What would you do?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Grafton, NY, USA
    Posts
    190

    Default What would you do?

    Hi! I have a small cluster of bees (over about 3 frames) that survived a traumatic winter event (the inner and outer covers were ripped off and the hive may have been topless for almost a month during a very cold and wet period) but this cluster of small bees and a queen appear to be surviving. My concerns are though that the frames are streaked with brown spots so I am guessing probably dysentery/nosema issues.

    In addition to this hive, I also have 2 packages of bees that are queenless. The first queens didn't survive the shipping trip and the replacement queens died before they were released.

    (I was put in touch with one beek who lives a little over an hour away who said he would combine one of my packages with a small survivor group of his and their queen. He offered to introduce the queen for me if I would bring them to his house, and then I could pick them up the following week or so after she was accepted to the hive. I am hoping to do this over the weekend.)

    So, that would leave me with the other queenless hived package.

    Do you think it would it be safe to combine this small band of survivors and queen with a package of bees who's queen did not survive release? If so, should I do a newspaper combine and just shake these bees onto the newspaper and place the queen safely in with them and place the top box of drawn comb from their hive in so that they still have a place to continue to lay eggs, etc and just feed them sugar syrup (as I have been doing for the one hive as I did not have enough extra frames of honey for two hives.) I had been feeding the "Arctic" hive granulated sugar over the winter in addition to the frames of honey that was still abundant in the hive, especially since the cluster was so small.... But...Could they spread Nosema to this hive (even if I do not transfer any affected looking frames to the package hive?)

    (I'm guessing that if they have streaked the hive and if it is nosema that they would be spreading it if they are consuming honey that is streaked.)
    or...should I just take the queen from this hive and place her in the queenless hive...and if there are eggs in the Arctic hive have them make another queen?

    If you don't think I should combine the small band from the Arctic hive with the queenless package, should I just shake the small Arctic hive onto undrawn frames and continue to feed them sugar and water?

    Also, is there any way that the honey that is capped in the combs, but obviously streaked, can be safely used for anything? ie- Can it be used for human consumption? and if so, would it need to be heated/pasteurized? (I read somewhere that humans could consume honey from hives that had Nosema, but I am not sure if this streaking is beyond what a typical hive would have.)

    I also have one other hive that is healthy and thriving. It has a deep and three mediums. I was thinking I could take a frame of brood with eggs present from this hive and put it into the queenless hive, but .... it hasn't really been warm enough when I have had the opportunity to look through it, though I tried on Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon I started to look through this hive but did not get beyond the second medium super (the top 2 mediums were mostly honey but the 2nd medium did have some cups started, so I will definitely need to split this one this Spring.) (Un)fortunately I was not able to get into the main brood area as the sun was getting low and the wind started picking up and the bees were getting upset and were pinging me, so we put the hive back together so they could settle in before it got too late.
    And unfortunatley I'm not sure what the weather will be like this weekend..the forecast was for it to turn cooler again and showers....

    Anyway, being green still (this will be the start of my third year (1st year 100% loss of 2 hives over winter; this past year was better, but still lost over the winter 1+ out of the 3 hives we started ...)

    I was hoping to learn what more experienced beeks would do in a similar situation (not that experienced beeks would ever find themself in such a predicament as you have gained the experience which I am still learning and striving to obtain.)

    I know this was wordy/rambling, and it's getting late, so I'll end this here.

    Thanks in advance!

    ps---this is a cross post...nobody replied to the post in the other forum...

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Yuba County, California, USA
    Posts
    6,546

    Default

    If it was me, I'd combine the Arctic hive with the queenless hive. I'd just take the queenright box and set it on top of the queenless box. They should all join in together well enough since one is queenless anyways. Then I'd wait a week, and once a week add a frame of sealed brood from your stronger hive, to help boost it some. I think it's a very good possibility that nosema may not be the prob. beeing exposed without top or inner covers in the cold of winter might be the reason why they had the runs. See if it clears up some, or treat with your chosen method of treatment. As the hive recovers and grows stronger with bees, they will clean up any messes in the hive on the frames and you can pull them later in the year for use if you like. Once again, just my opinions, others may pitch in with more ideas
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  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Orting, Washington
    Posts
    73

    Default

    I would try to use newspaper and try to combine you have nothing to lose. if you do nothing you are sure to lose. Good luck

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Claremont, NH, USA
    Posts
    783

    Default

    I'd probably combine, but it depends, in part, on what you want. For example, do you want more hives right away? IF so, you could try to nurse the Arctic group along, assuming the queen is laying, until they take off, and also add a frame of eggs and larvae to the queenless hive from your good hive, hoping they raise a new queen (I am already seeing drones here in NH). If both work, then your numbers don't decrease. Or, you could combine, and then split later this summer and get the same number, but probably little or no honey from them.

    One thing I will say in favor of the Arctic bees is to not count them out, just because the colony is small. I had a hive of NWC that was the runt of my litter last year, going into the winter in only two deeps (I run three) with not a heck of a lot of stores. I did not have high hopes for them. When I checked them in late winter, it seemed like I could count the number of bees left in the hive on one hand. But, checked them yesterday and that hive is booming and now needs that third brood deep. So, you never know. In my case, if that hive ends up being a good producer this summer, it may become my queen breeding source.

    So, there are a couple of other choices, per Ray. Either way, I would not let fear of Nosema stop you. If you have concerns, then treat.

    Bill
    “If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive.” - Dale Carnegie

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