Haven't been around... because my hive died.

You have just gotten your bees, either in the mail or you have gone and picked them up in person. Now what do you do? Covers from installation in your hive until the end of the first winter and the first blooms of spring.
justinross
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Haven't been around... because my hive died.

Postby justinross » Tue Sep 01, 2015 5:22 pm

So, I posted awhile back that my hive was dwindling, and that I'd had some trouble with wax moths (and beetles, to a lesser extent).

Not long after that, I discovered that my hive had died. :(

I think this was due to a few mistakes on my part:

* Building my horizontal langstroth in a way that left 1"+ of un-policeable area for pests to invade, with the bees unable to do anything about it
* Putting my hive in a spot that didn't get direct sunlight until 10-11am. The bees were still up and working pretty early, but I feel like this still gave them a late start every day.
* Bottom-cover issues. I put a slide-in cover on the bottom of the hive, but it was very thin, so I think it made temperature regulation harder, rather than easier, since it blocked airflow, but didn't really do much to keep heat out. Northern California gets some crazy-hot days, so I think this made everyone's life tougher than it needed to be.
* (My biggest mistake, I think) Installing a top feeder on an already-weak hive. I think this is what ultimately led to the hive's death. A couple of days after I put the feeder on, there was some *serious* robbing going on. I got it stopped later that day, but the damage had been done, and I found my hive dead a few days later.

SO, I've got a decent amount of comb for my hives next year. I'm going to switch to traditional langstroths, I think, just for the ease of getting advice. Fortunately, my current (former, I guess) hive used medium langstroth frames, so I can just move them over. I've got a spot for hives that gets better (earlier) sun, too. I'll just need to move a shed (which shouldn't be too tough, as it's one of those rubbermaid ones that kind of snaps together) and all of the firewood inside of it.

I'll be putting out a few swarm traps next spring, too. Though, here in Northern California, we don't exactly have harsh winters, so I'll probably put some out earlier, just in case.

I was sad to see my hive die, but I learned a *ton* this year, and am looking forward to getting a few hives going next year.

That's all. No question or anything. Just a post to let other new beeks that lose their hives know that they're not alone. :)

waspkiller
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Re: Haven't been around... because my hive died.

Postby waspkiller » Tue Sep 01, 2015 8:07 pm

Sorry to hear about this Justin, I remember your other thread about it and could see from the photos you posted that this was going to happen, the hive was clearly being killed by varroa mites, and I posted that on your other thread.

The other things that happened ie wax moths etc are not the cause, but the result of the hive being weakened by mites.

Next time around you need to get bees that are resistant to varroa mites, such as for example, BeeWeavers. Then you can hopefully avoid this. There are plenty other bees around that seem to do well against varroa also including a lot of ferals, but just getting some random bees is taking a risk, to be sure get some known resistant ones.

I don't think your hive design is the problem, the bees would have died out anyway. But having said that, the standard lang design has been around virtually unchanged for a long time and there is a reason for that, it works. Don't throw the long hive away though.

One question, where did you get your bees from? A source that treats their bees for mites? If so, the bees may not be able to survive without ongoing treatment, chances of them surviving untreated are slim.

justinross
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Re: Haven't been around... because my hive died.

Postby justinross » Tue Sep 01, 2015 8:55 pm

What makes/made you say mites? During all of my inspections, I made a point of looking, and don't think I saw a single mite. Even when things were going downhill quickly, I was specifically looking.

I got mine from Noble Apiaries in Dixon. 3lb package.

And no, I wasn't planning on getting rid of my current hive. Just grabbing some 8-frame mediums and going from there.

I'm probably going to use a couple of 8-frame mediums as swarm traps, too, I think.

waspkiller
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Re: Haven't been around... because my hive died.

Postby waspkiller » Tue Sep 01, 2015 11:05 pm

As I explained in your other thread, it can be seen in the brood photo.

Of course you didn't see them, most people don't.

I checked out Noble Apiaries, they supply California package bees that are treated for mites and require ongoing mite treatment or they die, like yours.

My advice is offered in good faith, in the hope you will succeed rather than repeat the same thing next season. If you want to be treatment free, get treatment free bees.

justinross
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Re: Haven't been around... because my hive died.

Postby justinross » Tue Sep 01, 2015 11:51 pm

I appreciate the advice.

Can you point out what you mean in the photos I posted previously?

I just zoomed in, and didn't see anything that looked like a mite. I'd like to know what I'm missing, so I can better know going forward.

