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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Martin, Michigan
    Posts
    61

    Default Observation hive deterioration

    I have a 4 frame vertical observation hive in a classroom at the outdoor school where I work. Last year's hive dwindled and eventually died off in March.
    I cleaned the hive out, and put three frames of young brood, with workers in it in April (from another hive). They made a new queen, but never really got going.
    They replaced queen 1, then replaced queen 2. Finally, their numbers decreased to the point that I removed the remaining bees and started over with a three frame nuc that I had split from another hive.

    They did very well for a few weeks, but are now are having problems. The brood appears to be dying while capped. The workers are cleaning the brood out and letting them fall to the bottom of the floor, where they accumulate until I vacuum them out. The brood is all white and don't appear deformed at all.

    The hive is inside a building without a/c and it hasn't been cold enough at night for the room temp to drop below 65 (F).

    Anyone have any advice for treatment or at least what could be causing this? I have three other conventional hives within 1 mile of this hive and have not had any noticeable decline in any of them.

    Thanks.

    Jason

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Worthington, Pennsylvania USA
    Posts
    1,848

    Default

    You do not mention if there is a feeder on the o hive but I assume there is.
    Is the hive covered with a material to shut out the light? This is critical.
    With light all the time the bees will not do well.
    What size is the tube to the outside entrance?
    Which way is the entrance exposed-north south east or west?
    "Younz" have a great day, I will.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,570

    Default

    How is the population now? Low? High? Is there condensation on the glass? The right amount of ventilation is crucial and the bees have a habit of closing it off with propolis. Too much ventilation and they will have trouble getting the eggs to hatch. Too little and the glass will fog up and they will get chalkbrood. Of course they also need an adequate amount of bees to generate heat, feed, etc.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Martin, Michigan
    Posts
    61

    Default

    Right now, the colony is in rapid decline. They are now only tending to brood on one frame out of 4 and I think there are wax worms in the lowest frame. The frame below where they are currently working has a softball sized area of sealed brood that they haven't bothered to clean out. They just sort of abandoned it.

    I have an 1-1/4" hole just below each frame rest at each side of the hive. That means 8 holes there. I also have a 1-1/2" hole in the top (above the top frame. These are all covered with screen. They have put propolis over part of a few of the bottom screens, but none are even 1/2 closed off. The glass fogs up near the bottom (where the dead bees/brood wind up), but none in the actual brood area.

    I have not been covering the glass to keep out light. The tube to the outside is 2" dia. and about 18" long. It faces north.

    This is the second year using this hive. Last year they did great all year, no problems. No supercedures and they kept the hive clean. they were ready to swarm a few times, but I would remove a frame of brood whenever they got too full and put it in a different hive, just to control population a bit (I also didn't want swarms flying around while there were kids at the school.) Last year's colony was installed in April and lasted until the following March. It was a very slow decline over the winter.

    I plan to remove the hive for the winter this year and start back up in the spring, but I would like to have bees in it until beginning of November, since that is when most of the kids visit the school.

    I have been thinking of bringing in more brood from other hives, but I am afraid the current bees won't be able to take care of the new brood. I will also start covering the glass to block out the light to see if that has any effect. Any other ideas?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,570

    Default

    If you want to winter bees in it, I'd remove all the combs, put half brood combs and half honey combs in with adhering bees and shake in all the bees on the combs you took out. Smoke them to cover the scent and keep the queen from getting balled and put them back. If the population doesn't stay high enough, shake some young nurse bees off of some open brood into a box with no comb and put it with a hole in the box up against the exit tube so the bees can smell the hive and move in.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Martin, Michigan
    Posts
    61

    Default

    I left work Friday evening with a queen and enough bees to cover about 3/4 of one frame (on each side) still active in the observation hive. I came in this morning (Monday) to find no queen and only about 3 dozen bees still present (all on one side). Many are dead in the bottom of the hive. I know it is very late to reintroduce bees, but would like to have bees here for when kids come in the next 2 months. I don't have any visions of them surviving the winter.

    I thought I would remove the comb and thoroughly clean out the hive and leave it empty for at least a week before putting more inside.

    Any thoughts or suggestions? What would be the best thing to clean it out with? What else should I do to help the next batch survive until November?

    Or would it be best for me to store the hive for the winter and wait to try again until next Spring?
    Thanks.
    Jason
    Last edited by JCByler; 09-24-2007 at 02:42 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Martin, Michigan
    Posts
    61

    Default

    Is there anyway I could determine if these bees had been sprayed with pesticide when I wasn't looking? What would the symptoms be?

    I don't want to think about the possibility of intentional poisoning, but after several rapid declines this year, after a banner year last year, I can't help but wonder...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    winsted, CT, USA
    Posts
    18

    Default

    Perhaps they were robbed?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Martin, Michigan
    Posts
    61

    Default

    If they were being robbed, I would expect them to be more irritable. Even as numbers dwindle, they don't seem to be any more aggresive than any of my other hives. Also, I have not seen any of the bees trying to fight off intruders like I would expect in a robbed hive.

    I thought of intentional poisoning because numbers often seem to drop more overnight and over weekends when I am not at work... I would like to think that people are kind and decent, but can't help but wonder.

    Jason

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
    Posts
    751

    Default

    Had you thought of introducing a queen? Four frames isn't much when it comes to feeding queen cells.
    RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Birmingham UK

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Seattle, Washington State
    Posts
    4,398

    Default

    Are the bees lathargic (sp?)? Do they fall off the comb when you open up the hive?

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