i guess that's what i was getting at rio.
journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives
Thanks for the replies, and Cub, you are welcome to look me up when you come to my "hood".
In Barry's case I know from past discussions he tends to do well whatever type of bee, long as they are set up right comb wise. But for the others, ie people experiencing heavy losses with certain bee types, and Solomon in particular, my question had to do with the effect of requeening, and this didn't get mentioned in many of the replies, please re-read the question & consider the consequences of requeening as I had suggested. Would it change things?
Solomon and all,
Installed the package today. My bees are now officially off their meds. Not a pretty install however. The package was just a sticky mess. There are so many bees that cannot fly as their wings are coated with the syrup from the can. I really think that over half of the package can't fly. The bees that can fly however were all over the yard coming and going. I am going to check on them in a few days. I do have a ziploc bag if for feeding.
I am sure I am not the only one who has had their package be a big sticky mess. What can I expect?
Also, I have a source now for some overwintered New England queens. I will plan on splitting and requeening the original colony and the split with northern queens.
Come back and tell us how it looks when you inspect.
Personally, if the bees were that bad I would have given them 24 hours to clean up before feeding them.
I didn't address the possibility of requeening mine earlier, because a local source of queens for me wasn't known. This past week, I located a beek that sells queens about 3 miles from my farm. She says they will be available mid June. Would you advise requeening my hive, or splitting and making a nuc? Is this a ridiculous thing to try and do with a new package the first year?
John Sampson-Tucker County, WV
Hi Cub, no reason at all not to requeen, if you think the other queen will be superior. Just, you want to be treatment free, so ensure the new queen comes from a source that claims mite resistance. Merely being local means nothing she could have bred it from a queen she purchased anywhere.
A standard precaution when requeening if you only have a few hives, is to put the old queen aside with a few bees with a comb or two of brood, until you are sure the new queen has been properly accepted. THEN kill the old one, if that is what you want.
Or, the unit with the old queen could be your new split, if both parts have enough bees to be viable.
As to can a package be split first year? This cannot be answered yes or no because it depends. The answer is yes, if it's done right. Firstly, some packages come with the bees already carrying a significant mite load. If they go to a treatment free beekeeper, these mites will hold the package back, and make a later split less likely to succeed.
But let's say the package is relatively mite free. Then, provided the nuc has a good environment that enables it to do well, yes, a point should be reached first season when there are sufficient numbers to allow 2 healthy splits, and this may even happen faster in a TBH.
But some environments are deficient in food, ie, the bees could be short of naturally occurring nectar, or pollen, at critical periods in the hive's development. The feeding of syrup if need be, plus a pollen sub if need be, can help ensure the bees are able to fulfil their potential, and it is very likely a spring package can be split into two good units a bit later in the year.
I realise this all sounds a bit more complex than a straight yes or no would have. But that's because there are many contributing factors. Mites, and sufficient available food, are two of the biggies. There are also others. If you are looking for increase, observe the bees closely, and try to mitigate anything that is slowing them down, and you should do well.
It has been cold here in NH, upper 50's to low 60's day, in the 30's at night.
First morning after install, any bees not in the hive were dead, cleaned out as many from bottom board as possible.
I have peeked under the cover in the mornings and then in late afternoon.
In the cold mornings the bees are all clustering, later in the day they are flying in and out of the hive and appear to be working down in the frames. They are readily feeding from the ziploc. From the size of the cluster, I would estimate losses to be at least 60%
I did check the queen, not in cage so I am hoping she is under the cluster when cold and doing what she does during the warmer times.
I have not pulled any frames or done any invasive inspection since they appear to be doing what they do, I felt it best to leave them alone until this weekend. Should I pull and inspect frames then to monitor comb being drawn?
How will the large losses affect comb building? Slower I am guessing to fill out because of the lower numbers.
The temps are now climbing and we are not expected to be in the 30's at night.
Keeping my fingers crossed, but things are much improved since the install.
