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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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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Conclusions about the Dead Hive in my Beeyard

Today I removed all the frames in each box of the dead hive in my yard. As I thought the hive died out from being queenless and through beekeeper error (I didn't realize they were queenless and didn't combine them with another hive, for example).

There were scattered dead bees throughout the hive. What looked like perhaps the last part of the living bees had died together (about eight of them) in box two on the tops of the frames. I looked through the bodies on the slatted rack and the screened bottom board. I saw no deformed wings, no varroa mites, no dead queen - just worker bees. All told there were about 30 or so dead bees in the hive.

In the picture below you can see numerous small hive beetles dead with the bees.

Because I had fed them bee tea, there was a lot of stored nectar. Here's one frame with every cell filled with nectar.  There was only one frame of capped honey.  Bees that are queenless can die out with honey in the hive because they simply come to the end of their life span and with no queen, there are not younger bees to replace them.

On the frame below, you can see some evidence of their attempts to make a queen. There was absolutely no capped brood or any brood of any kind.

This is clearly a hive that died out from lack of a queen. I should have paid better attention to it going into winter. It's also possible that their queen died fairly early in the winter and they didn't have resources to replace her.

I'm sad that they are gone, but satisfied that I know the cause and that gives me some peace.
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  1. Sorry to hear of your loss. I was waiting for your conclusion, and thankful to hear it wasn't something like a pesticide kill. Hopefully you'll be able to make splits or catch a swarm to replenish the life in this hive.

  2. Right - Jeff and I plan to split Colony Square - possibly making two new hives from it, Lenox Pointe - making one new hive and maybe the hives at Stonehurst Place (as a form of swarm control). I don't think my hives at home are strong enough to split and Blue Heron is tiny in a nuc. The other two hives at my old house are too small to split as well. Currently we have seven hives alive that belong to us (not counting Stonehurst) and could conceivably have ten with three splits made at the first of March.

  3. Don (the Fatbeeman) in Lula, GA and one of my bee mentors, told me tonight that I was misreading the hive. He thinks because of the queen cell frame that I photographed that these bees actually made a queen who emerged. More than likely either the queen was too late to be mated (no drones available in the fall) or was killed on her mating flight and then the hive became queenless. So he agrees with me that the hive died because it was queenless but wanted me to be more specific in my reading of the frames to note that they had made a queen, but that something happened to her after that. I always appreciate his wisdom.


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