What assumptions can I make from pollen coming in?
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  1. #1
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    Feb 2016
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    Default What assumptions can I make from pollen coming in?

    My 2 packages were installed on Thursday. On Saturday, I started seeing bees coming in with big pollen loads. I have not checked for queen release yet. Basically all I have done is check their feed and observe. Are there any assumptions I can make about the hives since pollen has started coming in? Drawn comb, queen probably released, etc.??? Just trying to soak up all the info I can!

    Thanks!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: What assumptions can I make from pollen coming in?

    I don't think you can make any of those assumptions, only thing that tells you is pollen is available. I checked for queen release after 48 hours when I installed packages. After that try to hold off checking them again for at least twelve days.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: What assumptions can I make from pollen coming in?

    Assumption #1: Bees are pollen gathers by instinct.

    Assumption #2: Pollen is available for foraging.

    Assumption #3; Temperatures are warmth enough that foraging is possible (i.e. not a net energy loss.)

    The oft-repeated statement that observed pollen gathering proves that you have a healthy queen-right hive feeding larvae, is bunk, IMO.

    Enj.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: What assumptions can I make from pollen coming in?

    Thanks for the replies. Although it doesn't mean much, it's exciting to see them settling into what they're supposed to be doing.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: What assumptions can I make from pollen coming in?

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    The oft-repeated statement that observed pollen gathering proves that you have a healthy queen-right hive feeding larvae, is bunk, IMO.
    Not completely bunk, if you know what you are looking at and how to read it.

    One of my hives that has been going for five years, I observed a [substantially] lower level of pollen gathering than other hives. Based on this observation (and the fact that I had lost track of the age of this particular queen) I expected that when I unwrapped them I would find that the queen was either failing or gone. Indeed, when I unwrapped and inspected them yesterday they were completely broodless and queenless.

    I think of it like 'tracking' (as in hunting men or beasts), if you know how to read the signs you can develop a pretty good picture of what is going on even though you aren't observing the subject directly.
    If you want to be successful, study successful people and do what they do.
    Zone 4a/b

  7. #6
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    Default Re: What assumptions can I make from pollen coming in?

    I agree that it is a useful sign of things that may be happening inside, (and of course complete absence of any pollen gathering when other close-by colonies were bringing it in would be very ominous.)

    What I was saying was bunk is the certainty that any evidence of pollen gathering was proof of queen-rightness and brood raising. That's something that I seen stated here on BS from time to time. Using your example, when you noticed a relative difference in pollen gathering it turned out to mean that you had a queen issue. But they were still bringing in some pollen, because that is what bees do.

    Enj.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: What assumptions can I make from pollen coming in?

    >What assumptions can I make from pollen coming in?

    You can assume they are foraging for pollen, but that's about it. I've seen queenless hives hauling and storing pollen like there is no tomorrow.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  9. #8
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    Default Re: What assumptions can I make from pollen coming in?

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    ...they were still bringing in some pollen, because that is what bees do.
    Yes, kind of sad...reminded me of a phrase I've seen here once or twice- "...dead and just don't know it yet."

    Silly to get melancholy over a box of bugs, but...
    If you want to be successful, study successful people and do what they do.
    Zone 4a/b

  10. #9
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    Default Re: What assumptions can I make from pollen coming in?

    Quote Originally Posted by BadBeeKeeper View Post

    Silly to get melancholy over a box of bugs, but...
    Ain't that the truth! I've never worried about bugs in my life...until now.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: What assumptions can I make from pollen coming in?

    I assume more about a hive not bringing in pollen when it is readily available than I do about a hive bringing it in. Bringing it in means pollen is available and the weather is good enough to gather it. It doesn't prove there is brood or a queen. But a hive with brood and a queen WILL be bringing in pollen when available. On the flip side, a queenless and/or broodless hive might be bringing it in too. It's what they do.

    More important to me would be seeing a hive not bringing any in. That's a big red flag.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: What assumptions can I make from pollen coming in?

    Quote Originally Posted by StacieM View Post
    More important to me would be seeing a hive not bringing any in. That's a big red flag.
    I have three hive within 50 feet of each other, two are bringing in pollen by the pound and the third I have yet to see any pollen coming in. In this third hive, I opened them over the weekend and did not see any eggs or larvae and did not see the queen (that's not uncommon for me). This was a swarm that I hived about 15 days ago today. Are they most likely queenless? They started with zero drawn comb or foundation so maybe just behind the power curve?

  13. #12
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    Default Re: What assumptions can I make from pollen coming in?

    mccrerrand, they probably had/have a virgin queen with them.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: What assumptions can I make from pollen coming in?

    Quote Originally Posted by mccrerrand View Post
    I have three hive within 50 feet of each other, two are bringing in pollen by the pound and the third I have yet to see any pollen coming in. In this third hive, I opened them over the weekend and did not see any eggs or larvae and did not see the queen (that's not uncommon for me). This was a swarm that I hived about 15 days ago today. Are they most likely queenless? They started with zero drawn comb or foundation so maybe just behind the power curve?
    Can't say they are queenless for sure. But after 15 days in a hive, I would expect to see eggs. Could mean that you didn't get the queen. Could mean that the queen was a virgin. Could mean something happened to her before she had a chance to lay eggs. Take a frame of eggs from one of your other hives and give to them. Start treating them as a queenless hive until you know they have one.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: What assumptions can I make from pollen coming in?

    When I came home today, I checked my suspect hive and found it to contain zero bees. There were a few eggs in a few of the cells but they had literally only drawn about 1/4 of one frame in 10 frame deep. Yesterday I picked up a small swarm about the size of a tea cup which I hived and sat next to the suspect hive in the evening. I opened that box and found more bees than what i remember having yesterday so now I am believe the "queenless" hive moved next door with the tea cup hive i grabbed yesterday. Still very understaffed but they had already chewed the old wax i dropped in that i found them drawing comb on foundation. I did not pull much out to inspect, just got a look from the top and moved a few frames around but didn't want to disturb them too much. Does anyone have experience with a "queenless hive" moving to another that is QR? That would not explain the eggs I saw unless it were a LW but it clearly looks like single egg in center of cell. I don't even know for sure the tea cup hive is QR, I'm only making an assumption. I threw a jar of syrup on them to help out, i'll see what activity looks like over the next few days. It would really solve both problems that I have if they combined into 1 functional colony instead of two dinks.

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