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Author Topic: Dead bees in top feeder- not drowning! Help!  (Read 247 times)

Offline lilouisianagal

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Dead bees in top feeder- not drowning! Help!
« on: October 17, 2020, 07:09:11 pm »
Went to top off the top feeder with syrup (1.5:1), saw ~30 dead bees on the inner cover. Our top feeder has two tanks and two access points. There were dead bees covering the dry bottom of the tanks (I put in 4 liters on Monday, apparently they really went through it). We had a problem previously with a few drowned bees, but thought we had resolved it with a bunch of twigs/small sticks for any bees that slip out of the feeding points.  Feeding points are covered in wire mesh to allow them to crawl down to the syrup and crawl back up. But the puzzling part this time was the deep layer of bees outside of the tanks. It was probably 700-1000 dead bees (4-6 cups?) altogether. Did they crawl into the feeder space then couldn't figure out how to get back into the hive? It seemed like the bees were much more agitated flying around the hive and I did see a few bee pairs that might have been fighting in among the bees dying in the top?

Background: First year hive, ~14 frames of brood last check (2 weeks ago) the rest of the bottom 2 deeps are honey. Queen excluder and one empty super that they did not draw out. We did not take any honey this year. We have been putting syrup up top for since late August, shifted from 1:1 to 1.5:1 about a month ago. HopGuard2 treatment in September (removed 2 weeks ago).

I have no idea what I'm doing but I'm doing my best to learn!

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Dead bees in top feeder- not drowning! Help!
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2020, 08:06:58 pm »
Welcome to Beemaster!  :happy:  That sounds like robbing to me.  Bees from a nearby colony are entering the hive to steal the food, which is resulting in fighting between your bees and the robbers.  I'd definitely reduce the entrance to the smallest possible size that your hive allows.  I'm not familiar with fall/winter management in your area, so I'm not sure what is the best course of action regarding continuing to feed them or not.  If possible, I'd remove the feeder and the empty super, but I'm not sure what size a hive should be at this time of year where you are.  I'm entering my third winter, so I'm not very experienced, but I'm sure someone else will chime in. 
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Brian MCquilkin

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Re: Dead bees in top feeder- not drowning! Help!
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2020, 08:53:39 pm »
Got to agree with The15thMember sounds like robbing to me.  Lock them up and put on robber screens on right away. In Louisiana your not going to have much of a winter and bees will be flying a lot during winter, not only your bees but also robbers from other colonies. So you will have to keep a closer eye on them.
With the warmer climate I wouldn't be so concern with  loss of the small amount of bees as the queen will continue lo lay, but more with the loss of recourses that the robbing has caused.
You might have to feed again but I would not do that till the robbing has stopped.
Despite my efforts the bees are doing great

Offline lilouisianagal

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Re: Dead bees in top feeder- not drowning! Help!
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2020, 09:30:06 pm »
I took the feeder off. I'll go out tomorrow and take off the super and reduce the entrance. So other bees will go all the way through the hive to get to the top feeder?

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Dead bees in top feeder- not drowning! Help!
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2020, 11:36:49 pm »
I took the feeder off. I'll go out tomorrow and take off the super and reduce the entrance. So other bees will go all the way through the hive to get to the top feeder?
They can, if there aren't enough bees in the hive to defend it adequately.  If the hive area, and particularly the entrance, is too large, the guard bees can be spread too thin and unable to catch all the invading robbers.  Then the robbers go back home and report the food source to other bees and their numbers only increase.  In extreme cases a weak hive can be totally overwhelmed and robbed out by a strong hive this way.  It's a common struggle in the fall, since foragers are having trouble finding nectar sources.     
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Dead bees in top feeder- not drowning! Help!
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2020, 09:49:47 am »
Welcome. The description of your feeding set up is a little confusing to me. Are the feeders homemade? In my limited experience, if robbing was the cause of so many dead bees the bees would have been seen fighting outside the hive and on the ground as well,  especially since this hive is strong, having 14 strong frames of brood. Without more information it is a guess.  To bad you can not post pictures. Again welcome to beemaster.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2020, 11:16:49 am by Ben Framed »
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline lilouisianagal

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Re: Dead bees in top feeder- not drowning! Help!
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2020, 11:41:59 am »
He's the topfeeder. My dad made it. He's official owner of the hive, but he lives 30 minutes out, so I do daily/weekly stuff because it's behind my house. [ You are not allowed to view attachments ]

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Dead bees in top feeder- not drowning! Help!
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2020, 12:42:26 pm »
He's the topfeeder. My dad made it. He's official owner of the hive, but he lives 30 minutes out, so I do daily/weekly stuff because it's behind my house.  [ You are not allowed to view attachments ]
Lilouisianagal, did you find the dead bees in the area around the feeders where your bees cannot access it?  Because if so, then Ben Framed is right, they weren't entering through your bees' entrance.  Is there a hole somewhere that would allow outside bees to enter the space around the feeders?  I do still think it would be wise to restrict the entrance and remove the super and feeder until things settle down.   
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline lilouisianagal

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Re: Dead bees in top feeder- not drowning! Help!
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2020, 01:25:34 pm »
I didn't see any coming or going from under the lid. All of the bees that I saw were in the feeder box though, I didn't see a big pile in front of the entrance. We occasionally will see ants, beetles, or roaches coming/going under the lid to the feeder. I took off the feeder, super, queen screen, and blocked all except a 2 bee entrance (they had stuck the entrance guard down really good in the medium setting, so I put a piece of wood in to block most of the entrance that was left. But they were angry today! Usually they are so chill, but yesterday and today they were angry and defensive.

