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  Monday, 23 February 2015
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My observation hive has been humming along all winter. They have been gnawing on a small patty and taking some sugar water. I can see that they have stored "nectar" in the combs and they have been very active. I have noticed a little spotting on the glass and thought that my bees ad become too spoiled to go out when everyone else was taking cleansing flights. Tonight, I peaked in and the bottom was covered with dead bees. Worse, the outside exit hole was plugged with dead bees and some dis-assembly revealed that the exit tube was quite congested as well. Up until now they have been bringing their dead to the mouseguard at the outside exit and I have been clearing them out as needed. Clearly they were overwhelmed though. Instead of the usual wax/bee smell there is a kind of sweet sickly smell - perhaps just from dead bees? I disconnected the tube and vacuumed out most of the dead bees but there is still a pile on the hive floor I cannot reach. There are a few more dying bees on the floor but the remainder seem to have clustered on the middle frames and look healthy enough. There are a bunch running around as well (probably in response to the light I have on them). I'm not sure what to make of this - they were fine a day or two ago.I can't clean things up without opening the hive but I'm worried about disturbing them. My thought is to take them into the garage (kind of cold) and open the hive and put all the frames in a nuc with the entrance blocked while I clean out the dead, clean the glass, etc.and then reassemble things and bring them back in. I'm hoping they don't have brood in there yet but I don't think I can leave all those dead bees in there and I'm not sure they could drag them all out even if they wanted to. Thoughts on causes, thoughts on action plan are all welcome. I'll probably be able to tackle this tomorrow after lunch.
7 years ago
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#1159
It would be awesome if you posted some Picts of the cluster?
7 years ago
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#1158
Mystery solved. Apparently the egress tube had become plugged with dead bees. The "choir practice" was the bees expressing their displeasure. Perhaps there had been more cleansing flights than I realized and with the tube blocked well - you know what happened. Why so many died at one time - I cannot say but I knew I had to do something. I had a talk with them and I guess they agreed that an intrusion was necessary. I took both cloth covers off so they could look out the window while I worked. With them marveling at the snow outside I removed one of the glass sides and pulled the plastic bag down to cover things. I held it in place with some elastic bands. I had to scrape the glass and wash it good with just water. I had a small hand vac so I sucked out the dead bees and then unblocked the egress by hand. Ugh. I should mention that I had a stick of patchouli incense burning in case I needed smoke so perhaps they were meditating. With the glass clean and the dead bees removed I rotated the hive so the clean side was facing out. Well there were more bees on this side but I figured what the heck so I repeated the process. They were remarkably cooperative - a few ducked out and took the opportunity to fly around the room and buzz n the window screen. Before I closed things up I put a nice strip of winter patty on the top frames for them to eat. After closing up I removed the screen on one of the vent ports and using a plastic clip queen catcher I grabbed the ones on the window and the rug and shooed them back inside. I'm puzzled abut why so many died at once when they have been so healthy all winter but the rest seem happy and quiet now. They are mostly clustered on the middle frames but there is already a crew up on the patty.So lost a few bees to stress I guess and got everything cleaned up nice. No stings so either talking to them or patchouli incense must have done the trick!
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