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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    McCormick SC, USA
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    25

    Default Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    Hi all,
    Let first thank all of you for the help I have received from just reading and researching the forums and from people answering my questions.
    I have 2 TBH that I started with packages on the 18th of may. They both did very well and started building comb right away. After 2 weeks of feeding sugar water, I opened the hives, one at a time and found that one had cross comb and the other had followed the triangle strips perfectly. The one that had built correctly, I moved the started combs to the back of the hive. I had given them 12 of the 36 bars. from then on, they have been doing great!!!
    The cross comb hive, I gently removed the empty new combs and applied them to the guides. I put them right behind the large 2 bar comb that had clear sweet honey in it. When I went back a week later, they had again added onto the cross comb. They left the fresh, soft bright white comb, that I put onto other bars alone. There was about 4 of them. I tried again to separate some of the cross comb to put onto other bars and the whole comb fell into the bottom of the hive. I tried to pick the whole comb up because I knew there where girls under it. It was just crumbling because it was so soft. I managed to get it apart and put onto bars but with casualties. It broke my heart. I know it sound weird but, once I realized how much of a family and how they take care of each other, it seems like they are more than just bees. I finished and closed the hive up. A week later I opened it up again to see if they had recovered and started to take to the re-attached combs. They had started filling some of the other combs but, they were again building on the same 2 bars. There were only 2 combs, connected so I figured it wouldn't be hard to separate them. I removed them and when I went to press the top of one of the combs to a bar, I saw larvae squeeze out. I knew then what had happened the first time I dropped the big cross comb, I killed the queen and they were trying to re-queen. I figured this because, they hadn't stored anything but clear honey and a little pollen. I attached the comb and hoped for the best. About 2 days later, the hive was empty. With a bag of sugar water still in it.
    The second hive, by now, had built so much comb that I had to open up the whole 36 bars. I figure the remaining bees from the first hive, went to the second.
    This bring me to today. It has rained everyday, (not sprinkled but flooding rains), for the past 3 weeks. I have not been able to open the hive since June 23rd. Today is the 17th day. I have been watching to see if the girls are collecting pollen and even in the rain, I see one about every 20 minutes come back with her baskets full. So, I have been keeping sugar water in a covered feeder under the hive. They are emptying it, (1 quart), every 3 to 4 days.
    The dew points have been around 79 and they are constantly fanning the entrance. The humidity is stifling. I know most of the bees are home and cant open the hive in the rain so, what should I do? They way they were building the last time I checked, every bar probably has a comb on it.
    When do I attempt to open it? Do I need to?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    United States
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    70

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    Frstmer, sorry to hear that it has been such a difficult start. I imagine that left to their own devices they will do less damage than you might do by trying to rush things when conditions aren't right. The weather will break, it always does, and when it does the field bees will all be out working and the hive will be nice and quiet so you can spend some time doing a full inspection. Best of luck to you and your girls.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Chicagoland, IL, USA
    Posts
    69

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    The weather will break. If you're seeing bees flying in the rain, they're still able to work. So yes, the hive is likely bursting with activity! You don't mention if you have windows to see what they're up to or not - so I'm presuming you do not have windows.

    If the weather clears for even just 30 min or so, you could open the back of the hive and make sure they still have some room. If they are completely full, you could try to do a split of this now very strong hive. Especially if there is capped brood, open brood, pollen and honey in the hive. If you're REALLY in luck, the bees will have started a queen cell for you - and then it's just a matter of splitting the hive before it swarms. That is what I am looking at - my first hives are nearly full, there's really 3mo left of 'good' weather....so if these new hives (started April 20th) have filled out in just 3mo...it's likely they'll do pretty well with a split. (By pretty well, I mean survive our winter season healthy and strong).

