Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?
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  1. #1
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    Default Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    I had 2 package hives started May 24th. Thank God everyone says to start with 2 hives or I would be giving up about now. North hive doing great from the beginning. Textbook except I wish they would draw out a few more frames on the top box (only two drawn out after a month).

    The other hive has been a problem since I hived it. Queen dead two weeks after hiving. Got new queen. Very poor layer. Only 5 frames in one box every drawn out. Fed pollen and syrup religiously and they took it. No further progress for a month. Inspected again today. Spotty capped brood, no larva and no eggs. Looked very carefully. No queen either, but 4 capped queen cells. I am getting to the point of just letting the hive go. Certainly not up to buying a 3rd queen.

    I feel like I've spent a small fortune battling SHB, and feedings without getting anywhere. Literally $100 on sugar alone. Was getting great pleasure from it, but now seems like a dreading frustration to even inspect it. Anyone else ever feel this way? Should I just let it go and package again next spring? I fully expect with my luck to have a laying worker hive before a new hatched queen can get going.

    Other hive is a pleasure working with. Have given serious thought about putting the 5 frames of the poor hive in with the 1st hive, replacing the undrawn frames with the drawn frames of the sad hive in the 2nd box.

    May give it 2 more weeks to see if the sad hive produces a queen that is any good. Alabama doesn't get that cold until late Nov/Dec.

    Frustrated newbee,

    MsBeHaven

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    > Have given serious thought about putting the 5 frames of the poor hive in with the 1st hive

    How about trying the opposite? Put a frame of uncapped brood from the strong hive (with nurse bees) into the weak hive.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    Hi MsBeHaven.

    I have a poor hive in Birmingham that I'm trying to save as well. Checking on them today, probably. (We requeened 2 weeks ago, after them failing to create a queen from brood from hive #2, but when we checked one week ago, they hadn't released the queen from her cage. So we released her and all havoc appeared to break loose in the hours after that. Really not at all certain as to what happened. She might have journeyed off and brought back other bees, or maybe there were bees robbing the hive out and they disagreed as to whether they should accept her as their queen or overthrow her and take off with the honey, or she might have taken off with a bunch of the bees and gone somewhere else. In any case, there appeared to be a bee war for 2 or so days with lots of activity outside of the hive, and then back to very little activity-- 2 or so bees coming and going at any moment.) This wasn't a package, but is basically a failed split as far as I'm concerned. (And, my first attempt at a split at that. ) I'll check back in after we inspect today. . . but I might just end up combining this week hive with my "stronger" hive as well. . .

    To address the old "add brood from your strong hive" idea. I've done that 2 or 3 times, and hesitate to do more. My other hive just isn't strong enough to give up a frame of brood every week. And while I've seen eggs and small larvae--I haven't seen the queen in that hive, so I'd worry about transferring her over. . .

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    Hang in there! The first year by the fall I told my wife I had chosen the wrong hobby...felt that I couldn't do anything right. The next spring seemed like could do nothing wrong....and now I love beekeeping and have decided not to let it stress me out.

    Now for some suggestions:

    It sounds like you may be giving the bees a little too much space...which will lead to the fight with the SHB.
    I would not get another queen at this point...if they have capped queen cells then chances are they will take care of it themselves. What I would try to do is reduce them down to a minimum amount of space....maybe even as small as a five frame nuc box and allow them to pack that box before expanding to a larger box. That way the bees can defend from the SHB and if you have a little honey and pollen in the frames you will not have to feed them.

    You still have time to get them in shape, but I really think you will have the most success if you reduce your box size and only expand as the bees need it.

    As far as them going laying worker on you....as long as they have the queen cells or a queen present, that should not be a problem.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    I would just let them raise a queen from the cells they started. Do not add brood from the strong hive, since if I am understanding you correctly they have only filled 1 box and are working on the second.

    You can combine the weak hive anytime you want, so treat it like a science experiment and see what they do.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    I'd crowd the bees in the weak hive after I gave them 3-4 frames of eggs and brood from the first hive. Bees like to be a little crowded.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    SHB flourish when bees have more space than they can cover. I'm a newbee, and bad hives are where you learn. I've learned a lot more from my one lost hive, and two weak hives than my 2 strong hives. But having a strong hives gives you resources to help a weak hive, and gives you a warm fuzzy that it's not all your fault. :-)

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    One more thing to take into account is if you didn't hive them until the end of May you probably missed most of the main natural honey flow. It can sometimes be hard to get bees built up on sugar and pollen patties alone. You have to be very diligent in making sure the feeders stay full to get them to draw out comb when there is no honey flow going. If you can get the hives through until Golden rod starts blooming you will be amazed at how fast they draw out comb. You should have a pretty good Golden rod flow in your area of the south.

    If you have capped queen cells I would let that hive continue on and try to make a new queen. Giving them a frame of brood will give them a boost leave the bees attached to the frame of brood when you move it over just make sure the queen isn't on it. Being able to move resources is one of the main reasons it is better to start out with two hives. We are on the tail end of summer the bees will naturally build up once it cools off a tad and the fall plants start to bloom.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    Thanks for all the advice. Couple of questions though.

    If I take a frame out of my strong hive, would it weaken it too much? The good hive was started at the same time, and it's only got two frames drawn out on the second deep. While it's going well now, I hate to weaken it in any way until its fully established.

    Second, the sad hive is only on one deep with 5 drawn out frames. All my equipment (screened bottom boards, top hive cover, etc) is for a 10 frame set. I don't have the resources right now to buy the pieces or build a nuc. Alabama also has the no comb law meaning I can't buy out of state established nucs. Is there a way to block off part of the 10 frame hive so I'd have a nuc inside a 10 frame? Can't think of a good way to do that . I've got a miller hive top feeder on both and freeman screened bottom boards. Not sure how to plug those off.

    BTW how often should you change the mineral oil in a freeman trap? I have a couple hundred beetles in them which seems a lot to me for new hives.

    Not looked it up, but do the queen cells keep the hive from starting a laying worker? If the hive goes laying worker, that'd end it until next spring.

    Thanks again

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    I'm a newbie also. I suggest to find a beekeepers club near you. There is one in Cullman. Also the Limestine county beekeepers association has a symposium on August 10th at Calhoun college up here near Decatur. A ton of beekeeping suppliers will be there a lot will bring orders where you can save on shipping. I really learned a ton from this last year. www.lcbees.com for info. Hoss

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    Beetles fly in from everywhere, there's no such thing as too many for new hives, the presence of beetles in the trap is not an indication of what's actually infesting your hives, it's an indication of how many beetles are in your area that are finding your hives.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    You could put a partition in it to make it five frame...however I am not a fan of that method...especially with the bad beetle situation....I would think you would be giving them a big place to hide.

    I really think your best option is to reduce to a nuc....somehow build one or borrow or something. I think it would give you a good chance to save the hive....or combine with newspaper and just settle with one strong hive.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    I would LOVE to belong to a beekeeping club or find a local mentor. However, I work a 3-11pm hospital shift. It's hard to find coverage since I'm in charge those hours. It's been even harder to find a club that doesn't meet in the evenings, so I suspect I'm going to be self and Internet taught...

    I would really hate to lose this hive, so I'll keep babying it along. Any advice is appreciated. I hate to re-invent the wheel

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    These are your options:

    1. Add a frame of eggs from the strong hive to the weak one. A frame of eggs represents very little input from the strong hive. A frame of capped brood represents a lot of work from the strong hive and thus a big boost for a weak hive.

    2. Let them raise their own queen from the queen cells they've built. This will buy your strong colony some more time to build up just in case you decide to donate a frame of brood in a few weeks if the weak hive fails to make a queen.

    3. Cut off the queen cells, find the queen and remove her, combine the hive with the strong one. Hope that it survives the winter and then split it to get the 2 colonies you want.

    Things to consider: you don't know if the weak queen is weak because of genetics or circumstance (poorly mated due to overeager supplier, poor weather, poor care in larval form, who knows). If the weak queen results in a weak daughter, I would do one of 2 things: either kill the daughter and combine the two hives or donate a frame of eggs from the strong hive for them to raise another queen again.

    Contact your local beekeepers' club and see what they say regarding the timeframe for your planned actions. I'm not familiar with Alabama and drone numbers this time of year. The drone count in my hives has dropped remarkably and with fewer drones, there are fewer for a virgin to mate with. The other thing you should try to find out is how many beekeepers there are near you.

    Forgot to mention the nuc: should be easy to build one especially with a migratory top. But you can get a cardboard nuc for about 6 dollars from bee supply companies if building is not an option. Smaller space for smaller hives.
    Last edited by suburbanrancher; 07-26-2013 at 07:00 AM. Reason: adding

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by MsBeHaven View Post
    Thanks for all the advice. Couple of questions though.

    If I take a frame out of my strong hive, would it weaken it too much? The good hive was started at the same time, and it's only got two frames drawn out on the second deep. While it's going well now, I hate to weaken it in any way until its fully established.

    Second, the sad hive is only on one deep with 5 drawn out frames. All my equipment (screened bottom boards, top hive cover, etc) is for a 10 frame set. I don't have the resources right now to buy the pieces or build a nuc. Alabama also has the no comb law meaning I can't buy out of state established nucs. Is there a way to block off part of the 10 frame hive so I'd have a nuc inside a 10 frame? Can't think of a good way to do that . I've got a miller hive top feeder on both and freeman screened bottom boards. Not sure how to plug those off.

    BTW how often should you change the mineral oil in a freeman trap? I have a couple hundred beetles in them which seems a lot to me for new hives.

    Not looked it up, but do the queen cells keep the hive from starting a laying worker? If the hive goes laying worker, that'd end it until next spring.

    Thanks again
    As I mentioned before, since your good hive is only in 1 deep, do not take brood from it. Let them fill up the second deep.
    As far as turing your second hive into a nuc, you can just cut out 2 pieces of plywood. One needs to be 16 1/4 x 20" to put under your screened bottom board. The other needs to be the internal size of your box or roughly 18 1/8 x 10. If you are not handy with a saw, your Home Depot or Lowes can cut those for you. Take out the 5 undrawn fames and slide the internal board against the rest of the frames. When they start growing you can add a frame and pull out the internal divider a bit.

    Reduce your entrance to about 1" or so. They are not going to go laying worker while they have the queen cells and a virgin.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    I'm a 1st year beek too. This is a good place for info. I work shift work too and it's hard to make it to a bee club for me too. You are in the right place. I started with 2 hives from packages and one of them abscounded 3 days later. I would make a nuc if you can. On the beesource page is a heading of making your own stuff. Make a Coates hive. You can just buy a quarter or half sheet of plywood from lowes/home depot. If you don't have tools/skills and can't make one or make a divider as above I would combine and have a strong hive with 2 boxes going into winter. I went thru some queen problems too in beginning with my good hive. After all I went through in beginning I was frustrated but still liked this hobby. Just did more researching and keep on learning. I'm finding out bees is about timing. I read about swarms,trapouts,cutouts etc here and can't wait for spring. Found 2 hives in easy to get to trees and plan on doiing some trapouts for starts next spring. I'm going to try and get some drawn comb made using my Cleo Hogan style trap starting this weekend to have resources for trapouts next spring. Was also going to split my one hive next spring too. I've been babying it and hope to make it through winter. I have a post as 1st year beek in swarms section. Good luck and you're in the right place.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    I don't have any great words of advice, but I can say "Ditto."

    I started 2 packages the same time as you. One hive has 2 full deeps and 1.8 full honey supers. The other is DOA. The one hive is what keeps me going and I learned a valuable lesson. Be aggressive with SHB EARLY. Similar issues to you and that sealed the fate of my one hive.
    Just an excited, new beek with a lot to learn. But with so much going on in the hive, will that ever change?

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by MsBeHaven View Post
    I had 2 package hives started May 24th. Thank God everyone says to start with 2 hives or I would be giving up about now. North hive doing great from the beginning. Textbook except I wish they would draw out a few more frames on the top box (only two drawn out after a month).

    The other hive has been a problem since I hived it. Queen dead two weeks after hiving. Got new queen. Very poor layer. Only 5 frames in one box every drawn out. Fed pollen and syrup religiously and they took it. No further progress for a month. Inspected again today. Spotty capped brood, no larva and no eggs. Looked very carefully. No queen either, but 4 capped queen cells. I am getting to the point of just letting the hive go. Certainly not up to buying a 3rd queen.

    I feel like I've spent a small fortune battling SHB, and feedings without getting anywhere. Literally $100 on sugar alone. Was getting great pleasure from it, but now seems like a dreading frustration to even inspect it. Anyone else ever feel this way? Should I just let it go and package again next spring? I fully expect with my luck to have a laying worker hive before a new hatched queen can get going.

    Other hive is a pleasure working with. Have given serious thought about putting the 5 frames of the poor hive in with the 1st hive, replacing the undrawn frames with the drawn frames of the sad hive in the 2nd box.

    May give it 2 more weeks to see if the sad hive produces a queen that is any good. Alabama doesn't get that cold until late Nov/Dec.

    Frustrated newbee,

    MsBeHaven
    I hate to be "that guy" since the beginners of this thread are commiserating....but I think that as a newbie your level of frustration comes from A. Who you bought your package/nuc from and B. The forage in your area. C. When they were installed

    I don't mean to downplay your struggles but I am complete beginner and the 2 packages I installed in mid april are doing extremely well. One swarmed, I blame myself for not keeping the broodnest open, and the other hive is currently at 6 mediums. The swarm was captured so I have three hives.

    I sincerely doubt my management practices- April and May I would walk away from my hives feeling terrible and inept. Today I got out of my 12 hour job and sat a foot away from my gentle hives on a stump watching them and relaxing.

    Not so much helpful advice as much as encouragement- Hang in there!

    Bottom Line- I've been fortunate. Don't let the struggles of your hive get you down and stay the course. Should your hives pull away and "succeed" you will feel better than ever because of the struggle.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    Thank you all for commiserating with me.

    If this weak hive manages to produce a queen worth keeping, I'll bite the bullet and make a nuc of it unless the new queen can step it up during the goldenrod flow. If no queen, I'll combine the two. I'm going to keep feeding, but leave it up to the bees in the sad hive to keep things together until it makes a fully mated queen they want to keep or all hope of producing a queen is lost.

    From what I've read, what the hive would really need is nurse bees/brood for a workforce for the new queen. Gonna be tight on numbers for the sad hive if a new queen gets going for workforce. I keep telling myself that bees in the wild manage this problem too. With only one deep filled and a second deep being worked out on my strong hive, I don't want to risk weakening it by stealing a frame. No sense (to me) in making a bad situation worse.

    While I don't wish bad luck on anyone, sometimes knowing your not alone is a big help.

    Thanks again

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Any other newbie getting frustrated with their new hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by MsBeHaven View Post
    Thank you all for commiserating with me.

    If this weak hive manages to produce a queen worth keeping, I'll bite the bullet and make a nuc of it unless the new queen can step it up during the goldenrod flow.
    I really think you are at a point that you do not need to wait to do something....sounds like the time is now!

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