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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Antioch, CA
    Posts
    3

    Default Bees are gone; hive boxes are full

    New beekeeper here ! The bees are gone from one of my hives. It has 2 deep brood boxes. Top box has full frames of capped honey, and the bottom box has some capped honey, some pollen, and mostly empty comb. What's the best way to prepare the hive for a new package install? Thanks for your help !!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Ludington, Michigan
    Posts
    613

    Default Re: Bees are gone; hive boxes are full

    1st get it out of the field before something decides to make it there new home. 2nd pull each frame. Look for reasons why they are dead or gone. Clean up the bur comb and propolis. Dont know what your weather is like. Here this time of the year there is no chance of insect pests but if its different there freeze the frames for 24 hours. I would then set up one box with a attached bottom board, a couple of frames of honey and pollen with empty frames in the middle for the new queen to start laying in. Save the other honey frames to give they down the road

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,805

    Default Re: Bees are gone; hive boxes are full

    I usually extract the honey. If it is polluted with sugar or medications you could use it for feed. Clean honey helps recoup my investment and makes it less attractive to ants if I am going to use it as a bait hive. I stack it on a strong existing hive for cleanup/drying of sticky honey. I then use it as a bait hive or fill it with a package or swarm. You could keep a frame or two of honey for the new colony, but I prefer a little feeding as that stimulates them which full frames don't. Protect it from mice until filled with bees. In my area I have little problem with moths or SHB in dead hives. You could also re-stock it as is.
    What was the source of bees that died?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
    Posts
    725

    Default Re: Bees are gone; hive boxes are full

    First make sure that the brood comb is not showing manifest EFB dead larvae or *any* AFB. If you don't know how to detect AFB, consult an experienced keeper. Until you have evaluated for disease keep the boxes sealed in garbage bags to prevent robbing (and wax moth infestation).

    So first decision: "Do I have a transmissible comb-born disease?"
    If yes- - immediately dispose of the comb. Burn it, without regret.

    If no, then either-
    1) Extract the honey
    of
    2) Feed it back to the remaining hives.

    Since Eucalyptus are now blooming strongly in coastal CA., my decision would be to extract.

    With the explosive expansion of backyard bee keepers, there is a **lot** of undetected disease around suburban areas of California. Vigilance is important, don't assume you are disease free.

    My preference for dead-out brood comb is to use it for trap hives to attract wild swarms. Brood comb that has gone dead tends to do so again with distressing frequency, even if apparently free of disease, when it is the sole comb available. Is this virus spore ready to reactivate???

    One or two frames in a trap don't seem to overwhelm a new vigorous swarm (which are primed to draw their own comb anyway). The odor of the old comb is important, not the drawn cells. You can often remove the old comb after the swarm has settled.

    You want to rotate old comb out anyway after a maximum four years.

    It seems like a waste of drawn comb, but the best thing for old brood comb is disposal. The honey comb can be easily and profitably reused. The bees won't use old stale bee bread -- in my hives they remove it from the hive in bulk. There is virtually no extractable wax in brood comb -- the slumgum absorbs all the wax (unlike honey comb, where wax is easily melted off).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Ludington, Michigan
    Posts
    613

    Default Re: Bees are gone; hive boxes are full

    Extracting frames does help in recouping package cost but the way I look at it is I dont super colonies that need stores so by giving the full frames I'm that much closer to getting a harvest from them. I also agree with odfranks bait hive statement. Drawn comb is the very best bait but in my case I have 1000's of drawn combs so dont need more empties

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Issaquah,WA,USA
    Posts
    2,340

    Default Re: Bees are gone; hive boxes are full

    It happens. If the cluster got small they kind of give up and all go off to die. Lots of reasons. Get it cleaned out and put away to keep the mice out. Use the honey in the spring for faster build up of packages etc.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,844

    Default Re: Bees are gone; hive boxes are full

    odfrank! You would extract that honey? Don't you realize bugs with guts inside them walked all over it!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,805

    Default Re: Bees are gone; hive boxes are full

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    odfrank! You would extract that honey? Don't you realize bugs with guts inside them walked all over it!
    Alive bees walked on it. That is a lot different than dead bees steeping in it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Lake County Ill
    Posts
    381

    Default Re: Bees are gone; hive boxes are full

    Thanks for the excellent post. I too also have every year some hives that are simply dead with no discernible disease. My question is that after I extract the honey from the frames would it be beneficial to freeze them before using them and secondly do I need to leave the wet extracted frames out to be cleaned by th bees before using them for a new package of bees. Finally I have never used extracted honey to feed new packages.... just sugar water. I use top feeders should it just be poured in as if it was sugar water or mixed?
    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    First make sure that the brood comb is not showing manifest EFB dead larvae or *any* AFB. If you don't know how to detect AFB, consult an experienced keeper. Until you have evaluated for disease keep the boxes sealed in garbage bags to prevent robbing (and wax moth infestation).

    So first decision: "Do I have a transmissible comb-born disease?"
    If yes- - immediately dispose of the comb. Burn it, without regret.

    If no, then either-
    1) Extract the honey
    of
    2) Feed it back to the remaining hives.

    Since Eucalyptus are now blooming strongly in coastal CA., my decision would be to extract.

    With the explosive expansion of backyard bee keepers, there is a **lot** of undetected disease around suburban areas of California. Vigilance is important, don't assume you are disease free.

    My preference for dead-out brood comb is to use it for trap hives to attract wild swarms. Brood comb that has gone dead tends to do so again with distressing frequency, even if apparently free of disease, when it is the sole comb available. Is this virus spore ready to reactivate???

    One or two frames in a trap don't seem to overwhelm a new vigorous swarm (which are primed to draw their own comb anyway). The odor of the old comb is important, not the drawn cells. You can often remove the old comb after the swarm has settled.

    You want to rotate old comb out anyway after a maximum four years.

    It seems like a waste of drawn comb, but the best thing for old brood comb is disposal. The honey comb can be easily and profitably reused. The bees won't use old stale bee bread -- in my hives they remove it from the hive in bulk. There is virtually no extractable wax in brood comb -- the slumgum absorbs all the wax (unlike honey comb, where wax is easily melted off).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,805

    Default Re: Bees are gone; hive boxes are full

    >First make sure that the brood comb is not showing manifest EFB dead larvae
    >"Do I have a transmissible comb-born disease?"

    I have read conflicting opinions on whether EFB is comb contagious. Some say it is a "stress" disease and not comb contagious. What is the definitive answer?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    DFW area, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,016

    Thumbs Up Re: Bees are gone; hive boxes are full

    Quote Originally Posted by JWC
    >First make sure that the brood comb is not showing manifest EFB dead larvae
    >"Do I have a transmissible comb-born disease?"
    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    I have read conflicting opinions on whether EFB is comb contagious. Some say it is a "stress" disease and not comb contagious. What is the definitive answer?
    It is always important to rule out possible disease in any drawn comb before you use it again. The pdf file HERE will give you good instruction and pictures of what to look for and how to recognize it. Our beekeeping classes get a real copy of this manual to take out to the hives when necessary. HTH
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

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