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  1. #1
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    Jun 2012
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    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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    Default An Inspection Story: Beetles, Bubbles, Ants, Slime, Webs, and a Flying Queen

    Preface: Yet another Novice Beekeeper here, so please keep in mind that I'm learning and am apt to make mistakes. I started in early May with a package of mostly syrup drowned bees and a Buckfast Queen, then in Mid-May with a package of replacement bees and an Italian Queen. I ended up splitting the replacement package to equalized the hives with the bees that survived the syrup drowning and starting off with two small hives. The Buckfast Queen never layed and by time I realized what was going on it was too late and the hive didn't make it. That left me with the Italian Hive that I had intended to requeen with a Buckfast Queen. Fast forward a few months...

    I ended up requeening with a New World Carniolan (NWC) queen on the 22nd of August because of a delay in getting the Buckfast one. It was getting late in the season and I wasn't sure when I was going to get her so I decided I had better do something to help my hive make it through winter. (The Italian Queen didn't lay a very good pattern and I was worried about overwintering Italian bees in a weak hive.)

    To make up for the lost hive, I ordered an Nuc of Buckfast bees that I could "Chop and Crop". (I know that this isn't recommended but that was the solution I chose to get the bees this year.) I picked up my nuc on the 25th of August, and bonus, not only was the nuc Buckfast with Tiger trait but my English Buckfast queen was there for me to take too. YAY!!! Ummm, uh oh...I just requeened that hive and don't want to mess with it any more right now. I decided to take her and make a small nuc from the chop and crop and existing hive and give myself time to let the bees settle down and figure out what to do (aka did I want to off a new queen that I just paid good money for...)

    The Chop and Crop went very well despite the carnage and upheaval. Fast forward to my Labor Day Inspection...

    I decided enough time had gone by that the NWC queen would be settled in that I could inspect and make sure they weren't trying to superseed her. The inspection went really well. The queen was in there laying away, cells full of eggs, large retinue of workers surrounding her, etc. I did, however, spot 4 beetles during my inspection. Two were in the area with the feeder, two were in the other end that is closed off with a solid follower board. I didn't see any in the hive proper, none on the comb and no larva evidence. The hive has no pollen stores so I have been feeding pollen patties on wax paper on the screened bottom of the hive. They have been eating them well and then chewing up the wax paper and taking it out of the hive so I thought this was working great (remember this for later). I did notice that the "nectar" in the comb has bubbles in it and it worried me that maybe it is fermenting or something but it wasn't actively bubbling. I have been feeding them "Bee Tea" for a few weeks now, but I try to change it often if they don't drain the jar quick enough so that it won't ferment.

    I was not going to inspect the other hive or the nuc but then noticed some things that made me think I had better. I had seen some ants going to an area on the bottom board of the hive that has the chop and crop and also the nuc in it. The damp area that the ants were after was under where the nest was (I took care of most the ants with an ant bait station near the hive leg they were trailing up), not where the feeder was so I dropped the bottom board to check out what was going on. When I did that I saw that under where the pollen pattie had been on the nuc there was a slime area. Uh Oh!! There were also larva in the slime. When I checked the nuc the combs looked fine, but while I was trying to put down the camera after taking a picture of the English Buckfast queen...she decided to walk over to my glove and then went airborne. NOOO!!!! Now I have a queen buzzing around me like I'm a traffic tower, the queen I had waited months to get, and I have no clue how to get her back into the hive! I keep looking at the rest of the combs in hopes that she would land on one and I could put her in, but instead she landed on me and started walking up my chest toward my veil. When I tried to gently shake her into the hive she launched airborne again (flying queens are sure loud!) and I was just starting to panic when she landed on the comb I had pulled and I quickly put her back in the hive. SHEW!!!

    When I inspected the Tiger Buckfast hive they looked great. They were busy attaching the cropped ends to the bars, no sign of beetles or anything, nice amount of eggs, etc... I had to fix how one bar was hanging but other than that I just wanted to make sure the queen had made it through the Chop and Crop carnage because I didn't spot her when I did it. She was in there safe and sound, really nice pattern of eggs and they were busy bringing in pollen from somewhere.

