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  A Beekeeper's Diary

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.

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