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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Adell, WI, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Take the honey and kill the bees

    I realize that sounds horrible but none of my colonies have done well this year. I have one that completely disappeared. Of the other three only one has any surplus honey to remove. All of them are somewhat honey bound in the brood chambers but they only are covering 10 to 12 frames total (Up and down) in a double deep brood chamber.
    I don't see any of them making it through the winter even if I feed them, so I am thinking of taking all the honey that I can from them and kill the bees, store the equipment away, and just buy new ones next year.

    Some advice would be helpful.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    hinesville ga usa
    Posts
    240

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    You're far north of me and my advice may be of no value, but I would give them a chance, I have had colonies that I would have bet did not have a chance of making it that proved me wrong, will not cost hardly anything to feed 2 to 1 to three colonies, look at the bright side if you only have one make it, you have then started to develop your own strain of survivors.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Bertie County,NC
    Posts
    797

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    Or...you could combine down to two hives....which would double the strength of bees....then even if you lose 50% you still have one to get started with in the spring

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Franklin, New Hampshire
    Posts
    128

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    Will you buy 3 packages next year? Or 3 nucs?

    Either way, I'd try to feed or combine the weakest with the strongest. Could cost less to feed and combine than to start all over.

    Don't give up, try and see what you learn.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Madison, WI, USA
    Posts
    176

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    Do you have an idea of why your colonies are weak? Do they have a disease or are they loaded with mites? Were they sprayed with pesticide during the season? If they are otherwise healthy, it is worthwhile to combine the two weakest and feed. At the very least, if all die out over the winter, you will have honey for your new packages in the spring.
    life is finite while knowledge is infinite. - Zhuang Zi

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    McClure, OH
    Posts
    966

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    This time of year and in my location (you're further north), I don't expect the bees to "cover" both boxes. Once the bees start to cluster, they will only cover one box, and it is usually the bottom one. The top one is mostly stores. So, depending on the time of day and temperature (especially if the daytime temps are in the 50s), the bees covering only 10-12 frames would be normal.

    Did you just start those colonies? If you believe the colonies have been struggling all along, then you might decide just to start over. Honey Householder does it on a commercial scale as far as I know. In the fall, he shakes all his bees to send down south as "blow bees" and starts with packages in the spring on drawn comb. If you look up his posts, you'll get a pretty good idea about his methods.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Bertie County,NC
    Posts
    797

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    Quote Originally Posted by merince View Post
    Honey Householder does it on a commercial scale as far as I know. In the fall, he shakes all his bees to send down south as "blow bees" and starts with packages in the spring on drawn comb. If you look up his posts, you'll get a pretty good idea about his methods.
    I know that everyone has a right to do things the way they want to. But to me it does seem harsh to just discard the bees as if they are insignificant. I think we are beekeepers first and business owners second. And I think the bees should be our focus first and the money should be second.

    I think we should be good stewards...and I think just discarding bees does not show stewardship.

    Again....I am not condemning anyone's actions, because everyone has the right to do what they think is proper...just giving my humble opinion.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Princeton, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    I would let it ride. Then you will know for sure if they are not strong enough to make it thru the winter. At worst you will have all of them die out which is the same out come as the shake out. Best case some of them make it and you can run splits off of them. Its like the old saturn with 205,000 miles on it that I purchased for $500 bucks... I thought maybe it will run for 6 months and I will get my money out of it... Its still going at 243,000 and one year. Sometimes these things surprise you.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    111

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    It sounds like you've given up. What do you intend to do differently next year? Will you expect new bees next year to have a surplus? Or will you be in the same situation next year considering the same option. New colonies are never expected to produce excess in year one.

    I'm also curious why you think a 10-12 frame double-deep colony has little chance over winter?

    My opinion (you asked) is to prepare them for winter, however you do that, and plan on a late-winter candy/sugar and pollen patty feed to help them launch into spring. You might be surprised.

    Just remember, every colony that makes it saves you more than the cost of one package or nuc if you consider doing a split or two in the spring. Do the math.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN USA
    Posts
    685

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    Yup, the only thing you lose by giving them a chance is some honey thats already mixed in with brood, so it would be a pain in the ass to get out clean anyway.

