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Wildflower

NZBF Robber and empty hive. Advice please.

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Bad Winter for me. Down to only 1 live hive. ?

I have been watching the decline of a very tiny colony.

I found the Queen a couple of weeks ago and she had just started laying, so I was hopefully that they might build up numbers.

Yesterday I noticed more bees around the entrance, then noticed some were carnelians. Mine are Italian.

The hive is sadly now empty but full of foragers. Plenty of honey for them.

This hive sits very close to my only live hive, which is building up but not a large colony.

Do I have to close this dead hive?

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Yes you should close the hive if you do not know why it died incase it is something contagious to the other bees.

 

However the majority of beehive deaths are caused by either failure of the queen in winter,  starvation, or varroa mites. All of which are not contagious, once the hive is dead. Sounds like in your case we can rule out queen failure so it's most likely one of the other two, although there are other less common causes also.

 

When a hive dies, an autopsy should be done to discover the cause, so it is known if the equipment can be used again, and also to ensure this does not happen again. As a first step for doing this, are you able to take a picture of the brood in the dead hive and post it here? That way guys with knowledge could take a look. It would also be useful to know how long ago you got the bees, and if you have treated them for varroa mites, and if so, what with and when.

 

Oh, a picture of the brood in the still alive hive would be useful also.

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I am surprised  this hive did not make it through Winter.  It was strong. I did however leave all the honey on and it may have been too big a space to keep warm. Varroa was high. I cleaned the base boards and saw mites plus I did see DWV a few weeks ago. Next to no brood and very few bees. in the failed hive before it died. I imagine it was too weak to ward off the preditors?  I did an early varroa treatment as soon as I saw DWV. I will take a few photos of the live hives brood next week when I am home. The dead hive managed a tiny, less than fist size patch of brood before it died. The hive does have some mould and stuff because I left all the honey on. Shall I still take photo of tiny patch of unhatched brood? I have my DECA and feel confident no foul brood is part of the equasion.

 

Edited by Wildflower
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OK well if we can rule out AFB, queenlessness and starvation, and you saw DWV plus lots of mites, the issues will probably have been varroa mites. Were the hives treated last autumn? 

 

By the time you see DWV the hive is usually very infected, and may not survive even if it is treated for mites. However if you treated a few weeks ago and the hive is still alive, then it will probably pull through.

 

However I'm saying all that based on the info you have given, and not having seen the hive, or knowing what kind of treatment you used and how you applied it.

 

If the comb is covered in mould then probably not much point in the pic, but some pics of the living hive especially the brood, could be good to correctly diagnose, and ensure you can do the right things to pull it through.

Edited by Alastair

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Treated in autumn. Will get camera out next Friday. Thanks Alastair. 

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What treatment was used?

Edited by Alastair
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Of my 3 two box FD hives I wintered two were full of bees and one weaker.

The weaker one had touches of mold on the outside frames in the top box .

The strong hives had none. 

I think it's really important to have the bees filling up the boxes in winter.

If the hive is weak it is better put into a nuc box.

The same principle applies when you are growing on heat loving seedlings . 

You start them in small pots and gradually increase the size so there is less soil to warm up.

Over potting makes them sulk.

And bees are much the same in winter .

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Treated with Apivar. 

I think my main problem was too much space? Left them with all the honey boxes. They seemed big and happy. Wanted them to stay happy! !!

 

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1 hour ago, Wildflower said:

Treated with Apivar. 

I think my main problem was too much space? Left them with all the honey boxes. They seemed big and happy. Wanted them to stay happy! !!

 

Do you have solid bases?

I have hive doctor bases and this winter , cause my  very experienced beek friend nagged me I put a piece of  plywood over the vents on the base.

My hives were two box and I had a plastic top feeder in a wooden frame.

I think it gives extra insulation.

 

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A hive that's too big won't help the bees conserve heat but if you see deformed wings in spring, then you know the problem. For whatever reason the Apivar didn't work. Was it in contact with the bees? Check for dead bees in cells with their tongues sticking out which is a classic sign of parasitic mite syndrome. The problem for someone, if the hive has been robbed is that those varroa could have/probably have hitched a ride on the robber bees so they are in someone else's hive now. :( close up the hive in the evening and then check when you can what's left in the hive. If it is varroa, - and you may need to check with an experienced beekeeper for advice, then any remaining honey and frames can be re-used.

