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Lost my three hives

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Uwe in USA
Guard Bee

Joined: 08 May 2013
Posts: 69
Location: Arlington, Virginia, USA

PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2015 7:32 pm    Post subject: Lost my three hives Reply with quote

Hi, mu name is Uwe and I live in the US. Grew up on a farm in Germany with lots of bees that my grandfather had. Two years ago I started with one Beehive in a Top bar Beehive that I built. That hive was healthy and it did swarm once. last year I added two more hive in my backyard. Those two didn't last through the summer. I always could see them all from my large back window how they were flying. one day there wasn't much flying and I looked inside. it was just from one day to the other. I found Wax Moth in both of them. The other which was my first one was pretty strong I thought, the bees just left. I have no idea what happened. The bee keeper I ordered my new bees from for this year asked me if I treated for mites. I didn't because I thought the Top Bar Bee hive would take care of this mostly because the bees build smaller chambers. Any input would be appreciated.
BTW the bee hives I built myself are top notch.

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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1857
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Uwe

So sorry to hear about the loss of your colonies.

I'm afraid your grasp of the situation with regard to varroa is a little over simplified. The hive itself will not combat varroa. It takes bees time (years possibly) to regress to small cell comb, if they even can. And then, that is only one factor of many that may influence their ability to cope with varroa. If your bees were a commercially produced package and had been routinely treated prior to you getting them, then they will not have developed any mechanisms for dealing with varroa. If they are exposed to pesticides, that will affect their ability to cope. If they don't have a good brood break twice a year, that may affect it. The breed of bees themselves may be a factor. Bees that swarm a lot may be better able to cope and smaller bees may be able to regress to small cell comb more easily. Drought/starvation/monocrop forage may weaken their immune system and make them more vulnerable to virus spread by varroa.

The fact that you saw bees flying and then suddenly didn't could be bees from one hive were robbing out a weak or dead hive until there was no stores left and they stopped. It is rare for bees to just abandon a hive and if they do there has to be a very good reason for it.... usually starvation

If the problem was varroa infestation, there will be little white deposits on the roof of the brood cells. If you turn the comb upside down and look at it, you will most likely see it more easily. This is mite poop. If you look on the ground below the hive, you may find lots of dead bees. If they are not too decomposed, check the wings for Deformed Wing Virus. House bees will evict the deformed baby bees whereas the older foragers often die out in the field during the summer. Having a board on the ground under the hive entrance is a good way to monitor this when the colony is active. Deformed Wing Virus is vectored by varroa, so seeing baby bees with deformed wings on the ground below the hive is a good indicator that you have a mite problem although not exclusively so.

At least you will have plenty of comb which may attract a new swarm this coming season. I would bait the hive with a little lemon grass oil in the Spring and keep you fingers crossed.

Last edited by Barbara on Tue Feb 03, 2015 3:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Uwe in USA
Guard Bee

Joined: 08 May 2013
Posts: 69
Location: Arlington, Virginia, USA

PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 3:18 pm    Post subject: Lost Bee hives Reply with quote

Thank you for you input. My backyard is quite big and I use no chemicals. I actually changed my entire back yard with more flowering bushes and lots of wild flowers, they should have had plenty to eat plus I kept feeding them with the feeder being inside the hive. Yes I heard about lemon gras and that is what I first put in including trippings of wax that I bought. I put that on the underside of the bars to give them an insentive to start. There are 10 - 12 combs in it. The other two I had to clean out very good because of the Wax moth infestation.
I will keep trying unfortunately I live in the subburbs of Arlington next to Washington DC and there are not many beekeepers I can use as a mentor.


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Quality Top Bar Hives by Andrew Vidler

Conserving wild bees

Research suggests that bumble bee boxes have a very low success rate in actually attracting bees into them. We find that if you create an environment where first of all you can attract mice inside, such as a pile of stones, a drystone wall, paving slabs with intentionally made cavities underneath, this will increase the success rate.

Most bumble bee species need a dry space about the size a football, with a narrow entrance tunnel approximately 2cm in diameter and 20 cm long. Most species nest underground along the base of a linear feature such as a hedge or wall. Sites need to be sheltered and out of direct sunlight.

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Information about the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)

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