    When I looked at the bottom board from that hive, I saw lots of larva in the debris from under the Tiger hive...so at that point I thought maybe they looked better than they were? I'm not sure I like the screened bottom boards. I am starting to wonder if it just lets these pests in? After seeing that I decided I had better drop the bottom board from the other hive too and check it out. That one had larva but in webs! Wax Worms? They were right under where my wax paper for the pollen pattie was.

    So, despite the combs looking good, I am now concerned that they are all under attack by every bug out there except mites (didn't see them at all). Of course...the mites might have been hiding on me...

    I'll try to add some pictures, but it doesn't want to let me right now.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Greenwood, Indiana
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    182

    Default Re: An Inspection Story: Beetles, Bubbles, Ants, Slime, Webs, and a Flying Queen

    Whew! If it were I, I'd plan on starting from scratch next spring, i.e., it's time to throw in the towel.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: An Inspection Story: Beetles, Bubbles, Ants, Slime, Webs, and a Flying Queen

    That's pretty depressing Hoosier. Sounds like the hives are going. That is one thing to look out for in patties, SHB love them, well the protein anyways since that's what young larvae need. Just keep at it, maybe try to find a better way to put the patty up by the bees but with TBH, you can't just mash it in between frames or boxes so the bees can guard it. I would get some beetle traps and just keep a good eye on your comb and bee populations so they don't get slimed.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Panama City, Florida, USA
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    Default Re: An Inspection Story: Beetles, Bubbles, Ants, Slime, Webs, and a Flying Queen

    Does not sound to bad from a Pest standpoint. The bees are keeping them out of the areas they can get to. It is not at all unusual to get SHB larva under a pollen patty if you are In a SHB area. I dont use them I NW Florida for that reason.

    If anything it appears you are overmanaging your hives, a common occurrence for new beekeepers. Give them some time to manage themselves. You do not need to intervene on all their activities. Remember they have survived as a species for a long long time without us "helping" them. If you want to see a severe SHB infestation that the bees are managing, here is a photo from the top of one of my hives inner covers this past week. It is from a strong hive that is still doing very well.

    www.flickr.com/photos/45078863@N05/7926304968/

    Bees are more durable than most think

    Good luck and enjoy your hobby

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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    626

    Default Re: An Inspection Story: Beetles, Bubbles, Ants, Slime, Webs, and a Flying Queen

    A picture of the chop and crop endsDSC02457.JPG, the Buckfast (Tiger) hive DSC02455.JPG(the peaked roof is off), that also has the English Buckfast nuc in it with the reduced entrance nuc entrance.JPG, my Flying Queen (English Buckfast)DSC02456.JPG, the NWC Queen DSC02453.JPG, and what I think are Wax Worms from my NWC hive bottom board DSC02452.JPG. Whatever they were, they got torched.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Colleen O.; 09-05-2012 at 06:55 PM. Reason: still trying...ah, needed to use IE

  6. #6
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    Jun 2012
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    Default Re: An Inspection Story: Beetles, Bubbles, Ants, Slime, Webs, and a Flying Queen

    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    Does not sound to bad from a Pest standpoint. The bees are keeping them out of the areas they can get to. It is not at all unusual to get SHB larva under a pollen patty if you are In a SHB area. I dont use them I NW Florida for that reason.

    If anything it appears you are overmanaging your hives, a common occurrence for new beekeepers. Give them some time to manage themselves. You do not need to intervene on all their activities. Remember they have survived as a species for a long long time without us "helping" them. If you want to see a severe SHB infestation that the bees are managing, here is a photo from the top of one of my hives inner covers this past week. It is from a strong hive that is still doing very well.

    Bees are more durable than most think

    Good luck and enjoy your hobby
    @jbeshearse Thanks for the words of encouragement. My BF does tell me I am "helicoptering" with the hives.

