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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Rocklin, CA, USA
    Posts
    5

    Exclamation Help - first fall - I'm confused

    I've been looking through the window about once a week - my bees have appeared to be doing fine all summer (I started this, my first hive, in late Spring)...however this week when I looked I could see NO activity and only a bee here and there in the hive. The nights have gotten much cooler and I thought maybe they were just hundled together more and I know in the fall their numbers are reduced so I was hoping all I was seeing was normal. There is plenty of honey (in my view - I see maybe 3 full combs of honey or more).

    Now, it appears my queen (or some other marked queen) is on the outside of my hive with a very small number of been surrounding her. When I get close to the hive the bees seem normal - protecting their hive (warning me a bit) but I'm confused at what I'm seeing.

    Is my hive in trouble? Is this my queen and for some reason she has decided to move out? If this is my queen perhaps she knows the hive is not strong enough to survive so she's trying to save what she can.

    Any tips, suggestions, comments welcome - I'm not sure there is anything I can do know except watch.

    I will say that about one week ago I opened the hive up just to move the false back closer up and I also inserted a feeder (small plastic lid with some sticks in case I did need to feed later on). At that time my hive seemed well and busy and protective.

    Thanks.

    JB

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Rocklin, CA, USA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Help - first fall - I'm confused

    So my wife and I thought we'd go capture the queen and the few bees surrounding her but when we went back out a few minutes later the queen was gone. I don't know if she went back in (my gut tells me this would not be the case) or that she has just gone...but now I'm wondering if perhaps a new queen has taken over. My wife and I were also wondering if moving the false back up might have scared them away...I left two full bars and two partial bars so I thought it looked like they had plenty of room.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    627

    Default Re: Help - first fall - I'm confused

    You mention looking in through the window a lot but when was your last full inspection? Were there any swarm cells? Are there any eggs or young larvae?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,149

    Default Re: Help - first fall - I'm confused

    Not enough information . Get in there and see what you have. Also, what are you average temps like.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Rocklin, CA, USA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Help - first fall - I'm confused

    As this tread implies I've not done any full inspection and didn't want to until next spring. I live in the Sacramento area and so nights are getting cold (mid 40's) but temps in daytime have been high 70's low 80's.

    After the queen left there was a lot of activity and many more bees flying around then in past week and definitely protecting the hive. I'm wondering if my hive was too week and a swarm moved in and kicked old queen out. Again, all speculation.

    I've not yet decided if I want to open and do any inspection - not sure it would do anything but satisfy my curousity...nothing I could do as whatever occured today seems to be nature at work.

    If I did inspect and figure out that my hive is now queenless would it make sense to try and re-queen at this point in time?

    Anyway, thanks for the comments.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Tulsa County, Oklahoma
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: Help - first fall - I'm confused

    Hmm you haven't done ANY inspection since the spring?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    627

    Default Re: Help - first fall - I'm confused

    Wow, I inspected almost every two weeks . That is probably too often but it has helped me learn and also helped me prevent any cross combing.

    Without any information it is hard to have any idea what is going on in there. If they swarmed and fail to requeen you could lose your colony. Are you in Africanized Honey Bee territory? If so I would be a bit concerned about a usurpation but I have no experience (thankfully) with them.

    Hope it works out for you.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,149

    Default Re: Help - first fall - I'm confused

    Beekeeping is not for everyone, and a lot of folks give it a try and discover that it is not as fun for them as they thought - no shame in any of that. Those of us who do really get into it seem to have this in common - our first season we can't wait for inspection day to roll around. You might not know exactly what you are doing, or exactly what you are looking at at first, but you wish you could get in there more often than once a week. It's a real concern that you might pester them so much that they move out.

    Even 5 years later and with 30 hives now (no shortage of inspection opportunities here) I find myself grabbing a veil and hiking down to the apiary for no particular reason than to just watch them go in and out for a few minutes. I suspect that anyone who can't make time for beekeeping their very first season might want to reconsider the whole thing. Just saying.

    But, if you still have daytime temps in the 70s there's no reason to keep you from firing up the smoker - if you want to.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    102

    Default Re: Help - first fall - I'm confused

    JB, if you still have bees in the hive chances are there is a queen in there. Good news.

    I do know that in my experience that if I am not in the hive every week or two as the girls are building out their comb, the place had a tendency to become a real mess. Comb is attached to the sides everywhere and the combs are crooked, uneven or are stuck together. Of course the bees don't care about that - only I do. Once things are established and relatively even, I tend to inspect less.

    If one doesn't inspect that's okay as well. Nature will take its course and the bees will do what they want to do. In which case a window is certainly a nice thing to have.

