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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Danielsville, PA USA
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    42

    Default Oct 23, in PA - should I be seeing brood?

    Hi,

    I started my hive from a package in May, things have been pretty good all summer. I've got a hive body and a medium which are mostly packed with honey. I had a 2nd medium on top which they haven't really done anything with for probably 2 months. I've been feeding syrup. I took off the empty medium today so the bees would be closer to the syrup.

    Did an inspection today, and while I see lots of honey and pollen, I am not seeing any brood at all. This is my first year, so I'm not sure if that is normal or a problem. There was also no brood the last time I inspected 1-2 weeks ago. Bee numbers have dwindled since mid summer for sure, but there are still bees in the hive. I did not find my (marked) queen after checking a few of the frames where the most bees were, but then again, I did not do a complete search for her.

    Temps here in PA have been up into the 60's during the days, down into the 50's at night.

    Any opinions? And if I'm you're going to tell me my queen must have died and I'm in danger of losing my colony, tell me if it's too late in the year to try to requeen.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Greensburg, Ky.
    Posts
    1,148

    Default Re: Oct 23, in PA - should I be seeing brood?

    Its normal around this time of year but you still need to do a "full" inspection! This way here you can answer your own question if she is there or not! Good Luck!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Green Lane, PA
    Posts
    839

    Default Re: Oct 23, in PA - should I be seeing brood?

    All the 80 or so colonies I went through a couple of weeks ago had capped brood along with eggs.

    How many frames of bees does your colony have? Cooler days will allow you to see what type of cluster you will have going into winter. I would look for at least 6 or 7 frames where it appears the bees are concentrated. Does the colony appear to be in a specific order? By this I mean does it appear all the bees are located in one area with honey on the outside frames and the honey tapering off towards the center. The bees should be backfilling the broodnest area with nectar or syrup. Do you have any other hives to compare it with? If it appears the bees are in no specific arrangement then I would say they could be queenless and probably have been for a while.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Danielsville, PA USA
    Posts
    42

    Default Re: Oct 23, in PA - should I be seeing brood?

    The bees seemed to be concentrated in the middle 3-4 frames of the bottom box (a medium super). Above that is a hive body which is 10 full frames of mostly capped honey, decent number of bees there. Above that was a medium super with few bees and no activity. Above that I have a feeder with syrup, although not too many bees seemed to be in the syrup feeder.

    I removed the empty medium super since there were hardly any bees in it and I figured it would bring the feeder down closer to the bees.

    Back in the summer my queen had been very active, with many frames of brood and nice pattern. The dramatic change to no brood at all 2 months later is why I'm concerned she may not be in there anymore.

    Incidentally, I found one bumblebee in the hive, hanging out on one of the frames. First time I'd seen that. Is this indicative of a weak colony?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,596

    Default Re: Oct 23, in PA - should I be seeing brood?

    Quote Originally Posted by fngrpepr View Post
    The bees seemed to be concentrated in the middle 3-4 frames of the bottom box (a medium super). Above that is a hive body which is 10 full frames of mostly capped honey, decent number of bees there. Above that was a medium super with few bees and no activity. Above that I have a feeder with syrup, although not too many bees seemed to be in the syrup feeder.

    I removed the empty medium super since there were hardly any bees in it and I figured it would bring the feeder down closer to the bees.

    Back in the summer my queen had been very active, with many frames of brood and nice pattern. The dramatic change to no brood at all 2 months later is why I'm concerned she may not be in there anymore.

    Incidentally, I found one bumblebee in the hive, hanging out on one of the frames. First time I'd seen that. Is this indicative of a weak colony?
    Well 3 - 4 frames of bees is quite a small cluster for wintering up here. I pull honey off 50 or so colonies today and most of them were 8-9 frames of clustered bees with lots of brood in them. some of my weaker singles dont have brood in them but I know the queen is in there, she must have shut down earlier due to the smaller cluster of bees. Or shes a dink and I will shake her out in the field.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Green Lane, PA
    Posts
    839

    Default Re: Oct 23, in PA - should I be seeing brood?

    I've found bumblebees in my hives, but usually they are dead or hiding somewhere where the colony is not active.

    I would try to find the queen or eggs and young larvae. If the queen was marked then you should be able to find her, unless she was superceded and you have an unmarked queen running around. 3-4 frames doesnt sound to hopeful for next spring. What type of bees are they?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Seneca, sc
    Posts
    830

    Default Re: Oct 23, in PA - should I be seeing brood?

    I have a couple of late carnie nucs that just cover 5 or 6 frames but the queens have solid tight brood pattern on two frames both sides. They are not wall to wall frames but about a half a frame on both sides with capped in the middle and larva and eggs on the outside. To me it looks like a winter brood nest is supposed to look. I had a queen two years that on the first spring inspection in late Jan she had a brood pattern the size of a silver dollar. On June the 21st I pulled two mediums that had 6 gallons of honey off of that hive. I could combine these hives or just see what they will do. They have about four deep frames of honey capped for winter and are still putting more GR away. Four deep frames capped should be enough for a thousand bees for three months. There is plenty of honey and pollen in the hive. If they survive the winter I will put another deep on them in the spring and see what happens. It want be the only hive I have had that went into winter with a small cluster that hit the ground running in the spring and made a crop. As Michael Palmer says about his divided nucs"You have to make the bees fit the space". I can feed small amounts of 2-1 as late as December if needed right down on the cluster. I have a SBB and a 2"x3/8" vent at the top on the opposite end of the upper feed box. The inner cover will have 1" of insulation on top of the inner cover and the hive will be wrapped with tar paper. Maybe a little overkill for my area but for five dollars I might get sixty or seventy pounds of honey and a nuc next year. We will see.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Danielsville, PA USA
    Posts
    42

    Default Re: Oct 23, in PA - should I be seeing brood?