Edited by AdamD

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11 hours ago, kaihoka said:

cause my  very experienced beek friend nagged me I put a piece of  plywood over the vents on the base.

My hives were two box and I had a plastic top feeder in a wooden frame.

There was no need to close the floor of the Hive Doctor bases.  (I never close up my HD floor vents.)  

A 2 box hive is also probably not the cause of the hive demise.  

I think your biggest problem has been varroa and therefore PMS.

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17 minutes ago, Alastair said:

That's the problem for new beekeepers with varroa. Once the mites have weakened the hive, it is prone to a bunch of other problems, such as robbing, getting cold, etc.

 

The inexperienced beekeeper recognises the secondary problems and blames the death on robbing, too few bees in too big a hive, attack by wasps, starvation, or whatever. But misses that these are symptoms not the cause. So gets new bees, still fails to treat effectively, and does the whole thing again. 

So true.

I would hate to think how many times the more senior beekeepers have seen this scenario.

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Happened to me last year.  I don't think that I appreciated  the destruction that varroa can cause in a hive. 

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6 hours ago, Alastair said:

That's the problem for new beekeepers with varroa. Once the mites have weakened the hive, it is prone to a bunch of other problems, such as robbing, getting cold, etc.

 

The inexperienced beekeeper recognises the secondary problems and blames the death on robbing, too few bees in too big a hive, attack by wasps, starvation, or whatever. But misses that these are symptoms not the cause. So gets new bees, still fails to treat effectively, and does the whole thing again. 

that could be true but i have always been prompt and vigilant with my varroa treatment. using bayvarol in autumn, apivar in spring and a 6 week course of OA vapouriser in feb/mar.

this spring is the best i have seen my hives and the difference is feeding them and making sure the hive box size suited the bees.

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On 17/09/2017 at 9:04 PM, kaihoka said:

Do you have solid bases?

I have hive doctor bases and this winter , cause my  very experienced beek friend nagged me I put a piece of  plywood over the vents on the base.

My hives were two box and I had a plastic top feeder in a wooden frame.

I think it gives extra insulation.

 

Changed to solid base for Winter.

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28 minutes ago, Wildflower said:

Changed to solid base for Winter.

@Trevor Gillbanks does not ever use a solid base but he may be warmer and drier than me and you 

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9 hours ago, kaihoka said:

@Trevor Gillbanks does not ever use a solid base but he may be warmer and drier than me and you 

The Manawatu is pretty cold and wet over winter. Specially this winter.

Hive Doctor floors are semi ventilated. not fully vented as in mesh floors.

To each there own.  I am just saying moisture in a hive is not as a result in the Hive Doctor base.  Usually the problem is insufficient bees through some other problem (like varroa).

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I'm moving to hive doctor bases as I need new ones . The occasional hive I winter on a solid base has moisture problems , including the nucs with solid bases. Anything ventilated has no problem . 

If I need to block it for varroa treatment , I use newspaper 

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Next winter I will sit 2 equal size hives beside each other.

One with base covered and one without and see.

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11 minutes ago, kaihoka said:

Next winter I will sit 2 equal size hives beside each other.

One with base covered and one without and see.

 

Have a look at my videos to see how they should be set up.  Do not sit them straight on the ground.  

 

 

 

 

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@Trevor Gillbanks mine are all about 6 inches of the ground bolted  to  wooden frames.

makes them heavy but easy to place on less than level sites with a bit of blocking.

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3 hours ago, kaihoka said:

@Trevor Gillbanks mine are all about 6 inches of the ground bolted  to  wooden frames.

makes them heavy but easy to place on less than level sites with a bit of blocking.

Sounds good to me.

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1 hour ago, Trevor Gillbanks said:

Sounds good to me.

ecrotek have emailed us all about MAQs being available in nov.

they say that vented bases should be blocked off.

how would  you  close a HD base

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20 minutes ago, kaihoka said:

ecrotek have emailed us all about MAQs being available in nov.

they say that vented bases should be blocked off.

how would  you  close a HD base

I don't on the Hive Doctor Bases as they are semi vented and it has not been a problem for me.

You could lift the boxes off and put a sheet of newspaper over the vents.

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