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Thread: Missing honey

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Midlothian, Texas
    Posts
    16

    Default Missing honey

    This is my first fall with my top bar hive. I think they've done great this summer, and they're very busy right now bringing in pollen and nectar from goldenrod. I inspected a week ago and saw lots of honey where they've backfilled some brood combs and have about four bars of capped honey and lots on the tops of all the combs. I saw the queen and brood in different stages. I also look under the hive through the screened bottom every day. In the last several days I noticed that the first few combs that I can see no longer have honey in them. They were almost full of honey and half capped, but now they're completely empty. I wasn't sure if I was remembering right from my inspection, so I looked at pics I took, and there was honey in those combs. So my questions are:

    Do bees move honey to other combs in the hive?
    Could they have been robbed without me knowing?
    Would they be eating the honey this time of the year with so much nectar available?
    Or what the heck is going on?

    Any help is appreciated!
    Kim

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    hinesville ga usa
    Posts
    241

    Default Re: Missing honey

    That is a hard question to answer, they will move honey but I don't see their purpose this time of year. Could have been robbed out but only if hive is weak and it does not sound like it is. It could have swarmed whereas the bees would have gorged on the honey to take to their new home, you said they had backfilled the brood nest and you said that the "first" few combs had honey in them, you have just described a colony that is honey-bound, and their solution to that would be to swarm, you could look for the queen or evidence of swarm cells. Or I could be completely wrong.
    With top bar hives keep the brood nest open, by that I mean keep an extra bar or two in the brood nest or better yet an extra comb or two. To keep them from being honey bound move the honey stores to the back of the brood nest and "keep everything to the rear of your hive." Bees like to move the nest towards the entrance, by keeping the brood in front and the stores in the rear and keeping an empty comb between two brood combs you should prevent most swarming. Hope this helps, good luck.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Slinger, WI
    Posts
    202

    Default Re: Missing honey

    I feel your pain Lonestar. I went to check my bees this morning to find 3 out of 4 hives dead, opened them up and they had starved out! When I pulled my honey supers at end of August as I have for the last 10 years all hives where packed with bee's, and the brood boxes where heavy. The three dead were completely empty of honey, and the 4th has maybe 1/2 what it should. Looks I get all new bees this spring
    Steve Wenger
    Gentleman farmer/7 year Bee Keeper

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    4,960

    Default Re: Missing honey

    I noticed some of my bees today collecting water. Since it is not hot here, they certainly aren't using the water to cool the hive. The next most likely use for the water is to dilute some stored honey for consumption.

    We have some asters still with blooms and still being worked, but I don't see much else here.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Midlothian, Texas
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Missing honey

    Thanks Stan.vick. That's all something to think about. What I meant when I said the first few bars I could see, I meant when looking under the hive through the screen, the first few which would be at the back of the hive, from what you're describing, the last few that they've drawn. It should be their honey stores with the brood beyond that at the front of the hive. I don't think they're honey bound, just cutting down on how much brood there is and using the comb for honey, but then again, I could be completely wrong. Do you think I should take a look again? I hate to open it up again so soon. It always spills honey, and it's getting a little cool here. But then if there's no honey, I need to know that! Do you think I should start feeding even though goldenrod and aster are blooming big right now? And I haven't added new bars in the brood nest in awhile. Please let me know what you think.
    Thanks,
    Kim

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    hinesville ga usa
    Posts
    241

    Default Re: Missing honey

    Sounds like the hive is configured correctly, I just misunderstood you. I would just lift the hive to see how much honey they have, with a lang you just need to lift one end, but a TBH you need to lift both ends, one at a time, keeps from having to disturb the hive and is just as accurate as going into it. I would wait until the goldenrod runs out then pour 2 to 1 to them until their weight is up. Good luck.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Midlothian, Texas
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Missing honey

    That sounds good. I don't think they'll starve as long as there's a flow, so I'll monitor and feed. Thanks for your advice!
    Kim

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