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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    14

    Default Honeyless in Seattle

    This is my first fall with our Top Bar hive. Our bees were very active through summer and now into fall. Lots of brood and have produced beautiful comb. However, they have not produced any honey. Of course, we were not planning on harvesting any until spring so that they had stores for the winter. I started getting nervous and started feeding them last week. It is starting to get cold here. They have devoured 5 pounds of honey in less than a week. The bees are active in the hive, but are not producing comb, brood or honey.

    Any suggestions? Any feedback is welcome.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Island county, Washington, USA
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    Five pounds of honey in less than a week? How are you feeding it? Inside or outside the hive?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Santa Clara, California, USA
    Posts
    45

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    Dose it have a queen? Bee's consume lots of honey when they do not have a queen.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    I have done several inspections. What is the best way to find out. How do I find her?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Solano, California, USA
    Posts
    1,391

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    Quote Originally Posted by primeonly27 View Post
    Dose it have a queen? Bee's consume lots of honey when they do not have a queen.
    Say WHAT?

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

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    Quote Originally Posted by Bthelight206 View Post
    I have done several inspections. What is the best way to find out. How do I find her?
    For me seeing eggs and larvae are generally enough proof that she is in residence but if I really need to find her I follow some tips I have read about. I look for the bee with the purposeful stride that the other bees are making way for (the one hauling her swollen abdomen toward the other side of the comb), and/or a retinue. She is usually on the comb with the most bees in the brood area, the one with freshly laid eggs or shiny cells ready for eggs.

    What is your hive situation? Good amount of young bees? How much comb did they draw? Do you have at least a bar of honeycomb for each bar of bees? Any pollen stores?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Island county, Washington, USA
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    Quote Originally Posted by primeonly27 View Post
    Dose it have a queen? Bee's consume lots of honey when they do not have a queen.
    Quote Originally Posted by Honey-4-All View Post
    Say WHAT?
    I've never heard that before either......

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    I just did an inspection and am not seeing any stores or brood, but I just thought that might be due to the season changing to fall and soon to be winter. To a make an attempt to re-queen at this point? Is that even possible this time of year. There are 8 combs and the hive seems to come and go during the day. They seem active, but are not building anything. With my novice eyes, it looks like they are cleaning the comb all if the time.

    Thanks so much for your help, I really want to make sure that I do everything in my power to preserve them. They are absolutely amazing to me!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Island county, Washington, USA
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    How many bars are in the hive?
    How many have comb?
    How many of those combs have honey in them? (I know they aren't producing honey this time of year, but is there any stored?)
    You said you fed last week. Did you feed OUTSIDE the hive or INSIDE?
    What type of bees do you have? Italian? Or dark bees (Carnies, Russians...)

    These questions are important info to know, and will help us to know more accurately your situation so we can hopefully help you.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Island county, Washington, USA
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    Sorry, we were posting at the same time.

    Thank you for your answers but a bit more info would be helpful.

    There are 8 bars (out of how many total in the hive?) with comb but all 8 bars are empty? Is that correct?

    Are you feeding inside the hive or outside?

    It is possible to re-queen with a mated queen (more on that later) but more info is needed first.

    If they are "cleaning the comb all the time" they're looking for food. Did you feed them INSIDE the hive?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    Did you happen to take any pictures during your inspection? From your description it almost sounds like the hive is being robbed out by the local bees but you haven't given enough information yet to really know what is going on.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Island county, Washington, USA
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    Quote Originally Posted by Colleen O. View Post
    Did you happen to take any pictures during your inspection? From your description it almost sounds like the hive is being robbed out by the local bees but you haven't given enough information yet to really know what is going on.
    ^^^ I agree with what Colleen O said.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    Here is a picture of a comb full of brood with the queen on it and a small stripe of honey (I'm holding the comb upside-down in this shot so that honey is actually at the top of the bar). This was from mid-summer. Striped Queen 2013.jpg

    This is one from right after they swarmed in early June. It has a band of honey at the top, band of pollen, capped brood, and a capped queen cell at the bottom.brood comb typ.jpg

    I was in a couple of my nucs this past weekend but I didn't take any pictures. The one that I inspected to make sure the queen was there has 8 fully drawn bars (9 bars in the nuc), 4 1/2 of them are honeycomb (most capped but some just full of nectar) then the top half of the remaining brood bars have all capped honey and some pollen.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    image.jpg
    I hope this picture goes through. It was taken a few days ago. I have a total of 10 bars that the bees have access to because I have sectioned the hive off with two false combs. Of the 10 bars, 8 of them have comb and there is no honey (never has been), pollen stores or brood at this point. The only thing I have ever seen on the comb is brood, but there is none at this point. I wish I could tell you type of bees they are, but I never found out. I really appreciate you guys taking the time to teach me the ways of the honey bee.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    The picture is definitely helpful but it brings us back to the question Ziva has been asking. How are you feeding? Are you feeding them in the hive or open feeding? Are you feeding pollen supplement as well as the honey? (I am assuming you got the honey from a known and trusted source.)

