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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Henry, Virginia
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    93

    Default 2 hives, is one sick? No activicty, please read and please help advise :(

    Looking for some help with my 2 hives. I am going to call my mentor to ask some questions, but I wanted to come on here as well. I have asked a bee person, and will reveal his answer towards the end of this post.

    I started 2 hives back on 4/31/12, they were both packages from Dadant and did well thru the summer. However, one hive filled a med. super box with capped sugar water, and I left it there for them over the winter. The other hive did not. Over winter both hives have survived, and in the past couple weeks with the warmer days, the hive with the med. box of sugar water has thrived, and is incredibly healthy. The hive that didn't fill their super, is not doing so well. They have plenty of food, but the bee ratio between the 2 hives is drastic. Yesterday the hive that has the filled super is VERY healthy, hundreds of bees going in and out of the entrance, and very alive. The other hive had no bees coming out They are 2 feet apart. I put my ear to the side, and could hear them in there, so they are alive, but not coming out. I am not sure what is going on in there.

    The one bee person I talked to, told to me to swap the hives out. What do yall think about that? It's either that, or do they need a new queen? I do not want to lose this hive When I looked into both hives 2 weeks ago, I seen no presence of hive beetles, or varroa (with the naked eye). The one hive that filled the med. super with sugar water, well, every square inch is covered in bees, and they are very happy with themselves. Anyway, they both have solid bottom boards, but I had planned on changing them both over to screened bottom boards this spring. In a few weeks anyway. As soon as the weather permits. It's cloudy today, and they are calling for a frozen mix for the next 2 days. Then I am out of town for 3 days. So the soonest I could do anything would be next Saturday, if the weather is good.

    Can anyone help me with this? We have 2 more hives that will be arriving on 4/29 and I have their stands ready to go. I can't wait to get them here, as bees are my little pets, and I love seeing them out and doing their thing.

    Please help me...I feel like this one hive is on it's way out, and I don't know why. They have plenty of food, and not near enough activicty.

    Thanks in advance....

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    2,761

    Default Re: 2 hives, is one sick? No activicty, please read and please help advise :(

    How big is the cluster in the small hive, you don't give us much details. I wouldn't swap it out with a small cluster, all the returning foragers might kill your queen as they don't recognize her, but if the cluster is fair it should be ok. Sounds to me they just have too few bees and are maintaining a cluster. I wouldn't put a sbb on a weak hive right now either, you may need to reduce the space down to a manageable size as well.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Henry, Virginia
    Posts
    93

    Default Re: 2 hives, is one sick? No activicty, please read and please help advise :(

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    How big is the cluster in the small hive, you don't give us much details. I wouldn't swap it out with a small cluster, all the returning foragers might kill your queen as they don't recognize her, but if the cluster is fair it should be ok. Sounds to me they just have too few bees and are maintaining a cluster. I wouldn't put a sbb on a weak hive right now either, you may need to reduce the space down to a manageable size as well.
    The weak hive is made up of 2 large deeps right now, and they all seem to be to the far end of those. They are staying in a tight ball. I would say they look to be the size of a package you would receive. The other stronger hive has hundreds going in and out at a time. It's very very alive. I was impressed with them, and they have a LOT of food.

    That is why I wanted to post this, switching out the hives didn't seem like a good idea to me either. Can I move them about 5 feet away to a different hive stand? Or would that cause confusion and I would have a pile of bees on the ground where the hive once was? I figure if I could move them while they are all inside? I did hear that it's either "2 feet or 2 miles". Is that correct?

    What about the screened bottom boards? Is it ok to switch both hives over to those? Should I wait until the weather is a little warmer? I would love to have a little better ventilation as well.

  4. #4

    Default Re: 2 hives, is one sick? No activicty, please read and please help advise :(

    Are both hives producing new brood? If not, your sickly hive is limping along with last year’s end of season bees….and it doesn’t sound like there were many of those to begin with. If the population is very low and they are all last year’s bees….I wouldn’t try to save them. Just start over with a package or nuc.

    If it has a good number of young bees you could pinch the queen and give them a frame of brood and a frame of eggs from the strong hive…..and see how they do. If you’ve had a ‘bad’ queen…this might fix it.

    I would not swap the two hive positions. Why prop up a failing hive with bees from a healthy hive? If nothing else changes in the hive it will continue to decline regardless and those bees will have been wasted.

