Author Topic: Suicidal Bees  (Read 242 times)

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Online Bakersdozen

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Suicidal Bees
« on: February 19, 2019, 11:41:57 am »
19 degrees and overcast here.  Snow moving in this afternoon.  Snow already on the ground.  I was filling the bird feeders when I noticed something interesting at 1 hive.  A bee flew out and of course her muscles froze up and she sputtered into the snow.  I looked around and there were 5-10 others that looked like the same happened to them.
1.  Why weren't they clustered?
2. Why would they come out in such conditions?

Several times I have had to pop the lid on a hive and have been surprised that the bees are not clustered when I thought surely they would be.  They were happily going about their business.
My first thoughts were of being overwhelmed by varroa mites.  I picked up a couple of the dead and didn't see any varroa.  The fact that I didn't see any doesn't mean anything.
Maybe their internal clocks say it's time for spring too!

Has any one else seen something similar?  Thoughts?

I also found raccoon tracks in front of another set of hives.  It looked like the raccoon had been eating on the workers that had been discarded from the bottom boards recently. 

Offline Jen

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Re: Suicidal Bees
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2019, 02:13:09 pm »
Yesseree Baker! 4 days ago I went to do a quick peek under the lid to see how the sugar supply was holding out. About 12 frozen bees in the newly fallen snow. I gathered them up and took them into the house and placed them on a dish in the warm kitchen. I know, just call me the Clara Barton of the honeybee world :D Anyway most of them came back to life and I found them batting at my kitchen window. Later in the day I took them out to the hives and placed them one by one on the hive porch and gently flicked them back into the hive. Crazy right?.... yep.

But I did notice that there was lots of bee poop on that freshly fallen snow, so the ones that I rescued couldn't make it back into the hive.
There Is Peace In The Queendom

Online Bakersdozen

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Re: Suicidal Bees
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2019, 03:46:14 pm »
Jen:  :laugh: Too Funny!

I just think 19 degrees and overcast sky would not entice a bee out.  If nozema was an issue, I didn't see any signs of bee poop.

Offline Lburou

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Re: Suicidal Bees
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2019, 04:47:35 pm »
Reports of dead bees in the snow are common.  I can't say with certitude what causes this in a given case, but, the common assumptions are one or more of the following: 1) Bees leaving the hive at the end of their life cycle, 2)  Sick bees leaving the hive in altruistic suicide,  3)  A bee leaving the hive on a cleansing flight when it is too cold to survive.  A guard bee can die on any defensive flight, more so in cold.  If the cluster is still alive, I don't worry about dead bees around the hive.  JMO  :)
Lee_Burough

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Re: Suicidal Bees
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2019, 05:46:39 pm »
I am trying to think of the last mild day we had.  I think it was a week ago.  I put more sugar cakes in that colony.  At a glance all looked well then.  Thanks for the reassuring words Lee.