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Thread: Weak Hives

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Midland OR. United States
    Posts
    100

    Default Weak Hives

    This season I have had about 15 packages that lost their queens. They all made queens that failed to mate do to our weather, twice. I have added frames of bees and brood to keep them going. I have also bought new queens and successfully requeened some of them. My last attempt was to drop a 5 frame nuc in the ones I haven't gotten requeened yet. It has rained every since so I don't know the out come yet. [ 7 days] All my other hives are producing honey or getting suppers this weekend. [ 75 hives] Our flows have been a little off this year do to frost and rain. They typically last until late August to mid September. I have been messing with these hives since the middle of April. What i'm wondering is in a commercial operation do you spend this much time with hives or do you knock them in the head sooner and move on? Is there something different I should have done ? PS. My bees are tools for pollination and honey production not pets so i'm only interested in replies from professional commercial operators please. Thank you for your time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Grey County, ON, Canada
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: Weak Hives

    I usually knock em on the head if they fail to requeen themselves after killing a new caged mated queen (eg kill the cell I gave them as replacement or if it fails to mate). Usually by the time they've messed around for that long they're pretty well out of brood and even worse have plugged up their brood frames with honey fairly badly in which case you'd have to add more brood frames anyways or else any new queen you might give them wouldn't have anywhere to lay... Too many trips to the yard for my liking especially since it's usually only one or two hives in a yard that are like that. I find it's easier to make a few extra splits in the beginning. Just my 2 cents

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,655

    Default Re: Weak Hives

    You need to make a financial decision as to what works best for you. We are on the intensive end of the spectrum, and can shift brood around to cover for a missing queen. If requeening is not successful, we often blow the whole hive out away(30 feet) from the yard, put that brood chamber on another hive, and place a new brood chamber with one frame of eggs and 6-7 frames of bees and hatching brood. That ussually works.

    Crazy Roland

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,312

    Default Re: Weak Hives

    We start all our bees as nucs with qc's in the spring each year. Anything that dosent "catch" a queen gets one rebuild which amounts to putting in a couple frames of open brood and enough queenright bees to outnumber the queenless bees (shaking some out some of the queenless bees if there are too many) and then adding a second queen cell. We are usually successful on about half of those rebuilds. After that its shake out or paper combine them. We dont have the time to mess with them if they miss a second time. Its not that it cant be done just that it isnt a high priority and the danger of it turning into a box full of wax moth is pretty high in the heat of the summer.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Posts
    947

    Default Re: Weak Hives

    Red, we stay on 'em, stay on 'em, stay on 'em, queen checking and fixing right up till September.
    But the question that really needs answered is, "Why did you lose 15 queens?"
    Something is majorly out of whack with that percentage.
    So here are a few questions.
    1) How did you introduce the queens?
    2) How soon did you return to queen-check after introduction?
    3) Did you feed syrup at introduction? and when did you return for 2nd feeding?
    I know that you are looking for a fix for this season but something is haywire with your queen issues and that also needs answered.
    It sounds like you have 90 hives. and when you have 90 hives you need 90 hives, (and at least 10 nucs) going into winter.
    I have exactly ONE hive more than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond question.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,312

    Default Re: Weak Hives

    Sounds like Harry is pretty thorough, nothing wrong with that at all. He asks some relevant questions that need to be addressed for sure. Our program is to start a few more in the spring and hope you stay under 10% attrition from mating on through the season. We run plenty of singles so there is no problem finding a place to go with the queenless hives as we never extract our dark brood combs or ever bring them into the building in the heat of the summer. It takes a few more lids and pallets but when you are busy hauling honey, nuc making just isn't a very popular side job with us.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Midland OR. United States
    Posts
    100

    Default Re: Weak Hives

    I hived the packages in a single deep and put the queen in her cage between the middle frames. On the fourth day I released her. All of the queens I had issues with did lay. Some for a few days and some for a couple of weeks. I work a 40 to 45 hour week and do a farmers market on Saterday so I have only been able to check these hives on a two week schedule. Due to weather it gets fudged alittle some days. I put on pollen patties but the hives with the queen problems didn't hardly use them. Also they have plenty of natural pollen in the boxes. I fed them 5 gallons of one to one sugar syrup inside the hive. The packages I bought last year had the same problem with the queens. This year when I split after the almonds i'm going to use Jim Lyons method as it is easier to get queen cells that time of year and I can get away from the packages.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,646

    Default Re: Weak Hives

    Broodless hives won't touch a pattie in my yards... As to what to do with them, depends on timing here. If there is still time for honey or pollination as a single, I will try to requeen. If not there split up into nucs, or breeder queen boxes.


