Sad News

A friend was over today and was interested in the bee hive. So we went over to look at it, and I noticed two dead bees on the landing board. No other activity. I got a bad feeling. Immediately I thought about working in the garden the last couple of days, and I'd seen a marked decrease in bee action in the flowers. And those dead white things we kept finding, what I thought were larvae. I quickly got my hive tool and the smoker and we opened the hive.

Right away I knew something was wrong. There were no bees. In a top bar hive, you start inspections at the back of the hive, away from the entrance. Usually it's the less busy end of the hive, but there are still always lots of bees there. Not today. I started moving bars out and looking at them, and still no bees. Then we started to see dead bees and dead larvae littering the bottom of the hive. Bees are fastidious creatures, there should be no mess. Then, the worst part: We got to the brood comb (or where the brood comb should be), and all we saw were tiny wax cubicles with dead larvae in them. No eggs. No sign of the queen (though I didn't look very hard). There were even some bees who had started to hatch, and died halfway through the process, half their little bodies sticking out of the comb.

There were bees on two bars. There should be 30, 000.

Naturally, I was, and am, devastated. I have no idea what has caused this. There is no sign of webs, insects, mice, robbing. There is bar after bar of honey. Some of the bees have disappeared, and many are dead in the hive.

Two weeks ago, this was a thriving, busy hive. What happened?

My working hypothesis right now is that it is some sort of toxicity problem. I have emails out to all my beekeeper groups and friends. I am scouring the web. Since there is no sign of disease or mites, it really all points to pesticide poisoning.

I will post more about it as I know more. I am just sick about this, and don't really know what to do next. I'm frustrated, and mad, and most of all, very sad.