Definitely Dead

Dead bees clustered around the Queen on top bar 10 of the Carniolan Hive

Dead bees clustered around the Queen on top bar 10 of the Carniolan Hive

The Carny hive, suspected of demise (and then a spark of hope), is now, finally, dead.

Here is what I found:

Of 23 top bars drawn out with comb, bars 13-19 were heavy with honey. Dead bees littered the floor below bars 3-12. The Queen Bee was found on bar 10, surrounded by her attendants, all eerily still. There was a tight cluster of capped brood next to the Queen, adjacent empty cells with anywhere from 2-6 eggs per cell. Worker bees were found clinging to comb and head-first in cells, most densely around the Queen comb. Many more dead were found layers deep on the hive floor. There was no honey in bars 1-13, only capped brood and some pollen cells.

Did this hive starve to death? Were the honey combs at bars 13-19 just too far from the brood chamber as winter drew to a close? I vaguely recall a recommendation to move honey comb to the front of the hive late in winter. This could be our novice fault. 😦 It seems reasonable that the cold snap in February could have weakened the hive, killing off the brood we saw on Feb 13, but the Queen kept laying, and while trying to build up their numbers, they starved to death… This was also the hive that suffered an intial setback resulting in loss of its first honey stores. Plus the open window found in December. These could all have played a role…

I have decided to utilize the diagnostic services provided by the APIS Molecular Systematics lab at Washington State University. If I send them up to 1 c. of bees in isopropoyl alcohol, they will check for incidence and prevalence of common diseases, including nosema, varroa mites, and tracheal mites. I will report back on the findings.

In the meantime, tulips are blooming, the Italians are going strong, and spring is (hopefully) here to stay. It is the best time of year, full of hope and promise for the new year.

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5 Responses to Definitely Dead

  1. so sorry to hear this.

  2. solarbeez says:

    Did you say 2-6 eggs per cell? Wouldn’t that indicate a laying worker?
    Yes, I’ve heard about having the honeycomb outboard too far. When it’s cold, the bees won’t cross an empty space and will starve. That’s one reason why I abandoned my KTBH. The other reason is that I didn’t want to constantly open the hive up to ‘straighten’ the comb. I felt I was interfering too much. I wanted to be able to observe without too much intervention. After hearing a podcast with Matt Reed of beethinking.com, http://somdbeekeeper.com/2011/11/21/episode-22-top-bar-hive-style-beekeeping/ I instantly fell in love with the Warre. It’s more of a vertical top bar hive. You treat the whole box as a comb…let the bees cross comb or whatever they want to do, but you’re not constantly pulling it out to try to keep it straight. The Warre Hives that Matt sells have an observation window. I love it. I can show the grand kids or anyone else that wants to wander over without covering them with a bee suit. I can even take video through the back of the hive.
    Here’s some pix and a video… http://solarbeez.com/2013/02/03/bees-active-in-winter/

    • jkmcintyre says:

      I was just reading about laying workers vs queens laying multiple eggs. Looks like laying workers tend not to be able to lay at the bottom of a cell cause they are too short, and queens may lay multiple eggs per cell if they are crowded into one space due to cold. The eggs I found were all neatly laid at the bottom of the cells in one tight cluster, so I’m going with the cold hypothesis – i.e., too many bees died to keep the queen warm. 😦

  3. Any update on your other hive? How is it doing? Did you harvest any honey last year?

    • jkmcintyre says:

      The other hive finally died this winter. I’m sure our management style (practically hands-off during 2014) didn’t help, but we never did harvest any honey, so they had that going for them. We are going to try again this spring.

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