    Personally, I like inspections. They were a bit unnerving at first but now they are easy and quick, and because I know what is happening in the hive, I feel happier.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default Re: Help - first fall - I'm confused

    Unless you open up the hive and inspect, you will always wonder what's going on in there, but you will never know for sure. Even if you wait until next Spring, you may find a dead colony or a thriving one, but either way, you will never know how they truly are, right now. Besides, if they need your intervention to remain viable, Without inspecting them, you may never know, that you could have done something now, to prevent them from perishing between now and then.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Missoula, Montana
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: Help - first fall - I'm confused

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    Beekeeping is not for everyone, and a lot of folks give it a try and discover that it is not as fun for them as they thought - no shame in any of that. Those of us who do really get into it seem to have this in common - our first season we can't wait for inspection day to roll around. You might not know exactly what you are doing, or exactly what you are looking at at first, but you wish you could get in there more often than once a week. It's a real concern that you might pester them so much that they move out.

    Even 5 years later and with 30 hives now (no shortage of inspection opportunities here) I find myself grabbing a veil and hiking down to the apiary for no particular reason than to just watch them go in and out for a few minutes. I suspect that anyone who can't make time for beekeeping their very first season might want to reconsider the whole thing. Just saying.

    But, if you still have daytime temps in the 70s there's no reason to keep you from firing up the smoker - if you want to.
    me too. i find those little creatures fascinating.....i try my best to not pester em....but i do just love going over to the hive opening or window and watching them bring in pollen or carry stuff out...i watched one carry out an earwig once....

    i did my last inspection 3 weeks ago and arranged the honey towards the front of the hive....i open the window on warm sunny days and take a peak .....there are tons of bees in there and they seem to bee doing well ....on my last inspection i even sighted the queen and smiled.

    on sunday i began the insulation of the hive and i'll leave the hive alone from here on out other than to take a peak through the window....
    i love my bees and think they're just little beauties.
    Zone4A
    “We can love completely what we cannot completely understand.” -Maclean

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    3,048

    Default Re: Help - first fall - I'm confused

    Shoot me a PM if you want some help. I'm heading up to Weimar to drop off some honey and do my last check on my bees up there this Sunday so I'll be driving by anyways.

    Jeff

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Tulsa County, Oklahoma
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: Help - first fall - I'm confused

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    Shoot me a PM if you want some help. I'm heading up to Weimar to drop off some honey and do my last check on my bees up there this Sunday so I'll be driving by anyways.

    Jeff
    I hope they take you up Jeff. . . good of you to offer that.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Rocklin, CA, USA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Help - first fall - I'm confused

    Sorry for not responding sooner...thank you to all who've read/posted. I wanted to update this post.

    I finally had time (a week ago) to do a full inspection. The hive was 100% empty. Almost no brood and for sure no queen cells. There was lots of honey, however, so I went ahead and harvested the two biggest combs and left the remainder in the hive and I plan on trying again this next spring.

    In talking to local experts it would appear (though hard to prove for certain) that the mites became too much for my bees. As mentioned previously I tried the hands off approach but next year I will NOT - I will treat for mites, try to keep that under control and try to do inspections so I can learn to read and understand what the bees will be telling me!

    Now, I want to preserve my hive until next spring. Unfortunately when I did inspection there were some honey combs a little stuck together and in the process of separating them some honey spilled out into the bottom of the hive. This honey is attracting bees, of course. I blocked the entrance a few times but not very well as bees have been getting in. I just blocked this time with clamps and will check in a few days and make sure no more bees are getting in.

    When it gets windy and/or colder I plan on taking out all the filled bars and cleaning up the honey that was spilled.

    Between now and next spring I'll be researching and trying to figure out what I should do to prep this hive for new bees. I'll also be researching how best to handle the mites within the hive.

    Thanks.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    627

    Default Re: Help - first fall - I'm confused

    If you leave the comb in the hive unattended you will probably have a problem with pests (robbers, wax moths, or SHB). I would either harvest it or take the combs out and freeze them to put back in the spring. I left a bit of honey in my hive that dwindled out last spring and it started a robbing frenzy in which they shredded the comb. I took it out and froze it when I found what was happening. I did leave the rest of my drawn comb in the hive and it was fine, but it was only a few weeks before I had a new package installed.

    I hope things work out better for you next year!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Rocklin, CA, USA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Help - first fall - I'm confused

    Freezing...good idea...I may do that. Thanks. I did see one beetle in the hive when I did my inspection...I was wondering if I could just wrap the entire hive up tight in plastic and kill off any other living things over the winter...just wondering.

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