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Dead bees around hive

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There's a few hundred dead bees, mostly in a pile, near one of my hives, here's some photos:

The dead bees have been there for a few weeks. I moved these hives a few months ago. Here in Australia, the weather has been pleasant, it's been around 10 degrees Celsius and currently in winter. These bees are in the suburbs, there's no nearby farming pesticide usage. There's a long row of beehives here, but the pile of bees are just near one of the hives. All the hives seem to be active and doing well.

The last photo is of the hive that's directly adjacent to the pile of dead bees. There's some honey in there. The plastic and dried sugar is on there because they were starving at the location they were at, before I moved them, the plan has been to remove all that when spring time approaches. This hive I did notice when I moved it, had a high honey bee population considering it was a single deep super, and it was also particularly low on honey, more than the other hives were. If you notice that some of the frames look different than others, it's because at one point when the hive was very low on honey and before I moved them to this better location, I took honey frames from other hives and gave it to this hive, replacing their empty frames.

Any idea why there might be all these dead bees? Is it something I should be concerned about, or is it normal and fine?

 As a side question, can you notice in the photo how the bees have attached frames together with wax? When I open a hive to inspect it, I often feel conflicted about properly inspecting it; I often conclude that, it's not worth harming and disturbing the bees, by lifting those frames, and breaking the wax seal by doing so. Is it good to try and not have such an impact on the bees, or is it important that I lift the frames to frequently inspect them, regardless of how much wax and propolis must have stuck them down?

Hi Fuzz.  I'll give this a shot but please wait for those with more experiance to chime in.  Bees die every day and if the bees can't fly due to weather the dead tend to build up in the hive, then on those fair weather days they will be hauled out, at times creating a pile fairly close to the hive.  I see it's been 10°C in your area. Has that been the daytime high?  If colder over night the above might make sense.  If i saw the same situation here in winter, it can get brutally cold here, I wouldn't be concerned.

The comb that is attaching the frames together, burr comb(?), I would remove during the next inspection, which might be your spring.  Personally I would avoid inspections, except to quickly replace sugar, at temps of 10°.  The reasons to remove it include ease of inspection and avoiding another place to squish bees and possibly the queen.  When you pry the frames apart some of the comb will stay on each frame, where the two pieces of comb come together creates the "kill zone". 

That's my take, please wait for others.  Ted

The coldest I've seen it get at night time is 6 degrees. It hasn't been a cold Winter even by Australian standards.

I had a look at the hive. I'm surprised by how much honey and pollen they have, there's also many bees in the hive.

That makes a lot of sense regarding the comb. I see how leaving it there can lead to a queen or other bees getting squished, thanks.

Hi TheFuzz, I agree with Ted on the wonky comb, definite death possibility for the queen. If the bees are building wonky comb, pretty much means the need more room pronto for the queen to lay! I get into my hives about every 10 days and knock off that comb. It's one of the only times that I use a smoker. I smoke all the bees off of the wonky comb the use my hive tool to scrap the frames clean.

Thanks for clarifying this Jen.


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