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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Prince William County, VA
    Posts
    24

    Default Help for a struggling hive

    I started two hives this year. Hive #1 is busting at the seams with bees, honey, pollen. Hive #2 was off to an amazing start in the spring but began to falter in July - I suspect the queen was either failing or died. No signs of the queen, eggs or brood in the last 2 months. I just inspected both hives today and Hive #2 is in dire straits - despite strong honey and pollen stores, the population is dwindling. Hardly any foraging activity to speak of.

    Twice I have taken frames of eggs/brood from Hive #1 and put into Hive #2, in the hopes they would raise a new queen from the eggs. However, either the eggs were beyond the correct age or their attempts failed. Either way I am afraid this colony is doomed and I don't want to continue pulling brood from my stronger colony because I don't want to weaken that one too. So how can I ensure the hive is prepared to make it through the winter? Do I combine the hives? Try to purchase a new queen in the hopes she'll get up and running fast? Other suggestions?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Chipley, FL
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Help for a struggling hive

    If your sure the queen is gone, I'd stongly consider combining your hives.

    Place some newspaper down on top of your strong hives top bars and then set your week hive on top; this allows a delay in their introduction and prevents a lot of fighting. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Collinsville, VA
    Posts
    447

    Default Re: Help for a struggling hive

    Option 1 - re-queening. If the bees in hive #2 were <45 days old and had their stores for winter I would suggest buying a queen. Since the bees are at least 60 days old and it will take about 25 days for the new queen's bees to hatch I don't think re-queening is an option, unless...

    Option 2 - re-queening and add bees from hive #1. If you believe hive #1 is strong enough to spare a couple of frames of nurse bees, and has enough stores for winter, you can shake those in at the same time you re-queen.

    Option 3 - Combine.

    I would probably try option 2 as an experiment to see what I would learn but more experienced beekeepers than I would recommend combining. The old saying goes "take your losses in the fall and make your splits in the spring.

    Either way you decide, you will need to act quickly while the hive is still strong enough to keep out wax moths and hive beetles. It's better to do an orderly wind down of the hive than to deal with the mess these critters make.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Youghal, Cork, Ireland
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: Help for a struggling hive

    Quote Originally Posted by HunnyMunny View Post
    Twice I have taken frames of eggs/brood from Hive #1 and put into Hive #2, in the hopes they would raise a new queen from the eggs. However, either the eggs were beyond the correct age or their attempts failed.
    its possible you may have laying workers. You have given them eggs, they should of produced a few queen cells. Of course the earlier the better with eggs but they can still raise a queen with eggs up to a 3/4 days old.

    IF you do have laying workers, then combining that hive will introduce then to your strong hive and doom that one aswell. i know if you try to introduce a queen to a laying worker colony, then they will kill her cause as far as there concerned, they have a queen. not sure what would happen to the queen in the strong hive.

    If you dont have laying workers, then id combine them and then early next year split them and hope you have better luck!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    S Hadley, Massachusetts USA
    Posts
    719

    Default Re: Help for a struggling hive

    Make sure you don't have laying workers and that the hive is truely queenless and combine withe strong hive.

    This time of year time is running out to requeen. August is the month for requeening. The hive has better survivability with the queens own daughters. Not enough time for that. First round of brood would not emerge until october.
    Pearl City Apiary Michael and Loucil Bach

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Bedford, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    103

    Default Re: Help for a struggling hive

    If you do combine, as said above, check out the laying worker issue. This summer, I did do a combine with a hive with a laying worker issue. The way I did it was I placed a Dadant hive top screen on top of the good hive, then put the laying worker hive on top of that.

    My idea was to get the laying worker top hive used to the queen pheromones of the bottom hive. I left it there for a week or two (the Dadant top screen has 1 side flat and the other side has 2 ridges about 3/8" taller that the other 2 which allowed for enough bee space for the bees in the top hive to still come and go...like 2 side entrances), then opened the top box for inspection. There were no laying worker eggs seen, so I went ahead and combined them by removing the screen.

    Three months later, it is one of my strongest hives.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Clinton, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Help for a struggling hive

    Youve got some pretty good advice. It might be getting late for requeening for you but KY is a ways from here so maybe not. Conventional wisdom always has beekeepers combining hives. You could try it but definately beware of the laying workers. Any time you start combining you run a risk of taking a good hive and turning it to junk. Im really not a fan of the practice at all.

    There is an old saying among beekeepeers that goes "take your losses in the fall". All kinds of things happen to hives this time of year. We take honey from them, run them out of room, make them supercede, squish queens by accident, lose queens in the grass while pulling honey. the list goes on and on. Plus this time of year is when heavy infestations of mites really take a toll. Old queens fail, etc.

    Here is my non conventional advice. Shake the weak hive into the grass. Store your equipment and turn the good hive into two good hives come spring.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Cole County, Missouri
    Posts
    170

    Default Re: Help for a struggling hive

    wouldnt a laying worker be obvious by alot of drone cells?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Default Re: Help for a struggling hive

    >wouldnt a laying worker be obvious by alot of drone cells?

    At first the egg police keep up and remove all the drone eggs. Later more workers develop ovaries and finally they can't keep up. They still try to. Eventually you'll have a scattered drone cells, but laying workers are usually not solid drones like a drone laying queen does.

    http://bushfarms.com/beeslayingworkers.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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