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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Granby, MO
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    105

    Default Newbie with a checkerboard question

    Hello all,

    I did some searching but was unable to find an answer to my specific question (perhaps because I'm unfamiliar with the jargon and was searching incorrect terms).

    I installed two packages in mid April. One colony has grown like crazy, has filled out the hive body, and is about 50% into one super. Considering they had to draw out the comb for all of this, I'm impressed. The other colony isn't doing as well. They have the hive body about 50-60% drawn out, but they are not making any more progress into the remaining frames. They have been maintaining their size and approximate population for well over a six weeks now.

    So here's my question: could I/should I take a frame or two of brood from my strong colony and swap them with undrawn frames from my weak colony? At this point I'm just hoping the weak colony will survive winter.

    Thank you all. Because of work, I am unable to join the local beekeeper club, and I don't know anyone who keeps bees and can give advice.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Hermitage, TN, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Newbie with a checkerboard question

    What size boxes are you using and in what order are they stacked?

    If it was me, I would feed them up until a super was placed on the brood box. The extra sugar can be extra fuel to get all that comb made.

    I fed my hives til they had 8 frames of 2 deeps full each. Once they get to that point, I think they can gather anything else they need to make it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    1,278

    Default Re: Newbie with a checkerboard question

    Yes, you can add a frame of sealed brood to boost a weak colony. You need to feed to get wax produced and comb drawn when there is no nectar flow on, and the nectar flow probably is or has ended in your area by now. Feed 1:1 or 1:2 sugar water using a quart jar with 1 or 2 small holes in the lid so the bees take the syrup slowly. If you let the syrup supply run out and the bees stop producing wax it is hard to cause their wax glands to start producing again so keep the syrup on them every day.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Newbie with a checkerboard question

    Sounds like a drifting problem, assuming your hives are side by side. Check the weaker hive for a good brood pattern, and signs of a strong queen. If all that checks out, I'd guess that as the hive is graduating foragers, they are flying off, but returning to the other hive. Since they didn't return to the original hive, they did not bring back their stores. Without the resources, the smaller hive cannot grow. A returning forager with stores will always be allowed into the hive, even if it isn't their hive of origin.

    As you said, they are maintaining, but not growing. I'd guess this is because the queen does not have enough space to lay brood. She has every available cell filled up. The workers should be pulling more comb for her to lay in, but resources are low, so they are reserving those supplies to take care of the brood.

    If you can move one hive at least 10' from the other, it may mitigate some of the drifting. Seal up the hive at night, and then move it to the new location. The next day the foragers will come out, and re-orient before leaving to forage. They should not be as likely to get confused upon return since the hives aren't as close together. In the interim, it may be beneficial to give the weaker hive some supplement. You can take a couple frames of CAPPED brood from the stronger hive and move them to the weaker hive. Brush off the bees so as not to transfer them and cause fighting. The capped brood will hatch out, and never know where they came from. Just like an adopted infant. The stronger hive should rebound just fine. The added bonus is that when the brood hatches, you've also gained the comb for the queen to have more space to lay.

    You could possibly put a feeder on the weaker hive too, but make sure you have a strong queen first. If you don't have a good queen, the bees will take the stores and become honeybound, piling up stores in the open cells, restricting the queen. If you have a good queen, they will use the feed to pull comb instead, which the queen will immediately lay in. The bees know what they need, you just have to figure out how to get them to tell you.

    Here is a perfect example of drifting, as I am experiencing the same. I now have 4 TBH's, all in a straight row, with about 5' between each. The hive on the far right was the first, and is booming, almost overrun with bees. The next on to the left was a split two weeks ago. It's doing well, but not nearly as good as the original, since most of the foragers from #2 are returning to #1. Then I double split again, and placed the next two hives in spots #3 and #4. Even though all four hives had 5 frames of bees and brood a week ago, the population now trends down from left to right. Such to the point that the hive on the farthest left appears to barely have enough worker bees to even serve the brood. But they have brood that should be hatching soon, and a new queen that should hatch today! In the interim, I am going to grab a bar of capped brood from the #1 hive, and move it to #4. I will trade it for a bar of open comb from hatched brood in #1, since they don't have a queen to lay it anyway. That way neither hive is without space for a queen to lay, and they both get what they need!

    As a fellow newbie, from what I've learned in my two months, is not to over think things. I see comments on here all the time where people are convinced they need to requeen, or take other measures. Bees are extremely logical creatures. They are even fairly predicable IMHO. It may sound silly, but I often just stand up against a tree in the yard, and watch my bees for 30 minutes or so, just to see what they are doing as foragers come and go. Lately I've seen a lot of foragers flying confused around each hive, trying to find the entrance. They are lost, which means they have a 75% chance of returning to the wrong hive. Hope this helps. Good luck!
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Granby, MO
    Posts
    105

    Default Re: Newbie with a checkerboard question

    Thank you all for the replies!

