Death of a Hive

Hives do die sometimes, even if you give them the best of care. As I have said in earlier posts, I had two hives one strong and aggressive and one docile and weak. The weak one did eventually die. It didn't happen all at once, it was more of a progression. I will detail that progression in this post.

I first noticed that some of the bees in the weak hive had DWV, Deformed Wing Virus. As pictured here. 
 I treated both hives with Apivar strips and talked with others that said the hive should be ok. DWV is one of the main diseases that honey bees get from the varroa mites. If wide spread the hive will not be able to provide for and itself and die.

I next noticed strange looking brood cells in the weak hive compared to my strong hive. See below the left is good brood the right is all droan brood.

The worker bee brood is flat across the top and the droan brood is humped up. Droans are the males and are only needed for mating. They do no work in the hive like the female worker bees do. A hive should have some droans but if all they are laying is droans, it can be a sign of a laying worker. This happens if the queen dies off and a worker starts laying instead. Also, if the queen dies off you will see the bees creating queen cells as seen below. They can raise their own queen by feeding a larvae royal jelly.

I found out from my local bee supply company that I needed to re-queen this hive and get rid of the laying worker. The procedure to do this was to take the hive 100 yards or so away from where it was currently and remove each frame brushing off all the bees on the ground and putting each frame and piece of the hive into a covered container. Then take the cleaned off hive parts back to the original spot. By the time I got there the bees were already flying around the area looking for the hive. I put the hive back together and they started filling it again. This left the laying workers, that couldn't fly, on the ground and the rest returned to the hive. I then introduced the new queen to the hive in normal fashion. After this I monitored the hive weekly to watch its progress. I was pleased to see good female worker bee brood being produced. This showed me that the new queen had been accepted and she was producing good brood.

After some weeks the weak hive seemed to still be weak and not producing like the strong hive. I was told by some that is how it is many times and that sometimes the workers from the weak hive will just join the strong because it looks better. I noticed that the weak hive had a sporadic brood pattern like below. See how there are brood cells, cells with pollen and cells with honey all together. Normally brood is in the middle, then pollen and honey on the outside. 

After a few more weeks I noticed the number of bees in the weak hive were extremely low and it looked like there might not even be a queen in the hive again.
These may have been bees from other hives just raiding what was left. The next week was even worse.
 No honey, no pollen, no brood, no bees. My weak hive was gone.  I took out the frames that still had a little pollen and honey on them and stood them beside the hive to allow my other hive to clean them up. Sad day :(
I took that hive and put it in the freezer for 24 hours, to kill anything that might be in or on it. Then I put it in a large trash bag and sealed it up. Now it is ready for a new package of bees next year. 
I will continue to blog my experiences.


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