Category Archives: death and disease

And then there were none…

I’m now officially a beekeeper without any bees. It is amazing what can happen to hive in less than a month. I finally thought I got my remaining hive straightened out with a new queen producing gentle bees, and the hive seemed well on its way storing honey for the lean late summer months we have in Austin.

I went from a hive filled with frames that look like this:

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To a hive of frame after frame of empty comb:

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The interesting thing is there were still many frames of honey in the hive. As I initially approached the hive, and my stomach sank at the sight of little to no activity at the entrance, my first thought was a I had yet another hive get robbed. However, there were at least twelve frames of capped honey still just sitting there. Granted the pests were starting to move in, but the honey was basically untouched. So it didn’t get robbed.

I went through all the frames to see if the queen was around, and I didn’t see her. If she was in there, she certainly was laying. I would say there were a little more than the numbers of bees you would get in a package scattered throughout the hive. I was greeted with this fun sight when I finally got all the way down to the screened bottom board.

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I squished as many as I could to prevent them from flying off and finding another hive to invade. I also found and squished a few wax moths during my inspection as well.

I consolidated all the bees down to one super with 6 drawn frames of comb and 2 of capped honey. I’m debating whether to try and put a queen in there to see if I can save it, or get a fellow beekeeper to give me a few frames of capped brood to see if I can jump start it.

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As for what got the better of this colony, I don’t have a clue. It certainly wasn’t robbed, and I didn’t see any evidence of disease in the frames. The hive was also pretty clean with no dead bees on the bottom board. Perhaps a population boom of varroa mites?

On a happier note, Flat Stanley should be arriving soon to the Isle of Wight before heading off to the south of France and then Australia. I wish him well on his journeys and hopes he finds healthy and productive hives in his travels.

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R.I.P. Sunshine Hive

After two requeening attempts, the hive I moved from Sunshine Gardens is officially no more. I arrived last Saturday to a flurry of activity at the entrance. As I moved closer, I found a large number of dead bees on the landing board which is never a good sign. Upon opening the hive, it was clear that this already weak hive had been robbed. The only bees remaining were removing what little there was left of the honey and pollen and flying off.

It is always a terrible feeling to lose a colony, but I tried my best to save it, and sometimes that just isn’t good enough. I still have one remaining hive so I’ll be able to concentrate my efforts on making this one a successful as possible.

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Hive Aftermath

A week after I discovered the death of Knives, I had the not so fun task of taking her hive apart. A wax moth was the first thing that greeted me when I opened up the hive:

Wax Moth

Only a few bees remained in the hive. This was on what was once a beautiful frame of pollen:

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I don’t know if these are SHB or Wax Moth larvae, but either way they are gross:

Wax Moth Larvae

Another sad frame:

Wax Moth Larva

All that remains of this hive:

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I managed to salvage 8 frames which happened to be the newest ones on the top of the hive and disposed of the rest. While I’m pretty sure the hive was robbed (more on that later), I decided to play it safe and not try to recycle frames that may be carrying disease.

The day I took the hive apart just happened to be the annual Viva la Vida Fest at the Mexic-Arte Museum so we dressed up as bees to honor Knives’ hive.

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R.I.P. Knives 2.0

I had a disappointing trip out to Baab-Brock Farms today to inspect Knives 2.0’s hive. While I was smoking the hive, I noticed a lot of dead bees on the entrance which is unusual. It went downhill from there after opening up the hive. There were only a few bees on the inner cover and only a handful in the topmost super. There was also a wax moth just hanging out as well. The next super had fewer bees but 2-3 frames of capped honey.

The next super is when I knew something was terribly wrong. This was a honey super but had all the classic signs of robbing. The wax capping on the honey looked ripped open and all the frames were completely drained of honey. I didn’t have my normal camera crew with me otherwise I would have liked to get some photos.

Each additional super was the same story. No honey, no brood, and just a few remaining sad bees bravely trying to stem the tide of small hive beetles and wax moths which had invaded the weakened hive.

I now need to do some research on what to do next. I think it is too far in the season to save it. Do I just leave it alone and let nature take its course, or do I remove it and try and save as many frames of drawn comb as I can?

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