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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 18th year of beekeeping in April 2023. 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. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

What does 2 + 2 add up to in these two hives?

I have two dead hives in my backyard that needed my evaluation.  I went through the first hive - the Northlake Swarm hive - which died in the second hard freeze week we had in February.  Temperatures were in the 20s most of the week.  In addition to a box full of capped honey, here is what I found in the second box:

You can also see part of the other side of the cluster on the frame below this one.  As you can see the bees were clustered over honey and they died despite more capped honey just four inches away on the same frame.  This often happens when the temperatures are below freezing in Atlanta for days.  The bees have to make a good initial decision about where to locate the cluster.  If they miscalculate,  they die.

These dead bees had a whole box of honey above them and more honey on the frame on which they died.

In addition there were a ton of dead, molded bees on the screened bottom board:

The second lost hive was Tom's swarm #2.  There were two medium supers completely filled with honey and the hive looked like it was in relatively good shape - no wax moth damage, no small hive beetles.  In the next to the bottom box (this hive had four boxes), I found a tiny tennis ball size group of bees in a semi cluster.  The queen was in this group.  

They were not head down in the cells.  The queen was thin and looked what Keith Fielder would call "short bred."  Because these bees look as if they dwindled and the queen was so small, my guess is that they replaced their queen just before winter and she did not mate well. There were probably few drones around when she went on her mating flight. There was a little scattered capped brood.  

There was no mold in the hive because it didn't go into winter with bees creating heat/moisture in the hive.  The honey held up because we had a pretty cold winter for Atlanta - I wore my coat from November 2014 through February 2015, and in 2013 only got my coat out after January 2014 began.  

The bees simply dwindled and died out.

So it's a new year; my foot is healed; let's hope for a better bee season.


  1. Buenos días, me encanta la miel esta mañana al ponerme a desayunar mi bote estaba ya vacio, saludos desde España.
    Hello, I love honey this morning to get to breakfast my boat was already empty, greetings from Spain.

  2. arılar soğukta salkım yaptığı için ballı tarafa ulaşamamışlar ve açlıktan ölmüşler

  3. Another data point for this winter: I had a hive die because the temperature dropped too quickly, or at least that's my best explanation. There was a too-small ball among plenty of honey and pollen... But in the 'autopsy' I found a large number of individual bees all over the comb throughout the hive. I'm sure you remember that front (second to last freeze from now) when the temperature plummeted... That was when this colony died. This hive was about a foot off the ground, so I'm guessing that I should have covered the screened board. I didn't because they were over composting straw (in with chickens) and I was worried about moisture. augh.

    (And note that the last frost date is April 15th. Still possible, although the cranes flew north a bit ago so I doubt it.)

  4. While I keep screened bottom boards on all my colonies, I keep them closed most of the year. The hives seem to do better that way, especially in the winter. But if bees die on the bottom board, they do mold as these did!


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