    However, that means I need to build 2 more hives! Oh no! Shhhh, don't tell my spouse - we're also in need of building a new coop due to a high chick hatch rate this year! I think I'm nearly as busy as our bees!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    McCormick SC, USA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by TheGeneralsBees View Post
    Frstmer, sorry to hear that it has been such a difficult start. I imagine that left to their own devices they will do less damage than you might do by trying to rush things when conditions aren't right. The weather will break, it always does, and when it does the field bees will all be out working and the hive will be nice and quiet so you can spend some time doing a full inspection. Best of luck to you and your girls.
    Thank you,
    I figured it was best to let them do what they do best while it was raining. When I get a break in the weather, I will open it and take pick for all to see. I believe the tropical storm is going to move over us this weekend so, I hope I get a break.
    I don't have a window but, while I have a chance, I am putting one in the abandoned hive in case I need to split the other one.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    McCormick SC, USA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Life is Good! View Post
    The weather will break. If you're seeing bees flying in the rain, they're still able to work. So yes, the hive is likely bursting with activity! You don't mention if you have windows to see what they're up to or not - so I'm presuming you do not have windows.

    If the weather clears for even just 30 min or so, you could open the back of the hive and make sure they still have some room. If they are completely full, you could try to do a split of this now very strong hive. Especially if there is capped brood, open brood, pollen and honey in the hive. If you're REALLY in luck, the bees will have started a queen cell for you - and then it's just a matter of splitting the hive before it swarms. That is what I am looking at - my first hives are nearly full, there's really 3mo left of 'good' weather....so if these new hives (started April 20th) have filled out in just 3mo...it's likely they'll do pretty well with a split. (By pretty well, I mean survive our winter season healthy and strong).

    However, that means I need to build 2 more hives! Oh no! Shhhh, don't tell my spouse - we're also in need of building a new coop due to a high chick hatch rate this year! I think I'm nearly as busy as our bees!
    Thank You Life is Good,
    We had a high chick hatch rate this year also. I have gotten most of them out of the coop and into the brooder and from what I can count, we have about 48 new additions. I still have 4 hens brooding and more wanting to. I'm having to remove their eggs.
    I am pretty sure the hive is going to be full when I open it. The last time I opened it, (June 23rd), they were almost to the back of the hive. I am going to take pics this weekend, (if the tropical storm gives me at least a 30 minute window. I will need some help and advice on a split, if one is needed. I will go ahead and put a window in the abandoned hive.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    McCormick SC, USA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    These are some pictures that I took when I went to see if they had released the queen. I removed the cork when I hived the packages and this is 1 week later. I took these with a 8 meg pix phone so you can increase size and still be clear. I believe when the cross comb fell, when I was trying to remove the queen cage and separate the cross comb, the queen was crushed. The other hive had already built onto about 6 bars. All these wee taken after being hived for 8 days.

    comb.jpg20130525_140111.jpgcomb2.jpgcross comb feel on bottom.jpgcross comb that fell.jpgcross comb.jpgcross comb2.jpghive #1.jpghive 1.jpghive 3.jpghive 7.jpgone week 2.jpgone week 3.jpgone week.jpgreatached.jpg.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Hephzibah, GA
    Posts
    83

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    I'm near Augusta, GA, and like you, tired of the rain. I have chickens, too, and their runs are swamps and the eggs are muddy when we collect them. Yuck! We've decided not to incubate any more eggs, and even to reduce the number of coops we have. Needless to say, we'll be having a lot of chicken dinners! I also caused a comb collapse when I first started beekeeping that killed the queen. It was a terrible feeling. Glad you have another hive that's doing well. Are you making sure to put empty bars into the brood nest from time to time? Since you have an empty hive, making a split is the obvious solution to a full hive, but be careful because a full hive doesn't necessarily mean it needs to be, or should be, split, especially if their food supply is low. I have one hive that is very full of bees but very low on honey and pollen. Splitting that hive will only set it back at this point.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    McCormick SC, USA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    Well, the rain held off this weekend and I opened the hive for the first time in 3, maybe 4 weeks. The girls were pissed!!! I had opened the back of the hive when the first one collapsed to make room, in case the failing hive joined the one next to it. When I opened it up yesterday, I found they have only built to bar 10 of 36. Should I close the hive at bar 14 or 15 or leave it open?
    Also, this weekend I had a lot of bumble bees eating at the feeder with the girls. I call them carpenter bees but my wife says they are bumble bees. I included them in the pictures. In one of the pictures, there is a protruding cell. Is that a queen cell or just something odd?
    I also noticed these little black beetles. I brushed them off every comb I pulled out but don't know if I got them all/
    I don't know if all my combs are stores or if they are raising brood.
    Take a look!!!!bar 10.jpgbar 9-2.jpgbar 8-1.jpgbar 8-2.jpgbar 7=1.jpgbar 7-2.jpgbar 6-2.jpgbar 6-3.jpgbar 5-1.jpgbar 5-2.jpgbar 4-1.jpgbar 2.jpgbeatles1.jpgbar6-1.jpg