    Jim, what do you mean you donk "bring them inside during the heat of summer"???

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,812

    Default Re: Weak Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    Broodless hives won't touch a pattie in my yards...
    I see the same. If they won't touch a patty I just combine them with another hive. Easier to nuc them later than mess with them while they are queenless. I have had lots of introduction problems with queenless hives/

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Posts
    947

    Default Re: Weak Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by red View Post
    On the fourth day I released her. All of the queens I had issues with did lay. Some for a few days and some for a couple of weeks.
    Going into a hive after only 4 days is very poor practice.
    My guess is that 15 of the queens got balled and injured, as I would expect them to after only 4 days.
    Think about it. There were no brood perimones present in the hive, only those of a new queen.
    And with that situation in mind, you went in and caused a "disruption". A perfect set-up for queen balling.
    No matter what the reason for installing queens, we never return to the hive for AT LEAST 10 days.
    Usually it is much longer.
    We have a 98% acceptance rate, year after year. And with that said, I accept the 2% failure as my fault usually.
    IE I didn't see a virgin or old sputtering queen.
    When you wait 10 days or longer to rifle frames around, you give the colony time to have all of the various brood pherimones in good quantity and they are not likely to ball the queen.
    Also, the candy plug is an ideal time release tool.
    DON"T poke it with a nail!!!
    The last thing you want is to release the queen sooner.
    You want enough time for the bees to aclimate to her pherimone and for her to quietly emerge from the cage in the still and quiet of the hive and begin egg laying WITHOUT disruption until the hives perimones are in balance.
    When a queen has an injured leg or wing she often becomes a very poor layer. It is very hard for her to lay eggs properly with broken or missing legs or wings. Look closer when you replace queens that are poor layers. You will find that many of them have an injury.
    And that injury can and does often result from a balling episode.
    OK??!!!!!

    OR, maybe you just started with crappy queens.
    I have exactly ONE hive more than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond question.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Applegate, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    45

    Default Re: Weak Hives

    Hi Red, I question why packages are used. Your climate in KF is very different than the Central Valley where the queen stock probably originated. What about using locally adapted bees from Southern Oregon sold as nucs. These bees would likely have better survival over winter. After this, you could make up bees yourself as Jim does. I have never used packages but rather made nucs from cells or purchased queens from breeders having selected traits I wanted to incorporate into my stock. You really are getting to the point where you could establish a stable gene pool of bees which were acclimated to your area. There are a number of commercial beekeepers who run their own stock in their operations in Southern Oregon who may be good sources of bees for you. I feel that package bees are an easy way to start a mite and brood disease free hive, but these are conditions you will need to master eventually, so start now before you get too large. Develop successful overwintering practices and learn how to make spring increases using your best stock. Most of all, try to maintain the honeybee genetic diversity which our industry is losing every year by relying on a limited number of commercial queen producers producing the majority of queens disseminated across the country in packages.
    PS. As for getting queenless hives to turn queenright, I agree that adding a couple frames of young bees, brood and eggs , marking the hive, and not disturbing it again for 3-4 weeks will often allow for successful requeening with an emergency queen, but if this does not take, shake out the bees and use the equipment for expanding a growing nuc and spend your time making further nuc increases either with ripe queen cells or doing a walk-away-split if the season is not too late. Best of luck.
    Andrew

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Midland OR. United States
    Posts
    100

    Default Re: Weak Hives

    This is all very good and useful information. I'd like to thank everyone for the replies.

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