How can a beekeeper analyze the cause of winter loss? Would a microscopic inspection of dead bees reveal presence of mites?
To the best of my knowledge, Wisconsin does not have a bee inspector service.
I believe the usda in beltsville md will analysis your dead bees for tracheal mites at no charge.
Are you talking about the entire hive being dead or just dead bees in front of the hive. You know of course that a large number of bees die protecting the queen and keeping the temp in the hive at the proper level. I check mine real regular and clean the dead bees away form the front on the hive but then when I checked it again there are always more dead bees. On one of ouy recent warm speel 70+ degrees I opened the hive and there were still plenty of bees there. This may not be your answer but you are on the right forum to get the right answer.
Hope this helps.
I lost 3 of 4 colonies. There was ample honey available and no evidence of starvation.
Thanks for the tip on USDA lab in MD.
wrap your dead bees in paper, not plastic, and send to the lab. They can confirm or deny some causes, such as tracheal mites. Knowing the cause is always a good thing, and a heckuvalot better than guessing.
May I butt in? I'm not a beekeeper but mail your bees in a small box or mark the envelope "HAND CANCEL" so the Post Office won't send it thru their wringer machine. The insect people who came and lectured to our Master Gardener class said they are frustrated by the smooshed bugs they are asked to look at.
Actually, no. don't send bees through the post office at all. Send them UPS. Mail destined for the USDA gets rerouted and opened elsewhere.