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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Lucasville, OH, USA
    Posts
    113

    Sad Here we go again--this time BOTH hives requeening!

    Hi, All!

    It's been a while since I posted. Between being too busy to do so and the fact that I hadn't had much to report contributed to that. Still busy, but new developments.

    We haven't been going into our hives very often lately; mostly just to add feed if needed. Two weeks ago we finally had a day when we were home, it wasn't too hot, it was daytime, and it wasn't raining so we did an inspection. What we found was that both hives were in the process of requeening themselves.

    You may recall the long story of Hive 1, which attempted to supercede their queen and failed. We took a bar of brood from Hive 2 so they could try again, and it succeeded. Hive 2, in the meantime, had been building up numbers all spring and summer. Evenings it looked like there were two packages worth of bees bearding on the entrances. In the meantime, Hive 1 had started to build back up rather quickly, helped by the addition of a second bar of brood.

    About three weeks ago I noticed that the amount of bees bearding on both hives was about the same, that is to say not very much at all. I looked in through the windows and noted that both hives now had about the same amount of bees. We didn't have any time to go in to take a look, though, and the bees seemed to be happy so I didn't worry too much... thought maybe it was a slowing down of brood production in advance of winter.

    A week later (two weeks ago) we decide to do an inspection. In Hive 1 we found some capped honey above brood, some pollen, a number of good-sized capped queen cells. One was broken open in pulling a bar out as it was on the edge--either connected to the side wall or bumped when my wife lifted out the bar. We looked for but did not find the queen, but since this queen was not marked we weren't that alarmed over it.

    Hive 2 was opened and we found no honey stores, but that was not unusual for this hive--sometimes there were stores above the brood, sometimes not. We also found large, capped queen cells. No queen, and we could usually spot her as she was marked with a red dot. Even if not spotted in person we could usually find her in the photos I take. This, put together with the drop in population, leads me to believe that this colony had sent out a swarm with the old queen.

    So here we are with two hives in the process of requeening. We're leaving them alone; haven't opened the hives in two weeks. We are going to start with a 2-1 syrup tomorrow.

    Another slight concern: Over the course of this spring and summer I've read posts by other first-year TBH keepers that their bees had quickly filled up their bars with comb. Neither of our hives have done so; both stopped at about the half-way point in the hives and neither have built any honey-only comb, all comb has had brood with some nectar and honey and pollen around it. They have room to grow, and we started leaving a space between our bars (we don't have spacers) to give them room but they've focused on brood not developing stores for the winter. I can understand that for the first hive that spent so much time queenless, but not the second.

    So that's the status as of Labor Day weekend. At this point we are waiting to see what happens, will feed now and as needed through the winter (will use sugar in the winter, not sure about pollen patties) and I plan to put up tarps lashed to fence poles to create wind breaks on the north, east, and west sides of the hives going into winter.

    This odd year we're having weather-wise has made starting beekeeping very interesting, not just for us but for the rest of the new beekeepers in our club. Could have been worse--two brothers who were starting only bought one Lang hive and one package of bees, and the package absconded within a couple of days! They weren't able to get a replacement package, either.

    Any suggestions, comments, thoughts?

    Regards,
    Tom

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Here we go again--this time BOTH hives requeening!

    Glad to hear from you, I was thinking about sending a PM to find out how your hives were doing.

    It sounds to me like they swarmed, that was how mine looked when that happened. Less bee congestion but not really that noticable, etc... Did you see a lot of drones in the hives? Mine laid lots of drones right before they did the queen cells. Were the cells mostly along the sides and bottom of the combs versus the center of the face? In Wyatt Mangum's book he had a layout of where he saw the queen cells for swarms on TBH combs and it was really helpfull in letting me know what I was seeing.

    I recently got my Buckfast Queens out of Ontario and installed them. On two I did push-in cages and then three were regular queen cage candy released. I didn't do so well with the push-in cages, one was an epic fail, and so I have one nuc that is requeening right now too. The queen hatched out on the 31st of August and I am hoping the pollen they are now starting to bring in is a good sign of a newly mated laying queen. If she isn't in there and laying by the end of this weekend I am going to shake them out and give the resources to the other nucs. The second push-in cage was handmade and somehow that queen got out by time I went in to release her but was accepted, the first was a purchased push-in cage and it fell off the comb basically direct releasing her and they must have killed her. When I tried to take the handmade push-in cage off the comb the comb fell off the bar and since it had eggs from the new queen I gave it to the one with the failed cage and that is what they made the new queen from.

