Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Death of a Colony :(

Well with the warming of the past few days (50s) I expected to see some activity around the hive - alas none. So my mentor suggested I take a look inside to see what was going on. Well - bad news the bees are all dead. I have posted some pictures to hopefully get some help in diagnosing what happened.

The first picture is a close-up of part of the brood frame. If you remember from the previous posts the bees were really only growing brood on this one frame. If you zoom in on the center of the frame you will see a lot of bee butts because their heads are down in the cells. If I have read correctly this is an indication that the bees have starved. When it got really cold they clustered and could not reach the syrup I had on top of the inner cover and ran out of the stores they had put away on the comb.

The second picture is the opposite side of the brood frame. It does look like the bees went up to find food but the syrup did not fit the bill for them.

The third picture is of the comb that they had pulled on the next frame. They had put syrup in these cells and it looks like they went through it before running out.

The fourth picture shows the opposite side of the same frame. It looks like they had stored some honey over there, but didn't make it there when it got really cold.

The final picture looks down into the hive from the top and show the bees piled up on the bottom board. The other reason for showing this picture is to note the liquid interspersed with the bee bodies. If you were a keen observer you would also have noticed some liquid on the top bar in picture number one. I am assuming that this is syrup that has leaked out of my feeder jars. Obviously this could have had a deleterious effect on the bees if they got "wet" and then the cold weather came in. I think that I have read that the syrup jars will begin to leak when the temperature gets really cold (ie it reverses the pressure in the jars).

So this is all speculation - I would really appreciate some "expert" diagnosis on what happened here and what I should do next time to keep this from happening!

I hope to replace the bees so I can still continue to learn this spring.

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