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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Central Kansas
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    53

    Default It's the strangest thing I'm completely stumped

    We went out to check on a hive in the middle of a field that a farmer said we could put there. When we left the hive 3-4 weeks ago, it was a booming box and a half of bees. When we checked on it last night, it was barely 4 frames worth. The mystery is there were 4 apricot/peach pits with a hole burrowed in them on the bottom just inside the entrance. My first thought was human because I know that the insides of seeds have a natural pesticide, but the more I think about it I'm leaning more towards animal. There was no evidence of anyone being out there. It is literally in the middle of a mile section with no road access. Does anyone know what kind of animal burrows a hole into a seed pit like that? I didn't see any evidence of dead bees that they had hauled out of the hive, so I was wondering if whatever left the pits also eats bees? I didn't see any evidence of a mouse having been in the hive. Seriously, this totally has me baffled and it is really bugging me.

    downhome

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    St. Paul, MN
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    145

    Default Re: It's the strangest thing I'm completely stumped

    one mystery at a time... you are certain the hive didn't swarm?
    That's the obvious answer to a large downsizing of a hive.

    3-4 weeks is plenty of time to raise a queen, leave, and destroy all signs of queen cells. Is there currently a laying queen? Was there a brood break or do you still see eggs, larvae (all ages), and capped brood?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Central Kansas
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    53

    Default Re: It's the strangest thing I'm completely stumped

    I actually contemplated the possibility of a swarm. When we put it in, there were not any queen cells that we saw and there was laying queen at that time. There is currently a laying queen, but it looked like she had just started laying within the last 7-8 days. They were noticeably shorter on honey then they had been, which would have happened if they swarmed, right? I had also contemplated the possibility that the move had stressed the queen and she had quit laying for a couple of weeks. Does that ever happen? Thanks for helping me try to figure this out.

    downhome

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
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    145

    Default Re: It's the strangest thing I'm completely stumped

    I can't speak to a queen "quitting laying" from being moved since I haven't moved very many hives. Lots of things contribute to a hive's urge to swarm, disturbing (moving) the colony is one of them.

    A swarm does consume a lot of honey before it leaves.

    Timeline:
    16 days for a queen to develop from an egg. 1 week enjoying the unmated life. A few sunny days of mating flights. Egg laying starts a few days later. You're pushing 4 weeks...

    Your situation is an argument for marking queens. You'd know if the queen you had is the one you still have.

    As for the peach pits... I'd point toward a fruit eating cousin of the chupacabra.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Central Kansas
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: It's the strangest thing I'm completely stumped

    I even googled what kind of animal eats hole in a seed like that and came up with nothing.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
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    9,232

    Default Re: It's the strangest thing I'm completely stumped

    Maybe the queen got damaged in the move and the hive requeened itself.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,603

    Default Re: It's the strangest thing I'm completely stumped

    Where did the peach pits come from? I don't think of Kansas as a peach growing State. In SC sometimes I find nuts in my hives and no rodent. But they must have been put there by some ground squirrel sort of creature. I don't know what happened to your bees.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Central Kansas
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    53

    Default Re: It's the strangest thing I'm completely stumped

    Kansas can grow nearly any fruit tree except tropical plants like oranges or lemons. Many grow wild and most homes out here have small fruit tree orchards for personal use. Are mice the only thing that eats holes into seeds?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: It's the strangest thing I'm completely stumped

    Do you have chipmunks or red squirrels?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Central Kansas
    Posts
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    Default Re: It's the strangest thing I'm completely stumped

    Yes, we have squirrels. I've lived here my whole life and have never seen a chipmunk, but have heard of people who say they have. The hive had two 3/4 - 1 inch square entrances and that is all. The seeds looked like they had been shoved into one of them. Why would they put them into the hive? Why would a mouse enter just to eat the seed and then leave? such crazy stuff.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Jefferson Co., WV, USA
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    157

    Default Re: It's the strangest thing I'm completely stumped

    There is a difference between a hole that is bored like a drill and one that is chewed. If it was chewed on the edges of the hole some rodent is simply using your hive as a cache. If the hole was a small bored hole then the rodent is still using your hive as a cache but the thing that made the hole is some kind of borer, peach trees have all kinds of enemies, some can bore holes in the wood, ring the trunk and kill the whole tree. WVMJ
    Meadmaking with WVMJ at Meads and Elderberry Winemaking

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Tigard, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    49

    Default Re: It's the strangest thing I'm completely stumped

    Two suggestions to cure your being stumped:
    1) Never place a solitary hive elsewhere. You yourself said you didn't visit it for several weeks, and as a result you lost control of your monitoring it. For that hive, at least, you moved from being a bee-keeper to being a bee-haver. None or a bee yard, no in betweens. Number of hives that will be worth your while visiting them frequently enough not to lose monitoring control.

    2) A mouse guard year around in a wild area might give you peace of mind. 1/2" screen wire x 4" wide x length of bottom board inside dimensions, folded 90 degrees down middle lengthwise, stapled to bottom board and hive body front, will keep out most problems.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Central Kansas
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: It's the strangest thing I'm completely stumped

    kendal, thanks for your insight.
    It sounds like even if I had my entire apiary there I might not check them as often as you deem necessary. Even if you check them once a week, it is still possible to miss tell-tell signs of beehive happenings. But if I had checked them more often I would have certainly known something was up sooner, although I'm not convinced it would have changed my original question. Perhaps in order to be a true beekeeper I should purchase some kind of in-hive video surveillance system for out yards that are less accessible. They should invent little remote controlled video bugs you can place inside a hive to monitor it. That would be cool.

    I have also come to the conclusion that mouse guards are a definite must for every hive. An excellent suggestion. They should be here next week


    WVMJ: Thanks for the info on the seeds. The seeds seemed more gnawed on than they did drilled like with a drill press. Do you know if a skunk will eat seeds like that because they will also eat the bees right? We have a lot of skunks around here.

  14. #14
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    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: It's the strangest thing I'm completely stumped

    Quote Originally Posted by Kendal View Post
    2) A mouse guard year around in a wild area might give you peace of mind.
    We have more mice than you can shake a stick at but they don't bother the hives until fall. Why do you think that is?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: It's the strangest thing I'm completely stumped

    Because, during warm temperature times of the year the bees are active and will drive mice out or sting them to death. Once bees start to cluster mice can get into beehives w/out fear of being stung.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Jefferson Co., WV, USA
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    157

    Default Re: It's the strangest thing I'm completely stumped

    Your funny, I would think that a skunk would chew on a pit like a dog chewing on a bone and leave gouging teethmarks where a rodent would chisel out flatlike toothmarks like a beaver chewing on a tree? I dont know for sure, just guessing for fun, you got a lot of critters out your way I found some pawprints on the front of one of my nucs that is sitting up on just a single cinderblock, its kind of hand shaped, thinking maybe racoon, it wasnt very clear, but any decent sized racoon should be able to pop open a nuc and have a grand feast but it didnt. Maybe he was just looking for a place to hide his nuts WVMJ

    Quote Originally Posted by downhome View Post
    WVMJ: Thanks for the info on the seeds. The seeds seemed more gnawed on than they did drilled like with a drill press. Do you know if a skunk will eat seeds like that because they will also eat the bees right? We have a lot of skunks around here.
    Meadmaking with WVMJ at Meads and Elderberry Winemaking

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