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Belews Creek, NC, USA
    Posts
    276

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    You should kill those beetles instead of brushing them off. They may bury into the ground around your hives and reproduce...then you will have them everywhere. They will ruin a hive if they get out of control.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    70

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    Hey frstmer, congratulations on the break in the weather.

    Those are hive beetles - If your hive isn't strong they can become a problem quickly. A good way to trap then is to throw a 2x2" scrap of cardboard on the floor. The bees will chase the beetles in there and keep them there. You can then take it out in your next inspection. Have a baggie to throw it into because they will escape really quickly otherwise.

    The comb in the pictures looks like it has a decent honey band up top and a bit of pollen. I can't see from the shots if there are any eggs in those photos. Do you know if you have any capped or uncapped brood on any of your other combs? The capped ones will be raised just a bit and a bit yellower than the honey band in the photos.

    The cell off to the side is a Queen cup - potentially a precursor to a queen cell. A cell in the upper part of the comb generally is a supercedure cell indicating that they may be trying to replace their queen, or that the queen isn't present. Were you able to spot the queen in your most recent inspection? Note, a queen cup doesn't necessarily mean that anything will come of it, some hives build them and then tear them down again but you will want to keep an eye on it.

    It's warm here so I don't use a divider board. I put the feeder inside the hive one bar behind the last comb so they still have room to build. I use either small water bottles or a small garbage can and line the inside with screen door screen so the bees can walk down to the sugar water.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    McCormick SC, USA
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    25

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    Thank You General,
    I had heard and read about hive beetles but thought they were an exception and not a norm. I will open the back of the hive up again this weekend and put the cardboard in, like you said. I have got to open the hive up once a week at least to let the girls get to know me. Me the wife and 3 German Shepherds, (one is an 11yr old and served 8 yrs in Iraq & Afghanistan), all can be around the hive and we can throw balls for the dogs around the hive and the girls just go about their business. I know the dogs have to look like predators to them but they don't mind us. But, when I opened the hive for the first time in over 3 weeks, they got pissed!!! I had my bonnet on and a pair of gloves. I had to take one glove off to take pictures and got a sting on my thumb. I scraped the stinger out as soon as she pulled off and rubbed wild mint on the spot. The whole time I was checking the hive, they were hitting my hat and netting like crazy. When I finally closed up the hive, I actually had to sit down about 5 feet from the hive for about 15 minutes and let the ones still hitting me, retreat back to the hive. I didn't look for the Queen. My main objective was to make sure they were ok and didn't have comb all over the place. I don't know what to about feeding them, other than moving the feeder into the hive if I continue, (see pic). We are very rural in the National Forest, with plenty of wild yellow, and purple flowers blooming. When I watch them coming back, about 5 or more a minute have their baskets full of bright yellow pollen and some with a dark brown pollen. Do I keep feeding until they make it through the first winter? Our winters have not been much. The wood burning stove runs only at night and runs us out if it hasn't burns out by noon.
    As for capped or uncapped brood on any of the other combs, that is all the combs in the pictures. They have only built on bars 2 through 10. If you save the pictures and zoom in, you can see detail. I honestly don't know what I'm looking at.
    I know some on here will probably say I have no business with bees if I don't know what I'm looking at but, that's why I'm on here. Besides, In the book I have, Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health by Les Crowder & Heather Harrell, They say if you keep or start a hive and never look in it, you are a good steward.
    These are the other bees sharing the feeder. I have been feeding in the same place for about 6 weeks and started getting visitors about 5 days ago. Could this be a sign of less pollen or easy meal?
    Thank You everyone for taking the time to read and reply to my posts. All help is greatly appreciated!!

