Oxford Bees

Colony Death

The colony in Hive C is dead

Submitted by will on Fri, 06/04/2018 - 15:16

The colony in Hive C is dead. It appears to have starved because of the extended cold during March.

I visited my out apiary today to see that the bees were ok. Two of the 3 hives which I thought occupied were flying. The other was too quiet. I suited up and found bees inside which were in the last stage of starvation before death.

There were still some stores in the hive but it appears to have been too hard, or too remove from the cluster, to access. There is still capped brood in there, showing that there was a laying queen during some part of March. I think that the last 2 or 3 cold nights must have finished them off. The Queen probably stopped laying during the cold spell around 16th March. It has been fairly cold since, with only short periods above 10C (minimum flying temperature) during the last week.

This is a disappointment. I thought that this colony was a survivor.


The colony in Hive H is dead

Submitted by will on Thu, 08/03/2018 - 07:00

The colony in Hive H is dead.

There was clear evidence that the colony starved. There were no stores, and there were numerous bees inside empty cells. I saw evidence that they were still alive quite recently. I think that the recent spell of cold weather finished them off

I'm unsure how to think about this. I'm sad that they're dead; I'm concerned that my actions may have been at fault; but I'm also aware that the colony did not act to build stores when it could have. I fed it in the autumn and saw them building new comb instead of making stores. For this reason I only fed them a modest amount. It's possible that they had filled their stores but when I opened I found 5 deep National frames of comb. That ought to have been enough for a colony of that size.

The colony in Hive H did not defend itself adequately against the wasps. I felt at the time that I had created that problem which is why I moved the hive and colony to Headington.

How much should a low intervention beekeeper intervene? When he has caused a problem? When there is a problem? Never? The colony in Hive H is dead. I'm not wholly to blame but I could have done more and less.

Submitted by will on Sun, 04/03/2018 - 12:30
A honey bee colony which has suffered isolation starvation

I opened the hives in my out apiary to put extra food in. I found that the colony in Hive F is dead.

This colony was given to me last May. It had been untreated for 2 years. Before that it was in an intensively managed colony.

I think that the colony died of isolation starvation. During a cold period the colony forms a cluster. Stores are used to keep this cluster warm. If the temperature in the hive is too low the colony may be unable to move around the hive. They eat the honey where they are. When this is finished they starve and then die of cold.

I found fewer bees than expected when I opened. They were all dead. There were several with their heads stuck in honey cells -- a clear sign of starvation. There were some dead bees on the floor and the remains of a significant number in front of the hive which had died some months before. I didn't find the Queen, although I might find her when I look again.

This colony was under quite severe stress from Varroa. They may also have been harder hit by wasps than I'd realised. There were plenty of stores but clearly not enough bees.