Good afternoon from Detroit, MI - long read!! :)
I am a noob to this forum and a relative noob to bee keeping as well. I started in the spring of '11 with a new hive and a package of bees and a queen. A friend, Bernie, from my church has about 8 or 10 hives and has helped my tremendously with getting started and getting through some rough patches. My hive did well its first summer and wintered nicely - especially since spring started in February here. They made honey like crazy and probably swarmed but I wasn't paying attention so I missed it. By late July, I had 7 boxes on my hive with most of them at capacity. I was pretty geeked about how well it was humming along.
Sometime in late July or early August I got a feeling that something wasn't quite right. I watched the bees for a week or so before I decided to go in. My friend Bernie was spending the summer up north and since I didn't have much in the way of equipment, I just went in with a mask and gloves and small fire in a bucket for smoke. Everything looked fine throughout the hive, thousands of bees and honey and pollen stores galore. About 4:00 am the next morning, it hit me...there was no brood at all...my queen was dead.
I called Bernie to go through it with him and he suggested I call another friend of his. Rich was out of town, but told me that my hive was toast and I should probably write it off. Well, I didn't particularly like that answer, so I ordered a new queen from GA and "borrowed" two frames of capped brood from Bernie and put them in my hive.
Well, the queen took 10 days to get here because of the post office, so the apiary sent me another to replace her. I put the queen in and went out of town for the weekend. 5 days later I let her out of her box.
In the mean time, the second queen arrived, so i bought a new hive and stole a few frames of honey and bees out of my main hive and set it up at my church with some of Bernie's hives. I let the queen go 5 days in her cage in the #2 hive before I let her out. Not 1 bee was flying around that hive for almost a week after I first set it up.
So, hive #1, was still lethargic to my mind so I opened her up and found nothing, no brood, just a ton of bees...and a frame of drone brood with a bunch dead larvae with "funny little brown dots on them"... Varroa mites...so I took that frame out and threw it in my freezer and thought I was really hosed. Did the mites come from the borrowed brood or the queen or outside?? They came with the **** queen!! I found dead mites inside her cage under where the candy had been!!!
Now I went to hive #2 and the bees were flying like mad!! I pulled out a couple of frames and found the queen walking around doing her business!! (I had the queens marked...best $2.50 I ever spent!) Tomorrow will be about the 2 week mark, so I'll go take a peek in there.
Meanwhile, Hive #1..I went back in there last Sunday, still no brood in either of the bottom boxes where I put the queen, but for grins, I took some frames out if the third box and there she was...laying eggs like a good girl with lots of brood in various stages!! I quickly put the have back together and let her go back to work!!
No about these mites...that's my next project for this weekend. Powdered sugar sounds like the best option at this point...ideas?
Thanks for reading!