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Dead bees in top feeder- not drowning! Help!
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2020, 02:39:14 pm »
He's the topfeeder. My dad made it. He's official owner of the hive, but he lives 30 minutes out, so I do daily/weekly stuff because it's behind my house.  [ You are not allowed to view attachments ]
Lilouisianagal, did you find the dead bees in the area around the feeders where your bees cannot access it?  Because if so, then Ben Framed is right, they weren't entering through your bees' entrance.  Is there a hole somewhere that would allow outside bees to enter the space around the feeders?  I do still think it would be wise to restrict the entrance and remove the super and feeder until things settle down.   

> I do still think it would be wise to restrict the entrance and remove the super and feeder until things settle down.   

I agree with you Member. Sound advice. 



Being the 700-1000 bees were found on the outside of the open feeder pans, the only space seen in the picture is on the bottom where the feeder trays are resting. There are derbies still scattered about on this bottom. Is this where you found so many dead bees? With the design of this type feeder, bees should not be able to reach any area beyond the inside or the feeder box and its screen assembly. The open feeder tray and the remaining open space where the derbies are seen should be totally restricted and off limits to the bees, if these nice built feeders are working properly. Otherwise the bees have found a way to this of limits area. That would account for so many dead bees but still does not explain why many bees were not found in the open trays also.  The open trays should have been full of dead bees also.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2020, 03:00:56 pm by Ben Framed »
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Dead bees in top feeder- not drowning! Help!
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2020, 04:06:42 pm »
But they were angry today! Usually they are so chill, but yesterday and today they were angry and defensive.
That's to be expected if they are dealing with robbing.   

The open trays should have been full of dead bees also.
Another good point, Phillip.  If the robbers are entering the feeder through a hole in the lid, it would be odd that the open trays of syrup wouldn't be full of drowning robbers.  Were the trays clear of bees, Lilouisianagal?   

 
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Offline lilouisianagal

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Re: Dead bees in top feeder- not drowning! Help!
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2020, 04:36:57 pm »
They were in the feeders also. Really deep 1-1.5 inches of bees in the non tank space, Single layer or dead bees in the tanks, no dead bees within the netted feeding point.

I took off the super, feeder box, and restricted the entrance. Any special cautions we should take when opening the hive in a couple of weeks? We were planning on checking for varroa +/- apivar if seeing any mites. We usually cover any removed deeps with a sheet.

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Dead bees in top feeder- not drowning! Help!
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2020, 05:05:15 pm »
They were in the feeders also. Really deep 1-1.5 inches of bees in the non tank space, Single layer or dead bees in the tanks, no dead bees within the netted feeding point.
Okay, then definitely the robbers are somehow getting in near the lid.  Whenever you put the feeder back on (again, I'm not personally knowledgeable about management with your area's weather and such) check really well for holes in the setup and try to seal them up. 

I took off the super, feeder box, and restricted the entrance. Any special cautions we should take when opening the hive in a couple of weeks? We were planning on checking for varroa +/- apivar if seeing any mites. We usually cover any removed deeps with a sheet.
I've been dealing with a lot of robbing lately when working hives in my apiary.  Covering the removed boxes is a great precaution, especially if you have the box set on something that doesn't let bees enter the box from underneath.  For example, in the summer, when robbing isn't a problem, I usually set my boxes skewed on the upside down lid while inspecting, but right now during robbing season, I stack the top boxes tightly square inside the upside down tops, so no robbers can sneak in.  Something else I have found helpful is to use an old pillowcase to cover about half of the box I'm inspecting, so not all the frames are exposed to robbers while I'm working.  This can also help with testy bees, since the whole box is less aware of your presence as you are working the box.  A little more smoke is sometimes helpful too, to mask the smell of the open hive.  Work quickly and efficiently during robbing season, and if things start to get out of hand, just close up the hive and try again the next day.  I've had to do that several times this fall.         
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Dead bees in top feeder- not drowning! Help!
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2020, 10:54:10 pm »
They were in the feeders also. Really deep 1-1.5 inches of bees in the non tank space, Single layer or dead bees in the tanks, no dead bees within the netted feeding point.
Okay, then definitely the robbers are somehow getting in near the lid.  Whenever you put the feeder back on (again, I'm not personally knowledgeable about management with your area's weather and such) check really well for holes in the setup and try to seal them up. 

       

Unless, the multitude of dead bees in this restricted area may be, bees from this home hive. Could it be bees of this hive, are getting into the restricted area? Either from the inside or the outside? Just food for thought.

Adding, does the top fit flush with the box itself? Are there any cracks or openings from the outside of the hive to this area? If not the bees have an unwanted access from within the hive. Find and fix this unauthorized entry, and this should fix your problem.



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« Last Edit: October 19, 2020, 02:46:59 pm by Ben Framed »
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.