Disappointing Fall Inspection
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Mahopac, NY
    Posts
    210

    Default Disappointing Fall Inspection

    I've been feeding 5 strong hives for the past 4 weeks. The strongest hive of the group hasn't taken any feed. I've tried switching containers twice, but to no avail.

    When I checked today, only 1 hive was really heavy. 2 more had very heavy top boxes and mediocre below that. 2 were fairly pathetic.
    The strongest hive that hasn't been taking feed had heavy top box and mediocre below.

    1) is there anything I can do to help what used to be the strongest one?
    2) just keep feeding the others? They've all taken at least 4 gallons of 2:1 syrup

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    frederick, md
    Posts
    840

    Default Re: Disappointing Fall Inspection

    We have been using hive top feeders. I been making 2:1 then add about 1/2 cup or so of vinegar with the mothers, to around 2 gallons of sugar water. I had a few hives that piddle around with the food. Others that inhale it.

    The ones that piddle around with it finally get it down.

    We weighed our hives yesterday, most are in the 60-70 lb range (weighing one side by lifting) a few were in the 50lb range, a few in the 90lb range. I have scales on three, those three loss 7 lbs of weight in the last week. We are still warm, they are flying and coming back and eating, nothing much out there to eat. We are going to give them one more feeding then put on sugar blocks in Nov. The blocks usually last until mid to end of Jan, then we feed them again.

    We have fed them twice now, 2 gallons each time. They were so light when we started the hives were close to disaster. Now they all have at least the top box full of capped honey. Very dry very hot weather = low nectar this fall.

    Could you try the paint can way? I think it was michael palmer that posted about it.
    Zone 6b: 27 hives in Maryland, Carniolan, Italian mix mutts: Still learning - started bees spring of 2014.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Wayne, WV, USA
    Posts
    216

    Default Re: Disappointing Fall Inspection

    What is the mite situation? Have you treated recently, if at all? What did your last inspection show? Pollen stores? Queenless or queenright?

    Sometimes the biggest hives have the most mites and crash the hardest.

    Lots of factors can affect whether or not a colony takes down syrup. Even temperatures.

    I would combine the weakest, build them up heavy for winter and make good strong splits in the spring. Saving pathetic hives isn't worth the worry or the work, IMO.

    Good luck!
    "The amazing thing about the honey bee is not that she works, but that she works for others." St. John Chrysostom

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    654

    Default Re: Disappointing Fall Inspection

    I'll second the excellent advice by JoshuaW. If a hive that's light won't take syrup something is wrong. A lot of times it's a high mite load. Combining the weak ones and splitting in the spring would be your best bet at this point in the season. I always try to use disappointments as learning opportunities for next year.
    Beekeeping 6 Years - 12 production hives and about 12 nucs - Treatment OAV Only

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    PNW
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: Disappointing Fall Inspection

    I think you need to get more details and figure in numbers what heavy and pathetic are. That will put things in to prospective.
    For simplicity use some luggage scale like https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07L519X58 which produces repeatable results. Put the hook on the back of the hive and lift it a bit. Take a note of the weight. Multiply the weight you see on the scale x2. That it rough (+- 15lb) weight of your hive. (In actuality you hive will be a bit heavier). I measured that empty (!) 8 frame deep with stand and roof will weight about 40lb. Now you can estimate how much honey you bees have and need.
    Here in Puget Sound area I feel it's safe to send bees to the winter with 50-60lb of honey. Talk to other beekeepers to find how much bees need in your area.

    I noticed that some strong hive won't take feed, I assume because they don't need it. Some weak won't take it cause they clustered in a lower box and don't go up. But the numbers will give you an idea where you hives are and what needs to be done.
    Good luck and let us know if you have more questions.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Northeast PA
    Posts
    282

    Default Re: Disappointing Fall Inspection

    Quote Originally Posted by mahobee View Post
    I've been feeding 5 strong hives for the past 4 weeks. The strongest hive of the group hasn't taken any feed. I've tried switching containers twice, but to no avail.

    When I checked today, only 1 hive was really heavy. 2 more had very heavy top boxes and mediocre below that. 2 were fairly pathetic.
    The strongest hive that hasn't been taking feed had heavy top box and mediocre below.

    1) is there anything I can do to help what used to be the strongest one?
    2) just keep feeding the others? They've all taken at least 4 gallons of 2:1 syrup
    Do you know your hive weight?

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Mahopac, NY
    Posts
    210

    Default Re: Disappointing Fall Inspection

    I have never actually weighed my hives. Might be time to try. Thanks for the link, Anvil!

    I'll be going in again Sunday...

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    654

    Default Re: Disappointing Fall Inspection

    Weighing the hives is a good data point to have I guess but you haven't provided us with any information about the mite situation in your hives. Have you done mite counts? What method of mite control did you use on these hives?
    Beekeeping 6 Years - 12 production hives and about 12 nucs - Treatment OAV Only

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Mahopac, NY
    Posts
    210

    Default Re: Disappointing Fall Inspection

    I use OA treatments using a pro vap.Havent done a mite count on the one not taking syrup in a while, so I'll recheck that one.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Mahopac, NY
    Posts
    210

    Default Re: Disappointing Fall Inspection

    Yes, as you suspected, dangerously high mite count on the hive not taking syrup. Definitely failing. I guess their mite chewing traits weren't strong enough!

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    654

    Default Re: Disappointing Fall Inspection

    Quote Originally Posted by mahobee View Post
    Yes, as you suspected, dangerously high mite count on the hive not taking syrup. Definitely failing. I guess their mite chewing traits weren't strong enough!
    Glad you have the issue identified. Maybe hit them with several rounds of OAV to try to give them a fighting chance. Be sure to seal the hive up for ten minutes after using the Provap.
    Beekeeping 6 Years - 12 production hives and about 12 nucs - Treatment OAV Only

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