    I suppose I could have waited until I checked my bees this week to post the thread, but I didn't think I'd have time today. And I was anxious because it takes a few days to register for the forum.

    dwwaldron: I am using standard Langstroth 10 frame hives, one hive body, and on the stronger colony I have one super.

    ARbeekeeper: will the nectar flow really have ended this early? I don't mean to second-guess you, as you certainly have more experience than I do. I guess I'm just surprised that I should start feeding this early.

    Tom B: the hives are about 30 feet apart. A day or two after I installed the packages, I suspected that around half of the bees from the weaker colony joined the stronger colony because the populations suddenly shifted dramatically.

    To provide all with a bit more information (that until today I thought wasn't important): three weeks ago I noticed the beginning of a queen cell in the weak colony. It was almost in the middle of a frame and there was only one. I figured I'd leave it alone since the colony wasn't doing so hot and the bees probably knew what they were up to anyway. Obviously, someone wasn't happy. Either the queen or the workers. So since I didn't have much to lose and I didn't have anyone to ask, I left it. One week later, nothing had changed. No expansion into the hive, and no progress on the queen cell. I also spotted the queen. The pattern was poor, even in the few frames that were drawn out. Ten days later (today), the weaker colony suddenly seems to be growing. The remnants of the false(?) queen cell are gone, and the colony has at least begun to draw out all of the remaining frames. The brood pattern is much better. I don't know if this is the old queen or a new one, but I'm happy.

    So I do feel kind of stupid for posting before I did my inspection this week, but I was planning on making the swap at that time and honestly did not expect the weak hive to be any different. And it is good information for the future.

    Thank you all for the replies! I have read several threads here and hope to learn and expand my hive count in future years

  6. #6

    Default Re: Newbie with a checkerboard question

    Yep, so I retract my drifting theory. But it's still information for the future.

    Sounds like your first queen was a dud, and the bees have fixed the problem. I need a refresher, but based on location, there are two different types of queen cells (or so I've read). I just made queenless splits, leaving the bees to raise their own queen. They built about 2 dozen queen cells, all on the edges of the comb. I think these are termed "swarm" cells, because there are so many. If you don't cut out all the extras, the bees are very likely to swarm. They are viewed (IMO) as emergency queen cells.
    Your's was built in the middle of the comb, and only one. So it seems the bees built it with intent. They had a plan, not an emergency. I'd venture to say that your first queen was obviously fertile, but weak. The bees detected this, and have raised a replacement for her. This is termed a supersedure cell. You likely saw the lull in numbers as your new queen did her mating flights and got to work laying. Now you're seeing the boom that follows!

    Sounds like you got it figured out. And just so I can say "I told you so", you didn't over think things when you saw the supersedure cell, and the bees took care of it. When I first got my bees, after about two weeks, I observed two queen cell "cups" on the bottom of one bar of comb. I panicked since I also didn't see my queen that day, and I called the supplier. She reassured me that the queen was probably their, just good at hiding, and that was I saw was possibly swarm cells, because the bees felt they were doing so well that they could possibly swarm. A few days later I saw the queen, and the cups were gone. Glad I waited and didn't spend another $25! I expanded the hive to give them more room, and haven't seen a cup since (aside from all the ones built when I made the queenless split).

    It really is impressive how simply intelligent the bees are. NOthing like the senseless masses that seem to dictate human society
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Granby, MO
    Posts
    105

    Default Re: Newbie with a checkerboard question

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Brueggen View Post
    Yep, so I retract my drifting theory. But it's still information for the future.

    Sounds like your first queen was a dud, and the bees have fixed the problem. I need a refresher, but based on location, there are two different types of queen cells (or so I've read). I just made queenless splits, leaving the bees to raise their own queen. They built about 2 dozen queen cells, all on the edges of the comb. I think these are termed "swarm" cells, because there are so many. If you don't cut out all the extras, the bees are very likely to swarm. They are viewed (IMO) as emergency queen cells.
    Your's was built in the middle of the comb, and only one. So it seems the bees built it with intent. They had a plan, not an emergency. I'd venture to say that your first queen was obviously fertile, but weak. The bees detected this, and have raised a replacement for her. This is termed a supersedure cell. You likely saw the lull in numbers as your new queen did her mating flights and got to work laying. Now you're seeing the boom that follows!

    Sounds like you got it figured out. And just so I can say "I told you so", you didn't over think things when you saw the supersedure cell, and the bees took care of it. When I first got my bees, after about two weeks, I observed two queen cell "cups" on the bottom of one bar of comb. I panicked since I also didn't see my queen that day, and I called the supplier. She reassured me that the queen was probably their, just good at hiding, and that was I saw was possibly swarm cells, because the bees felt they were doing so well that they could possibly swarm. A few days later I saw the queen, and the cups were gone. Glad I waited and didn't spend another $25! I expanded the hive to give them more room, and haven't seen a cup since (aside from all the ones built when I made the queenless split).

