Thursday, February 18, 2010
Winter Colony Losses
Beekeepers will find a number of their colonies have not survived the winter. The cause of the death of the bees is not always apparent. Starvation is probably the most common cause, and it is readily identified. Since the bees share food throughout the colony, the workers can be found with their heads in the cells where they died looking for the last of the food to pass around. If you click on the photo, you can see dead bees on the inner cover of the hive. The presence of drones indicates that this colony probably lost its queen in the fall. Colonies without a queen often retain their drones through the winter. The queen-less colony’s population dwindled till it could no longer warm itself. Other winter losses may occur as the result of infestations of mites or honey bee diseases, like Nosema. Early detection of the loss of the colony allows the beekeeper to protect hive equipment from scavengers, like the wax moths and small hive beetles, and prepare to start a new colony in the spring.