    I really am not counting on that queen because the last couple that I tried to get them to make didn't make it back after hatching. I did really well with the early season ones but not the late.

    I've started feeding 5:3 and the one nuc was low on pollen so I have given them some little squares of pollen but the goldenrod has just started blooming and it looks like they are all bringing in pollen and nectar from it so I might hold off for a bit now. I needed them to draw some more comb but now that the nectar is coming in a few of the nucs are.
    Last edited by Colleen O.; 09-12-2013 at 08:04 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Greater Hartford area, CT
    Posts
    202

    Default Re: Here we go again--this time BOTH hives requeening!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tango Yankee View Post
    Another slight concern: Over the course of this spring and summer I've read posts by other first-year TBH keepers that their bees had quickly filled up their bars with comb. Neither of our hives have done so; both stopped at about the half-way point in the hives and neither have built any honey-only comb, all comb has had brood with some nectar and honey and pollen around it.
    I'm not sure who these first time TBH keepers are with full hives. This is my first-year with bees. I got a nuc for a TBH that contained about 8 combs that were in various stages of being drawn out. My hive now contains about 30 odd bars. The bees, though, have not filled it entirely. They've only built out to about 18 bars, which is also about the half-way point for me. However, my hive is quite large. The bars are 19" and about 11" deep. Maybe their hives are a lot smaller.

    When I got the bees this spring, I was not feeding them, but they were building like gangbusters with brood and honey on every bar for about a month before they slowed down a lot. Toward the end of July/beginning of August, I noticed, they weren't building at all and had eaten all the honey, so I suspected a dearth. I'm a newbie, so I'm not sure if the hive has to be full for winter, but I've been planning to a divider board and some insulation in the empty portion of the hive to keep them warm. My real concern is over their having enough stores. In August, I started feeding 2-1 syrup, and during my last inspection a week ago, I noticed that they have started building again, and they have a small bit of capped honey as well as a couple bars of uncapped stores again. Even though the goldenrod is coming in, I think I will continue feeding 2-1 syrup as long as they will take it or until I feel certain they have enough put by for winter. (Right now, they're guzzling about 3 qts a day -- they'd probably take more if I put it out there.)

    Good luck!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Here we go again--this time BOTH hives requeening!

    I hope you have better luck with your late season queens than I did. All of my early season queens made it back but none of my later queens did. I gave up on this last one today after 31 days. It worked out well as my other nucs will be better off with the extra stores.

    Due to my losses I am now wondering if you should hedge your bets and order at least one queen before they get tough to get. I really hope it works out and they come back but if they don't I would hate for you to lose both hives. With at least one queen you could combine them if neither home grown queen makes it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Lucasville, OH, USA
    Posts
    113

    Default Re: Here we go again--this time BOTH hives requeening!

    Thanks for the comments, ladies! Sorry I wasn't able to get back earlier.

    Colleen, sorry to hear about your late queens not making it back, but it sounds like you've got a good plan. Rhonda and I haven't yet put together any additional hives or made any nucs, and we don't have the funds to buy them so we still have just the two hives.

    To answer your questions, there were some drones but not a lot. The queen cells were all on the sloped sides of the comb, with perhaps one or two at the bottom.

    Fruityveggirl, my colonies have finally built out to 12 bars, with a thirteenth started in each.

    So, to bring things up to speed: Today I went out to feed them, as when I checked the two quart bottles in Hive 1 were empty, the two in Hive 2 were both about half full. We'd put them in last weekend, but since I didn't get home before midnight all week I was unable to check them and Rhonda didn't think to so I don't know how quickly they used it up.

    When I opened Hive 1 I found that they'd started a new comb on the 13th bar, and they've filled out the little one that was on the 12th. When we had fed them the last time we'd left space between each bar (we don't have spacer bars) and the bees had filled the gaps with lots of propolis. This turned out to be a good idea because I found that they seemed to be in the process of turning what had been brood comb into honeycomb, making the comb deeper. I wound up taking a quick look at most of the comb, and found that there is still some old brood left waiting to emerge but not a lot. They are busy backfilling every comb with nectar and pollen. I didn’t bother looking for a queen—the girls seem to be happy, the queen cells have been opened and partially torn down, and there are still drones in the hive. In fact, this morning I saw one drone flying back in, so I guess he didn’t get lucky. Anyway, for the moment I’m going on the assumption that we have a virgin queen and will hope for the best.

