Now that it’s finally cold…
IF you followed a static calendar and did NOT base your beekeeping on weather and the bees and you did NOT extend fall management techniques into DECEMBER…
Well, let’s list some of the things you are likely to experience.
IF you followed nature’s queues (and some of my suggestions and teachings) your likely to start seeing posts about this on YouTube and social media, in forums, and discussed in bee clubs.
the cold killed my bees
wax moths killed my bees
SHB killed my bees
All of these statements are simply (and I know this is a bad word these days) WRONG!
At a time in our lives when some people are overly sensitive to ANY kind of criticism and even correction…
At a time when some people are more allergic to accountability than they are bee stings…
I’m gonna go ahead and risk being “cancelled” and if…
It is your fault If your bees die. 100% of the time. You/I as beekeepers are 100% at fault any time our bees die. more correctly, when we lose a colony, for whatever reason.
And I say this with full understanding, with love, without judgement, and without mocking.
Why? I’ve killed a lot of bees too…have been in thousands of hives… in hundreds of locations and operations… ranging from single colony urban and back yard experienced and beginning beekeepers to multi-hive sideliner apiaries… to commercial operation yards with hundreds of hives… and even learned from operations with thousands of hives…
All beekeepers experience losses…ALL OF THEM! Those that claim they don’t? ;-) yeah…they may simply be doing their math a little differently (and at different times of the year) lol!
So, if the things listed above didn’t kill your bees AND you acknowledge as a responsible beekeeper that you are accountable for the death of a colony, what killed them?
Mismanagement and inexperience killed your colonies.
“But Mike, my colony was poisoned, vandalized, etc.” Wait, what? Your ONE COLONY? I hen literally ANY experienced beekeeper and many inexperienced parrots told you to start with at least two colonies?
If that is you…you are going to quit or buy more bees again, probably from a different supplier, and blame the source for not having hardier bees.
”Ok Mike, consider the denial and blaming over and set aside the mismanagement and inexperience and tell me what killed my bees.”
Well, ok, but this article just got a lot longer and still won’t cover every scenario. Even sending a sample of bees to a lab for diagnosis won’t necessarily give you the complete story. So I’ll cover the most likely scenarios.
Starvation - longer periods of warm weather without nectar sources means the colony had to consume more of their stores and didn’t have enough to eat when it was too cold to forage/feed. This tyep of dead out is usually indicated by the dead bees in the frames of comb with their heads inside the cells and just their hind ends sticking out. And starvation can occur in a heavy/full hive too. With warmer temperatures there might be brood present and the bees may stay on the brood to keep the brood warm and the cluster consumes all of the food in reach but cannot get to the entire frames of nectar/syrup around and above the. Because they are deciding to stay and keep the brood warm. And speaking of brood cycles…
Brood cycles extending later into the fall/winter MAY mean more…DUH DUH DUM…mites. This sometimes means more diseases, weakened bees, lowers population, and ultimately death (or abscond which is also usually death for late season absconds) of the colony. However, a sufficient population may still have a chance, with a better chance with an additional late season pest management application/treatment.
SHB MAY be present, although dead without the bees to keep them warm. (Yes, that a thing). But they are the slime/demolition crew that showed up when the hive was weakened by mites or something else.
Wax moth webbing might be present, but will have died out in the cold. But they are the cleanup crew that typically shows up AFTER mites and SHB in a hive with with a low population or small colony.
”Ok, ok, ok, Mike. I get it. But my hive is dead…wait, I meant my colony that lived in my hive is dead. What should I do “
Well first of all…Sorry, it’s a bummer to lose a colony. But...DON’T get DISCOURAGED!
Remember that losses are lessons.
Here’s a link to a (poorly made) video on diagnosing a “dead out” and alcohol washing dead bees: https://youtu.be/VNJDeP0lti0
***please subscribe to my BeeResQ YouTube channel***
When considering what to do with a “dead out”… DON’T BURN OR SCRAPE OR CLEAN EVERYTHING for no reason!!!!! I see this states online ALL THE TIME and it is expensive and stupid advice! Unless you have confirmed AFB and (AND) you don’t have a way of irradiating it, then ok. Burn it. Otherwise, I always suggest the following:
1. Document as you disassemble - pictures and notes
2. Preserve good comb
3. Save a sample of dead bees to test - mite wash
4. Order replacement bees ASAP - (www.BeeResQ.com )
5. Study between now and spring (online course available at www.BeeResQ.com )
Good luck this spring! If your in the general vicinity of Kansas City (and an hour’s drive around Kansas City) please join our Facebook group by searching BeeResQ and follow Facebook.com/beeresq business page.
You can buy bees AND equipment at www.BeeResQ.com
And be sure to subscribe to this site/group and download the app!
-Mike at BeeResQ.com