    OK status update - after being away for the past week, I was able to do a full inspection today (Oct 30). Happy to report that I found my queen as well as a small amount of brood. My hive config at moment consists of a medium (on bottom) and a hive body above it, with a top feeder above that. The main bee cluster was in the hive body, where I found the queen and the brood, all of which seemed to be near the top edge of the frames. The medium super looks like all honey and pollen. It looks to me like the bees didn't really take any of the 1:1 syrup I put in last weekend.

    After going through everything, I decided to put the hive body on bottom with medium above it. Left the feeder on, hoping they'll store more syrup.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Sparta, Tennessee
    Posts
    2,129

    Default Re: Oct 23, in PA - should I be seeing brood?

    Went through 50 hives or so a couple days ago (10/28); most had a small amount of brood in them and I'm at the top of PA along the border with NY. (on both sides actually).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Walker County, Texas
    Posts
    201

    Default Re: Oct 23, in PA - should I be seeing brood?

    Bees cut way back on brood in the winter,some breed more then others. All hives will have some brood all year.
    Before man took over bees there was nature,it did a better job.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Cambria County, PA US
    Posts
    404

    Default Re: Oct 23, in PA - should I be seeing brood?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cordovan Italian Bee View Post
    ...All hives will have some brood all year.
    hmm...now I'd think that being said as a blanket statement would stir some controversy, unless it's meant regionally, and only for your region.
    "burr comb happens..."

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Walker County, Texas
    Posts
    201

    Default Re: Oct 23, in PA - should I be seeing brood?

    Quote Originally Posted by dug_6238 View Post
    hmm...now I'd think that being said as a blanket statement would stir some controversy, unless it's meant regionally, and only for your region.
    Right

    Seasonal Cycles of Activities in Honey Bee Colonies
    By: Norbert M. Kauffeld 1
    (From Beekeeping in the United States)

    Spring Activity
    Swarming

    A colony of honey bees comprises a cluster of several to 60,000 workers (sexually immature females), a queen (a sexually developed female), and, depending on the colony population and season of year, a few to several hundred drones (sexually developed males). A colony normally has only one queen, whose sole function is egg laying. The bees cluster loosely over several wax combs, the cells of which are used to store honey (carbohydrate food) and pollen (protein food) and to rear young bees to replace old adults.

    The activities of a colony vary with the seasons. The period from September to December might be considered the beginning of a new year for a colony of honey bees. The condition of the colony at this time of year greatly affects its prosperity for the next year.

    1Research entomologist, Science and Education Administration, Carl Hayden Center for Bee Research, Tuscon, Ariz. 85719.

    In the fall a reduction in the amounts of nectar and pollen coming into the hive causes reduced brood rearing and diminishing population. Depending on the age and egg-laying condition of the queen, the proportion of old bees in the colony decreases. The young bees survive the winter, while the old ones gradually die. Propolis collected from the buds of trees is used to seal all cracks in the hive and reduce the size of the entrance to keep out cold air.

    When nectar in the field becomes scarce, the workers drag the drones out of the hive and do not let them return, causing them to starve to death. Eliminating drones reduces the consumption of winter honey stores. When the temperature drops to 57 F, the bees begin to form a tight cluster. Within this cluster the brood (consisting of eggs, larvae, and pupae) is kept warm-about 93 F - with heat generated by the bees. The egg laying of the queen bee tapers off and may stop completely during October or November, even if pollen is stored in the combs. During cold winters, the colony is put to its severest test of endurance. Under subtropical, tropical, and mild winter conditions, egg laying and brood rearing usually never stop.

    As temperatures drop, the bees draw closer together to conserve heat. The outer layer of bees is tightly compressed, insulating the bees within the cluster. As the temperature rises and falls, the cluster expands and contracts. The bees within the cluster have access to the food stores. During warm periods, the cluster shifts its position to cover new areas of comb containing honey. An extremely prolonged cold spell can prohibit cluster movement, and the bees may starve to death only inches away from honey.

    The queen stays within the cluster and moves with it as it shifts position. Colonies that are well supplied with honey and pollen in the fall will begin to stimulatively feed the queen, and she begins egg laying during late December or early January-even in northern areas of the United States. This new brood aids in replacing the bees that have died during the winter. The extent of early brood rearing is determined by pollen stores gathered during the previous fall. In colonies with a lack of pollen, brood rearing is delayed until fresh pollen is collected from spring flowers, and these colonies usually emerge from winter with reduced populations. The colony population during the winter usually decreases because old bees continue to die; however, colonies with plenty of young bees produced during the fall and an ample supply of pollen and honey for winter usually have a strong population in the spring.
    Before man took over bees there was nature,it did a better job.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Benton, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    211

    Default Re: Oct 23, in PA - should I be seeing brood?

    Excellent information Cordovan Italian Bee! Thanks!

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