This was a very depressing task but if I am making mistakes I want to learn from them! Usually a hive dies because either they starved to death, they froze to death (these two are often connected), or they had some sort of disease or queenless problem. Here is what I found:
First off, I noticed that the dead bees on the bottom board were mostly on the left hand side.
|Dead bees on the bottom board|
Usually they cluster in the middle of the box but for whatever reason they favored the left hand side. The top of the picture shown here is facing the North, so bees started on the West (left) side of the box (frame 1). I'm not really sure if that evidence is of any note. The lack of dead bees on the bottom of this picture is because that is where the hive entrance was located and I had been cleaning the dead bees out of the entrance every week.
After looking over a few of the frames I could see they were mostly devoid of honey.
There was a tiny bit of honey on the top of the first frame, but the rest were empty.
The size of the cluster looked pretty large to me so I think they had plenty of bees to generate enough heat to stay alive.
On the fourth frame I noticed a small patch of brood.
You can see about eight capped brood cells amongst the dead and moldy bees with their heads down in the cells.
The other side of of this frame had even more capped brood cells.
Not a drop of honey on these frames until frame 8, 9 and 10.
With no honey left on the frames that the cluster was on and also that there were brood on those frames, I would say that the cluster was unable to move to the honey next to them. Essentially they starved/froze to death. In a sad twist, I'm wondering if there weren't TOO MANY bees in the hive!
Well, on a more positive note, I had ordered two more packages of bees that are scheduled to arrive on April 26. Also, the Siberian Squill that I planted in the Fall for the bees is up!
I have also been working on my solar powered Arduino hive monitor and I have it working. I need to build a stand of some sort for the solar panel and set it up out in the bee yard.
Another one of my goals this year is to introduce some Michigan survivor stock genetics into my apiary. I've been in contact with Northern Bee Network and I plan to order some queens once my new bees are established.
Thank goodness for the renewal of Spring!! As always, thanks for reading.