    sharing.jpgsharing2.jpg
    Last edited by frstmer; 07-23-2013 at 12:07 PM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    557

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    Where are all the bees in your comb photos? Are you brushing them off? When I pull out a comb on just about every one they are completely covered with bees. It strikes me as odd not seeing more of them in your photos. Are you sure you have a queen? So few bees on the comb makes it look like they are dwindling to me.

    +1 on smash every SHB you see. They can foul your honey and pollen. Are your hives in sun or shade?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,077

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    I'm thinking you are queenless. I didn't see any brood and jack for bees. You are 60 days in, I would think that you would be at least at 10 fully drawn bars of comb if you are feeding and you should have tons of brood.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    St. Petersburg, fl, USA
    Posts
    140

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    all we keep are conventional hives but If I had that much comb it would be mostly capped and there would be tons of brood and masses of bees. I think you have no queen and it may be too late to save things. Large numbers of small hive beetles are usually a sign that things are going south. The bees normally keep them under control if you don't give the hive beetles lots of places to hide and keep the hive in the sun. If you have declining bee population the bees can't keep the hive beetles corralled and the beetles start a massive build up. They lay eggs in the comb, and their maggots burrow thru the comb and foul the honey. just before they pupate the larva drop to the ground and burrow. if you get enough beetles the remaining bees will abandon the hive. If you still have a queen and brood clean out any infested comb, squash any beetle you see and put beetle traps through out your hive. (all the bee houses sell them) You can also buy a soil treatment to kill the pupae in the ground or you can buy a nematode that attacks them ground stage of the hive beetle. Good luck

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Chicagoland, IL, USA
    Posts
    69

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    Our hives have been a bit defensive as of the last week or two - I think the unbearable heat, a larger hive to protect and just general weirdness in the barometric pressure is making the bees a bit cranky. I was bombed by my gentle hive - first time ever - a guard bee chased us over 40' from the hive! They knew something was up, as it's been pouring and thunderstorms every evening since then!

    When I looked at your photos above, I see the start of a queen cup on bar #6 (photo id #7102). I do see a bit of brood and drones on bars 4-9. Not a whole lot of brood and drones, but a bit. For a hive that's gotten a slow start, they're trying.

    Any chance you could offer this hive a bar of brood from your other hive? It would help boost their numbers. I would place it between bars 6 and 7, based on the photos.

    They do have a bit of stored honey and what appears to be pollen. Those are good signs! As they've had to restart due to cross combing, well, they're just lagging behind the other hive. I have a similar scenario. Hive #1 had a hard start and has built about 18 bars. Hive #2 had started right from the gate (or the package in this case!) and have 35 bars completed! In my case, I'm letting hive #1 keep on keeping on. I don't wish to muck about too much, as they have the brood they need, the honey stores are good and they've figured out how to make 'good' comb finally! But in yours, I'd muck a bit to try and help them out. If it seems the numbers are still really really low come early fall, you might consider combining the two hives...ask here in about 10wks or so....

    If you're feeding the bees and they're taking it, they need it. Do they have a water source nearby? If not, try making a water source (I took an unused birdbath, put large fist-sized rocks in it and use that for our waterer). I know in this heat wave our bees, and most of the bees in the neighborhood!, need the water. There are days I've filled it first thing a.m., and also at dark - because the water has been used or evaporated off in just 7hrs or so. I've seen the bees at the waterer well after dark (11pm) also in the heat. So they're seeking moisture definitely.

