with a lid on. Then you can fit the bottom board at a later date. My very next bee job is to take another box with a bottom board fitted to it down to the bees & swap the colony over.

Vino Farm has a video where he went to a lot of trouble making a shelter for his hives so that snow doesn’t sit on his landing boards. I suggested downward facing entrances for the winter, but I received no reply.

Edit- He actually went out in the snow & cut sheets of core flute to sit on the lids with a decent overhang over the entrances. He held them down with besser blocks. One of them shifted in the wind. The purpose of the overhang was to prevent snow sitting on the landing boards.

I even question landing boards. However I think it would be easy to make something that screws onto the lower portion of the front of a hive, with a piece of tin shaped so as to follow the contour of the landing board, missing it by around 10 mil & finishes up covering the entrance, thus blocking direct cold wind into the hive. Also preventing snow from sitting on the landing board.


I treated Saturday and Sunday. I still have 3 more yards to go. I want them done before Feb. 2nd.


@Bobby_Thanepohn I haven’t seen anyone respond with any indication of what the slime was on top of the capped honey?