question about hive low numbers, possible re-queening.
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  1. #1

    Default question about hive low numbers, possible re-queening.

    Hopefully someone here can help me out. Ive got a few hives, most are doing very well out of winter. There is one hive that is concerning. Hive numbers are very low, id say around 200 bees approximately. I opened the hive today and found the queen. There is no capped cells, no larvae. There is plenty of honey in the hive and a little bit of pollen but not much. the bees were up in the second brood box. No signs of disease, as far as i can tell. I treated for varroa last fall with apivar. Shouldnt the queen be laying by now? All the other hives in the yard have far superior numbers to this hive. Should I just hope the queen will start laying, should I re-queen? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: question about hive low numbers, possible re-queening.

    Try taking two frames of brood with bees and adding to the hive. There are too few bees in that hive to make a go of it. Queen might start laying with a better population, might not. Can't hurt to try.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Gould, OK
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    120

    Default Re: question about hive low numbers, possible re-queening.

    take the bees and the best frames and install into a nuc or small box. By making the box small will help the bees to expand.

  5. #4

    Default Re: question about hive low numbers, possible re-queening.

    Thanks I will shrink to a nuc box and add larvae from another hive today.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    washington, vermont, USA
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    368

    Default Re: question about hive low numbers, possible re-queening.

    Just to clarify reduce it to a nuc and add a couple frames of CAPPED BROOD with adhering bees (don't get the queen when you swap frames). They will need the bees covering the brood to keep the brood from perishing as your current numbers can't support the brood. best of luck bud

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: question about hive low numbers, possible re-queening.

    Vtbeeguy, thanks for clarifying this. When I saw him say larvae, I jumped in to say the same thing for the same reason.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  8. #7

    Default Re: question about hive low numbers, possible re-queening.

    200 bees? A non laying queen? In my opinion....I'd shake them out. Preserve the comb. It seems like a potential waste of resources to take from thriving hives and give to a failing one. Just my opinion.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Suffolk, VA
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    4,214

    Default Re: question about hive low numbers, possible re-queening.

    You should really add your location to your profile so that those willing to help will give you relevant advice. What you do for this situation early April in Miami is WAY different than in Manitoba.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    washington, vermont, USA
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    368

    Default Re: question about hive low numbers, possible re-queening.

    Guess I beat you to it JW as far as the "wisdom" of trying to save this hive it is true that it might not be worth saving. My reason for saving my hive last year was the queen was one I wanted. I had merely done a crappy job of getting mites under control early enough. As a result my "winter bees" were poorly suited to make it through our winter. They kept loosing bees throughout the year and by the time it was time to brood up they only had a few medium frames worth of bees. The queen wasn't laying and I believe the bees were unable to produce the needed royal jelly to get the queen laying. The addition of the nurse bees on the capped brood got the queen to start laying within a couple days. The further addition of the hatching brood allowed ample nurse bees to be on hand to raise the first round of brood and the hive quickly turned around. I still have this queen she's coming out of her 3rd winter very strong. She will soon be moved into a nuc to limit her laying and she will be used as a breeder this year.
    All that said 200 bees ain't much it's essentially going to be like you're doing a split from one of your other hives and you will be adding an already mated and hopefully soon to be laying queen... Best of luck bud keep us informed.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: question about hive low numbers, possible re-queening.

    My guess is that there are actually a lot more than 200 bees. But yes, it is just like making a split, only he already has the mated queen in the hive. If adding bees will jump start her, it is worth the effort, especially in the sprintime. I wouldn't waste my time if it were fall.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  12. #11

    Default Re: question about hive low numbers, possible re-queening.

    My thinking typically is if there are multiple hives and one is a standout laggard then I have to ask the question why? If there are no apparent reasons then I would rather take those resources trying to prop up a failing colony and use them to make a split from more vigorous colonies.
    Just because that is my approach doesn’t make it necessarily what everyone ought to do. But….I thought I might add a different alternative to those otherwise being offered.
    And yes…to the original poster, if you would go to your profile and add your location you are likely to get more appropriate advice.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  13. #12

    Default Re: question about hive low numbers, possible re-queening.

    First of all thanks for all the advice. I got home from work and decided to place the weak hive into a nuc and transplant a frame or two of capped brood from a strong hive into the nuc.
    i found frames with capped brood, the one had the queen so i put that back. I then opened the weaker hive and noticed there was a very small section of capped brood. I must have missed that yesterday when inspecting the hive. I also relocated the queen, so at least I know this weaker hive has a queen still. Once I saw the small amount of capped brood in the weaker hive I decided against relocating into the nuc. Hopefully it works out. There in fact is more than 200 bees but I would say less than 500. I am in Eastern Pennsylvania, about a quarter mile from the Delaware river. Here are a few pictures of the queen in the weaker hive and the frames that i had selected to put in the nuc but then changed my mind. 20190410_173930.jpg20190410_173930.jpg20190410_180037.jpg20190410_173938.jpg

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Gould, OK
    Posts
    120

    Default Re: question about hive low numbers, possible re-queening.

    The eastern part of the state is the best part of Pa. It is a large area in Pa if you look how long the state is. I was raised in the Lehigh Valley before joining the navy. Sense retiring out of the navy I spent 15 years in Virginia and now live in Oklahoma south western part of the state by the bottom corner. I would still recommending to put the bees into a nuc with an extra box on top for expansion. That will give them room to expand vertical and be mora natural for the bees.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    4,130

    Default Re: question about hive low numbers, possible re-queening.

    I would still move some brood and bees into the hive. You have even more reason to do so now that you know the queen is able to lay. A double deep nuc will work well for your plans.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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