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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Trafalgar, Indiana, USA
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    11

    Default Do I have a queen problem or a food problem?

    O.K. To start off....I am brand new to this. A total of 3.5 weeks experience, plus a few hundred hours of internet research and talking to everyone I can. I had an old beekeeper tell me if I ask 10 people for advice, I will get 20 answers. Seems to be about true so far......so I figured I would ask a few dozen more people about my problem.

    I received a nuc hive from a friend the end of July. When he brought it over, there were about 2 frames built out with wax and it looked like about a 10"x10" section of brood. They didn't have any honey or pollen. I started feeding them HFC syrup. A few days later, I moved them over into the new hive (a single 10 frame super). I put the 5 nuc frames in the middle of the new super, and inspected each. They seemed to have built a bit more wax and a few more broods. I identified the queen and she was laying.

    Today (3 weeks later) I purchased a second super to put on. When I opened up the hive to inspect, I didn't really see any changes. The middle 3 frames were all built out with empty cells, and the brood pattern was actually smaller. I found the queen, and she seemed to be moving around fine...but no new honey, no nectar, and decreased brood cells. This queen was a new queen in the spring. From what I was told, my hive is a "mut" hive of mixed breed Carniolan/Italian with Carniolan being predominant.

    Where I live we were having a severe drought, but recently we have received some rain. We still don't have any flowers, but I have seen them in my wife's garden and on a few other plants. Based on the change in weather, I had stopped putting out the syrup.

    I currently have 2 sets of opinions, and wanted to get more to see if I can get a "majority". The first opinion is I need to give them more syrup and some pollen. I was told to get a pollen mix and make some patties mixed with honey-b-healty. This opinion was based on Carniolans being more adaptive to food supply and that the queen will stop laying if she thinks the food supply isn't sufficient.

    The second opinion says to immediately replace the queen. I talked with the local supplier and they have Italian queens available.

    Maybe I am crazy, but the idea of "bee-heading" my queen if she is doing what comes naturally sounds a little drastic. But at the same time I know winter is coming and we need to build up the colony. Right now it is very small....only enough bees to cover 2 frames.

    I searched a bunch of other posts and all over the internet, but I couldn't find anything which really fit this scenario.

    Ideas?

    THANKS!!!

    John Grounds

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Wright, MN, USA
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: Do I have a queen problem or a food problem?

    Since you are in a severe drought, I would say that they need pollen substitute and syrup. Use a top feeder and feed them until it get too cold for them to take it.

    You could also ask your friend if you can get a couple frames of capped brood with bees. To boost your hive up a bit.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Trafalgar, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Do I have a queen problem or a food problem?

    Here are some pictures.

    The dark cells are from the nuc. The other is the new they have built. I also have a picture of the queen.

    Thanks Again!!

    IMG_9402.jpgIMG_9403.jpgIMG_9407.jpgIMG_9408.jpgIMG_9409.jpgIMG_9411.jpg

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,714

    Default Re: Do I have a queen problem or a food problem?

    I agree with Tohya.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    roswell, georgia, USA
    Posts
    720

    Default Re: Do I have a queen problem or a food problem?

    Don't expect any sort of buildup this time of year - way to late - take off all additional boxes and feed like crazy. If you have another hive that is doing well, you might need to consider combining the 2 just to make it thru the winter. they are into their last few brood cycles, and you need to have enough food and bees to make it thru winter. Your situation is not unusal for late first-time hives. If you have access to some brood frames with eggs. add them. Don't be dissapointed about their demise should it happen - I lost my first hive first year too. It takes some time and resources (generally more than just 1 hive) to get established.
    EAS Georgia Certified. "Tradition - Even if you have done it the same way for years doesn't mean that it is not stupid."

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Trafalgar, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Do I have a queen problem or a food problem?

    Unfortunately this is my only hive. Don't really have access to other frames, unless there is some place to buy these. So you are all of the opinion "let the queen live"?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Winhall, VT
    Posts
    1,066

    Default Re: Do I have a queen problem or a food problem?

    Two frames of bees in late August in my neck of the woods isn't good. I would feed them a ton and, if they aren't bringing in pollen, throw a pollen patty on them. Might all be for naught as even my overwintered nucs are about 9 frames already. Give it a shot and hope for the best. Getting a boost of brood from another beek might save them. Get as much as they will give you.
    Raising Vermont Bees one mistake at a time.
    USDA Zone 5A

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,572

    Default Re: Do I have a queen problem or a food problem?

    Get a protein patty on there just as fast as you can. They won't be bringing any pollen in, they are starving and will not bring in pollen, nor will they raise brood. De-fatten soy flour and sugar syrup mixed to a thick paste will do as well as anything, and you should be able to get than on tomorrow.

    Get a hive top feeder and put a gallon of syrup on, too. Feed them whatever they will take, as fast as they will take it.

    You should also check for EFB -- and rubbery scales on the bottom board?

    There is an outside chance they will survive, but only in a nuc box. If they fill a nuc with syrup and pollen, you can add another nuc on top (assuming standard boxes, not cardboard or plastic board). A ten frame box is too large, they won't do well this year in one.

    Peter

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Deming, NM
    Posts
    105

    Default Re: Do I have a queen problem or a food problem?