    @JRG13 I'm going to look into making the CD case beetle jails and an alternative to putting the pollen patty on the screened bottom (or sealing it up). I just don't want the beetle or wax worm situation to get out of control. A little is probably good for them to deal with themselves, but two out of the three (the nuc and the NWC hive) are not what I would call strong right now so there has to be a line right?

  7. #7
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    Oct 2009
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    Default Re: An Inspection Story: Beetles, Bubbles, Ants, Slime, Webs, and a Flying Queen

    Yes, Those are wax worms. For what it is worth, I always have a few wax worms in my top bar hive. Usually at the tops. If there is debris build up in the bottom of the hive, they will also get into that as the bees don't tend to try and protect that area. As long as it is only a few and they are not in the areas the bees live, then it should not be an issue. It is an issue when they get in the brood comb.

    Looks like your bees are doing fine. As a new beekeeper you should look in on them as often as you feel necessary, That is the way you learn. But unless you are sure they need you to intervene, then you probably shouldn't.

    jeb

  8. #8
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    Aug 2011
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    Greenwood, Indiana
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    Default Re: An Inspection Story: Beetles, Bubbles, Ants, Slime, Webs, and a Flying Queen

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    That's pretty depressing Hoosier. Sounds like the hives are going. That is one thing to look out for in patties, SHB love them, well the protein anyways since that's what young larvae need. Just keep at it, maybe try to find a better way to put the patty up by the bees but with TBH, you can't just mash it in between frames or boxes so the bees can guard it. I would get some beetle traps and just keep a good eye on your comb and bee populations so they don't get slimed.
    JRG, I agree that it's depressing, but if I were in her shoes and still had time, I'd be very concerned about what's going to happen next spring if she hasn't already ordered at least one three-pound package for next spring. There probably won't be any left to order if she waits. If I were she, I'd arrange ONE hive's NEW brood chamber with the New World Carniolan (NWC) queen, get rid of the other queen and "chopped" bars altogether, feed like crazy for the two months that are left, pray that that hive makes it through winter, and wait for spring and the arrival of my pre-ordered package of NWC bees/w/queen.
    Last edited by Hoosier; 09-06-2012 at 09:42 AM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: An Inspection Story: Beetles, Bubbles, Ants, Slime, Webs, and a Flying Queen

    True enough Hoosier, it is getting late, but I still hold out some hope. The patty is a double edged sword.... on the bottom, at least the beetles are going down there and not in your comb, but it's harboring beetles/moth's. Looking at the larvae, it looks like a beetle larva to me (the long skinny one), but it's hard to tell. Theres a round fat one under it, assuming that's wax worm. I would just try to get it off the bottom, maybe suspend it by a comb. You just have to look at shb as a nuisance until they start sliming comb, then it's a problem. They're gonna come around, and as long as they stay off comb, it's not an issue. Yes, it's annoying they get on the patty or in the debris in the bottom, but they're not really hurting anything down there (except your patty). I would really focus on not disturbing the bees to much at this point and provide them with whatever they need to maximize brooding right now.

  10. #10
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    Jun 2012
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    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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    Default Re: An Inspection Story: Beetles, Bubbles, Ants, Slime, Webs, and a Flying Queen

    So far the bees are making it. (Well...not the flying queen, I think I accidentally crushed her.) I think the bees and I got the wax worms and beetles out of both hives but time will tell. I kept having issues with SHB larvae getting into the pollen pattie on the Buckfast hive so I had to stop giving them one but didn't have the same issues with the NWC hive. I am not sure if I had more of a struggle with the Buckfast hive because the screen bottom lets them get in (that one has #8 hardware cloth, the other has aluminum window screen) or because the nuc it came from had old comb they were hiding in. I sealed the edge gap on the solid bottom board that goes over the screened one and took it off to clean and torch a few times plus tried to get the old comb out. Two of the cropped lang bars that had honey in them I scored the cappings off and moved to the feeder area so that the bees would clean them out and I could remove them. Of the remaining two I had to leave one alone because it is the main brood bar but the other was all honey so I cut it off the Lang bar and wired it onto a top bar.
    I'll check in next Spring with how they fare.
    Last edited by Colleen O.; 11-28-2012 at 06:48 AM.

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