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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 19th year of beekeeping in April 2024. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here.Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Toll the Bells - One Hive Dead

Today the bees were flying and happy in Mellona and Aristaeus2. In each of these hives the sugar syrup I put in at the last warm moment about three weeks ago is all eaten. Bermuda, my oldest hive, was a different story. None of their sugar syrup had been touched. The top box was full of stores but the hive is dead and gone.

Scattered through the hive boxes (3 mediums) were dead bees lying on the tops of frames. There were also dead hive beetles throughout the hive and no evidence of hive beetle damage.

I found one tiny indication of starvation on two frames in the second box. A small cluster of bees were head down in a few cells back to back on two frames. These bees obviously starved while the frame next to theirs was totally full of liquid sugar syrup. This sometimes happens with a sudden cold snap when the bees make a bad decision about where to locate the cluster.

Keith Delaplane talked at our bee meeting in February about hive decline and said that across the country, beekeepers tend to lose 30% of their hives from year to year. Well, sadly, here's my 33% to add to the average. This was my first beehive and had made it through the previous winters, including its first winter when at the end of the winter most the bees in this hive had DWV or k-wing.

Because there were dead bees scattered throughout the hive, I wonder if this hive were weak and lost its queen during the winter or going into winter. Then the hive got robbed out because that's the way the bees scattered, dead throughout the hive look: like bees killed in the process of robbing. So when I put sugar syrup in the hive at the end of January on a 50ish day, they either were already a goner hive or they didn't have the resources to use the sugar syrup. The last little cluster died of starvation, with good stores beside and above them.

I am sad to lose them, but I still have two great hives. Mellona is three years old and Aristaeus2 is a two year old swarm hive from a swarm I got in 2008. And I am building a top bar hive this weekend to be optimistic about swarms coming my way in 2010.
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  1. Linda - So sorry to hear the news. I lost my first hive, Walter, to starvation in January. After talking to many experienced beekeepers and reading posts like this, I think like you that my queen may have died. Our winter has been brutal with much snow still on the ground but the sun was shining today and the bees in Ora seem to be thriving.

  2. Anonymous4:29 PM

    Linda - I like your way to talk, write and meet people.

    Secondly, I prompt the consideration of having more normal beehives. (20)

  3. Gosh, I never realized how complicated bees are until I started following your blog last year. Do you know how the "tree" hive has faired?

  4. It's always sad too loose a colony. I kinda use that as an excuse to always have more colonies than I really need.

  5. aww :( sorry about the dead hive

  6. Anonymous9:24 AM

    I am down 50% from this summer of 12 hives. I cleaned out 2 more hives of dead bees yesterday. They froze or starved even with honey in several frames. They are out in the yard for the other hives to clean up in this nicer weather.

  7. Anonymous2:34 AM

    I've been following this blog for three years and I am so sorry to see Bermuda go.

  8. Anonymous3:53 PM

    A friend started keeping bees this past summer. I use to keep bees in the 60's, I'm surprised to hear of a 30% loss of hives over the winter. My friends hive died and she asked me what I thought. This past winter was a mild one in temp but long in days. But even with that I'm surprised that her hive died.
    We use to start a hive with two supers and keep it at just the two for the first year, adding a super the next spring. She had gone to three supers in the first year, lots of space in there. Should she disenfect the hive?

  9. Anonymous10:02 AM

    I just discovered you blog today. I have a question about the honey from a hive that has gone under. I have two hives that didn't make it through the winter, but both have plenty of honey. Would it be safe to harvest that honey?


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