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.
In order to better explain effective wintering of bees, Lynwood Sweyt presented an example of his latest hive set up.
If experience counts, and it does, Lynwood has the numbers on his side.
It was immediately evident that Mr. Sweyt’s hive was meticulously built. Carefully placed entrance holes drilled and sanded to
specification were able to accept plugs when not in use. The metal entrance reducer tightly fit beneath the smooth paint job he had
applied to his hive bodies.
Feeding was first addressed as Mr. Sweyt pointed out his enhanced inner cover design that allows large blocks of candied sugar to be placed as well as viewed during consumption. Lynwood believes that ample amounts of hard candy are your best defense against starvation.
He also believes that carefully timed and repeated mite treatment is imperative. He demonstrates how he is able to introduce his
Heilyser vaporizer through a sliding metal gate at the entrance. Here, the oxalic acid will enter and permeate the hive while a foam blocker is held in place to keep any vapors from escaping.
Notice that his hive is painted a dark green color to absorb the suns warmth. The hive front will remain as shown in the photo while the three remaining sides will be covered for the winter with rigid foam painted black.
The club hive was checked for food (honey) stored for the upcoming winter months. It was found to have inadequate stores of the honey necessary for winter survival. Being early October, it was not too late to get some syrup (2 parts sugar one part water) fed to the bees. They will pack the empty comb in the upper boxes with this and any other food they can scavenge prior to the real cold that will be
coming in November. The rule is that you should stop feeding bees any liquid food on October 15. Bees may be able to dehydrate liquid sugar after that date, but there is a risk of adding too much humidity to the hive. With the inability for the bees to dehydrate syrup during extreme cold added to the inability to make cleansing flights, the
liquid could cause dysentery and kill the hive.
The hive should be checked again in November. A candy board (solid sugar) may be a necessary addition.
The Oxford Hills Honeybee club made a supporting monetary
contribution to the “Gardeners Growing Healthy Communities” 2016 season.
GGHC is a non-profit community based organization dedicated to growing and distributing fresh, healthy food to the needy in the
With the help of many volunteers and donations, GGHC distributes, from it’s South Paris location, approximately 1000 lbs. of fresh
vegetables to 60 families (130 people) each week throughout the
Many thanks to Barbara Murphy for bringing to our attention the work being done by this valuable and worthy organization.
Ken Record along with his son, Gerald, rule over a castle of prolific Queen bees.
Jokingly touted as the “King of Queens” by a fellow club member, Ken Record gave a detailed and informative demonstration on how he produces Queen bees that lay beautifully patterned and full brood frames.
Counting days till hatch is precise work. Jerry was quick to point out his father’s miscount as he found one queen on the run across the castle frame. She had hatched that very day.
Ken and Jerry work well together and are an invaluable source of honey bee information for our club.
Former Maine State Bee Inspector, Paul Szott, presented his own twist on an older practice of managing two queen bees in one hive.
I was aware that this can happen, rarely, in nature. Two queens bees existing in a single hive is not the norm, but it can have many
An ever continuing student of beekeeping, Paul Szott has studied the methods used for managing two queens in a single hive. As with most alterations to the bees normal situation, running a hive with two queens does demand more attention. It does not, however
require the bees to change their behavior, but rather relies on their ancient behavior to react to their altered environment.
Without going into all the details of the methods that Paul explained to his audience, it can be said that some bees from the same hive are to be separated or excluded from their queen for some time in order for them to create a new queen. This can be done with stacked boxes or a two tiered method.
Interesting facts worth mentioning are:
• Sister queens seem to accept each others close proximity more readily.
• Two queens in one townhouse style hive produce more brood and therefor more honey.
• Young bees and small clusters starting out do better in warmer hives surrounded by other bees.
• When you want to split the “two queen hive”, you will be splitting a hive that is already established giving it a better chance of success.
In my opinion, if there is one reason you should consider trying the two queen hive, it would be the last fact mentioned. Splitting hives successfully in Maine or any location that has a cold season the bees are coming out of prior to their natural swarming depends on timing. If you split too soon, they are weak, hungry with cool conditions, late pollen and limited food. If you split too late, they are already
swarming. At that point you should just split using a swarm cell – not a bad choice, but you risk loosing bees.
Any walk away split takes a whole lotta time, making the queen,
getting her mated and laying and waiting for brood to hatch. That is a small hive for a long time waiting for reinforcements. And they may not make a queen or the queen may not make it back to lay.
The two queen hive split is already up and running. They are strong enough to last through a Maine winter.