Why Bees Die In Autumn (Causes, Treatment, Care, Prevention)

A bee apiary is not only a profitable financial investment, a profitable business, and the constant availability of bee products. This is a rather complicated work that requires regular preventive and mandatory seasonal work in the apiary.

Despite all the efforts of the expert and beginner beekeepers, bee colonies can die due to many factors. Let us consider in detail the question why bees die in autumn, what factors contribute to this. Let’s talk about the proper care of honey-bearing insects in the autumn period and preventive work aimed at controlling pests and preventing their appearance.

Why Bees Die In Autumn

Table of Contents

Why bees die in autumn? (Causes)

The death of bees in the autumn is one of the most common problems that every beekeeper can face. Such a problem seriously affects not only the honey collection and its quality but also the viability of strong bee colonies.

Among the main reasons are viruses and the attack of parasites, which further entail the weakening and death of the entire family of honey plants.

After an active period of collecting pollen from plants and trees, all insects are greatly weakened, which increases the risk of death several times more. Another negative factor is varroa mites, which create a number of additional problems for the beekeeper that require urgent solutions. You can remove such parasites with the help of Bipinamite or other strong and effective means.

Bad honey collection

The death of a bee colony can be provoked even by adverse climatic conditions, for example, hot autumn.

The productive and long life of each individual bee colony is a complex mechanism that only the inhabitants of the hive can regulate, however, it depends on many factors. The type of delicacy of bees depends on the current season and the age of bees. In summer, insects feed on pollen and sweet nectar.

If during the summer period there was too rainy or, conversely, dry weather, this will necessarily negatively affect not only the honey collection but also the viability and reproduction of bee colonies.

With a lack of food, the bees will begin to eat the honey product collected at an earlier period, which is wrong and unnatural. In this case, the uterus will either begin to lay fewer eggs or completely cease to bear fruit.

Then honey insects cease to build wax cells in their normal volume to store the honey product, which leads to a drop in the level of activity of the insect family. In the next 2-3 weeks, the family will survive due to the brood that is still left. Young individuals will grow in poor conditions, will not receive good nutrition, this is precisely what explains their short life span, on average less than a month.

Did you know that

bees do not collect honey for pleasure they take care of healthy offspring and their nutrition. To feed a thousand larvae, insects must collect 100 g of honey, 50 g of pollen and 30 g of water.

At the end of the summer period, the beekeeper will notice that the family has thinned out and become much weaker. Autumn individuals will be present in small numbers, or will be completely absent.

In this case, honey plants lose their strength, ability to brood and viability, they have no chance to survive the winter. In October-November, the entire bee colony leaves the hive and dies.

The owner of a mini-apiary may not immediately notice such changes. The loss will become noticeable after 3-4 weeks, when the printed brood disappears after a period without nectar swabs.

varroa mites ​​activity

Preparations, the action of which is aimed at the destruction of ticks and their offspring, work best in the autumn, with relatively low humidity and a temperature of +15 degrees and above. Experienced beekeepers recommend processing the hives only after all the brood has hatched.

Processing takes place in September-October. The term may vary slightly in both directions, depending on the region of residence and climatic conditions.

With untimely processing of hives from pests or its absence, the risk of infection with varroa mites is high.

If you treat bee houses in winter or at the end of autumn, when the air temperature is as close to negative as possible, any drug will be practically ineffective.

Treatment of bees and preventive measures for greater efficiency are carried out in the autumn.

With varroatosis, tick individuals can fall away from the bee only when they have drunk most of the hemolymph and practically deprived the insect of vitality. When processing, it should be remembered that the last generation of ticks takes place in the autum.

As soon as the cold snap begins, young mites penetrate the segments of the bee’s abdomen in such a way that they are not afraid of any treatment, even with the strongest preparations.

If prevention and treatment are not carried out in the autumn, in the spring, the development and reproduction of ticks will be so active that it will inevitably lead to the death of the entire family of honey plants.

Infections and viruses

It is impossible to say something specific about viral infections due to their insufficient knowledge. Often the disease proceeds in a latent form and is difficult to diagnose. 

