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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My hive is not doing well.

Here it is late spring (Nov = May in Northern hemisphere).

At the end of the winter there was an equivalent of 8 full full-size frames with capped honey from the last season.

Due to some unfortunate circumstances (and my mistakes) the hive was queenless for a month and the number of bees was declining.

At the end of Oct a new queen finally emerged and looks like she mated.

3 weeks later there are still only 2 frames with brood, capped and uncapped. I was hoping that as more bees emerge the brood will increase, but this is not happening.

There are hardly 2K bees inside and not many go foraging. The typical cloud of hovering bees at the hive entrance is missing.

The girls consume the honey, it is now down to equivalent of 5 full frames. Have a strong suspicion that some of it might be capped sugar sirup I fed them for a while.

A desperate web search found that feeding bees with banana will help with increasing the brood.
Katharina Davitt Bananas.pdf
Katharina Davitt Cavendish Bananas Increase Brood Rearing in Apis Mellifera.pdf

Has anyone tried this?
Any thoughts?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Marg, can't say as I have ever heard that banana increases brood production. Dont know that it doesn't either. But, as Brilz13 points out, a brood builder patty high in protein (18%) will. Winter patties are very low in protein and are mostly carbs. I would also remove most of the stores frames and start feeding to simulate a flow. That seems to encourage additional brood rearing.
I have had a strawberry banana mixture in syrup that was no longer fit for use. I pureed that and fed it to the bees. Whether it helped them or not, who knows? But they ate it all, including the solids.
 
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Marg, can't say as I have ever heard that banana increases brood production. Dont know that it doesn't either. But, as Brilz13 points out, a brood builder patty high in protein (18%) will. Winter patties are very low in protein and are mostly carbs. I would also remove most of the stores frames and start feeding to simulate a flow. That seems to encourage additional brood rearing.
I have had a strawberry banana mixture in syrup that was no longer fit for use. I pureed that and fed it to the bees. Whether it helped them or not, who knows? But they ate it all, including the solids.
How did you feed it to them? Open feeding?
 

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Hey Marg, I read through that study you posted and I don't find it very convincing to be honest. For starters it is very limited.
According to her published results you can also conclude that feeding bananas will result in twice as many queen failures. The 6 control hives had one queen failure and the banana bees had two out of six failed queens.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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How did you feed it to them? Open feeding?
Yes. Poured the puree into a large flat bottomed pan and set out on my deck about 100 yards from the hives. It was thick enough that no bees drowned.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hey Marg, I read through that study you posted and I don't find it very convincing to be honest. For starters it is very limited.
According to her published results you can also conclude that feeding bananas will result in twice as many queen failures. The 6 control hives had one queen failure and the banana bees had two out of six failed queens.
Fair enough. I noticed the queen filure rate too.

Watched a number of youtube videos and took the risk. 2-3 bees nibble on the banana, but I cannot say they are thrilled.

Also, gave them protein bee food and extracted some of the honey - very thick and dark.

Now I will leave them in peace for 2 weeks. See what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The guest in the podcast is the author of the articles above, same person. The podcast gives some background and some more details. One thing that she said, is that you have to have reasons to feed bananas. Well, I have one. Will let you know how it goes.

In the last couple of days I noticed dead little bees infront of the hive. Further observation showed that they are expelled from the hive alive and die later. The 3 bees on the right are small (about 80% of normal size), 2 on the left are normal size dead bees. The small bees are fluffy and very clumsy, roll on their back. Sorry I cannot upload video.

Why are these bees smaller? Malnourished? Small cells? Something wrong with the queen (only 4 weeks old)? Disease? Bananas elicited cleaning behaviour gone mad?

Organism Adaptation Bird
 

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Further observation showed that they are expelled from the hive alive and die later. The 3 bees on the right are small (about 80% of normal size), 2 on the left are normal size dead bees. The small bees are fluffy and very clumsy, roll on their back.
What you are describing sounds like one of the bee paralysis viruses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Here are the results of the banana experiment. After a week with a banana in the hive, I found it infested by SHB larvae, see photos. This is the end of the banana diet for my bees.

Other than that, the bees got a bit more active, foraging and getting into fights with (I assume) robber bees.
Despite extracting half of the capped honey, there is still no interest in the sugar sirup, only attracting robbers, so I removed it.
The protein powder was gone, added some more.
The number of brood is not increasing by much, but it is steady.

No more sickly bees. I have 3 in methil alcohol in case it is a reportable disease and authorities need to see them.

Thank you all for the advice.
 

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Here are the results of the banana experiment. After a week with a banana in the hive, I found it infested by SHB larvae, see photos. This is the end of the banana diet for my bees.
Looks like bananas might make a good bait in a SHB trap?
 

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Yes, small hive beetle.
So on the picture above where you try to feed the banana, you make basic mistakes.
1. Have too many frames for a small colony - thus a low density of bees is asking for the SHB.
2. You place the banana over the empty frames - like you mean to promote the SHB.

Then you complain of the beetles. :)

Reduce - must have only 3-4 frames on that picture, NOT 6.
Place the banana directly over the bees.
Watch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I learn something new about bees all the time.
The banana saga was a year ago. I made many more mistakes, and got a few things right.
Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.
A commercial beek would cut their losses and start from scratch. I persevered, fed them, coddled them, moved to a sunnier spot.
This same colony now has 12 frames of brood in 2 full size boxes. It is spring and they bring pollen with a bee determination. Now I am hoping that they will start storing some honey in the half size super, but like everything else, bees do what bees do, not what they are told.
 
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