    Could it have been a mite problem? Not seeing any varroa doesn’t tell you anything. If you are interested in seeing how serious an infestation you may have…do a search for a sugar shake or mite drop.

    Good luck.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    2,761

    Default Re: 2 hives, is one sick? No activicty, please read and please help advise :(

    What dan says, you need to assess the queen's condition,also, what are you temps there right now?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Henry, Virginia
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    93

    Default Re: 2 hives, is one sick? No activicty, please read and please help advise :(

    Thank you Dan.

    The strong hive is full of bees, but we were more about checking their food 2 weeks ago, and didn't pull out frames to check for brood. We had planned to do that this weekend, but the weather didn't cooperate. It's about 45 out there right now and cloudy. Frozen mix on the way for the next few days. I didn't want to disturb until we had a few days of warmer temps. I am hoping next Sat. will work out for us.

    So I could put some frames in the weak hive, after pinching the queen, and let this hive 'make' their own queen? Or should I purchase one?

    I agree with not switching, it didn't seem to make sense to me, and I didn't want to disturb the hive that is doing so very well. I am very proud of that hive

    I had planned on doing a sugar shake the next Saturday to see if there were any in there. I have all of that stuff ready to go. The weather just hasn't cooperated.

    Along with wanting to put in screened bottom boards for them. Would it be to early to make that switch?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: 2 hives, is one sick? No activicty, please read and please help advise :(

    I wouldn't pinch the queen on a whim, do you have drones around to mate a new one?? You need to see how big the cluster is and what's going on before you do anything. You think it's about the size of a package, but if you didn't pull frames, it could just be bees filling the top part of the frames and you have a lot less bees than you think.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Henry, Virginia
    Posts
    93

    Default Re: 2 hives, is one sick? No activicty, please read and please help advise :(

    I didn't plan to do anything until I have a warm enough day to look in on that hive. I thought about taking a pic, and posting here. It would help to describe what I am talking about. I don't know if there are drones out this early

    The majority of the bees in the weak hive were on the second deep, and there were some above. I will have to get a pic to help my description. I know it was disappointing to see.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
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    2,487

    Default Re: 2 hives, is one sick? No activicty, please read and please help advise :(

    If the cluster is small, it might be a good idea to put them into a nuc, they will have a hard time raising brood in an empty double deep.

    However, it's still early and spring is late this year, so they may take off on their own in a few weeks. I have two hives, both from swarms, and they have always been different. Took some effort on my part to get the smaller one up to size in the fall and they are slower to get out this spring.

    One thing you can do easily when it warms up is put a frame of capped brood in the weak hive from the strong one. This will boost bee numbers and let them raise more brood faster. Don't shake the bees of the frame when you move it over, take them with it.

    When you have drones flying, you may consider making a "cut down" split on your large hive, then when they are established, if your weak hive isn't doing better, pinch the queen and do a combine with the split. Your strong hive will then raise a new queen, which is better than forcing a weak hive to raise one.

    Peter

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Henry, Virginia
    Posts
    93

    Default Re: 2 hives, is one sick? No activicty, please read and please help advise :(

    Thank you Peter for your reply. Here is a pic I posted in a different thread. I can't believe all these are OUT like this and it's barely 49 degrees and cloudy. The hive on the bottom is the week one I was speaking about.

    bearding.JPG

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    wantage new jersey
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: 2 hives, is one sick? No activicty, please read and please help advise :(

    why not wait until you check the queen, then it would be better to assess the situation..
    if you see that there is no brood this time of year in your location, then everyone can give more exacting answers.
    Otherwise, we're trying to shoot the wings off a fly from a hundrend feet with a shotgun.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Henry, Virginia
    Posts
    93

    Default Re: 2 hives, is one sick? No activicty, please read and please help advise :(

    I agree. I did get in the 2 hives just now, and the one with the bearding I removed the mouse guard, and added another med. super. They gladly accepted that extra room.

    The weaker hive, has a very small amount of bees in it. But they very much jumped on the brood patties I gave them. I didn't pull out any brood frames from the stronger hive, because I feel I need my mentor with me to do that. I want to be sure that I don't mess with the queen or hurt either of them by accident.

    I left the mouse guard on the weaker hive. I pray that there will be a miracle!

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