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Lots Of Dead Bees On The Ground( Why & What To Do?)




Why are there so many dead bees on the ground

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A couple of weeks ago, I have seen so many dead bees all over the ground outside the beehive. I was not sure what the hell was going on. I was wondering why are there so many dead bees on the ground all over.

If it was a small amount of numbers I won’t be worried because it is a natural phenomenon. Because honey bees can reproduce a huge number of bees daily. But there were plenty of dead bees.

Then I started to find out the possible reasons that can cause the death of bees. I have talked with other beekeepers. I have discussed the fact on various forums, Facebook groups, and so on.

From that, I came to know that this is not happening only in my colonies. This is also happened with other beekeepers in my region recently. Also, from forums and social media beekeepers groups, I came to know that, this phenomenon happened to so many other beekeepers all over the world.

The whole thing I am going to reveal throughout this article. So, the main outcome of this post will be.

  1. You will get to know the possible reasons why are there so many dead bees on the ground?
  2. From the beekeeper’s side what we can do to treat this problem?




Is Identifying Dead Bees In The Ground Normal?

Yes, identifying dead bees in the ground is normal if it is just a few numbers. Sometimes bees can die for some reason like drone bees after mate, robber bees, due to sanitation, etc.

Dead bees on the ground


But if you continuously discover more than a handful number of dead bees in the ground this is not normal. This is a clear indication there might be a problem inside the colony.




How Many Dead Bees Is Normal?

The number actually varies depending on many factors like geography, environmental factors, colony size, etc. In a large hive, almost 500 to 1200 bees die on average.
But those bees won’t die in the same place like in front of your hive. Those number of bees die due to several factors including the following.
  1. Drone bees after mating with the queen.
  2. While going out to collect pollen and nectar.
  3. While trying to steal honey from another colony.
  4. Some bees might rejected and killed by other colony members due to some reasons.
  5. Due to environmental effects.
  6. During defending the colony from predators.

The death of bees won’t happen in a particular location on a regular basis. So, if you see a huge number of bees on the ground around your beehive repeatedly it’s not normal.

Your bees probably having a tough time and you have to do something for them. But if you see a handful amount of bees around your hive it’s not a fact to be worried about.


Why Are There So Many Dead Bees On The Ground

Discovering a huge number of dead bees on the ground is an indication of danger for the colony. The colony might go through mites or virus attacks, or they have a tough environment inside the hive, etc.
In my case, I found 2 major problems that caused the death of a large number of bees daily.
  1. Overcrowded Hive: My hive became overcrowded and there was a lack of food supply. Because I haven’t inspected the hive situation approximately for the last 40 days. So, I was not aware that my hive become overcrowded. Also, the current season in my country is fall. So, the bees were showing aggressiveness around.
  2. Mite Infestation: There was a mite attack in my colony. After researching I found that Tropilaelaps mites are the culprit behind the death of my colony members.
However, after that first I called a pest control expert for mite treatment on my colony. Then I split the hive into 2 separate hives. Then I saw that the number of dead bees on the ground was reduced.
Possible Reasons Why Are There So Many Dead Bees On The Ground
Possible Reasons Why Are There So Many Dead Bees On The Ground
However, in your case, there can be several other reasons too. Let’s discuss the possible reasons behind finding a lot of dead honey bees on the ground.

Those Might Be Bumblebees Not Honey Bees

It is seen sometimes a lot of bumble bees die due to some reasons. If you are having a honey bee colony and discovering bumble bees around your hive, it might not be a concern for you. 
But if you keep bumble bees then it should be a matter of fact for you. So, first of be sure whether the dead bees are bumble bees or honey bees.

Those Bees Also Can Be Ground Bees

Ground bees are solitary in nature. They are not as defensive as honey bees. So, ground bees can be killed easily by other predators. Ground bees are also pollinators like honey bees. So, they might also die while foraging pollen and nectar.
So, if you see dead ground bees on the ground it should not be a serious thing to concern. So, first, you have to be sure the bees on the ground around the beehive are your own colony members.

Due To Mite Infestation

Varroa mite is a serious danger to bee colonies. There are so many mites that can cause the death of a honey bee colony. So, mite infestation can be one of the major reasons for the death of bees.
A research has found that 48% of the honey bee colonies got attacked by varroa mites in 2022-23. There are other mites too that can be responsible for the death of honey bees all over the world.

Due To Overpopulation

When a honey bee colony becomes overcrowded they might not fit on the same hive. Several diseases can be raised through the colony. Also, there can be a lack of food to feed those huge numbers of members. There can be conflict among the colony members for survival too.
These factors might cause the death of several bees in a colony. So, you have to check whether the hive looks overcrowded or not.
If you are a commercial beekeeper, make sure to assign an optimal number of hives per apiary. If you are using an excess amount of hives per apiary there will be huge competition among bees. As a result, a lot of bees might die.

Due To Pest And Parasites

Many parasites may start living inside honey bee colonies. Some of those parasites expand their existence by eating the bodies of honey bees. As a result, a lot of bees might die.
Once I discovered earwigs in my beehive. Those earwigs caused the death of some of my bees. There can be so many other pests and parasites causing the death of honey bees.