    The same observations applied to Hive 2, so I didn’t bother with looking at more than a couple of combs. The two hives seem to be almost identical in size (twelve full bars and a thirteenth small one being worked on) and in strength.

    The weather for the next 10 days is supposed to be decent, but we’ll have some lows in the 40’s for a few nights. I’ve asked Rhonda to keep an eye on the feeders because I don’t know how long it took Hive 2 to take both quarts. We’ve started coloring the syrup dark blue (it helps when looking in the window to see if we need to refill—could be hard to tell when it was clear). I don’t know if after being processed we’d see it, but I didn’t notice any shades of blue in the nectar.

    Current plan is to let things proceed as they are; add feed as needed, and to do another look through in two weeks weather permitting.

    Cheers,
    Tom

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Here we go again--this time BOTH hives requeening!

    I really hope your new queens make it! Finger crossed! It sounds like your hives have built out about the same as mine did last year. My NWC hive would have made it if I had fed a little more/sooner last fall. The comb from last year really gave the one replacement package I bought this year a boost so it wasn't a total loss. From that package I now have five nucs, most with 9 bars drawn.

    I know what you mean about the expense of purchased hives. I bought the first hive and then had to make a temporary one for last year's package because I didn't get the hive put together ahead of time and found out at the last minute that I had a broken viewing window. I then made the second hive out of cedar, finished this late spring/summer. In early spring I took the old temporary hive and cut it down to make an 8 bar and a 10 bar nuc/swarm box. The first split went into the 8 bar which I quickly learned was too small. For the new hive I made two solid followers and three entrances to be able to split it into three nucs this year. My thought was if they are in the same hive body they would be sharing warmth. When two of them move through their honey in the winter they will end up on either side of a follower, giving them the warmth of a cluster double the size. The third won't have that advantage but still should have less space to keep warm. The original hive has just the one colony in it now since the other queen didn't come back from mating but this colony has a lot of bees for 9 bars (they got most of the failed nuc's bees) and is still drawing comb so I hope to get them stronger yet. The last one is on it's own in the 10 bar nuc but they really look the strongest. They have 8 bars fully drawn, the 9th halfway drawn, big strips of capped honey on each brood bar and the honey bars are full and half capped.

    I really only want the two hives (and maybe an insurance nuc) but decided if being treatment free means losing half my colonies maybe this way I can come out of winter with colonies for the two hives. (Trying the M.P. sustainable apiary approach.)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Here we go again--this time BOTH hives requeening!

    Were your hives successful requeening? Did you get a chance to check?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Lucasville, OH, USA
    Posts
    113

    Default Re: Here we go again--this time BOTH hives requeening!

    Hi. Colleen!

    Funny, I was just bringing up this site when the e-mail about your post came in!

    Yes, we did an inspection today and... we have laying queens in BOTH hives! Woopeee!!!!

    We spotted both queens and I've got photos to be uploaded later. We've got larvae and capped brood in both, though it looks like Hive 2 is a bit ahead of Hive 1. Both hives have been taking the syrup, though Hive 1 more than two, and have been making honey. We've got capped honey stores growing in size in both hives--blue-tinged because we've used food coloring to color the syrup. We found that helps us with seeing the syrup level when we check through the windows as sometimes it was hard to tell when it was clear.

    Both hives still have drones so they've not yet started kicking them out for winter. Our association's next meeting is on Thursday, so we'll be hearing how others have fared honey-wise this fall. From what I gather, not very well here in Ohio. We'll be feeding as long as we can.

    So, it's good news! I just hope that we're able to get them through the winter. Everyone's going around saying "I hear we're going to have a bitter winter" which is the last thing I really want to hear. We'll just have to see how it goes.

    For winter prep I plan on closing off the extra entrances and putting entrance reducers on the one entrance on both, putting up fence posts with tarps as wind breaks around the north, east, and west sides, and possibly some insulation up in the peaked roof. When it starts getting too cold we'll probably put bags of sugar in both hives for winter feed.

    I hope all continues to be well at your end!

    Cheers,
    Tom

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Here we go again--this time BOTH hives requeening!

    Yay!!! I'm so happy for you guys! I was worried with it being so late in the season. I wonder why the one felt the need to requeen again. On the bright side you now have local queens!

    Mine seem to be doing okay except for a honey comb collapse in the one that was strongest. I cleaned it out, crushed the comb up and am feeding it back along with more syrup. I have most of them to 9 or 10 combs, just one lagging behind at 7. That leaves the one hive body with the three nucleus colonies almost completely full. I'm hoping at least two out of the five make it but would be thrilled with more.

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