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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Williamson, Ga, USA
    Posts
    5

    Default Weak first year Warre hive

    I'm not sure if this discussion should go in Warre or Pest and Diseases, but here goes. We installed a new package into a Warre hive this spring and they seemed to be doing well. We fed them when they first got here but we had a lot in bloom in our market garden so we only fed them once with a rapid feeder inside the hive. They got to work right away and drew a full box of comb and had drawn a half a box more of comb. So, we nadired a third box because the rate they seemed to be drawing indicated to us newbies that they would soon need more room (that may not be correct but we have a bit of a "bee mentor shortage" in our area).

    Not long after adding that third box to the bottom, we found out we would be relocating our farm to a more rural area and renovating a farmhouse over the summer. We carefully and gently moved the bees at night about 15 minutes away from our home. We checked on them a few days later and they seemed to be doing fine. We have been so caught up with the farmhouse renovations and move-in deadlines that we have not checked on them in a while. When we went out to check on them the other day I observed that there was less activity at the hive entrance. Upon closer inspection I found dead bees by the entrance on the ground. We opened the hive to find that the bees were really low in numbers and that there was absolutely no honey on any of the comb. The bees were also clustered in a corner on about two top bars of comb. We removed a bar of comb to inspect it and found that it had tiny, very hard to see white worms crawling in and out of some of the empty brood cells. There were some brood cells still covered but not many at all. Really only a handful. There were a couple of cells covered in a very fine web. But only a couple. Not a lot of spider type webbing like I've seen in some of the wax moth infestation pictures.

    So, my question is could the very tiny (read: not fat and plump like the pictures of wax moth larvae) white worms be the beginnings of a wax moth infestation or something else? If it is the beginnings of a wax moth infestation and my numbers are already dangerously low, with no honey, what should my next move be?

    My other question is what might have caused my bees to die and the ones that are left have no honey?

    The comb that was left looked perfect in form, not chewed or ragged. Other than the few tiny white worms and gorgeous empty cells they looked fine.

    Also, what, if anything, can I do to keep the bees alive until next spring when I can add to them?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Weak first year Warre hive

    The small white worms are wax moths. There are two kinds of wax moth, the bigger and the smaller wax moths.

    There are two mistakes you made, something quite a few Warréors do as beginners.

    First: You need to feed until two boxes are fully drawn comb. Not halfway, not thee quarters: full. Full means they start to build comb on the outside. (Exaggerating here. ) The first bees that build the initial comb and until the are replaced with young bees and produce a surplus, they can't do all the tasks: foraging (!), house keeping, nursing and wax building. Too much for a small population. You have to help with feeding, so they do not need to forage so much, instead nurse more = more bees = healthier colony. So feed. Especially when starting from packages! Those bees die quicker than swarm bees do.

    Second: Do not add empty boxes too early. It is essential that the bees do not get "lost in space" when starting a colony. Keep them tight, so they are warm and this way they build much nicer comb. Also the comb get drawn to the floor, where bees space is accepted and they start finishing the comb edges by rounding them. Once they are in a roundish shape, the bees do not connect them later to topbars below when an empty is nadired. But more important is the hive climate and keeping them tight. I do add empty boxes when one box is full of capped brood. One comb of capped brood produces bees for four combs. (~3,500 cells per comb, but only 1,500 bees sit on a single comb.) If those bees hatch, they are crowded and accept an empty super much easier. Also they immediately fill that super. So look for lots of capped brood. (Inspecting from below.)

    Those two aspects possibly contributed to the failure of your colony. But that is uncertain. There could be other reasons like a failing queen, an unnoticed swarm and a failed young queen, and so on.

    Fact is, your colony will not make it through winter. The only thing you can do is to sulphur the colony to save it from starvation and freezing to death. Or eaten up alive by the worms. Sorry to say so, but this is the truth. If you do not want the wax moths to eat up the wood of your hive, cut out all the comb and burn it. Scorch the inside of the hive with a blowtorch and clean it properly.

    You have to start again next year.

    Bernhard

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Toronto, ON Canada
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: Weak first year Warre hive

    If it were possible to freeze the boxes couldn't you rid yourself of wax moth that way and still re-use the comb?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Weak first year Warre hive

    Maybe. Because the reason for the decline of the colony is unknown, I still would burn the comb and start with fresh comb. Better be on the safe side. One doesn't want to restart and suffer from last year's diseases again. You can make candles of it, but if there already is wax moth webs visible, it is not worth the effort to melt it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Williamson, Ga, USA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Weak first year Warre hive

    Killing the bees on purpose that are left is definitely not something I thought would even come up. Is there a way to feed them enough through the winter, effectively rid my hive of the wax moths, and just add to them next spring? Of course I know there are hard decisions you have to make with these kind of things, and I will to save my hive if I have to. I just want to be sure that is the only option left before I resort to killing them on purpose.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Spanish Fort, AL
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: Weak first year Warre hive

    Maybe you could get them in to an overwintering nuc? Transfer the bees and any unaffected brood/stores comb in to a smaller nuc so that they could possibly defend it. Feed heavily and hope for the best? You still have a while until it gets cold there. Might be worth a shot. Maybe someone with some experience will comment on this.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Weak first year Warre hive

    Too small to survive. If you don't do something about the moths they eat the bees alive. If there is no food they starve within days. Simple feeding would not help, since the bees can't store the feed, too few bees left to do this task. They can't defend against the moths. And they can't keep warm. And so on. Bottom line: it is dead already.

    I know it ia a hard decision, but better than watching them suffering.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Meriden, CT
    Posts
    41

    Default Re: Weak first year Warre hive

    You may need to let them go. If you have drawn comb and the inclination to try a small NUC this could work. If you transfer those two small frames you would still need to get rid of the worms. Feed heavily, provide pollen, and hope for the best. Better would be to find someone who can shake some nurse bees, and donate a frame or two of honey to your cause.

    Warre philosophy is one that is very hands off, but with the problems our bees face today it's hard to be hands off.

    When I got into beekeeping, I had full intentions to have a top bar, not feed, not treat, not wear gloves and veils, etc. The more I read the more I realized that if I needed comb to borrow, like in your situation to start a NUC it would likely come from a Langstroth. Feeding and treating puts the keeping back into beekeeping, and well gloves I don't wear and veils always even when not required. A sting to the eye CAN make you blind and no bees are worth that.


    Good luck to you.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Vernon, AZ. USA
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: Weak first year Warre hive

    As a small aside, I agree that your hive is unfortunately doomed. IF... and this is just an if, they have contracted a disease, the spores may be embedded into the wood. I would just throw the topbars away, too. Scorch the boxes inside, quite darkly with a torch and they should be fine. Thats an oldy but goody way to disinfect, and gets the moth eggs & ect, too. Some times you have hives that just have issues, and will waste your time for as long as you have them. I have one that I am giving its small production, meager combs, and all its workers to a vigorous late swarm catch. Yes, killing a queen on purpose. And moving every frame. Please dont get discouraged! You will find out that weak hives dont produce, whether we dislike dealing with it or not. Hang in there, you have learned a valuable lesson!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,426

    Default Re: Weak first year Warre hive

    Quote Originally Posted by BernhardHeuvel View Post
    Maybe. Because the reason for the decline of the colony is unknown, I still would burn the comb and start with fresh comb. Better be on the safe side. One doesn't want to restart and suffer from last year's diseases again. You can make candles of it, but if there already is wax moth webs visible, it is not worth the effort to melt it.
    Why not get dead bees tested before destroying equipment.
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  11. #11

    Default Re: Weak first year Warre hive

    Simplicity. Bees are very good in comb building.

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