Will my tiny hive survive?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Salina Kansas
    Posts
    12

    Default Will my tiny hive survive?

    I live in central Kansas. I have a large vegetable garden and several large flower gardens. I've lived in this location for 11 years. Until three years ago I had lots of bees every morning and most of the day. Over the past three years I've been pollinating my plants with a Q-tip because there simply are no bees visiting my location. I check frequently and last year I only saw two bees the entire year.

    So, I put the word out to some friends to help find me a bee hive. ( I should mention, all I know about bees I've learned in the past 30 days from reading forums like this and watching youtube videos.)

    I have purchased a beginner starter kit : qty 1, 9 1/8" brood box and qty 2, 6 5/8" supers along with the other starter stuff. All I need are the bees, more knowledge and spring to arrive.

    Problem: a couple of days after Christmas (2015) a friend called. They had cut down a tree and it contained a hive. They cut the trunk into two foot sections for splitting and wood burning. They cut the hive in half. One guy took the bottom half of the hive and honey, then they called me to see I wanted the hive. So, I have a small hive in a hollowed tree trunk. It's about 2' long and 18" diameter. The actual hollow is about 10" in diameter. There's an entrance hole in the trunk about 2.5" in diameter. The log split in half so I put 3/4" plywood on the the top and bottom of the section to contain the hive and hold the two halves together. I covered the entrance hole, wrapped the entire thing in plastic and transported it home.

    I took a photo of the hive through the access hole on day one. There was lots of honey and I could only see a few bees. Then the weather turned cold, about 3 oF and within about 2 weeks all the honey visible near the entrance hole had disappeared (they ate it). While is was really cold I moved the entire log/hive into my unheated garage. It stays about 12 oF warmer than the outside (with no wind to contend with). I noticed the plywood top that overhands the access hole was covered with frost so there are obviously bees keeping it warm inside and generating moisture. I took the plastic wrap off the hive and fully opened the access hole now that it is inside.

    On Jan 11, 2016, I made some sugar/salt grease patties with tea tree oil, drilled a 1/2" diameter hole in the top plywood, built a 1 1/2" tall spacer about 15" square and put it on the top of the hive so the bees can access the grease patty if they want. The spacer has a plywood cover.

    Until I drilled the 1/2" diameter hole I had no idea if there were 20 bees inside or 2000. Drilling the hole caused a lot of excitement in the hive, about 20 came up through the new 1/2" hole and it got very noisy inside the log as the bees moved around. Within about 1 minute they all went back down the hole and a couple of minutes later it quieted down. Given the noise level and when I look inside the access hole I suspect the hive contains about 250-300 bees. It's been 24 hours with the grease patty and they, so far, have no interest in it. This morning I laid a 100w infrared heat lamp near the log. The minute I tuned the bulb on the bees became very excited, about 20 of them came out to investigate the light source. The lamp was about 6" from the log and within about 60 seconds the bark was started to smoke and turned black. So, I shut it down. When I left two bees were investigating the blackened bark. Very curious ladies I must say. I wish my wife was that curious.

    How can you help?

    Given the small size of the hive and not knowing how many bees or how much food stores these guys have, what are the odds these ladies survive?

    Should I provide heat in the form of infrared heat lamp, I can just keep backing it up until the flames go down.

    Should I provide 2:1 syrup?

    or, just leave them alone and wait and see.


    I don't intend to try and move them into the 10 frame brood box until maybe March or April.

    It was a long story. If you made it this far maybe you can give me some advice. If they don't survive I'll end up buying a three pound hive and start from scratch.


    thanks,

    Dustin

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,770

    Default Re: Will my tiny hive survive?

    If they don't appear to have any food, I might try to figure out a way to get dry sugar into contact with the bees. You need to close things up enough that they aren't getting cold wind but leave enough open for them to have an entrance. Other than that I would leave them alone until spring.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    10,840

    Default Re: Will my tiny hive survive?

    Welcome to Beesource!


    As far as a heater goes, the best temperature is a consistent 40 degrees F. If its warmer than that they are more likely to be active and flying/using up their supplies faster than necessary. Colder than 40 degrees F is OK if they have accessible food and enough bees to form a viable cluster. Bees winter food is almost exclusively honey/sugar. Leave out the salt and grease.

    >> Will my tiny hive survive?

    "Will" is a pretty strong word. If there are really only a couple of hundred bees the chances are not great that they will survive. If they have a queen and adequate food, they _might_ survive to be a viable colony in the spring.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
    Posts
    4,646

    Default Re: Will my tiny hive survive?

    >On Jan 11, 2016, I made some sugar/salt grease patties with tea tree oil

    Throw them in the trash, grease is for tracheal mites which don't seem to be a problem anymore. EOs "essential oils" are pesticides and is not good for bees. What you made was not feed it's treatment for pests and disease.

    Make plain sugar blocks take 4lb sugar mix with 1/3 cup of water, press flat about 1/2 inch let it air dry for a day, place above the bees.

    Screen their entrance(s) so they don't fly around while inside. If you think they are low on food, feed the sugar blocks, syrup if it get warmer (50s). Other than that leave them alone no lights, no drilling into their house.

    April is probably a good time to move them to the hive. Since you only got half of the hive you don't know which half the queen is in, if you find worker eggs and brood in April then you got the queen.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Salina Kansas
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Will my tiny hive survive?

    Thanks for the reply. I'll make the sugar mix and put it in the crawl space I made above the hive. I'll screen the entrance and if it warms up a bunch I'll move them outside and feed them syrup. My garage stays about 40 oF most of the time unless it get down to zero outside, then it dips to about 20 oF. Dustin

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    lafargeville ny usa
    Posts
    2,275

    Thumbs Up Re: Will my tiny hive survive?

    20 degrees is fine . below 40 the food consumption slows down a lot. the wind break is an excellent idea. sugar [white only!!!] is good till spring. in early march having having some protein supplement available will help.... mostly you need to be patient. as the weather gets warmer into early to mid spring the bees need a lot more food. honey [syrup is good] or sugar for energy, and pollen or protein supplement to raise more bees... you are off to a good start.. hint: keep it simple and leave the bees alone as much as possible.
    Last edited by mathesonequip; 01-14-2016 at 12:29 PM.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Casey, Il, USA
    Posts
    4,130

    Default Re: Will my tiny hive survive?

    I know you are excited, but me personally wouldn't put much effort into these bees other than putting sugar on them and keeping them out of the wind until spring and I could verify I had the queen. If not, and they die, cut the log open and rubber band some straight pieces of brood comb into a frame or two and it will give your new package bees a bit of a headstart.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Salina Kansas
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Will my tiny hive survive?

    Thanks for all the replies. I agree with all of them and particularly the reply from Harley Craig. Odds are against survival. The ball isn't much larger than a softball. Survival is not likely. But, I'll try. I'll install white sugar on the plywood above the hive near the 1/2 hole and hope for the best. If they don't make it at least I'll have a brood box and a couple of mid size supers ready to go. I can buy a colony in the spring and I'm on my way. side note. they are in my 3 car garage for now under a workbench. yesterday I went out to check and they were agitated from the get go. It took a minute but I finally figured out my wife had been idling her car in the garage before work. The exhaust fumes set them off. I'm going to have to find a spot outside the garage and leave them alone until spring. One way or the other I'll have bees in the sprint. Thanks again to all.

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