Absconded!

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hamptor
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Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:47 pm

Absconded!

Post by hamptor » Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:18 pm

Well, I had 5 hives in the summer - all relatively strong with decent stores, and now on Dec. 22, I have 1. They all seem to have absconded. The first hive left in September. I peeped in the 3 that I hadn't seen any activity at the entrance for a couple of weeks. One hive had about a dozen bees in it which I think might be robbing stores, and the others are just gone. There are no dead bees, and all three had plenty of stores. They all had queens in October/November. I treated for mites with Apiguard in August/September. So any ideas on what happened? Where'd my bees go??? How do I prevent this?

Wally
Guard bee
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Re: Absconded!

Post by Wally » Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:14 pm

First, did you check to be sure the queens were still laying after the treatment?

Second, did you do a mite count afterward to see how effective the treatment was?

It sounds as if they went queenless and/or the treatment didn't sufficiently lower the mite count.

hamptor
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Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:47 pm

Re: Absconded!

Post by hamptor » Tue Dec 26, 2017 8:51 am

I did check on the queens and they were laying. I also did the mite count which had been very high at over 150. Two of the hives got down to 7 and 8 after the second treatment. I didn't record the third. Maybe 7 & 8 was still too high.

Jacobs
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Re: Absconded!

Post by Jacobs » Tue Dec 26, 2017 8:57 am

Another consideration may be the age of your comb. As it ages, more and more pesticides/fungicides concentrate in the comb. I am having a few more unexplained deadouts this year and think this may be one of the factors. Last summer I started putting a couple of strong hives to work drawing fresh comb. I plan on continuing doing this this year if I have enough strong hives. I want to get more aggressive about replacing old comb and see if that helps. It can't hurt.

hamptor
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Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:47 pm

Re: Absconded!

Post by hamptor » Tue Dec 26, 2017 3:17 pm

I took notice of that this year, too, and started replacing the oldest and darkest comb but I didn't do anything near a wholesale turnover of the dark comb. I planned on doing a few every year so I'd have new frames for them to draw out and yet have frames with comb ready for the queen to lay in. It could be that I had too much old comb in those hives. I wonder if much research is being done on absconding. I'm hearing it happen to more and more beekeepers. I think we'd all like some answers to avoid it happening anymore.

hamptor
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Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:47 pm

Re: Absconded!

Post by hamptor » Tue Dec 26, 2017 3:39 pm

I just read Randy Oliver's article Absconded or Death by Varroa, and I think my hives must have died from varroa. His article points out that it happens quickly in Sept, Oct & Nov to strong hives in a short pd. Of time - within a 21 day cycle. The hive leaves behind plenty of stores and some brood. I had this in all 3 of mine. His descriptors seems to fit what I saw happen in mine - even though I treated each hive twice with Apiguard. I might have to rethink my varroa treatment plan for next year.

Gary B
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Joined: Sat May 10, 2014 5:08 am
Location: Summerfield NC

Re: Absconded!

Post by Gary B » Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:14 pm

I had a similar thing happen as well. Had two new packages all drawing new comb this year. Both hives got pretty strong with two double deeps. I didn't try to collect any honey this year as I wanted them to build up. I treated for Varroa, although I didn't think I would need to being new packages, but I did it anyway with the OA vaporizing method. I did one treatment each week for three weeks which covers the whole 21 day cycle. On one of my treatments I counted 38 dead varroa on the sticky board. At the time I was happy that I killed a lot of Varroa, but looking back on it I think I treated too late (late Sep/early Oct) as it meant I had a lot of Varroa in the hive. Sure enough in the course of a couple weeks I saw the SHB moving in, signaling that my hive was stressed. I still saw the queen laying weeks after the treatments, however I think they were already too weak. By late Nov they were dead. I had been feeding a lot trying to make them strong and have several frames of drawn and capped honey. Next year, as soon as I pull Supers in July, I'm going to be treating for Varroa immediately. I also failed to treat for Tracheal Mites with the menthol. I've read from George Imirie that if you have a lot of stores and the bees are gone or dead it could also be tracheal mites. In any case, I'm going to be much more diligent on the mite patrol next year!

hamptor
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Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:47 pm

Re: Absconded!

Post by hamptor » Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:45 pm

You know, I treated soon after I pulled honey in early August. Treated twice with Apiguard which is also supposed to deal with the trachael mites. I finished treatment around mid September. I'm wondering if the warm weather allowed them to build back up in October...
It's interesting that you used OA and had the same results. I was thinking I might should try OA next year to change up my treatment plan, but that doesn't seem to be the answer either. I wonder if a treatment of OA and then a treatment of Apiguard would work. OA to knock down the mites, and Apiguard to finish the mites and trachael mites.
I'm searching for answers....

specialkayme
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Re: Absconded!

Post by specialkayme » Sun Dec 31, 2017 7:20 am

You had mite counts of 150? What method did you use?

If you tested 300 bees and got 150 mites from that sample, you had a 50% infestation rate. If you get infestation rates that high, the hive is already dead. They just don't know it yet. Nothing much you can do to save them after that.

Many advocate that infestation rates of 2% are your treatment threshold (Jennifer Berry for one). Most indicate an infestation rate above 8-10% is fatal. At 50%, they had no chance. I don't let my hives get above 4% infestation rates, and I like to get the counts in August down to 1% or less.

Keeping all that in mind, and based on your description, it was varroa mites that caused your problems (as I'm sure you already figured out).

Live and learn. It's happened to me in the past too.

Jacobs
Guard bee
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Re: Absconded!

Post by Jacobs » Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:04 am

I'm thinking that was a sticky board count and not a sugar roll result. The highest sugar roll I got this season was 30.

hamptor
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Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:47 pm

Re: Absconded!

Post by hamptor » Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:48 pm

Yes that was a sticky board count. Still very high.
But I want to be able to take honey - assuming I have honey in the hive next year. If I take a mite count in the spring and need to treat, what do I use that won't affect the honey supers?

Wally
Guard bee
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Re: Absconded!

Post by Wally » Thu Jan 04, 2018 7:24 am

I would treat in the next 30 days with OAV, then check and treat just after harvest.
The club team can help if you haven't used OAV before.

Jacobs
Guard bee
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Location: Greensboro, NC

Re: Absconded!

Post by Jacobs » Thu Jan 04, 2018 7:35 am

Mite a Way Quick Strips (formic acid) is the only treatment labelled for use with honey supers on. If you have honey supers on without brood in them, I have read about pushing the bees out of them and either removing the super for OA vaporization and putting it back on after about 15 minutes or putting solid cardboard/wood between the honey super and the treated area during the vaporization. This seems to make sense since the vapors will settle within the hive within a few minutes after vaporizing.

I am waiting for 37 degree+ weather to finish OA "winter" treatments on my hives. The low/no brood period is the best time/most effective time for OA since it doesn't kill mites in the capped brood. MAQS does kill varroa mites under the capped brood.

I have not searched out the label for FormicPro, which I understand is the new formulation for MAQS.

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