What honeybee starvation looks like in a beehive

A neighbor lost a hive, and as we took it apart, I saw for the first time what honeybee starvation looks like.

Bee starvation

Bee starvation

Bee Starvation can happen for a different reasons, here are a few:

• There just isn’t enough food to get them thru the winter. This can happen if the beekeeper has taken too much honey off a hive, especially a young hive, and/or has not fed the bees enough 2:1 sugar syrup in the fall, it can also happen for no discernible reason at all. Bee Starvation can happen to the best beekeepers.

• Brood Rearing can start in the late winter, and if the weather has a cold snap, the bees will not leave the brood, even though there may be food in comb a short distance away. Read more on Jim’s blog

• Nosema, a bee disease that impairs the bee’s digestive tract, can cause winter starvation.

Note the bees face in to the comb, looking for food I think.

Note the bees face in to the comb, looking for food I think.

I didn’t see any brood on these frames, and there was no honey in the frames, so I’m guessing it was a lack of food stores, but I am not the expert here. What do you know about bee starvation, have you lost bees over the winter?

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  1. erin leonard says

    I’m a brand new beekeeper starting last May.
    I made a candy board for my hive and and put it on Thanksgiving weekend.
    Its 50 today and my girls are healthy and happy!
    Plenty of honey stores as well.

  2. Eric Gunnar Rochow says

    hi erin,

    glad your bees are out! i put fondant on top of the top super just in case my bees run out of food. thx, eric

  3. PeterNelson says

    Second yr beek here. Lost one hive to what I believe was starvation. I justed checked today. I will inspect closer tomorrow to make sure. Feel like I lost a friend.

  4. Tom says

    I lost my entire hive, I started it in june of 2013 and the hive was doing amazing, they filled 2 brood boxes and 1 super by september, i took the honey from the super and left the 20 frames for them in the brood boxes for winter. i started to see bees dying in dec. about 100 a day, i went online and found beekeepers saying this was normal when its below 20 degrees. I saw the cluster get smaller and smaller. i would listen with my ear for them everyday and then just 3 days ago i heard nothing, i found a horrible sight, 2 clusters of dead bees, plenty of food but also many bees in the comb face first that indicates starvation. I hope i did not kill them, i may have opened the hive too many times, i feel so upset. i left all that honey in there for them and they starved? i never fed them sugar water once cause i was hoping they would eat their honey. I was hoping to keep bees naturally and not use pesticides. I failed, please someone help me figure out what happened.

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