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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    South Haven Michigan
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    4

    Question Need help on 2 fronts

    New beek -- 1st season. In SW MI.

    Target configuration of 2 hives is 2 deep brood supers and shallow comb surplus honey supers. Got the packages in April installed in single super added second brood super when about 7 of the 10 frames were reasonably full. Surplus honey is desired, of course, but not an immediate concern.

    No sign of any problems -- I have not seen any mites. I have treated them a few times with a confectionary sugar dusting -- they have had MegaBee patties to help bulk up the hive and also treated with Tetra B in spring. Confession time: I fed the bees light syrup for too long -- I know better now from the other posts here. But, I was feeding them up to 1 Qt. a day until late June.

    Added 1 shallow comb (wax foundation) honey super (with excluders) to each hive about 3 weeks ago. They had not filled the 2nd brood super more than about 50% -- but there were lots of bees and I was worried about general hive space.

    Issue 1: neither hive has built out the new wax comb. They appear to be actively cleaning and inspecting it -- but still no comb of their own. I am not manic about getting honey this year -- more concerned that they will survive our cold winter. But, given that they build comb on the plastic foundation almost immediately I am concerned. Should I be? One of the hives has even shown a limited interest in eating the wax.

    Issue 2: Sunday I noticed a huge beard on one of the hives for the 1st time. It was pretty hot -- I was concerned, but after reading earlier posts here -- decided it could be normal activity.

    Today, there is a huge ball of bees approximately the size of the previous beard that has appeared on the ground in front of the hives. I assume this to be a swarm of some sort. I cobbled together two shallow supers (only thing that I had) along with a set of shallow frames with wax foundation. I put the empty super on top of the mass of bees and the other super with frames on top of that. I fashioned a top out of an extra bottom board I have.

    I am hoping that the bees on the ground will take possession of the new "hive". The question then is what do I do if they do move in? Is it possible to re-integrate them into one of the two original hives or I am now a reluctant owner of a 3rd hive? I am worried that a new 3rd hive will not have sufficient time to collect sufficient supplies to survive the winter.

    Would welcome any and all advice/suggestion.
    Last edited by martybr; 08-11-2008 at 04:24 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
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    2,496

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    I would check my hives and see which one it came from. My guess would be that the queen was out of the hive and the bees were clustered around her. If you haven't noticed any queen cells before this, then I doubt it was a swarm. They may have just gotten too hot or something drove them out of the hive. Check the hives and find the one that is missing most of its bees and most likely the queen. I would then just shake the bees back into the hive. If you can find the queen on the shallow frames you used, just place it and her gently into the hive removing a frame that is already there. After a day go back and replace the hive frame..she should have moved off by then, shake any remaining bees into your hive.

    Sometimes if it gets too hit in a hive the bees will move outside. If this continues, try placing some kine of shade over them...a light tarp...something during the hottest part of the day and afternoon.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
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    OK. Lot's of issues. First, many bees seem reluctant to cross an excluder and build out foundation. I've always struggled with that and with plastic in particular. Putting a frame or two of brood up top seems to help but since you're deep down below and shallow up to, it won't work too well. You could consider pulling your excluders and see what happens. As a last resort, you could try putting your shallow on the bottom if you don't mind brood. You can always swap it back later and you'll have the benefit of pulled wax.

    If you're in a dearth, they'll have little reason to pull wax no matter where they are in the hive. Since new bees are still coming out of cells and leaving space for the queen to lay, they don't perceive space to be a problem. If you're honey (or syrup) bound, that's a different problem and the shallow super would be needed. The queen may have slowed down if there is a dearth so, again, they don't see the need to pull wax.

    Bees on the ground is never great unless it's someone else's swarm that you've found! Where is your queen? Is she in that ball of bees on the ground? Is there any queen in those bees? I've had queens run outside and found them because of a bunch of bees where there wasn't supposed to be any. Was your original queen marked? More important, was she clipped? Could your hive have superseded your old queen, thrown a swarm and your clipped queen is on the ground being attended to?

    No telling if the bees will take to their new home. If it's truly a swarm (and I don't think it is), they may want to be elsewhere. My guess is that you've got a queen and a bunch of bees that came from one of your hives. She may even have been superseded. I would start by checking the existing hives while your ball of bees hangs out under your boxes. Then, you can decide what to do. If it turns out that you have a queen in each hive AND in the ball of bees, you could bank the ground queen and shake the others into a hive of your choice. Keep the banked queen until you're sure that both of the other queens are laying and then do what you will with her.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    South Haven Michigan
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Thanks for the feedback. Unfortunately, the queens are NOT marked. That would be a big luxury -- however, the person that I bought the packages from would not provide that option -- I asked. They are clipped.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    goshen, ma
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    359

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    that sounds like a clipped queen swarm to me. if you check the hive they came from they will prob. have queen cells

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
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    Yep...I bet they swarmed...the queen only made it just out of the hive. They came back to her...and the rest is written here.

    Set them up in a new hive. If a new queen has emerged in the old hive don't try and re-introduce.

    I always keep a couple of nucs handy just for things like this. Thats what I would recommend at this time.

    Check the old hive and look for the new queen. Let us know.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Sacramento,California,USA
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    Also sounds to me like a clipped queen swarm. The easiest and least amount of work... I'd go thru the original hives, find the one with least bees, that's probably where this one came from. Put a queen excluder on top of it the way it is and put this box of bees on top. You'll possibley end up with a 2 queen hive, the queens being seperated with 2 queen excluders anda box between them. Check it in sept 1st. At that time, you can find if you have 2 queens or not. If you don't want to over winter with that setup, kill the worst performing queen and stack the most full boxes on top of the deep bodies without queen excluders and over winter.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    South Haven Michigan
    Posts
    4

    Default Quick Update

    The bees on the ground have moved up into the supers I put down. There seems to be fewer bees in the cluster now and it does appear as if they are drawing comb. There is a little activity in and out of the new "hive" but not much. I did not find a queen in there.

    Also, I did as suggested above I looked through the hives -- the one hive is down bees a bit -- although still pretty heavily populated and new arrivals are actively appearing. The brood frames are not jammed packed -- the honey frames are. There are indeed queen cells (huge) -- looks to me like they are still intact.

    So, I guess this is a supercede situation -- which I thought was natural.

    So new question -- so why did the cluster of bees go with her? Was she invited to leave the hive and these volunteers continue to be loyal or some such thing? Or is it possible that this was a swarm that went bad when the queen could not go with them.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Pepperell, MA.
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    Could be a swarm gone bad...after swarm maybe. I'd be more concerned about the parent hive at this point. If your "new" hive remains queenless, you need to combine or give fresh brood to so that they can make a queen. Why not give them one of those queen cells? You've got options here.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    goshen, ma
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    359

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    If its only been a day or two the queen may not have been fattened back up yet she maybe only a little bit bigger then the workers and very hard to find. I would leave the new hive alone for about a week then check for the queen.



    And as for the old hive I still wouldn't consider it to be a supercedure because the queen left she just couldn't fly very well and ended up on the ground in front of your hive,so thats where they ended up clustering. That is what most people are looking for when they clip there queens.

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