Dear reader,

We were all anxious and looking forward to starting our bee season early this year, but then reality set in with the storm this past week.   Hopefully everyone had a chance to check their bees beforehand and made sure they had sufficient stores.   Most hives have been pretty busy raising brood and now must try to keep the temperature of the hive elevated to protect it.  This requires the consumption of much more stores than during the early winter when they had no brood to keep warm.   This is the time of the year were starvation kills bees.  It is also easier to loose bees to freezing as they resist clustering in an attempt to keep the brood warm.

I am traveling but if things go as planned should be back in time for our meeting on Monday.   If I don't make it in time, Tom Sotoridy will be covering until I arrive.  We will continue the discussion on preparing for this years bee season as well as open discussion, so bring your questions.

If you have any topics, ideas, or questions, feel free to contact us at BeeGroup@HVHives.com.

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Winter Losses

We encourage anyone that has lost a hive this winter to send a sample of the dead bees to Beltsville Lab for analysis.  This is a free service and can give you better insight to why the bees perished.  It is important that the sample of bees is collected before they start to decay.

Initial indications show that nosema has hit this area quite heavy.  

If you do send a sample for analysis, please consider sharing your results with us so that we can get a better understanding of losses in the area.

Information on collecting the sample and how/where to send it can be found here -> Beltsville Lab



Based on what I have been seeing in the past few weeks of peeking in and checking for signs of life and food stores both in my own apiaries and in many others, I am seeing the signs of nosema ceranae in about 25% of the dead outs. This supports the recent findings from Cornell indicating a rise in this spore born intestinal disease by about 10% statewide.

After doing some Web trolling, hitting the books, and consulting with our state apiarist Paul Cappy, I have the following to share. Recognizing nosema ceranae is difficult without a microscope. It is generally omnipresent in colonies, and affects the lower intestinal tract of the honeybee.

What causes it to become deadly to a colony?

The wintering conditions during clustering are moist and warm which is a prime environmental cause. If bees were fed lots of sugar syrup and are now getting into those stores, the obvious lack of nutrients also contribute. Further, pollen stored from last fall in the dearth, also deficient in nutrients was packed away probably with spores in it and now released or activated at a time when the natural defenses and supporting fresh nectar and pollen are not available.

What to look for

When doing your dead out forensics you should be looking for small clusters of bees in the far corners of the hive, especially at the top, away from the current brood frames. While this is an indication of ceranae infection, it may or may not be the primary reason for collapse. All of our colony pathogens seem to have a common symbiosis when once the immune system is weakened, it is a free for all of sorts. If your mite load was high in Aug and Sept, your bees were compromised, and not able to live as long as they should have. This got the brood rearing started earlier than usual and that required using up more stores than normal contributing to light stores in March or starvation.

Once the spinning away from health begins it is never one thing that brings a collapse, but rather a combination. Imperfect nutrition in fall, stored and relied upon in late winter, a compromised digestive track from nosema, shorter than normal life span from mites, throw in a virus or bacterial vector and Voila, dead hive syndrome.

Treating for mites and nosema are essential, unless of course you are ‘going native’ and well that’s for a different posting, but for now let’s address nosema treatments.

I cannot stress enough the value of your spring honey as a nutritive antidote later in the winter. Locust honey in particular is rated as one of the top 5 nutritive nectars. Coincidentally one of our tastiest spring varietals. I would suggest you leave as much of this stored away in the outer regions of your brood boxes and move to the top boxes in sept, to make available when they need it late winter.

Since this may not be practical for some, my suggestion is treat with NOSEVIT PLUS and not use Fumagilin-B, or any antibiotic. Research concluded that while a short term reduction on the nosema counts was noted, long term, nosema returned with an exponentially larger number, I think over 1,000%. The treatment mentioned applied as per directions works quite well and causes no harm and Treating prophylactically as a bit of insurance. Why continue treating through out the year? Chances are you will be doing some feeding each year so as an additive to sugar syrup, it will help on mold in containers as well as make sure the sugar ingested doesn’t create a relapse.
If you are a bit more serious you should requeen as soon as possible as it is spread invitro as well.


Equipment should get a scrub down of bleach solution and dried out prior to reuse. Since replacing infected equipment is not always possible, again I suggest Nosevit when feeding again. To really get spore counts down stop smashing bees, as one smashed worker can dump a huge fresh load of spores out to the house bees and fed back to larvae. You will need to be vigilant for several years, generally 3, to really have an impact to get to very low spore counts.

This is best done in spring before build up occurs, although this mild winter is redefining our usual dates by at least 2 weeks earlier. If some of your colonies are dwindling while others are booming it very well could be nosema, or a combination of pathogens.

Lastly a small 2 inch square should be removed from a brood frame and sent the the usda lab in Beltsville, MD. to get an idea of the spore count in your hives.

In conclusion, this is an easy pathogen to reel in and should not be a reason of why your losing colonies.



Honey Bees 911

A public reporting system to connect with beekeepers, so that honey bee swarms can be safely captured and relocated.  For additional details visit Honeybees911.com


Hudson Valley Hives is a beekeeping group that meets at the Olive Free Library on a monthly basis and discuss all things beekeeping. The meeting is driven by members questions and sharing experiences with the goal of spreading timely knowledge among fellow beekeepers. It is very informal and we welcome anyone interested to participate. If you are just thinking about getting started in beekeeping, a new beekeeper, or a seasoned beekeeper, you will benefit from the group discussions.  There is no membership fee. The Olive Free Library graciously provides a meeting place for our group and we encourage you to make a donation to the library if you find the BeeGroup helpful.

• What: Hudson Valley Hives BeeGroup

• Where: Olive Free Library, West Shokan

• When: 3rd Monday of the Month - 6:30PM 


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