I know how frustrating and sad it is to lose bees. The feeling you get when you open the lid and they are all dead, or just simply gone is one of despair. The first thing you want to do is understand why. Hopefully after you read this blog, you will have understanding and hope to try again.
Here are the top 4 reasons people always assume their bees died:
Unless you did not listen to the guidance of every beekeeper out there about leaving them 60 pounds of honey, your bees did not starve to death. Bees move in herds. They don’t just send a few up or around the 2 deeps looking for food. They feed in herds. And, in the middle of that herd is the queen. They must get her to move with them, or they will not move at all. This is where a big cluster comes in real handy. The bigger your cluster inside the hive, the more opportunity they have to herd onto a spot of honey.
Many times, beeks will call me and say they starved to death, but they had a ton of honey. As confusing as this is, they did starve to death, but also, they didn’t. They simply didn’t have a big enough cluster to get to the honey.
I want you to read this out loud and repeat it, “Wax moths can’t kill a healthy hive”. Repeat! Wax moths are a clean up crew. If you see wax moth trails in your comb, your hive is already weakened to the point of not being able to defend itself.
Again, read this out loud and repeat it, “Hive beetles can’t kill a healthy hive”. There is absolutely nothing you can do about hive beetles, except keep their population down. They are going to be in your hive no matter what. A strong, healthy hive will keep their numbers at bay. There are some tricks you can implement to help the bees keep the hive beetle numbers down and they are inexpensive. I haven’t used anything in 2 years.
They froze to death:
A beek will call me and say, “my bees froze to death because they still had a lot of honey…therefore, they couldn’t have starved to death.” Refer to the starved to death paragraph above. Bees are good at keeping themselves warm. In fact, they are so good at it, they will simply stay in their cluster and not move an inch to get food, therefore letting themselves starve to death. Why? Because they aren’t thinking about their lives, they are thinking about the life of the queen who is in the center of their cluster.
So, what killed my bees? Your beekeeping methods throughout the year. Am I saying this to make you feel bad, NO! I’m saying…losses are lessons! Don’t beat yourself up. You are new to this hobby and you are learning as you go.
The cluster in fall is the survival of winter. The cluster in fall is a direct correlation of how you cared for them all spring/summer.
Here are my tips:
Feed if and when the bees need it! If the honey supers aren’t on, and they aren’t building up 60 pounds, feed them. Add essential oils for their guts.
TREAT FOR MITES!
I blog about how I treat. I am aggressive with it. And you know what, I lost 1 hive this year. And, that was to robbing. I know that a lot of you don’t want to put chemicals in your hive, and I understand that philosophy. But, I’m going to tell you that sometimes we have to fight fire with fire. Chemicals are everywhere now.
So, take your frames from your dead hive and throw them in the freezer. This kills any kind of larva living in the comb. Remove them after 24 hours and store them in your garage with some paramoth or wax crystals. Freeze 1-2 frames at a time if your freezer space is small.
Finally, start over. Buy a NUC, or a full hive and try again. Don’t just give up after 1 year. It takes time to learn something new.
If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.