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Dying Bees right now! New Beekeeper--please help

Posted: July 29th, 2017, 12:50 pm
by LetItBee
Beekeeping for 2 years, Rhode Island,
I observed the hive for about 15 minutes and here is what I saw:
Bees were shaking uncontrollably and then dropping to the ground from the landing board. I know this sounds crazy but I could here a crackling noise coming from just inside the hive. I have the hive screened and all of the bees are at the entrance just behind the screen. They are dying right now. It is horrible! There is the presence of bee poop on the ground and on the screen that guards the entrance. I hope this isn't Nosema. If it is, is there anything I can do right now?

I was hoping someone could advise.

It rained here in RI for the past two days and became chilly. I went to inspect my hive (Italians) after the rain and saw hundreds of bees dead and dying outside the hive. I opened the hive and inspected the super and into the deep hive body. Everything seemed fine. (I am a non-intrusive beekeeper and try to disturb them as little as possible.) There were thousands of bees present in the hive. I did not locate the queen and I did not inspect the brood because of the burr comb and the fact that I was ripping up the honeycomb (dripping honey into the body). But I am worried about all of the dead bees. The wings on the bees were fine, no K shape, no crumpled wings. There were no mites. There was one (1) indication of yellow/brown on the screen outside the hive (I put the screens to prevent robbing) but I don't think it is Nosema. My other hive (Carniolans) are fine. The bees on the ground were decapitated but this could have been done after by ants and Yellow Jackets (wasps). The presence of Yellow Jackets was minimal. They were still falling from the landing board while I was inspecting and then dying in the grass. I am afraid that this is pesticide related but why just the Italians and not the Carniolans? The hive seems healthy. Is there anything I can do? What do I do next? I know I have to locate the queen and tear the frames apart to inspect the brood but I'd rather just leave them alone. Could I do anything to save them even if I tear apart the hive? I have photos that I have attached. ANY advice or help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. I have the entrance screened because I noticed substantial robbing when I was feeding in the spring (I suppose I should take the screens off now.)

I watched them again for 15 minutes and noticed that they are housekeeping (taking the dead bees out of the hive) and looking up from the bottom of the hive they are alive. But as many of them try to fly, they are crash landing in the grass and then spinning in circles. I also noticed bee poop on the screen. There is a strong smell coming from the hive but I know it is not foul brood (we don't have any cases here in RI.) Here are some more pics of the hive:

Re: Dying Bees right now! New Beekeeper--please help

Posted: July 30th, 2017, 9:54 pm
by LetItBee
Things looked better today. It looks like either foragers or robbers leaving and coming back, although I don't see a lot of pollen. Not as many bees dying in the grass. There is a pile of about 100 bees on the ground in front of the hive. I opened it up and there still seems to be thousands in the deep hive body. I still haven't done an inspection (I hate disturbing them and killing them). I suppose I should go in there tomorrow and see what's going on.

Re: Dying Bees right now! New Beekeeper--please help

Posted: July 31st, 2017, 1:05 am
by Allen Dick
I don't think any of us can guess what's going on there. It is really hard to see from the pictures and the description. From what I recall of being in Rhode Island in this summer, the weather should be quite suitable for beekeeping.
Your best bet is to find a nearby beekeeper with some more experience and get an opinion.
Clearly there something wrong and something is going on but I'm afraid I cannot help you with it the way that somebody who's actually there could.
Wherever you are in the state, there is bound to be a bee club nearby and beekeepers who are happy to come and look at other peoples beehives. Also there should be estate apiculturalist who you should be able to reach through the state agriculture extension people. Their job is to help you and other beekeepers with problems like this.

Re: Dying Bees right now! New Beekeeper--please help

Posted: July 31st, 2017, 11:27 am
by LetItBee
I do know a local beekeeper I can ask, Chuck at Wood's Bees. I'll visit him and see if he will take a look. Thank you for the advice.

Re: Dying Bees right now! New Beekeeper--please help

Posted: September 1st, 2017, 11:19 am
by eltalia
Is there an update available... I am intrigued as to the source of the "cracking sound"
reported. Plus, an open book is just plain ol' "messy" ;-)


Re: Dying Bees right now! New Beekeeper--please help

Posted: March 9th, 2019, 12:49 am
by KathleenArias
Last month, I had also seen some bees were crashing landing in the grass near my home. As bees are one of the beneficial insects that have been in decline in recent years. That is why I had immediately called up wasp removal NJ experts, where they had done proper identification of the situation and they said that it is the signs of poisoning of pesticides that had done last month.