    I think the above advice is good- compact them into a nuc box, feed the hell out of them (I feed mine bee tea- 1:1 sugar syrup with some chamomile tea, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Maybe it's not strictly necessary, but they suck that stuff down like you wouldnt believe), and throw a good pollen substitute at them. Since you've got temps in the 90s, they should be able to draw some comb, assuming they have a sufficient number of house bees. My hive was in a similar state- not a lot of brood (due to not having a queen for a couple of weeks) and drought conditions. I had them in 2 deeps, and a mentor told me to reduce them down to one deep, because "less is more this time of year". Once I reduced them, started feeding and the brood hatched, it really jumpstarted them. Mine took a bit of the pollen sub I made, but then started to bring in a lot of pollen on their own and I removed it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Wright, MN, USA
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: Do I have a queen problem or a food problem?

    Carniolans stop laying when they can't find enough food.

    Reduce the entrance to 1" and feed them. Once it gets too cold for them to take syrup, you'll probably need to put a candy board on.

    This is a candy board.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_WLCc21-Hk


    If you go with nucs, you can make a nuc sized candy board, or just use a medium nuc super.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,034

    Default Re: Do I have a queen problem or a food problem?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnGrounds View Post
    Right now it is very small....only enough bees to cover 2 frames.
    That's awfully few for this time of year. Feed as much 1:1 as they will take. There's lots of goldenrod blooming now, so there's plenty of pollen available, but given their small numbers, it might not hurt to give them some pollen as others suggested. I'd probably stick with the existing queen rather than replace.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Trafalgar, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Do I have a queen problem or a food problem?

    Today I purchased a top feeder and put in 1:1 sugar syrup. I also bought some local pollen, mixed it with corn syrup, and spread it along the top of one of the frames. Full disclosure: I bought the stuff, my wife cooked and mixed all the goodies, and then I installed it.

    I will let you know how it turns out. Thanks for the advice.

    John

    P.S. The queen would like to pass along her thanks to everyone who convinced me to spare her head. :-)

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Trafalgar, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Do I have a queen problem or a food problem?

    O.k. So next question. Sorry for all the newbie questions...

    I put the hive top feeder on, took the inner cover off and put the telescoping cover on secure. Put 1:1 mix in the top feeder. Along the top of one frame I spread a mix of corn syrup and local raw pollen. I also put the reducer on with the small opening. That was yesterday afternoon.

    Today when I went out to the hive, the activity at the entrance is 10 times what I have ever seen before. There are about 10 bees flying in front waiting to land at any given time, there are usually another 10 log jammed at the entrance waiting to go in or out. I have noticed a couple standing out with the rear in the air fanning (I read that is the homing beacon). I do NOT see any dead bees, or any type of fighting.

    My hope is that with the warm weather today, and their new supply of food they have decided to be very active. My fear is another hive has killed the guards and are robbing at will. My wife is convinced a couple of the bees are darker than ours, but to be honest at this point I still see a honey bee as a honey bee.

    Thoughts?

    Thanks again for all your help. Sorry I have nothing to contribute at this point other than a bunch of questions.

    John

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Wright, MN, USA
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: Do I have a queen problem or a food problem?

    That sounds normal.

    The ones fanning are just trying to get some air movement to help keep the hive cool and dry the syrup.

    If there is robbing there will be far more than 10-20 bees around, and they will be fighting. The small opening should help them defend themselves if robbers should try to get in. But you can make a robber screen to have around just in case.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Pierce/Thurson County, Wa
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: Do I have a queen problem or a food problem?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnGrounds View Post
    My wife is convinced a couple of the bees are darker than ours, but to be honest at this point I still see a honey bee as a honey bee.
    You said that your bees were a mixture of Italian and Carnies. When queens go on their mating flights, they mate with many drones and store that semen for the rest of their lives. So, the difference in color could be because they have different "dads". Or, it could be a bee from somewhere else. Any bee that shows up full of pollen is readily accepted into the hive.


    Quote Originally Posted by JohnGrounds View Post
    Thanks again for all your help. Sorry I have nothing to contribute at this point other than a bunch of questions.
    At this point, we kind of expect that. Soon, you will be able to help other people. With the amount of research you have done, I am sure you could answer at least some people's questions on here.

    The reason people are suggesting putting your bees back in a nuc is because the bees need to be able to keep the space inside the hive warm over the winter. If you have too much space and too few bees they will all die. Imagine a three bedroom house with one baseboard heater. The bees prefer to be at ~98 degrees iirc. Imagine those swing/lindy dances of the 40's and 50's, with how hot and crowded those used to be. That is about how hot and crowded you want your hive.

    Anyway, this is my first year, and I have a very helpful local club and their advice for this time of year, which I think you should do too. Feed them as much as they will take until October (when it gets cold). At the very minimum, they will move things into the comb to munch on over the winter. At this point you need to feed them so they will increase in number, and you need to feed them so they will have stores for winter. This is why the old saying of
    "A swarm in May is worth a load of hay;
    a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon;
    but a swarm in July is not worth a fly."
    If you think anything organic is good for you, go drink some organic solvents.
    geek, learning how to be a beek

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