Among the most common diseases that lead to the death of bees in the autumn, there are:

  • melanosis – affects all individuals except sealed brood. The disease proceeds latently, in the summer. Any change in weather conditions becomes a favorable factor for the progression of the disease;
  • wing deformation virus most often infects bees in dry weather. The onset of autumn is accompanied by the death of insects in large quantities. When examining dead individuals, one can notice the characteristic signs of an infectious process. The death of bees in the autumn period due to the wing deformation virus is 26% of the total mass;
  • genetic lethality – the rarest disease of honey insects – is currently little studied. Brood with this disease in appearance is no different from completely healthy individuals. The only characteristic difference is that the brood is not in all wax cells, but in about 40–70% of 100.
    To detect this genetic lesion, you need to open the lid on the wax hexagonal cell. It will contain a deformed larva in a cloudy white liquid without a specific smell. Infected adults can be identified by poor flight and poor pollen and nectar collection. Also, during the second period of the active gathering season, there will be no juveniles in the hive.

Unfortunately, bees, like all living things, are prone to various diseases. Most of them lead to the death of the entire family, especially when it comes to genetic developmental disorders.

Abuse of sugar syrup

Interesting fact

The life expectancy of each worker bee is no more than 40 days. During this time, she manages to complete several important missions. First, he is engaged in “dirty work”: he cleans the cells in which the uterus is to lay eggs. Then he makes sure that the hive is warm and there is enough fresh air. And only at the end of her life she fulfills her main calling – she extracts honey.

The very process of processing large volumes of sugar feeding has nothing to do with the question of why bees die in the autumn. An important role is played by the amount of pollen from melliferous plants and flowers, the time period for feeding. The entire final honey product must be matured in a timely manner and sealed in wax cells.

Individuals that emerged from the brood during the autumn period may begin to secrete wax in advance. In the absence of natural food in the form of pollen, wax glands use fat reserves for full functioning.

Since these reserves are designed to survive the winter, the bee becomes unviable and weakened. Immediately after processing the sweet syrup, individuals begin to die en masse.

Did you know that bees are able to detect mines, as well as other explosive devices or substances, by smell? That is why they are in the “official service” of the Pentagon.

It is for this reason that experienced beekeepers do not recommend feeding insects at the end of September, since the flowering period of plants is over during this period. If this recommendation is not followed, the bees will weaken, the family will either fly off the hive or die.

The last feeding of bees with sugar syrup is done at the end of August. Quantity – 15-20 liters per strong bee colony.

bad wombs

The uterus is the “queen” of the hive and the entire bee colony. Thanks to her, harmony reigns in the bee houses, the individuals develop correctly and fully, the honey collection begins and is pumped right on time.

Stopping egg laying always entails a decrease in the amount of royal jelly, which indicates violations in the working processes of the hives, namely:

  • working-class bees become drones due to the impossibility of laying new queen cells;
  • new drones begin to confront the uterus, which does not fulfill its duties fully. Ultimately, she is killed or kicked out of the hive. There is a minimal percentage of probability that such a queen will remain in the hive, but this will not have a positive effect on the life of the bee colony. Half of the bees will fly away to other queens, the other half will die.

A little about the queen bee

 Not all of them can sting a person, as many mistakenly think. The queen bee never shows aggression towards humans. But he stings his rivals without sparing.

To effectively combat viral and parasitic lesions, the transformation of worker bees into drones, it is necessary to replace old queens in time with rallies.

Several reasons, in the presence of which the uterus needs to be urgently replaced with a young one:

  • stopping oviposition at an earlier date, which indicates a 2–3-year-old uterus;
  • reduction in masonry volume. A three-year-old queen lays 3 times fewer eggs than a one-year-old one;
  • reduction of royal jelly, deterioration of its quality;
  • the predominance of drone bees over workers.

black honeycombs

The beekeeper must always monitor the quality and color of the honeycombs and, if necessary, remove old, worn, black wax cells. Normally, the color of honeycombs varies from light to dark yellow.

Old dark-colored combs have a smaller size of wax cells, which entails an inferior development of the larva. It remains small, the body becomes shorter. The uterus prefers to leave the masonry on clean, new combs.

If it is not possible to grow a bee colony and fully develop in a hive, such a house depreciates in the eyes of insects. Black honeycombs are one of the factors that provoke both the gathering of bees and their death in an equal percentage.

Warm autumn

Too high temperature and humidity in the autumn also adversely affect the life and development of bees. On average, the daily temperature under abnormal conditions varies from +25 to +31 degrees Celsius.

Due to the heat, the bees quickly make years, consuming all the necessary substances to survive the winter period. There is practically no natural bribe at this time of the year. As a result, adults weaken, wear out and die.

Influence of padi

Drought during the summer is a factor that increases the risk of making poor quality honey (padi). Due to the lack of usual sources for honey collection, bees begin to look for other plants. 

Honeydew honey is the worst nutritional option, due to the composition, in which components such as:

  • nitrogenous substances;
  • dextrins;
  • mineral salts.

