February 2012 Meeting - Exploring Hive Loss

 

James, our apiary manager brought unfortunate news from the apiary this month - one of our colonies has failed to make it through winter, dying off in early February.

He brought the complete hive along to our meeting, and went through it with everyone, to try and understand what killed off our bees, and how we should proceed as we come into spring.

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First glance in the hive shows the bees have clearly been at the fondant they were given. James starts the inspection - he finds plenty of capped stores. A couple more frames in, still plenty of untouched food.
     
Lots of capped honey.   James makes it as far as the start of the brood area - the problem begins to become evident.
     
James begins to find cells emptied of food, and bees head-first in the cells. A sad sight, indeed! Bees who had been working through the supplied fondant at the time of death.
     

Drone brood in worker cells shows that the colony had either a failed queen, or laying workers. Either way, they went into winter without a healthy queen.

Not the greatest picture - but it shows more bees head-first in the cells.
It is now evident that without a healthy queen, insufficient worker brood was raised, leading to a cold winter cluster, which subsequently suffered from isolation starvation.
They had plenty of food - but were too cold to move far enough to find it.
Chris shows a frame from one of his hives, which came under attack from a woodpecker.
Unfortunately, the woodpecker left little more than this frame. The colony was decimated, and did not survive.