May 28, 2011
As previously reported in this
diary, I lost 100% of the 75 hives I prepared for winter in 2010,
with many dying suddenly in fall and the balance being dead before
Christmas or shortly after.
I speculated as to the cause,
and supposed that high varroa levels may have been the basis,
although varroa in levels like the ones I measured do not usually
result in 100% loss of a diverse apiary. Mine had hives of all
ages and breeds, including supposedly mite resistant varieties.
Recently, I bought ten hives to
replace the ones I lost. I trucked these new hives 400 miles and
there was no sign of damage from the trip.
After a week in a new bee yard (not where the others died), I
noticed these bees needed feed badly and decided also that I need to
get my my existing equipment into service.
I went through my deadouts and selected boxes that were full of feed
and did not have any abandoned brood or dead bees and placed one
under each hive. At that time, I also transferred the frames from
each hive into empty but used EPS boxes, I transferred the frames
in the same order and orientation that I found them and reassembled
the hives so that the colony was the same as before, except in
different boxes (EPS with auger holes in place of wood with no
holes) and above a full box of feed which they did not have previous
to that day.
That was two days ago. The job was done quickly and carefully
on a rainy day between showers and with very few bees dropped or
crushed. We have had cool, rainy weather until today, and the bees
have been confined since the transfer.
Today I went out to examine the hives and immediately noticed small
groups of sluggish young bees in front of each hive and crawlers,
also apparently young, in the grass crawling away from the hives.
(I did not see that yesterday when I was out there for a look at the
entrances and to plug holes.
This was quite a surprise. I had said on examining the hives last
winter and this spring, that my losses looked just as if the bees
had been poisoned. This makes me wonder. I don't know how it could
have happened. We are next to an alfalfa field and other crops
are a distance off. I don't know of any spraying nearby.
The other explanation is a virus, but I would be surprised if one
could come on so fast. My mite drops on one of these hives has so
far shown zero! mites over almost a week. The hives have a full box
of brood and a partial second box of brood and bees.
The pictures, above
left, are thumbnails. Clicking on any of them will brig up a
bigger, more detailed image.