Lazy bees, too late to re-queen?
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  1. #1
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    Default Lazy bees, too late to re-queen?

    I am a first-year beekeeper. I ordered a 3lb package of Italians in the spring and dutifully installed them the day I got them in April. After they built up to ~80% of the first deep I put the second one on and things have been slowing down since. They have only drawn out ~2.5 frames in the top for honey, with no brood up there. I can see bees coming and going with pollen and can confirm seeing fresh eggs, so I know the queen is there. Many of the bees seem lazy though, washboarding all over the hive at all hours during the day. I thought they might be too hot, so I have opened the entrance fully and put on the inner cover with open top entrance, but that didn't help anything. They have good access to water too.

    SOBees.jpg

    I have since caught a swarm and installed it next door to the problem hive. They seem more industrious and don't have any issues, so I wonder if it's just a problem of bad genetics. I'm afraid it's too late for the problem hive to build up this year, so should I even attempt re-queening? Would that have fixed the problem in the first place?

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Lazy bees, too late to re-queen?

    Contrary to what you may have heard, there is no such thing as lazy bees. Your original package has nothing to to do right now because there is very little to forage. If you want to get them industrious again, and by that I mean drawing wax, you must feed them. The recent swarm has a different agenda and cost vs reward criteria. They will do what they can at great expense because their survival depends on it. Feed them also.

    Just realized this is your first post, welcome to Beesource!
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Lazy bees, too late to re-queen?

    I have been feeding since I installed them, with a hive-top feeder and they're taking it OK. They just haven't built up like I expected them to and I don't think they'll have enough stores for winter. Granted this is my first year, so I don't have much to go off of other than reading and comparison with the swarm colony. Just change "lazy" to "weak" in the previous post; would re-queening change things this late in the year if this problem is with genetics?

    Thanks for the welcome! I'm a long-time lurker here and I appreciate all the information I've acquired.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Lazy bees, too late to re-queen?

    If the queen is not laying well, requeening can help. This is the time of year when the queen may take a break or significantly reduce laying, so don't be too quick to write her off. Pollen is also needed to keep the brooding going so a patty may help more than a new queen. If you don't want to place an order, Tractor Supply and other ag related stores often carry some beekeeping supplies. The picture you posted looked pretty good, I would not have guessed weak colony.

    Bees overewinter here with minimal.stores, 40# of capped sugar syrup.is more than enough. That and we can feed throughout winter as there will be plenty of days with temps in the 50s. We also brood up early, so that 40# that you still had most of in Feb. will be gone in March.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Lazy bees, too late to re-queen?

    I'm thinking dub as well, well more like average.

    They are not viewing the 2nd deep as really their space. (bearding) Pull up a brood frame or two and rotate any lower partially drawn frames into the middle. If that is an empty super I would pull it off for now. Try adding a small stick to vent the top. You want both deeps fully drawn out before fall.
    In addition to what JW said.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Lazy bees, too late to re-queen?

    Thanks for the advice. I did move a drawn frame up to the top when I added the second deep, but I didn't want to rearrange the brood too much. I'll rotate some frames around to try and get them working. It's just refreshing to know that this isn't necessarily something to worry about yet.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Lazy bees, too late to re-queen?

    I moved three brood frames up to the top deep and continued feeding as planned and I am happy to report that the "lazy" bees have now drawn all but a half frame of the top deep and have plenty of capped syrup and brood up there. I guess it was indeed just them not accepting the top deep as their space. There are still plenty of bees washboarding on the outside of the hive, but at least they're preparing now for winter. Thank you both for your advice!

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Lazy bees, too late to re-queen?

    In the pic, hard to see through all the bees, but it looks like the entrance is blocked down part way so there is not enough ventilation. It is too hot in the hive, a lot of them are forced to hang outside.

    Combine that with inadequate feeding and you have what you have. (yes i know you said you been feeding, but in my view, not enough for their needs)

    The reason for those conclusions, is that if there is room inside, and it was cool enough, those bees would be inside. And once inside and cool enough, that many bees would definately draw the comb, if they were being fed enough to enable them to do so.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Lazy bees, too late to re-queen?

    Leave it to OT to see what I missed. Couldn't see the reducer for the bees.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Lazy bees, too late to re-queen?

    The health of the hive has not been mentioned.
    Frank

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Lazy bees, too late to re-queen?

    Strangely, I will subscribe to the idea that "lazy" bees exist.

    Since I have a great variety of bees, some bees are definitely more industrious than others.
    The same amount of bees in one hive may produce 2-3 times the wax and honey than an identical in size colony, housed in identical hive, over the identical time frame just a few steps over

    Possible reasons:
    - wrong genetics for my region (bees may not be understanding that the time to haul is NOW)
    - wrong genetics due to market-driven selection (bees maybe indeed selected to permanent growth in conditions of non-stop summer - great for pollination market)
    - wrong genetics as in these bees are actual idiots and should just die in normal conditions and without artificial support
    - who knows... but I generally blame some particular genetic traits

    I too got Italian looking idiot bees and they are lazy and worthless (I use them for experimentation this summer and expect they will just die and totally fine with it).

    Unsure why people are so persistent at the ideas that bees can not be "lazy".
    Not in the human sense lazy - sure.
    But they can be non-productive to some ridiculous and obvious levels - that was "lazy" bees really means.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Lazy bees, too late to re-queen?

    "Strangely, I will subscribe to the idea that "lazy" bees exist."
    No argument from me. Bees that won't jump the gap to the next box or frame are quite common.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Lazy bees, too late to re-queen?

    Greg, if you want to define "lazy bees" as "not as productive", I good with that too. I was thinking lazy in more human terms and would argue that even the "laziest" of bees are more productive than many people I know.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Lazy bees, too late to re-queen?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Greg, if you want to define "lazy bees" as "not as productive", I good with that too. I was thinking lazy in more human terms and would argue that even the "laziest" of bees are more productive than many people I know.
    Sure.
    Basically, bees can not think - therefore they can not be lazy as-if humans.
    However, some bees are clearly not productive (sometimes terribly so) in a given setting.
    Maybe the setting is the root cause and is a misfit for their particular genetics (say, Southern bees dumped into the North) - I don't know.

    This season my best resource unit (AFTER two rounds of splitting and starting from zero twice) outproduced my lazy "Zombees" by several times.
    It even prompted me to write a couple of posts regarding the worth-less and "lazy" Zombee bees.
    Have to say, after I gave them a jolt by shaking them ALL out of the hive into a brutal shook swarm situation, they kind of woke up some (but only some).
    The main lazy bee hive in the re-queening mode now.
    Unsure if they succeed or not.

    If not - I don't care and will just let them die off - I really need that hive for my better bees.
    Lazy bees that they are and waste of badly needed equipment.
    Now it is getting late and I'd rather they just drop off quickly before they eat the little stores they collected (my better nucs are a much better place for those stores).
    Last edited by GregV; 09-15-2019 at 07:52 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Lazy bees, too late to re-queen?

    I don't know if any of mine are lazy, but I have some who stubbornly refuse to pass through a QE.

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

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