The ingress of such components into the body of a honey bee poisons it, provokes the development of toxicosis and subsequent diarrhea. Subsequently, there is a violation of the process of laying eggs, a weakening of the bee colony and a decrease in life span.

Excessive heat and dry weather also negatively affect the life of bees, the productivity of honey collection and egg laying.

how to treat bees in autumn from varroatosis?

The autumn period is the best time for the prevention and treatment of bee varroatosis. The processing of hives is completed before the onset of the first cold weather, otherwise, losses cannot be avoided. In winter, varroa mites make the club of honeybees looser, which causes the bees to freeze and die.

Did you know that judging by the number of deaths caused by bee stings, these insects are much more dangerous to humans than snakes.

Autumn drug treatment begins only after all the brood has been unpacked. Otherwise, the infected brood will hatch, and the infection will be transferred to all treated healthy individuals.

So that the bees do not bring new parasites into the home, treatment begins after the end of the honey collection and honey pumping.

To destroy ticks and parasites, beekeepers use the following means:

  • Apivarol, TEDA (smoldering);
  • oxalic and formic acid;
  • thermal chamber and smoke gun;
  • Bipinamite in form of solution.

Additionally, it is possible to treat hives from parasites using special plates. They are placed inside the hive so that they touch the body of the bees when they fly out through the notches. To achieve the maximum effect, it is better to fix the plates at an ambient temperature of at least +12 degrees.

Another special moment – the installation must be done only after pumping out the honey nectar and the end of the summer of insects. The plate is impregnated with a strong toxic substance. When it gets into honey, it will not only spoil the taste of the bee product, but also cause intoxication of the human body.

Proper autumn care for bees

To prevent the mass death of bees in the autumn period, it is necessary to observe the following measures:

  • 2–4 days after the end of the bribe, all bee colonies must be fed with 50% invert syrup. The volume of the delicacy is calculated based on the strength of the honey plant family and the total weight;
  • if the last bribe was at the end of August, the beekeeper must pump out the finished honey in a timely manner, remove the extra empty frames, and fix the protection against ticks on the hive. You also need to give the bees sugar syrup every other day. By September-October, each hive should have about 20–25 kg of honey. The ratio of honey production and the amount of granulated sugar is 1:1;
  • low-yielding queens should be replaced with new ones in the second decade of the active season. With the onset of the spring period, they will be able to fully perform their functions and make the first laying of eggs;
  • old combs (black, dark brown) are removed immediately after honey is pumped out;
  • throughout the summer period, all measures are regularly taken to prevent tick infestations, which can be easily done with simple aromatic manipulations. Take a small piece of fiberboard, apply 15–20 drops of aroma oil to the surface (the best option is eucalyptus, lemon balm, mint, fir). Fix the board in the central part of the nest on the frames. The fragrance is renewed every 2-3 days.

Nosema Treatment for Honey Bees in Autumn

Autumn prevention includes preventive work in the apiary against infection with nosemosis. It is this event that gives a greater chance of survival and a successful, calm wintering.

Nosema Treatment for Honey Bees in Autumn

In the autumn, after removing the shops, the bees must be treated; for this, after removing the shops, you need to give the insects a weak alcohol syrup based on wormwood.

To prepare it you will need:

  • 100 g of dried wormwood (collection during the flowering period);
  • 1 liter of alcohol with a strength of 70%.

Infuse the herbal mixture for 10-14 days in a cool place without direct sunlight.

The recommended dosage is 10 ml of infusion per 1 liter of sugar syrup. The tool is one of the most effective for nosemosis, acts as an analogue of fumagilin. 1 liter of syrup is placed in one hive, first with infusion, then without it. Most beekeepers do not consider it necessary to prevent bees from nosemosis but in vain.

Weather conditions in autumn are unpredictable. Under certain conditions, they can contribute to the rapid and active reproduction of aphids, it is in this case that the risk of mass death of bees increases.

Preventive measures against nosemosis will come to the rescue. A package with medicine is placed on the frame without piercing it first. Honey insects themselves will make the required number of holes and eat as much as possible.

Causes of bees nosemosis:

  • the presence of old black honeycombs and frames in bee dwellings;
  • climatic conditions, too warm autumn with a high level of humidity;
  • non-observance of hygiene and cleaning of hives.

With regular prevention and necessary measures in the apiary, beekeepers can reduce the risk of death of bees in the autumn by 85%. Mandatory work – prevention from varroatosis and nosemosis, putting things in order, cleaning old honeycombs and frames, removing old queens.