I am fairly new to bee keeping and have only 4 hives. 3 of the hives are doing well and I see many bees coming and going all the time. The forth hive has much fewer bees coming and going, and I notice quite a few dead bees on the landing and on the ground in front of the hive. Help me understand what can be going wrong with this hive. Thanks.
I don't keep bees and so have no experience, but I understand that bees can suffer from various parasites and other problems. I think you will need to examine the inside of the hive to find out whether they have fallen prey to veroa mites or any of the other nasties.
Good luck - I hope you can cure the problem
To Countryfarms. Check your hives and make sure there are no nasties on board. If you are certain of this and you just have a weak hive, you can exchange positions with a strong hive and put the strong hive where the weak one was. Do this at night and only after blocking the entrances of each hive until after the change.
What will happen is that the workers of the strong hive will come back to the position of their former hive, thus strengthening the weak one. The bees won't fight when a new bee tries to enter the hive as the new bee will be loaded with nectar or pollen etc. After a short while the new bees will acquire the smell of their new hive and all will live happy ever after.
Check for mites. If you put a board underneath the hive and rub some petrolium jelly onto it, it'll catch the mites on the board and give you a clue as to how many are in each hive. If it's not a mite problem, you could have foulbrood or one of many other diseases in the hive. If the hive dies and you want to reuse it, irradiate it first and destroy any comb that was in there.
This subject was on the news just yesterday. Seems that there has been a definate decline in the bee population across the middle U.S.
It was on the national news, maybe some of you saw it.
It seems to be a major concern to environmentalists, because of the necessity of the the bees to pollenate our agricultural crops. Fewer bees to pollenate, means smaller crops, and higher prices for that produce and shortages.
We already pay so much for fresh produce when we have to buy it. I hope the bees recover and the population increases.
There was a similar blight to this one in the 20s and 30s which, coincidentally, was around the time when mass pesticide spraying took a stronghold in the agricultural world. Scientists are still debating the cause, but whatever it is, it appears to be an opportunistic killer as almost every affected hive had evidence of one of the various other problems associated with population loss, so it was weakened to begin with. A local hypothesis blames the current West Nile Virus spraying, but there's no scientific proof to support that theory as of yet. That's just a rumor at this point.
It is being called hive dieoff and no one yet seems to know what it causing it. It is a problem on the west coast because the commercial beekeepers are losing hives at a fast rate. Some of them have lost half of their hives. Saw the segment about hive dieoff in New Jersey. Hasn't hit around west TN yet. My hus. is a beekeeper and has not lost any of his hives so far.
If the bees cease to exist, then in 5 - 10 yrs. we will start becoming extinct. Without bees to pollinate food crops, then we are doomed. LIZ
I lived in ARkansas (NW corner) for over 10 years & I had trouble with anything being properly fertilized because of lack of bees. I think I saw a few one or two of those years but mostly I didn't see any. They were very rare to see & I would thrill in my heart to see them because I knew there was a definite decline in the bee populations because of different things killing them off such as those dreadful mites.
Sometimes a hive just dies off from natural causes. If the queen dies on her mating flight, then no new cells are fertilized, and the death rate becomes 100% eventually. Sometimes it's a substandard queen.
I think EVERYONE, no just keepers, should buy a beekeeping book because this is an important issue to understand these days.
It is certainly something to be concerned about. I am happy that we have many honey bees and wild bees in the garden this year. We are planting extra bee plants to keep them happy and really appreciating them.
Not to downplay colony collapse as it is a major problem, but keep in mind that the domestic honey bee did not exist in North America prior to it's introduction by the first European settlers and that the honey bee, while the best known and most prolific is not the only pollinator. Certain species flies, bumble bees, carpenter bees, wasps, moths, butterflies, birds and the wind also pollinate.
I have been wondering where the bees are all spring..we have many flowering trees around here, plus wisteria which REALLY attracts the bees...except this year..so far I have seen only 3 bees on the front Redbud tree...thats not very many.
I just read this on the news tonight..
[quote]Albert Einstein, quoted in Germany's Der Spiegel, once said, "if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man."
DH is a commercial Bee Keeper. You can get lots of information from your local Agricultural Commission, your State Bee Keepers Associations, and the National Bee Keepers Association.
Lots of good research is going on. Here in CA, the Entymologists at UC Davis have been aware of the tracheal mite problems and the Sudden Colony Collapse. He's been struggling to solve this alone for a long time, but now we have more money for research.
We and other bee keepers lost almost half of our hives to SCC a few years ago. Since then DH has devoted a lot of time to the care, medicating, feeding (during the winter months) and rebuilding the hive strength, to make sure our hives are strong to pollinate crops in the spring.
At the same time we've had to replace the dead hives. It's been a real hardship for those of us who make our living from working the bees.
My Youngest Brother saw this article in yesterdays' news and forwarded it on to me. I found it to be fascinating. www.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/science/07bees.html?_r=3&src=me
A team of Entymologists from Europe are also working on a new hybrid that combines the best qualities of the gentle European Honey Bee with those of the African Honey Bee.
For once, the average person is becoming aware of how much we depend on and rely upon bees, for our crops. There are other pollinators, but none as efficient or as non-discriminating when it comes to Honey Bee. Most other pollinators only go after certain types of plants. The honey bee will collect nectar and pollen from any blooming plant it can.
I even heard a recent report that NASA is looking into sending bees on the first manned mission to Mars. I love the Science Channel. : - )
I always teased my ES that I hoped he'd be the first Bee Keeper on the moon. LOL!
You never know! : - )
Hope the above is helpful to hobbyists and to commercial bee keepers alike.
Walk In Beauty!