local-honey-bee-suppliesRJ Honey Farm

Hive Autopsy


A beekeeper must be a good coroner.

We finished our early spring inspections. There was some sadness. What you see in the picture is an in the field beehive autopsy by Drs. R&J.

Here were the findings.
  • Dead bees scattered around the hive and on bottom board
  • A lot of honey left (left side of top frame)
  • Frames with large holes chewed in them
  • Frame had the wax completely chewed out (rear frame)
  • Balls of plant material (see top of front frame)
  • Frames exhibiting chew marks
  • Live mice running around the hive

This was an easy one to diagnose. Somehow mice circumvented the mouse guard and invaded the hive. Judging from the large honey stores it happened late fall. Now why bees tolerate this intrusion is beyond me. They certainly didn't care for the kindly beekeeper feeding and treating them. One would think they'd get all over the mice and sting them. But they don't.

Why does this kill the hive? I think the disruption of the mice running around and destroying the hive prevents the bees from clustering. Then they freeze and die.

Other causes of hive death are: mites/viruses, nosema, moisture, failing queen, and more.

Autopsies are an important tool which will help you be a better beekeeper.