Attack By Predators

Different predators may attack honey bees in different geographical regions. A huge number of honey bee predators are there that can harm bees. Their main targets are honey, not the bees.
Predators Of Honey Bees
Honey Bee Predators
While they try to rob honey obviously bees will try to defend. As a result, a lot of bees can die. 
Following are the common and well-known honey bee predators.
Among all the predators that honey bees face, bears pose the greatest threat. Each year, black bears in the United States are responsible for the destruction of numerous beehives

Due To The Bad Environmental Effect

Winter is the worst season for honey bees. Honey bees have to do a lot of work during that season to keep moisture out of their hive. A combination of lack of food and too low temperature creates a harsh situation for bees. 
Bees can face storms or heavy rainfall when they are foraging pollen. So, harsh weather can be a big reason for identifying dead bees around a beehive. 

Queenless Hive

You know that the queen is the main coordinator of a honey bee colony. The entire honey bee colony is ruled by the queen. So, if a hive becomes queenless the remaining bees may show abnormal behavior.
Moreover, if the queen died during winter when there were no brood bees it could be worse. Because queenless hives won’t survive long during winter.
When there is no queen more bees can die for several reasons. So, when you discover a lot of dead bees on the ground you must check for the queen status inside the hive.

Use Of Insecticides And Pesticides

Honey bees may react differently to different chemicals. It is always preferable to avoid using insecticides or pesticides around honey bee colonies.
In fact, for mite treatment, you should contact an expert. While you are running an alcohol wash you might do it in the wrong way. As a result, your colony might die.
So, treating bee disease in the wrong way can also cause the death of honey bees. The use of insecticides and pesticides around honey bee colonies can be a reason for identifying so many dead bees on the ground.

Colony Collapse Disorder(CCD)

Colony collapse disorder is seen within honey bee colonies. This is actually killing its own colony members for several reasons. Most of this happened for the survival of the colony. Weak colony members may be killed by the strong members.
Sometimes a group of workers may start protesting against the queen. So, they start fighting with the queen. Another worker group may take the queen’s side. As a result, a war between 2 groups of bees of the same colony takes place. Thus a lot of bees can die during the war.
To get depth information about CCD you can check this Wikipedia article.

What To Do?

The first task is to identify the exact reason why you are seeing a lot of dead bees on the ground. After identifying the reason you can solve the problem on your own. If required contact a pest control specialist. Also, you can get help from expert beekeepers about the issue.
What to do when you see lots of dead bees on the ground
Things to do to avoid lots of dead bees on the ground
However, here are some tips that can be helpful for you to avoid the undesired death of honey bees.
  1. Inspect Hive Regularly: It is always preferred to schedule your hive inspection date. It should be noted that you should not inspect the hive every day. Different types of colonies and in different seasons hive inspections are in different frequent. Also, you must consider some facts before hive inspection.
  2. Requeen The Queenless Hive: As I already told you queenless hive can’t survive long. So, you should try anyway to requeen a queenless hive as soon as possible.
  3. Split Overcrowded Hive: You know overcrowded hives have a lot of problems for bees. So whenever the hive becomes overcrowded it is always suggested to split the hive into 2 or more.
  4. Don’t Use Chemicals Around Hives: Try to avoid insecticides, pesticides, or any chemical close to the hive. For mite treatment communicate with expert beekeepers. You can also call a pest control specialist.
  5. Create A Barrier Around Your Hives: You must create a barrier around the hive to prevent attack by predators.
  6. Plant More Pollinating Plants Close To The Hive: It is always suggested to place a beehive close to a garden. Having more bee-friendly plants in your garden will be more beneficial. Because bees won’t have to travel longer distances to collect pollen and nectar.
  7. Winterize Your Beehive: You know winter is a very tough time for bees. So, you should winterize your beehive before the winter has arrived. Bees have to do a lot to control extra moisture during winter. If your area becomes very cold during winter you can use a beehive moisture board for your beehive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I keep finding dead bees outside my house?

It is common to see dead bees outside the house after a natural disaster. Also, there might be a beehive close to your house. They might also be those ground nesting bees created nest around your house.

What does a bunch of dead bees mean?

It could be a threatening sign for the colony. A small amount of dead bees is a common phenomenon in honey bee colonies. But the continuous discovery of a bunch of dead bees means the colony is in danger. So, you should identify the reason and fix it to help your bees to survive.

What happens if you don’t remove dead bees?

Usually, bees remove dead members of the colony during the sanitation process. Sometimes bees may die due to virus or mite infection. If you don’t remove those dead bees the disease will attack the rest of the bees.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, the so far discussion will be helpful for you to figure out the reason behind “why are there so many dead bees on the ground“. First, find out the exact reason behind the death of your bees.
In most cases the phenomenon is normal. So, identifying a handful of bees around your hive is totally natural. Don’t worry about the fact. In case you find a lot of bees continuously don’t avoid it.
Try to figure out the exact reason and take the necessary steps. If you can’t fix this on your own, contact a local beekeeper in your area. Pest control specialists also will be helpful for you to solve the issue.
Now you can check the article to know about how many hives do commercial beekeepers have.

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