I hear often beekeepers that are both new and old to beekeeping say they lost a hive or lost one of their hives and somehow writing the experience off to these thing just happen, usually with a shrug of their shoulders when asked how or why did they loose it.
This subject is worth discussing here as a lessons learnt segment as it presented itself over the weekend when I was assisting a new beekeeper to check their Flow Hive that suddenly had no bee activity. An inspection of the bees, which he had purchased of a member off a local club member, very quickly identified that they had starved to death due to insufficient food reserved left for them by their landlord, the beekeeper, who negligently failed in his duty of care for the bees in his care in not providing them with enough food stores to get them through winter. Just as importantly he also hadn’t considered supplementing their food reserves noting that the colony they they were contained within was a single eight frame brood box only.
The phenomenon, generally referred to by beekeepers as ‘deadouts’ is very quickly identified and the picture shows typically what you will face;
The heads down, bum up scene of horror (BTW again sorry for not placing a disclaimer pre- warning that dead bees would be seen in the above image), but this image shows that the bees, all of them, were all trying to feed on whatever reserves they had remaining. A fellow beekeeper refers to this site as the coffin scene arguing that they all appear to be in their individual coffins, a sad thought.
Had this beekeeper intervened earlier they would have quickly identified that their was little in the way of food reserves remaining in the hive and hence started supplemental feeding of the colony.
Accepting that their are significant urban myths associated with how, when, what and why to feed your bees, feeding them white sugar, never brown or raw sugar as they contain ash that leads to very real digestion problems for the bees, is the simple fix that helps get a colony through winter.
The myth that you should feed them syrup in the mids of winter is again a furphy but I wont get too far off this subject as its not about feeding bees per-say. That said its probably relevant to add a post soon here on the ins and outs of feeding your bees to help empower people to keep their bees alive in times of need.
Anyway, so I don’t ramble on for too much longer a good post on how to autopsy a bee colony can be found at;
So, please give the link a read, see what you think, I think its a good post and certainly worth sharing with fellow beekeepers…
So, in summary please don’t forget to check your bees and make sure they have enough food available to them to get themselves through winter!
Kind regards to you all and your bees