Colony Collapse Disorder

I took a quick look in both hives 2 and 4 with the camera! Here’s what I found…

There was almost nothing in this hive (hive 4). The queen was gone, and I’d guesstimate there were maybe 20 bees in the entire hive, most of them in the cluster in the picture. They quickly scattered when I opened the hive.

According to Wikipedia, Colony Collapse has three main signs:

  1. Presence of capped brood that was abandoned
  2. Presence of food that is not immediately robbed
  3. Presence of the queen

We know in hive 4 that I saw the queen, because she’s marked, and I saw her on Halloween. There was some brood (all dead) and quite a bit of honey.

Here’s what you get for the capped brood. This was pretty similar to hive 2 as well. If you notice in the center of the picture (zoom in), there is a dead bee halfway through hatching from the cell.

The big difference in brood between 2 and 4 is that 2 had tons of eggs and dead larvae. Hive 4 had only this. Not much else. I did not inspect every frame, but the frames that had brood that I did inspect, looked like this. I should note that this queen is particularly hygienic and that hive 2 is her daughter.

I was expecting to see more bodies, but this is all there was on the bottom of the hive. Just a few body parts resting on the screened board.

So I think it’s safe to say CCD for both Hive 2 and Hive 4 at this point, which I find troubling. Both hives definitely had enough honey and pollen on hand. Both had the strength (especially 2) to survive the winter. So why did they die? Where did they go?

And a question for others, but is it safe to harvest the remaining stores and wax in these hives? I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything on that….

Sigh…

But so that I don’t end this on such a depressing topic, here’s some pictures of our honey harvest this year!

This is a big scoop off the top of a 5-gallon bucket!

Here’s the majority of our haul this year with one last frame that I gave back to the bees instead of harvesting. Missing from this picture is 8 quart jars of honey and 10 of the 10-oz. jars that I took to work. The glass jars are full pint jars mixed in with a few half-pints.

And here’s a shot of the bees cleaning the wax. I had two pans this size filled to the top with wax.

And with this I think we can call it a wrap on beekeeping 2012. At least as far as the actually working with the hives goes. I may harvest 2 and 4 just to start from scratch next year, but… we’ll see.

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3 Responses to Colony Collapse Disorder

  1. Emily Heath says:

    Very sad indeed. If only we knew more about how CCD works. For some reason it doesn’t really occur in the UK and isn’t officially recognised as a problem here.

    You shouldn’t feed the honey from these hives to other bees, but I’m not sure on opinions about whether it’s safe for humans. Your honey harvest looks beautiful.

  2. It’s really sad! In Switzerland we lost 30-50% last year (CCD as well!).
    I’m a beekeeper as well and we had some lost as well during autumn 2011, but we were still lucky comparing to others! This years it seems to be better.
    Last Sunday we saw the famous movie “More than honey”. You can find in my blog informations about this and the trail link: http://artandkitchen.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/more-than-honey/
    In Switzerland antibiotics and acaricides are forbidden for beekeeping. Against varroa we use only formic and oxalic acid as well as essetial oils.

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