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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Silver Spring, MD USA
    Posts
    25

    Default More mysteries to me - empty frames

    Hi, All,

    I've been trying to get my 1st year bees to draw out the frames in my honey supers, but that hasn't worked (not enough honey flow, I guess). So today, I went in to replace the queen separators that I'd removed, and to see if I could steal a taste of honey. I went down into the brood chambers and what I found seems bad. The comb there is empty. No honey. No brood. Just totally empty. The bees got very angry, but I pulled out 3 or 4 frames that had been full (and clearly had been used) that are now empty.

    What could this mean? Shouldn't they have something in there? Do they stop laying brood at this point? Is there anything I can do at this point in the season?

    Thanks again for all the help you have given!

    Jen

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Noxon, Mt.
    Posts
    41

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    I don't know enough to give advice, but wondered if you saw any brood at all. Eggs, larva, capped brood? Did you see a queen or any queen cells? Have you been feeding at all? Boy, there is allot to learn about making good decisions....;-))

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Silver Spring, MD USA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    There were no eggs, larva, capped brood, nothing. I didn't get to look deeply for the queen. There was an old, empty queen cell. This hive swarmed earlier in the summer, but had been back to good shape with new brood for a while. I suspect that was left over from when I brought in new brood to get a new queen.

    I haven't been feeding, but I feel like it might be time based on what I see there.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Eldersburg, MD, USA
    Posts
    159

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    honeydog, you should be feeding them their first year. You should hopefully be seeing some brood, stored pollen, some honey but they may have eaten through whatever they managed to collect. If you see no brood, the queen has either shut down due to no supplies or the hive may be queenless.
    Do you have a mentor? Do you belong to the Montgomery County Beekeepers' Association?

    Just saw your reply. Can you get someone to look with you? You can start feeding, wait several days and then see if you see eggs. Feed thick syrup, it wil be less work for them to evaporate. Generally, we have until Thanksgiving to feed them enough to build them up around here. Are you using mediums or deeps?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Silver Spring, MD USA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    Thanks for the advice.

    I do not have a mentor. I do belong to the Montgomery County Beekeepers' Association, but haven't found a lot of helpful things there. Maybe I don't know where to look.

    Based on the harsh private messages I've received in response to this post ("you seem clueless as to basic beekeeping biology and what is expected in a typical bee year in terms of basic management tasks" - ouch), it doesn't seem like this is the place to look for help, either.

    This is my first year and I've been doing my best with the bees. I've read some books, watched a lot of videos, and tried to get as much information as I can.

    Thanks to everyone for the help offered on some of my earlier questions this summer. I'll find other resources to consult until I've learned enough to post here again.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Belews Creek, NC, USA
    Posts
    320

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    Honeydog, don't let this site get you down. Sometimes I am more confused after reading some replies. McDonald's doesn't have the only clown in town. But there is also some great information and courteous responses from people on this site. There is a wealth of information here and some misinformation as well...just like anywhere else. Maybe you should find a response you like and start PM that person if you don't want to post. Most people would be glad to do that.
    I'm a newbie as well...began in April. I started out inspecting my hives every other week, trying to get used to the sights and smells and how to handle my frames. I always...always looked for the queen, but if I couldn't find her, I checked for eggs, uncapped and capped larvae. If I couldn't find her, the larvae and her laying pattern lets me know she's there and doing what needs to be done. In my uneducated opinion, this is the most important thing. If your hive is not repopulating, nothing else matters. Just don't be discouraged, read the new posts on this site often and then come to your own conclusions.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Eldersburg, MD, USA
    Posts
    159

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    honeydog, I'm sorry you've received such comments. You should definitely try to get a mentor, having 2 sets of eyes looking at the hive with you helps tremendously. I believe Jim Fraser is a member of that beekeeping group but he may be too busy to actually mentor. If you stop by his store in Damascus he is great to chat with and bounce ideas off of.
    Which books have you read?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,249

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    Jen, I do not think your hive is going to make it because of the depleted stores. The hive was probably weakened by the drought we had this summer and then recently robbed would be my guess. If you have another hive you could possibly combine this one into it however by your post I am assuming that you only have the one hive, save the comb for a new start next year.

    I hated to hear that you received nasty PM's, you will probably get no apologies from these people so I offer one at this time, "I am sorry for the Nasty PM's", this is a good site for beekeeping knowledge and there are those of us who wish to help in any way we can.
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Palermo, Maine, USA
    Posts
    731

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    Quote Originally Posted by honeydog View Post
    Based on the harsh private messages I've received in response to this post ("you seem clueless as to basic beekeeping biology and what is expected in a typical bee year in terms of basic management tasks" - ouch), it doesn't seem like this is the place to look for help, either.
    Thankfully this is the first time I have heard of this happening. It has never happened to me, and I hope it never happens to you again. It was rude and out of line. I am sorry that you had to experience it. Please be assured that you are welcome to post here.

    I wonder if the mods would be interested in knowing who sent those messages?
    Like us on facebook This is the place to bee!
    Ralph

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Springfield,VA
    Posts
    46

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    Jen,

    When was the last time you inspected? Did you see the queen then??

    At this point I think I would do a thorough inspection and look for a queen because if she is gone then there is no point in feeding them. They will not survive on their own.
    Do you have another hive you can combine them into if that's the case?

    I'm sorry to hear about the unpleasant PMs.. There are many beekeepers in our area.. I hope you find a helpful one near you!

    Send me a PM if you want more info..

