Winter survivors possibly afflicted with I'm guessing dysentery (?Nosema)
Hi! I have a small cluster of bees (over about 3 frames) that survived a traumatic winter event (the inner and outer covers were ripped off and the hive may have been topless for almost a month during a very cold and wet period) but this cluster of small bees and a queen appear to be surviving. My concerns are though that the frames are streaked with brown spots so I am guessing probably dysentery/nosema issues.
In addition to this hive, I also have 2 packages of bees that are queenless. The first queens didn't survive the shipping trip and the replacement queens died before they were released.
(I was put in touch with one beek who lives a little over an hour away who said he would combine one of my packages with a small survivor group of his and their queen. He offered to introduce the queen for me if I would bring them to his house, and then I could pick them up the following week or so after she was accepted to the hive. I am hoping to do this over the weekend.)
So, that would leave me with the other queenless hived package.
Do you think it would it be safe to combine this small band of survivors and queen with a package of bees who's queen did not survive release? If so, should I do a newspaper combine and just shake these bees onto the newspaper and place the queen safely in with them and place the top box of drawn comb from their hive in so that they still have a place to continue to lay eggs, etc and just feed them sugar syrup (as I have been doing for the one hive as I did not have enough extra frames of honey for two hives.) I had been feeding the "Arctic" hive granulated sugar over the winter in addition to the frames of honey that was still abundant in the hive, especially since the cluster was so small.... But...Could they spread Nosema to this hive (even if I do not transfer any affected looking frames to the package hive?)
(I'm guessing that if they have streaked the hive and if it is nosema that they would be spreading it if they are consuming honey that is streaked.)
If you don't think I should combine the small band from the Arctic hive with the queenless package, should I just shake the small Arctic hive onto undrawn frames and continue to feed them sugar and water?
Also, is there any way that the honey that is capped in the combs, but obviously streaked, can be safely used for anything? ie- Can it be used for human consumption? and if so, would it need to be heated/pasteurized? (I read somewhere that humans could consume honey from hives that had Nosema, but I am not sure if this streaking is beyond what a typical hive would have.)
I also have one other hive that is healthy and thriving. It has a deep and three mediums. I was thinking I could take a frame of brood with eggs present from this hive and put it into the queenless hive, but .... it hasn't really been warm enough when I have had the opportunity to look through it, though I tried on Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon I started to look through this hive but did not get beyond the second medium super (the top 2 mediums were mostly honey but the 2nd medium did have some cups started, so I will definitely need to split this one this Spring.) (Un)fortunately I was not able to get into the main brood area as the sun was getting low and the wind started picking up and the bees were getting upset and were pinging me, so we put the hive back together so they could settle in before it got too late.
Anyway, being green still (this will be the start of my third year (1st year 100% loss of 2 hives over winter; this past year was better, but still lost over the winter 1+ out of the 3 hives we started ...)
I was hoping to learn what more experienced beeks would do in a similar situation (not that experienced beeks would ever find themself in such a predicament as you have gained the experience which I am still learning and striving to obtain.)
I know this was wordy/rambling, and it's getting late, so I'll end this here.
Thanks in advance!
I wouldn't presume to be too certain about this one, but I had a comparable situation this year. I had a colony with a queen which appeared to be laying well, but the numbers diminished steadily until they could no longer cover the brood. It's not a queen I raised myself, and none of my other colonies showed evidence of nosema, but this one may just have been more susceptible. I'm not sure, but it's an obvious possibility in a case of spring dwindling.
Another colony went queenless, so I combined them. The colony is now flourishing, with the same queen. I'll be requeening in the next few weeks.