    Even if they had honey and nectar stores they need pollen or bee bread for brood. Honey isn't as likely to stimulate comb drawing as 1:1 syrup but at this point in the season you just need them to put on stores, they have empty comb to fill. This late in the season 2:1 is more usual if you need it and if the temperature allows. Did you feed them before now at all? It looks like they are your bees but have been robbed out. (Open feeding can lure in robbers.) If it is warm enough you may still want to find your queen but assuming you have one what is more important is stopping the robbing and feeding them heavily both syrup (or the honey if you trust it) and some pollen supplement if they truly have none stored. Feed in the hive and reduce the entrance. Put a robbing screen in front of it if you can. You might want to try making a candy brick for them too. It looks like you have room under the bars so I would put it there. That would let them reach it from each bar in the cluster when it is cold.

    My bees last year looked a lot like yours but had some stores. Even so mine didn't make it. I learned a lot from it but felt bad they paid for my mistakes. This year my bees got a huge head start from last years comb and after losing the swarm they still made enough comb for five 8 to 10 bar nucs.
    Last edited by Colleen O.; 11-13-2013 at 11:03 PM.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    Sorry yes, I have been feeding from the inside but was feeding sugar syrup on the outside until about two weeks ago. The honey is pure from a friend of a friend that keeps bees in Montana. I was told when I first got them to give 1:1 sugar syrup. Are you saying that I should now go 2:1 syrup with sugar plus a pollen supplement, with bee bread, as well as honey? I just want to make sure that I am understanding. Also, when I was feeding on the outside of the hive there were some yellow jackets that became pretty aggressive, but I never saw them on the inside if the hive at all. Can you tell by looking at the picture what type of bees I have? Again, thanks so much for your help.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Polk Co, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    I would reduce the entrances down to no more than two bee spaces, put as much dry sugar as I could in blocks to the sides of and if possible dumped on single layer news paper above them. I would then put a container of good commercial pollen sub nearby keeping it dry.

    Seattle is close to my climate. I would not put syrup in the hive this late. Too much moisture is your biggest winter killer besides starvation. Also, feeding honey from a yard other than your own is super risky. If you introduce AFB, you are back to less than starting over.

    Good luck. For what it's worth, I had two colonies with almost no stores survive last winter using the Mtn Camp method of feeding. I use Langstroth hives but the system should translate to TBH fine.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,379

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    In most top bar hives, the bees do not have access to the top side of the bars. Adjacent bars touch each other for the full width of the bar and block bee access to the top. This means that Mtn Camp style feeding of sugar is not practical.

    I don't have experience feeding dry sugar inside a TBH, but you could try intentionally hardening sugar with a mist of water into a "block" of sorts, and then putting that block inside the hive on the floor of the hive. Move back the follower board to make room for the block.
    Graham
    --- HVAC design via ESP ... Who'd a thunk it ...

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    Bthelight, check out the thread I just bumped titled "This poor hive". There is a link and instructions in it for making candy you could put in the hive. You can even add a small amount of pollen supplement powder to it too. Like I said before I would put a brick of it under your bars so that the entire cluster can get to it but it wouldn't hurt to put it as a bar or bar with pouch on each side.

    The recommendations I usually read say 1:1 syrup in the spring and 2:1 in the fall. I used 5:3 for both spring and early fall and they did keep building comb with it until it started getting cold at night. The nice thing about feeding honey is moisture isn't a problem but most don't feed it from outside sources because honey can bring in AFB spores. One of my fully drawn bars is about half the size of a langstroth deep frame and they say one of those honey filled weighs about 6 pounds so I speculate mine weigh about 3 each. I will weigh them and find out for sure if I ever get a honey harvest but my point is that 5 lbs won't go far to a starving colony. I fed my five nucs something like 80# of sugar (before it was made into syrup) this fall.

    I can't tell what type of bees they are but you may need to plan for a new package for the spring. (You can remember to ask the type this time.) I went ahead and ordered an "insurance package" last year and was glad I did because I had to use it to start over.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Honeyless in Seattle

    Thank you all so much for all of your insight.

    I will get to making candy. Is it safe to say that now is not they right time to attempt introducing a new queen?

    I have learned so much on this feed. Much more tangible than most books I have read.

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