Taken from Wikipedia, “An autopsy—also known as a post-mortem examination, obduction, necropsy, or autopsia cadaverum —is a highly specialized surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse by dissection to determine the cause and manner of death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present.
Knowing that a hive of bees is more than “many individual bees” but is a “super organism”, we can apply this definition to the hive itself.
In this post, I will give only observations and through first person account or examination and through photographs. I will make no assumptions nor will I offer any explanations.
I am looking forward to receiving raw data, such as presented in this post, from club members who have lost hives this past winter.
A hive-mortality-form you may fill out, print or download and email from your computer. Emailed forms may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hive checked late December on a warm sunny day with no wind, but after large swings in temperature in the preceding weeks.
Normal amount of bees (approximately 50) found dead on top of snow in front of hive
No movement, flying bees, or sound coming from hive.
Hive was wrapped with foam insulation on three sides.
Candy board roof with little sugar eaten and few bees on candy.
Bees on candy were not clustered.
Few bees above inner cover.
After lifting inner cover, observed dead bees between frames as indicated in first photo.
Winter hive consisted of four medium eight frame boxes.
The top three boxes showed similar patterns of small clusters of bees. Some individual bees were covered in pollen, some with candy sugar. Small groups of bees were found clustered in center of frames over empty cells, but near capped honey, as shown in the second photograph.
Various stages of honey making could be seen. Mostly capped honey, much evaporated but uncapped honey, some nectar at a stage that could be shaken from far edges of frames.
Some cells contained pollen and some cells showed granular sugar. Top three boxes all showed this same pattern of bees, honey, nectar, sugar and pollen. Bottom box was vacant of bees and mostly vacant of honey or other stores.
Bottom screen was fully covered of dead bees two layers thick.
Bottom grid board was removed for inspection under magnification light as shown in third photograph.
Pollen, wax, and bee legs could be observed. After long and careful inspection, one mite was discovered.
It should be noted that this hive was treated with “Miteaway” strips in Late August and no mites could be found on drone at that time. This hive was not treated with any antibiotics.
Hive was vented through one 1/2″ opening at bottom and one 1/2″ opening at top. No noticeable wetness inside hive.
A second smaller (number of bees) hive of three medium boxes survived unwrapped from February to present. Softball size cluster noticed between top frames and candy board.