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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    edmonton, alberta, canada
    Posts
    2

    Default what can make a hive smell?

    help! i'm a second year beekeeper. one hive we wintered last year (in alberta, canada) was very weak when we opened it this spring, lots of dead bees (which we cleaned out of the bottom boards promptly). we had left them lots of honey, but the honey in the top box was basically left untouched. capped brood and eggs were basically non-existent, and the brood chambers were full of greasy-looking pollen (bee bread?), and granulated white honey.
    we re-queened this hive soon after, but it continued to weaken. last week, a few days before i checked them we got a bucketload of snow and rain, plus it's been rainy spring here so it has been way more damp than normal. then we had a hot day two days ago when i checked it and there was an strong odour, no visible eggs, barely any brood (only drones - very patchy), capped honey, and this hardened pollen. another of my strong hives smells strong, too. could the moisture cause the honey to ferment? or could it be afb or efb?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Tip of the Thumb, Michigan
    Posts
    676

    Default Re: what can make a hive smell?

    Can you describe the odor??

    There's a LOT of things that can make a hive "smell". Goldenrod and aster honey comes to mind. (Its said to smell like dirty socks.) Foulbrood, of course, smells of rotting animals (which it is). Some common molds have a "wet straw" smell to them. Different pollens and honeys may have particular odors also. What are you smelling?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,626

    Default Re: what can make a hive smell?

    Yes, it could be AFB or EFB, but there would be signs like capped brood w/ punctured caps. But you said there is no capped brood, so i would rule that out w/out first hand hands on knowledge.

    Yes, it could be fermented honey. Does the hive smell yeastey? W/ your weather and the granulated honey I imagine that that's what is going on. The granulated honey has soaked up moisture from the high humidity conditions you described.

    You said that you requeened this hive soon after. I'm confused? You requeened a dead hive? Or you requeened a weak hive?

    Well, either way, did you put frames of brood and bees into the hive that you requeened? This would have helped to make the colony more successful.

    "barely any brood (only drones-very patchy)". Meaning only drone brood present and that very patchy? Sounds like a drone laying queen if there is a queen at all.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Faulkner Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    1,699

    Default Re: what can make a hive smell?

    I am told by a bee inspector that AFB smells "sweet and fishy" at the same time. It was the best way to describe the smell.
    If you need to know ( and i recommend this) Alberta has a first rate testing and diagnotsic center. The provincial guy who oversees it, his name is Medhat Nasr. The center works in conjunction with Alberta Agriculture. Contact them, get an inspector out and get your hives tested. Here in Manitoba it costs 25.00 for the test. It includes AFB, Nosema, Trachea mites and Varroa mites. From there you can decide how to go about giving your hives what they need. And the inspector will show you a thing or two about disease inspection and treating.

    http://www.albertabeekeepers.org/doc...Ledits.doc.pdf
    At the bottom of article is his address, phone and email. Make use of what is available to you. We are lucky in Canada. Each of the prairie provinces, and Ontario has a facility like this. Stateside it is rare, at least that is the impression i get from some of the posters on the forum.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    edmonton, alberta, canada
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: what can make a hive smell?

    Thanks all for your replies...

    BigDaddyDS - the smell to me is like animal feces, but my dad, who has been around bees more, says it's more like a really strong honey smell......

    sqkcrk - sorry, yes - we requeened the very weak hive - but we did not put brood or more bees in with them, plus we left two boxes on, later realizing that this was too much room for them, so they were probably wasting a lot of energy keeping the hive at the right temperature.
    And yes, the capped brood is very patchy.

    honeyshack - thanks for the great info, which I didn't know about. but my one question is that I only have four hives, will they come out to inspect only such a small amount? I have heard that alberta really caters to the commercial beekeepers who have thousands of hives.....i guess I won't know until I contact them!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Concrete, WA, USA
    Posts
    761

    Default Re: what can make a hive smell?

    sounds to me like chilled brood - not enough bees to keep the brood and pupas warm - if this happens all of the brood and capped brood start to rot - and since its a weak hive they probably cant keep up with it

    i could be wrong but this is what came to my mind

    if you have a drone laying queen - the hive will fall to ruins as the drones dont clean house or gather food - they just make it look like you have bees

    if you have another hive - id spilt off a few frames of the good hive and give them the queen from the weak hive - and see if she doesnt build up -

    as for the smelly hive i wouldnt swap any frames for it to others until you know for sure what it is

    good luck with it

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Faulkner Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    1,699

    Default Re: what can make a hive smell?

    Quote Originally Posted by coco View Post
    honeyshack - thanks for the great info, which I didn't know about. but my one question is that I only have four hives, will they come out to inspect only such a small amount? I have heard that alberta really caters to the commercial beekeepers who have thousands of hives.....i guess I won't know until I contact them!
    They may cater to the big guys due to the investment, however bee health is a provincial thing. They might not know you exist if your yard is not registered. Even in Manitoba, all hives that are registered are inspected at some point and time. Even when we had 10 hives we got inspected. Some beekeepers are inspected yearly, some every two years and some maybe longer. And some beeks who have serious problems are inspected 2x a year

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