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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Erie county New York USA
    Posts
    28

    Default Russian colony in decline

    Hello,
    As a newbie, I'm not sure what to do with my swarmed out and now queenless colony. They swarmed on June 26th and had plently of replacement queen cells in the making. I just inspected the colony the best I could and found no queen, no active queen cells,larva, or eggs in the brood chamber. The drawn frames were mostly empty(some capped honey on the edges) and the bees were angry(stung repeatedly). The bees were so upset I could not finish the inspection and had to close it up. I also noticed lots of drones landing and entering and making a lot of noise in the past few days. There should be a laying queen by now and my season is starting to turn a corner. They have only drawn out 8 frames of a single deep so far this season.
    Should I install a frame of uncapped larva from another colony to help them requeen themselves or combine the bees with another hive or hives? Or requeen from a supplier?

    My other two nucs are progressing normally and have kept my interest in beekeeping. Thanks,

    Jack

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
    Posts
    6,080

    Default

    Jack,
    Whenever a hive swarms its a good opportunity to take a couple frames with a cell and raise a second queen in a nuc box. It's just playing the odds, as I find about 25% of swarm hives are never queenright again without beekeeper intervention.

    You also waited too long in getting to this point. I know many here on beesource, and was just mentioned yesterday on another thread, something along the lines of "Close them back up and wait SEVERAL weeks". Several weeks? Yeah, right. Several weeks to a doomed hive or a worker laying colony! If they swarmed on Jun 26th, an open cell should of been seen within the week, with destruction of the other cells(indicating a queen present), then eggs or at least confirmation of the queens presence with ten days or so.

    Personally, at this point if it were me, I'd combine with a strong hive. Wait two weeks for the queen to shutdown any developing laying worker from the queenless hive, then break back out in a couple weeks with a queen. That way you still have time to get them ready for winter and will not see a continuation of a backwards slide. At this point, even introducing a queen could be risky.

    And raising a queen means another month before any progress will be made, all the while robbing resources from another hive.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Erie county New York USA
    Posts
    28

    Default permanent combination

    Thanks BjornBee for your reply. I will do the combine today. Not looking forward to it. I'll suit up tight.
    You suggested: "Personally, at this point if it were me, I'd combine with a strong hive. Wait two weeks for the queen to shutdown any developing laying worker from the queenless hive, then break back out in a couple weeks with a queen. That way you still have time to get them ready for winter and will not see a continuation of a backwards slide. At this point, even introducing a queen could be risky."

    What do you mean by break back out in a couple of weeks with a queen?
    Is there any more online material available regarding combinations? My ignorance is frustratating. I really wish I could have found a beekeeper to help for a few years to get more experience and hands on learning. I'm learning and reading as I go. Probably not the way to do it.

    Thanks again,

    Jack

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
    Posts
    6,080

    Default

    Jack, at this point, you want to deal with, or make sure no workers have developed or is developing into layers. So combine (newspaper method), wait a period of time (two weeks), then decide if you want to separate them back into two separate hives, adding a queen to the queen-less split.

    I personally think that as a beekeeper, some intervention is good and many times needed. I have seen hives be faithful to a bad queen till the point of colony death, queens supersede so many times they eventually burn out, and hives die for many simplistic reasons that it would be foolish to just allow them to die, thinking the "colony knows best". Sometimes they do not.


    It can be frustrating about information. One of the newest books on the market comments along the lines of "Who am I to play God", while suggesting that bees know best, and that as beekeepers we should sit by hoping a hive corrects itself, to the point that its rationale includes that if the hive dies, its no big deal, "its just more comb to place on another hive".

    Good beekeepers stay on top of things, recognize that things go wrong, identify what should be done, and move forward to rewarding results of robust hives with surplus honey to make the wife happy. Many times this involves doing more than sitting back and rationalizing by somehow suggesting "the bees know best, and I should just leave them alone". Foolishness!

    But this is part of the problem, everyone deals with it differently and every beekeeper has an opinion. This of course is just mine....

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Erie county New York USA
    Posts
    28

    Default details of the combine

    BjornBee,
    Again,thanks for the input. I talked to the fellow who sold me the nuc and he recommended a permanent combine. He sells queens and still recommended the permanent route.
    When it comes to the newspaper, when the paper is chewed through is it considered permanently combined?
    How do the bees come and go from the top deep if they are separated by paper and can't go out the bottom?
    I just supered the strong Carniolan-Russian Hybrid hive yesterday. What do I do with the empty (undrawn foundation) honey super? Leave it on? Put the declining Russians on top of this empty honey super?
    Finally, the Russian Nuc came in a shallow super. Since it is empty of larva and eggs or anything, but it is fully drawn...should I use this one as the honey super instead of the new undrawn foundation shallow that I put on yesterday?
    I really appreciate your feedback.

    Jack

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