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    Honeydog,

    If you like we can set a time and I can look at the hive w/ you--I'm in Gaithersburg. Just shoot me an e-mail at jeffrey.w.clark1@us.army.mil and we can go from there.

    I don't belong to any club and have no mentor either but I am an entomologist and have studied social insects on the side since I was 10 (in the Army so my professional focus is on disease vectors and control). This is my second year as a beekeeper and I remember last year, about this time, I realized I should be feeding and lucked out. That one hive has become three (plus 4 swarms I didn't catch). Inspected my hives in mid-Sep and had one with lots of brood but no stores at all. Been feeding ever since and they are now building up good.

    There is a fall flow now but it looks like the fall flows here aren't very strong. The spring flow is very strong from April through June/Jul. Got a little honey this year and the bees ate their stores in Aug. Next year I will harvest by July and then feed in August so the hives are strong for the next spring (have one weak hive that may not make it if it is a cold winter--which I suspect it will be).

    Anyway, if you still have a queen she will produce again once you feed. Do you have a feeder? How big is the hive and what does the entrance activity look like? Should have some pollen coming in if they are foraging.

    Just contact me if interested.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    owensboro,ky
    Posts
    2,240

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    first let me say i have not contacted the OP .
    one mans harsh reply may be anothers honest answer with the plain truth.
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,465

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    My advice would be to get a hive top feeder and some protein patties and feed as much as they will take. If they have drawn comb that is empty, feed 2:1 syrup a couple gallons at a time -- it's easy with a hive top feeder, but a boardman entrance feeder is useless for this.

    I learned the hard way that it is necessary to feed a slow hive in the late summer if you expect it to live over winter, as mine made it to spring and then faded away -- not enough stores, not enough bees, too many wax moths.

    One of the things I like about this board is the civility, I'm not at all pleased you got snarky private messages. You should report them to the moderators, this isn't acceptable behavior to my mind, we are all here to share knowledge and information, not to be snarky to newbies.

    Peter

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Silver Spring, MD USA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    Thank you everyone, for all the really helpful advice and support. I am trying really hard with these bees. I so appreciate all the guidance and advice. Thanks!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
    Posts
    238

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    You need to figure out if you still have a queen, although it sounds like she may have swarmed off or perhaps been killed in a robbing incident. Feed them up, pollen and syrup, and see if that kickstarts things. It may be that your girls are queenless and so will die out over the winter...at least you have drawn comb (a fully furnished flat!) to put a new package into next spring. All is not completely lost.

    Another option if you are queenless is to requeen now, feed the heck out of this hive all winter, and get them through to spring. Commercial beekeepers would not find that economical, but if you are a hobbyist, that may be just the ticket. That would give you an early start and possibly the chance to split in the early summer, if you want another hive.

    Let us know how it goes!

    Regards,
    Janet

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Upper Kingsclear, NB, Canada
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    I wonder if the hive may have been partially robbed out. Sounds a bit like my home hive a few weeeks ago. I noticed a bunch of totally empty comb in the lower sections. I assumed that they were simply using up stores, no particular drama, but within the week I found that robbing was going on. I hope you have enough bees left to nurse them though the winter.
    I am using fondant/candy patties as it seems to me its easier to handle than syrup -although it's more labour intensive to make initially. I have a bunch made in the freezer and get them out as needed. For winter proper I'm going to try the Bush dry sugar top-off, at least on one hive, and see how that goes ..my other two seem to have lots of stores. first yr in the buzz-ness...
    Rob

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA, USA
    Posts
    174

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    another word of advice -- review on protecting hives from robbers and from wax moths -- as both may be a risk to the weak or dead hive this time of year. If you feed, use a reducer.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Silver Spring, MD USA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    Thanks, Rudy! I put in some makeshift reducers this morning. I watched some youtube videos of robbing and read some things. I didn't know what that looked like and I wouldn't have distinguished it from an orientation flight before. Now, having seen it explained, I know I've seen similar activity in front of the hive recently. Maybe that explains part of what's happening.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    East Peoria, IL
    Posts
    398

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    I've got two hives that sound similar to yours, both consist of a deep and two mediums, the mediums are full of honey but I do have brood and pollen in the middle 5 frames (10 frame boxes). The two outermost frames are still covered in bees but just empty comb. One hive I've given a few gallons of syrup to and the other has been self-sufficient since 3 weeks after the package was installed. Never seen signs of robbing and even last night when i went through them too late on an overcast day were very calm. The un-fed hive got 2 gal of 2:1 last night and I'll give them another gallon tomorrow morning. After that the temps drop and they're on their own.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Jefferson Co., WV, USA
    Posts
    156

    Default Re: More mysteries to me - empty frames

    Do you still have the honey super and queen excluder on your hive? WVMJ

    Quote Originally Posted by honeydog View Post
    Hi, All,

    I've been trying to get my 1st year bees to draw out the frames in my honey supers, but that hasn't worked (not enough honey flow, I guess). So today, I went in to replace the queen separators that I'd removed, and to see if I could steal a taste of honey. I went down into the brood chambers and what I found seems bad. The comb there is empty. No honey. No brood. Just totally empty. The bees got very angry, but I pulled out 3 or 4 frames that had been full (and clearly had been used) that are now empty.

    What could this mean? Shouldn't they have something in there? Do they stop laying brood at this point? Is there anything I can do at this point in the season?

    Thanks again for all the help you have given!

    Jen
    Meadmaking with WVMJ at Meads and Elderberry Winemaking

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