    It's taken me a while to figure out what's what in the hive. The learning curve is steep! Keep reading, keep asking questions and keep looking at images. You'll start to get an 'eye' for what's going on inside the hive. Everyone was a new beek at some point...some folks choose to forget that fact!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    McCormick SC, USA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    I have bees in the hive. I brushed them all off, into the hive, with grass before putting the comb on the rack to take pictures. When I pulled up every comb, each one was covered thick with bees. My hives are in the shade all day with a waterer next to it. I am putting the feeder in the hive on Saturday and adding another one.
    The hive beetles are not large in numbers. I only saw about 10 of them total and there were none on the floor of the hive.
    I will get pictures with bees this weekend and look for the queen. Since they are so cranky, I am going to take pictures with the bees on the comb and look for the queen after.
    Thank everybody for your help!!!!!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Roanoke, VA
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    1,077

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    I don't shake the bees off during inspections. You can see pretty much everything you need to without doing that. You could loose a queen if you are not careful. You want to be as smooth as possible during the inspection and disrupt them as little as possible. I

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    St. Petersburg, fl, USA
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    140

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    10 beetles are a lot. each beetle lays several eggs a day so its a geometric progression. 10 can quickly become 100. Get beetle traps and use them and get the hive into full sun if you can. The beetles don't like the extra heat and the bees do ok with it. It is not an approved method but you can make a bunch of beetle traps with cd cases. Make an opening on one or two edges big enough for beetles to get in and put a dab of roach bait in the case. The beetles go in attracted to the bait and the security, eat the bait and die. Since you are using an unapproved method and an insecticide don't leave the traps in any longer than it takes to get legal traps from a bee suppy. Make sure that they are no where near any honey supers. I would not even sell or use any honey that is put up while they are in. The only time I ever brush or shake bees off is to extract honey or if I am doing a split. You can lose a queen by knocking her off and having her land on the ground or accidently damage her.
    By the way you don't usually see hive beetles on the bottom board. Usually they tend to be under the cover or in corners or cracks or crevices. For every one you see a lot more could be hiding.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    McCormick SC, USA
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    25

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    This the only hive I have so, getting brood from somewhere else isn't an option. There is a lady about 10 miles from me that has langs but she told me she uses antibiotics for something. In my book it says to ask, so I did. It advises to stay away from them if I can.
    I was careful when I brushed them off and used fresh grass, taped on one end like a little broom. I was sure to brush slow and brushed them into the hive where I pulled up the bar. I needed to get good pictures of each comb to see what they were doing and if I hadn't have brushed them off, I wouldn't have seen the beetles. I know I took a chance hurting somebody but, I was very gentle. I also realize now that they were not as mad until I brushed them off the comb with the queen cup. That's when they started hitting my hat and veil so, that may be a sign that there is brood and they were protecting it.
    I am ordering beetle traps but want to do something until they get here so, I will put the cardboard in this weekend and leave it for how long?
    I wasn't planning on harvesting honey this year. Les Crowder's book advises to let them build and grow the hive the first year.
    I didn't think moving the hive into the sun was an option. We have at least 70% humidity on any given day and highs in the 90's. They are already fanning the entrance constantly and they are in full shade. Besides to move the hive into full sun, I would have to move it about 50 yards. Would that distance be disorienting for a weak hive?
    Thank You All so much!!!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
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    1,077

    Default Re: Rain, Rain, Rain!!!

    I wouldn't brush them. If you have hive beetles they are normally easy to see behind the follower board. As a new beek you probably can't see eggs (I can't, my eyes suck), so you really need to look for uncapped brood which should be easy to see with bees all over it (they move enough to expose it). No reason to remove bees from capped brood or stores.

    I wouldn't move the hive, too much of a pain on a TBH. For hive beetles check out fat bee man on making beetle traps from political signs on youtube.

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