    Prep them for winter, and give them a fair chance. If they don't make it, then they don't make it, but at least you will have given them a fair shake at it.
    Beekeeper since 2013. Read my bee blog at:
    http://harrisonbayhoney.blogspot.com

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,431

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    Depopulating colonies and taking all honey was once a fairly common practice that has mostly fallen by the way side and is in some organic standards now considered an unethical practice. In any event ask a couple of the more experienced beeks in your area to visit your hives, inspect them and offer suggestions for how 1) you might get these hives through winter and 2) what you ought to do differently next year.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Boonville, Indiana,USA
    Posts
    76

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    You have nothing to loos by giving them a chance. Then through out the winter ask yourself " What am I doing wrong". Watch the bees and learn from them next year.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Wausau, WI, USA
    Posts
    221

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    Some valid questions were asked as to why you consider your bees to be too weak to survive the winter. Why did you lose the one hive? What is your mite load? As far as the advice of feeding now; forget it. It's too late as far north as you are. I know, I'm just a little farther north of you in Wausau, WI. The weather is just too cold to put any weight on the hives this late. You mention how many frames of bees you have. How many frames (full Frames) of honey are in each hive? You'll need about 10 or more frames of honey (that's around 100 pounds of honey) to have a chance of making it through winter. I'm not sure if you're treatment free or not; but if you're not you should have already completed your mite treatments. If not done already it's too late to do them in this weather. If the hives don't have the needed stores, and or you haven't gotten your treatments done, you may just be better off shaking the bees out and starting fresh in the spring.

    Combining hives is a good choice. Seriously consider it. Don't combine weak hives however. For the most part this year was a poor honey and bee year in Wisconsin for most people.

    Wisnewbee
    Honey Luv Farm
    100 hives and growing

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Adell, WI, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    Good questions and I thank you for asking. I have given up in some regards as I bought 3 nucs this year. They were supposed to be packages but the place that I got them ran out and told me they would give me 4 frame nucs in place of the packages. Right from the start the nucs were not very strong. I complained to the seller and he gave me and additional frame of bees for each nuc. All summer they never really got legs and I lost one queen right away. I requeened that one but it just seemed that hive never got any stronger. This went on basically with all of the hives. I then had one hive that swarmed. My wife caught the swarm but then the hive that they swarmed from died off. Also, it seemed that the hives were honey bound in the brood chamber..

    From all the comments I have received it seems that I should try to combine two of the weaker ones and feed them and see how they do.

    As far as what I would do different next year, I would not get nucs or bees from that supplier. Two years ago I bought my bees from Dadant and they did great. I would go back and order from them again.

    Thanks for the advise. I really do appreciate all of the input.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,464

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    Knock them down to 2 deeps, and feed 4 gallons. Report back. Have you had a frost yet?

    Crazy Roland

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Adell, WI, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    No frost as of yet and will begin feeding this weekend.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,464

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    NO, feed NOW. I did not write "feed next week". If it frosts , you are done. You really should have started feeding in early September if your bees looked that bad.

    Crazy Roland

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Rome, GA
    Posts
    131

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    I agree with the reduce them down and feed crowd. We have a little more forgiving winter in the south, but this time last year I had a hive that was reduced down to a single deep and few bees. I decided that I really didn't have anything to lose by feeding and giving them a chance. That hive turned out to be my best hive this year. I got 1 split and about 7 gallons of honey and (so far) the hive is doing great.

    Good Luck
    Let's Eat Grandmaw ........... Let's Eat, Grandmaw.......Grammar Saves Lives

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
    Posts
    930

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    Mites are the biggest threat to bees and cause high winter losses.

    I saw a Fat bee man video on you tube about treating mites with Oxalic vapor, his preferred method, on the video he claims your winter loses will drop to hardly any.

    Oxalic acid vapor is easy and cost almost nothing per hive.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    SNOW SHOE PA USA
    Posts
    1,042

    Default Re: Take the honey and kill the bees

    Quote Originally Posted by morgantheship View Post
    . Two years ago I bought my bees from Dadant and they did great. I would go back and order from them again.

    Thanks for the advise. I really do appreciate all of the input.
    If that was the case you would not have to buy bees and start over every year .
    Mites are the worst and ya have to be on top of your hives to keep them strong mites happen quick.
    All my hives have been treated at least 3 times with OAV and i'm still getting high mite drops

    I say nucs are much better then packages plus you get to look at the frames before you buy.
    Maybe the beekeeper needs to keep a better eye on things. Just saying.
    Say hello to the bad guy!
    year five==== 15 hives==== T{OAV}

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