Author Topic: Dead bees around hive  (Read 1137 times)

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Offline TheFuzz

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Dead bees around hive
« on: July 03, 2019, 09:12:31 pm »
There's a few hundred dead bees, mostly in a pile, near one of my hives, here's some photos:

https://imgur.com/a/sNhyVmz

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?

Offline tedh

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Re: Dead bees around hive
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2019, 07:23:06 am »
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
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Offline TheFuzz

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Re: Dead bees around hive
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2019, 03:02:05 am »
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.

Online Jen

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Re: Dead bees around hive
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2019, 02:18:58 pm »
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.
There Is Peace In The Queendom

Offline TheFuzz

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Re: Dead bees around hive
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2019, 11:13:29 pm »
Thanks for clarifying this Jen.

Offline TheFuzz

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Re: Dead bees around hive
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2020, 03:52:55 am »
Shortly after I made this post, I sweeped up all the dead bees and disposed of them. Now about seven weeks later, there's yet again a huge pile up of dead bees, and here's some photos showing such:

https://postimg.cc/gallery/dKgDhJ1

I know bees die in high numbers quite naturally. Where these hives are, there's no dirt for the dead bees to decompose in, nor are there any ants coming to eat their dead bee bodies. The hives are also surrounded by a rather tall building, and then fence, so it'd be difficult for the bees to take their dead elsewhere, they'd have to fly over quite a tall fence in order to do so.

Is it possible that these bees are dying from natural causes? Perhaps with the tall fence, that's why they're building up their dead in large quantities here? Or is this not natural, and a sign that the bees are dying from something unnatural? These hives are in the suburbs, surrounded by people's homes, it wouldn't surprise me that at least a few people use poisonous spray on their gardens.

The hives themselves are all doing well, they're producing a good amount of honey and they have a healthy, large amount of bees in them. Are these bee deaths something I should be concerned about?

Online iddee

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Re: Dead bees around hive
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2020, 07:24:35 am »
I would be checking the neighborhood for poisons. It looks like way too many to be natural.
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Offline Zweefer

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Re: Dead bees around hive
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2020, 08:36:05 am »
I agree with iddee - first thing I’d check would be pesticides.
Keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.
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Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: Dead bees around hive
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2020, 09:26:03 am »
Poisoned honey bees will typically die with their proboscis, or tongues, sticking out.  It could also be a contaminated water source.  Have you provided fresh, clean water?

Offline TheFuzz

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Re: Dead bees around hive
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2020, 11:40:21 pm »
How would I check if someone is using pesticides? There's more than thousands of people living near me so any of them could be using pesticides.

I checked their tongues, and none of them seem to have their tongues sticking out.

I don't provide them with clean, fresh water. There's a few wetlands and duck ponds within their flying distance, I'm not sure where exactly where they're getting their water from though. Could it be worth it for me to supply my own water to them?

Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: Dead bees around hive
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2020, 10:34:31 am »
Can you post a close up picture of some of the dead bees?  That might help.

Even though I live next door to a city park with a fishing pond a stones throw from my hives, I keep bird baths filled with water for 12 months out of the year.  They also like the neighbor's hot tub.  My intention is to keep the bees from finding the hot tub but I think they can be attracted to the smell of the chemicals.  The bird baths are visited, even in winter.  I keep a bird bath heater on it to prevent freezing. Right now, August, they bees are shoulder to shoulder (wing to wing  :laugh:) at the bird bath closest to the hives.

Here's a picture I took yesterday of the favorite bird bath.  Ignore the dirty water.  :laugh: