Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    Brooklyn, NY
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    13

    Default Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    I am a first year beekeeper and am learning some hard lessons. In short, I have two hives. Both swarmed over a month ago and I have been waiting/hoping they would get queenright on their own. For whatever reason (I wish I knew,) neither of them seem to be and they have been broodless for three weeks now. I have a laying worker in one and the other will probably be in laying worker status any day now. I have no available brood. Nobody to help me. (My mentor came out to inspect and confirmed the lack of queen/eggs, but did not offer me any brood.) I considered trying to requeen, but without brood it seems futile.

    So, I have two hives full of honey and drone brood. I would like to try again next spring, but would like to know what to do to best prepare the hives. I figure I will harvest the honey this weekend and return the frames to the hive to let the remaining bees clean them up. What else do I need to do? Should I just let them rear a bunch of drones? I have a lot of frames with honey and drone brood. Will the drones eat the honey as the hive dies out? If they don't, will that honey last for the new hive in the spring? Any storage advice?

    Any advice is appreciated.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Lamar Co. Alabama, USA
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    4,141

    Default Re: Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    Do you own or have access to a large freezer? Freeze any frames of honey you're not going to harvest, as well as the rest of the comb so you'll have it when you start again, especially if you use packages. The non-honey frames can be frozen for 48 hours, thawed, then put the boxes in plastic bags and stored. The comb is valuable in that it gives a package or swarm a jump start and they can get started raising brood without waiting to build comb. The NY winter should keep any moths out of your hives or at least kill them. Close the entrances to keep mice out, they will build nests, chew wooden ware, and urinate on everything.
    Down here, I sometimes catch fall swarms, not sure about NY, but you might get a swarm yet. Not sure about shaking the bees out then storing everything just yet. Did the thing with the queens you were going to order not work out?
    Sorry you had such a disappointing experience. Don't give up, all of us have (or will) lose hives. It's part of beekeeping. Chalk it up as a learning experience and press on from there.
    Last edited by GaryG74; 07-27-2015 at 07:12 PM. Reason: added info

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Posts
    1,836

    Default Re: Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    If you are dead set on folding up the hives for winter, here is my suggestion:
    Roll a wheelbarrow across the yard from the hives.
    Dump two buckets of soapy water in the wheelbarrow.
    Take one box of bees at a time over and shake each frame of bees into the water. (the bees, not the frames!)
    Plug the entrances and store them in a dry place.
    If you don't, the frames are going to get robbed out and you'll have a big mess.
    On the other hand, The hives that you have minus the bees makes a GREAT start for next spring.

    Don't be discouraged.
    You have learned a lot this year.
    It will get easier in time.
    Read, read, read and go to bee meetings / conventions this fall & winter.

    If beekeeping was easy, EVERYONE would be doing it!

    And as a former employer used to tell me, "Every year is another chance to get things right!".

    I have exactly ONE more hive than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond dispute!

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Catskills, Delaware Cty, New York, USA
    Posts
    2,032

    Default Re: Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    This is what I would do if I wanted to try and save a hive: I would ask your mentor if you could buy a frame of brood from him. If he agrees this is what I would do:
    Close up both hives at night and make sure they have ventilation.
    Next day move the laying worker hive about 50 ft away. Leave closed up in its new spot.
    Move the other hive that isn't a laying worker hive to the laying worker hives old spot. Make sure there are no queen cells in there or a virgin queen. Put the frame of brood in there. Wait a day and open up.
    Go to the laying worker hive and open it up and shake out all the bees. They should go to their old spot and combine eventually with that hive. Have a queen ready to put in the next day.
    Meanwhile you take apart the laying worker hive and use what you need (like honey nectar pollen).
    Proverbs 16:24

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Brooklyn, NY
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    Oh, I can't shake the bees into soapy water. Isn't there a way to let them die off naturally?

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    671

    Default Re: Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    One, I hate to hear you're having a hard time. Please don't give up though - beekeeping is tough. I lost one of the two hives my first year. I was very discouraged. Keep after it though and learn as much as you can before next spring.

    Two, I am surprised your mentor didn't have at least a partial frame of eggs they could share with you. If the situation was futile they should have explained why eggs wouldn't help.

    Hang in there and try again next spring.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Orchard Park Ny
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    66

    Default Re: Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    If I was closer I would have gave you a frame of brood for free just to help out.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    5,486

    Default Re: Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    You can just let them die out, but they'll make a mess of the comb raising all drones

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    wnc
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    144

    Default Re: Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    You should still be able to buy queens. A handful of workers and a queen might bring them along

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    53,942

    Default Re: Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    >Move the other hive that isn't a laying worker hive to the laying worker hives old spot.

    That's where I disagree. The laying workers will march in like they own the place and I want them to come in humbly... Leave the other hive where it is and shake out the laying worker hive. They will be aggressive enough as it is... they don't need help.

    If you try to salvage the situation it will take a frame of brood every week for three weeks. One frame probably won't do it.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslayingworkers.htm

    I have gotten in the habit of letting any hive try to make it even if I think they won't. You'd be surprised how often a hive you think is bound to survive doesn't and one you think can't does.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    Duplicate
    Last edited by Michael Bush; 07-28-2015 at 07:25 AM.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
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    Southern Virginia
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    302

    Default Re: Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    Quote Originally Posted by lauranyc View Post
    Oh, I can't shake the bees into soapy water. Isn't there a way to let them die off naturally?
    Absolutely, don't do anything!
    Zone 7a

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Raiford, Florida
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    172

    Default Re: Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    I agree with Michael and Phyber. Do nothing, let them recover or die on there own. Pay close attention to save your honey. Sometimes the queen will stop laying during a dearth or for other reasons. If you see queen cells, the hive is righting it's self.
    I will bless (Praise) the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    ElDorado,Arkansas,USA
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    Default Re: Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    Your mentor didnt offer you a frame of brood so why not offer to buy a frame or two from him.If he says OK then you will be back in business.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    lafayette, LA
    Posts
    268

    Default Re: Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    Quote Originally Posted by lauranyc View Post
    I am a first year beekeeper and am learning some hard lessons. In short, I have two hives. Both swarmed over a month ago and I have been waiting/hoping they would get queenright on their own. For whatever reason (I wish I knew,) neither of them seem to be and they have been broodless for three weeks now. I have a laying worker in one and the other will probably be in laying worker status any day now. I have no available brood. Nobody to help me. (My mentor came out to inspect and confirmed the lack of queen/eggs, but did not offer me any brood.) I considered trying to requeen, but without brood it seems futile.

    So, I have two hives full of honey and drone brood. I would like to try again next spring, but would like to know what to do to best prepare the hives. I figure I will harvest the honey this weekend and return the frames to the hive to let the remaining bees clean them up. What else do I need to do? Should I just let them rear a bunch of drones? I have a lot of frames with honey and drone brood. Will the drones eat the honey as the hive dies out? If they don't, will that honey last for the new hive in the spring? Any storage advice?

    Any advice is appreciated.
    maybe post some pictures of the hives.

    on the other hand, you can go out there now, and put them on top of each other. let them sort it out. they will most likely kill the drone layer.
    you might still have a chance if you get a mated queen( you can probably still order it, and if you have enough bees left she might actually make it thru and have enough bees and feed for winter.
    another thing you can do is to place them on top of each other, leave them 3-5 days, and see what they are doing. if nothing changes, I mean you still see eggs in there and they still do not draw a queen cell, I would shake everything in one box, extract the surplus honey, leave the super in a corner of the yard, away from the bees, so they can fly to it and clean it. then freeze it to kill wax moth if any in there.

    if I were you, I would see about buying a 5 frame nuc from your mentor , or someone in the area, and put them together.

    there are so any options, and depending on what you are prepared to do, you have to take a decision.

    I bet next year you will not let them swarm like you did this year

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Plymouth, Indiana
    Posts
    91

    Default Re: Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    Last year was my first year with bees.
    I tried to do everything right and by the end of the summer things seemed to be going downhill with my one hive. Couldn't find a queen, all frames were virtually empty of any eggs, or covered brood. i thought i must have killed the queen. But there were plenty of stores in the upper deep. I decided to let nature take its course and let them die off naturally.
    This past spring the hive burst to life to my surprise. I thought it was a goner.
    I ended up splitting that hive and I just harvested 60lbs of honey from the two hives, with a lot more still in the supers waiting to be capped.
    I'm not saying that's what you should do because I don't have enough experience to offer advise on this forum, but that was my experience. there's always hope if you decide to go that route.

    Giarc.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
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    4,646

    Default Re: Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    If you do nothing the beetles and moths will move in and foul up your equipment.

    Fix it or shake the bees out and freeze your frames then store them.
    Last edited by FlowerPlanter; 07-28-2015 at 12:37 PM. Reason: typo

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    El Sobrante, California, USA
    Posts
    162

    Default Re: Giving up on my hives. What do I need to do for next season?

    You'd be surprised how often a hive you think is bound to survive doesn't and one you think can't does.
    I agree. Treated 2 of 3 hives last year and they didn't survive. The smallest, untreated hive did and is my boomer this year.

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