I also never saw mites, dead or alive, on bottom board under the screen (I did, however, see wax moth larvae and webbing). Having looked at pictures, mites seem pretty easy to spot on a bottom board, so I don't think I'd have missed them. These are photos of said bottom board from when I discovered the wax moths. I see feces of some sort, wax flakes, pollen, wax moth larvae of course, and maybe chewed cappings, but I don't think I see a single mite in there. Am I just missing them? What should I be looking for?

waspkiller
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Re: Haven't been around... because my hive died.

Postby waspkiller » Wed Sep 02, 2015 12:12 am

I didn't see any mites either.

People don't, which is why things like drop boards, sugar shakes, and alcohol washes are used. None of that would be needed if one could just look in a hive and see them running around.

In pic 4, of the brood, you can see dead brood with bees partly emerged. What happens is the package should have a low mite count when you get it, and during the season mite numbers slowly build. At first only one mite goes in to any larva and the larva survive. Mite numbers continue to build but this is masked because during summer there is a large bee population so most bees are not affected. In fall, the bee population starts to drop. This is the danger time because the ever expanding mite population has fewer and fewer larvae to lay eggs on, and eventually more than one mite has to go into each brood cell. When this happens the larvae are severely weakened and cannot summon the strength to emerge from the cell. They die partly out of the cell, with their tongue sticking out. This is diagnostic for death by mite, and is exactly what you show in that pic.

Once this point is reached, the hive is pretty much doomed unless intervention is made. Of course a treatment free beekeeper will not do the intervention but choose to let the hive die. However next time around you need to get bees that resist mites, rather than just be a breeding ground for them.

I can see you are reluctant to believe there were any mites, in the end, your call. But I will say that if you do the same thing next year, with the same bees, you can expect the same result. Being treatment free does not mean we have to deny that mites exist, it means we have to understand the processes in our hives and work it so we get the desired result, within treatment free philosophies if that is how we choose to go.

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Tyson Kaiser
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Re: Haven't been around... because my hive died.

Postby Tyson Kaiser » Wed Sep 02, 2015 4:46 am

justinross wrote:I also never saw mites, dead or alive, on bottom board under the screen (I did, however, see wax moth larvae and webbing). Having looked at pictures, mites seem pretty easy to spot on a bottom board, so I don't think I'd have missed them.


This is very common, the belief that mites should or would be visible when an infestation is underway. Realize that mites spend 95% of their lifespan inside cells that are capped. Rarely its possible to see mites in their "phoretic" stage, stuck on a bee and traveling with them. Add the fact that you had some pathetically weak bees, being commercially treated bees, they don't have a chance against varroa when left untreated. Starting with resistant stock is a crucial way to avoid disappointment.

All bees have mites, whether you see them or not. Try and break open some drone comb sometime, see all the mites infesting cells. Most are not developed to deal with them, and succumb without chemical intervention. They are like sick inbred poodles, they just have no resistance.

Try it again, with decent bees this time?
TF beekeeper and professional remover in Los Angeles. :)
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justinross
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Re: Haven't been around... because my hive died.

Postby justinross » Thu Sep 03, 2015 4:27 pm

waspkiller wrote:When this happens the larvae are severely weakened and cannot summon the strength to emerge from the cell. They die partly out of the cell, with their tongue sticking out. This is diagnostic for death by mite, and is exactly what you show in that pic.


This is the info I was looking for. Thanks!

And I'm not exactly reluctant to believe there were mites. I just wanted to know how you got to that conclusion. Trying to learn. :)

Also, you mention drop boards as one tactic used for spotting mites. Does that board need to be something other than just a board below a screen? I was kind of figuring my board was acting as a drop board of sorts, which is why I was expecting to see mites on it if there was an infestation.

Thanks, again for the info. :)

waspkiller
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Re: Haven't been around... because my hive died.

Postby waspkiller » Thu Sep 03, 2015 8:56 pm

Drop boards are an interesting thing. When I was running them (below a screen), I could have a look and find, say, 20 dead mites. I would put the board back without cleaning it and have another look the next day, and no mites. So, what happened to them?

Don't know, but whatever it was, I decided that drop boards do not tell the whole story.

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trekmate
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Re: Haven't been around... because my hive died.

Postby trekmate » Fri Sep 04, 2015 7:06 am

In UK we usually find earwigs (don;t know if you have them is US but there's sure to be something similar https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earwig) in bee hives. They eat much of the detritus on a hive floor or drop board including, I believe, Varroa. Hence the disappearing mite corpses.

waspkiller
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Re: Haven't been around... because my hive died.

Postby waspkiller » Fri Sep 04, 2015 7:44 am

Interesting possibility Trekmate, plenty earwigs around here!

Ants too, and I have spotted them carrying mites away.


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