    It really is impressive how simply intelligent the bees are. NOthing like the senseless masses that seem to dictate human society
    That is really interesting. I had read or heard somewhere that there are two types of queen cells, but I was unable to recover the information and therefore didn't know what type mine was. I also didn't know that queenless splits were possible or even a real thing. I am interested in making a split or two (if possible) next year. I have been building boxes in my spare time but so far I've had to focus on making supers.

    Your "I told you so" is extremely appropriate. The book that I own gently pointed out that in regard to beekeeping, the bees are a lot smarter than the newbie (me).

  8. #8

    Default Re: Newbie with a checkerboard question

    Indeed, I don't recall where I read that about the queen cells, I just know that I saw it somewhere. But it seems accurate. Like I said, my bees only pulled swarm cells on the edges of the comb. They were in a hurry. Your bees had time to pick out exactly what they wanted to do. I suppose there could be some logic to building in the middle of the hive as well, as a matter of protecting the precious queen they are raising.

    As for the queenless splits, what I performed is called a "cutback" split. I started by taking the healthy queen and 5 bars of comb to a new hive, leaving behind 16 bars of brood/eggs. This was my personal guarantee that out of all those eggs, at least one would hatch and be raised as a queen. Naturally, the bees are conservative, and raised about 2 dozed queen cells instead. After all, what if 23 don't survive...

    So having all these extra queen cells, I only wanted 2-3 in the hive, to prevent a possible swarming situation. I didn't want to destroy all the extras. So I quickly built two more boxes, and split the 16 bars of brood/stores across them, assuring that 2-3 queen cells went with them. I had about a dozen extra queen cells in the end (some got accidentally destroyed along the way). These I gave to a fellow beek that had a few week nucs. I think he used a few, and passed on the rest to a friend. I was glad to see the generosity passed on. A rare occurrence these days.

    Anyway, I'm looking to see my queens hatch today sometime, but I won't open the hive to see. One hive has a glass window, so I will be able to peak in and see if the queens in that one have hatched. If so I can safely assume that the other have hatched too. I'll look probably Sunday to check for sure, and remove/destroy any cells that haven't hatched by then. Then it's a waiting game for about two weeks to see if I end up with successful splits. If any of them fail I'll just recombine them with another that was successful.
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Granby, MO
    Posts
    105

    Default Re: Newbie with a checkerboard question

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Brueggen View Post
    Indeed, I don't recall where I read that about the queen cells, I just know that I saw it somewhere. But it seems accurate. Like I said, my bees only pulled swarm cells on the edges of the comb. They were in a hurry. Your bees had time to pick out exactly what they wanted to do. I suppose there could be some logic to building in the middle of the hive as well, as a matter of protecting the precious queen they are raising.

    As for the queenless splits, what I performed is called a "cutback" split. I started by taking the healthy queen and 5 bars of comb to a new hive, leaving behind 16 bars of brood/eggs. This was my personal guarantee that out of all those eggs, at least one would hatch and be raised as a queen. Naturally, the bees are conservative, and raised about 2 dozed queen cells instead. After all, what if 23 don't survive...

    So having all these extra queen cells, I only wanted 2-3 in the hive, to prevent a possible swarming situation. I didn't want to destroy all the extras. So I quickly built two more boxes, and split the 16 bars of brood/stores across them, assuring that 2-3 queen cells went with them. I had about a dozen extra queen cells in the end (some got accidentally destroyed along the way). These I gave to a fellow beek that had a few week nucs. I think he used a few, and passed on the rest to a friend. I was glad to see the generosity passed on. A rare occurrence these days.

    Anyway, I'm looking to see my queens hatch today sometime, but I won't open the hive to see. One hive has a glass window, so I will be able to peak in and see if the queens in that one have hatched. If so I can safely assume that the other have hatched too. I'll look probably Sunday to check for sure, and remove/destroy any cells that haven't hatched by then. Then it's a waiting game for about two weeks to see if I end up with successful splits. If any of them fail I'll just recombine them with another that was successful.
    Is there another thread that follows this venture?

  10. #10

    Default Re: Newbie with a checkerboard question

    Yes there is! Here is link to it: http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...led-Brood-Nest
    It is located in the TBH category of the forums. It hasn't received post in a couple of days, so it's down a bit on the list. Figured it might be easier for you to follow a link. I also plan to make a video with an update. I have a video of the original split, explaining what I did, located here: http://youtu.be/FNwFlHHxG1Y. This was before I did the additional double split, so I need to make an update video about where I am at now.
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

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