One more spot of good news. I located and reserved a relatively local (140 miles away in VT) overwintered nuc which I will pic up and install in early June.
I have had a lot of ups and downs this week, and learned a lot. I am trying to continue to remind myself to enjoy all aspects of this journey, even the down times.
Another sticky bee update. Got home this evening and found that the bees had swarmed about 20 feet from the hive in a small hemlock. I captured them in a small bucket and placed them back in the hive.
It was quite enjoyable capturing the swarm.
Lots of new experiences for me this week.
Back at you again, Oldtimer,
After speaking with the local beek, it appears that you are correct in your skepticism that just buying something local is somehow better. The queens I could purchase are from regularly medicated stock, so my Georgia package is basically equivalent. I did, however, find a bee tree yesterday! My first one ever, and now a friend and I plan on trapping out some starts and letting these raise a queen from either my uncapped brood, or the local beek's. This way, they can at least be bred with survivor drones, right?
It seems that the winter loss this year in my area is in the ballpark of 50%, and no one is selling local bees anywhere even close. That means more bee trees or cutouts will have to be located. After a ridiculous amount of reading and studying, I have decided attempt a split mid June, and maybe boost the initial population with feral bees that have been trapped out in a 'newspaper combine' setup.
John Sampson-Tucker County, WV
Sounds good Cub, hopefully your enthusiasm will win the day.
I suspect though that you may be in one of those areas that does not have many so called survivor bees yet, maybe at least one of the splits you could requeen with a commercial queen claimed to be mite resistant, such as from say, beeweaver?
Quote - "BeeWeaver breeder colonies are selected annually from our thousands of hives. Our bees have not needed ANY mite treatments since 2001. When a BeeWeaver Queen heads your colony you will be able to throw away those expensive mite treatments as well".
To refute the statement "terrible southern queens", the queens with the worst overwintering record I ever had came from New York. I have read that most queen producers get their queen mothers from a fairly small number of producers so the genetics would not be much different. If a beekeeper has large winter losses, he should evaluate his management practices. He probably has a problem that is not caused by genetics.
I know my conditions are mild compared to northern conditions, but my losses are nil, if I pay attention to management prior to October. When I do sloppy work in August and Sptember the losses will show up the next spring.
Solomon and all,
Finally have done a thorough inspection of the hive on Day 11. I am amazed at what the bees have done after the horrible sticky mess they started with. They are drawing comb on 3 frames, one in a major way. There is much nectar and pollen in many cells. What I was most excited to find however were eggs! I did not see the queen, and did not spend much time looking once I found the eggs.
So, for all my worrying and fretting, the bees figured it all out on their own as they do and taught me many lessons along the way.
I feel very pleased to not be treating them.
Thanks for your support and feedback.
NHBuckeye, glad to hear things are working.
What you are describing is one of my primary inspection methods, getting, seeing what needs to be seen and getting out. If you see eggs, especially a significant number of them, then the queen was there less than three days ago, and chances are she's fine. Check the brood distribution, check the pollen, nectar, and honey distributions, see the relative field force, how the bees are moving, what they sound like, what they smell like, make a mental note and move on. In treatment-free beekeeping, if everything looks well, usually everything is well. With enough practice, you may be able to pull a frame from a hive and know instantly that it is queenless, by the sound, the distribution of nectar, age or lack of brood, etc. It's good practice.
Doing nothing rarely makes things worse.
Doing something allows people to learn, both when they fail, but it's an especially great experience when they succeed.
It's a catchphrase that is one of the latest to be doing the rounds of Beesource. I think it's harmful because it leads people not to take action when some is required. Yes, beginners can do the wrong thing and screw up, killing queen cells when not appropriate is a common one. But if they come here, ask, and get good advise, they should then proceed with confidence.
For me, if a hive has a problem I fix it. I would not be selling the bee numbers I am if I just left everything to take care of itself. Or maybe I wouldn't be selling any bees at all.