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LOL
Victim of your own success.
Be great to have the same with the bees.
I have 50 years experience gardening, in 3 different countries with 3 different climates and soils. I know how to garden. Bees...still a newb.
 

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Discussion Starter #582
Nice new comb full of honey.

This is what is on top of my three big swarms. I am a wimp and can hardly move it to look at the box below. The shame is that I will probably leave it for the bees to eat. The bees in both hives started in mediums only have a little over three frame drawn in the second box. I doubt they get that third medium completely drawn out. The last comb they were starting on in both hives was going wonky due to the bees making small starts in several places. I had to cut and smash and stick those wonky frames in between the strait ones so they can not keep going bad. Since the box in the picture is drawn out strait, I figure the flow has slowed to just small spurts for the bees to be doing what they are doing. My other one big swarm, I may take the box cause it has a deep and two mediums on it and has more drawn in the second mediums and is only a few frames from finishing.

I looked in the two hives that I had extracted about 60 percent of the supers on them and one is making good progress on refilling but not so much with the other one. For reference, I got a little less then 2.5 gal about a week or two ago.

I would like to publicly thank AR1 for offering and sending me some tobacco seed.

Thanks
gww
 

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Discussion Starter #583
Bit of an experiment today. Both directions taken have their own risk at this time of year. On my two previous mentioned tiny swarms I took two routes to add space. Both swarms had the medium they were in drawn out to about 80 to 85 percent.

One I put an empty box on bottom. It is july and probably hard for a small hive to get enough income to draw comb with with out feeding which I am not currently planning to do.

The other one, I put a comb from one of the dead outs. This, of course, has the chance of disease if the hive was not killed by mites or even if it was.

It might be hard to carry this experiment out to the end due to the fact that I might add comb to the one that has empty space before oct. Any comb I add could have chance of disease if disease is what I am dealing with though I might have a more healthy super of comb from one of my more active hives rather then using comb from a dead out.

Time will tell.

I did look inside my problem hives and they are gone even though they both have a couple of hundred bees in them. Still some good honey in one that has not yet been robbed out. So far, just enough bee coverage that wax moth have not destroyed anything if it is even late enough for wax moth yet. I would be curious if wax moth is an all year thing or a just before winter type thing so I know when it is bees doing a good job and not just not time for them yet.

Either way, for now and counting the whole year from last summer at this time till now, I am at a 40 percent loss for the year. Of course I am one hive ahead of the start of that time due to the swarms I have caught though two could only be considered strong nucs at this time. Honey crop is down and it does look to be getting dry out with not much rain in the forecast. Some of my other hives could be stronger but I will know more around sept.

To all those who say that a person should cull rather then let things die natural, that is not what I am doing and we will see how it goes. I did not do much propping up but no culling or combining either. Should be kinda interesting in any case.

Any way, I may not forget where I am now that I have written it here.
Cheers
gww
 

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I did not do much propping up but no culling or combining either. Should be kinda interesting in any case.

Any way, I may not forget where I am now that I have written it here.
Cheers
gww
If I recall from my KS/MO years - the winter is pretty forgiving, you may squeak by without combining, GWW.
 

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Discussion Starter #585
Greg
I have seen the winters go both ways, however, it has been many years since we seen stuff like in the 1970s. I had a single medium make it at least one time.
Cheers
gww
 

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Discussion Starter #586 (Edited)
I went through a couple of more hives today. I have two more that I think are dead. That would be a 60 percent loss from this time last year. One has lots of honey for a dead hive and one not so much.

The bees picked yesterday to rob one of my first hives that died. I am super surprised it took that long but shows where the flow is. It had at least half of a medium worth of capped honey still in it across four boxes. Still no wax moth and needs to be put in the freezer as soon as the bees have it stripped.

Of the two more (one for sure) dead hives from today, one has a lot of honey in it (more then a super). It has very low bee coverage. They do still block the entrance at the bottom board but have barely been foraging as of late. Added too the problems I have been having, this hive could have had other things going on also. It had lots of queen cell starts built out in many places but dry and had a small amount of capped drone brood in worker cells including larva uncapped. The larva did not look melting or turned in the cells. I can't see eggs but would say this has been going on for some time and adds up to laying worker or bad queen which I did not look for. Since I did not look close when I took the big swarm out of the cedar tree by the hives, it is not impossible that it could have swarmed and not got a queen but I don't think so. I do not remember this hive looking strong enough to be the one to swarm.

The other new dead looking hive did have about two half frames of very spotty brood but saw no larva and didn't see back filling and so due to low stores and low brood and low bee coverage and not seeing a queen though, I did not look hard, I think it is a deader.

I have one other hive that has lots of bees in it that I have 5 mediums on (comb storage). There are bees in all the boxes but it is kinda funny. It is almost like it has two distinct crappy brood areas and honey stored kinda funny though it is not loaded on stores. The second to the top box has a little capped brood and then going down, the next box has some capped frame of honey and then below that and mixed with that is a few more partial frame of capped brood. This hive might make it though it does not look right and is not storing as well as bee coverage says it should. I did notice when I took the outer cover of that there were some stunted dead bees on the enter cover. Not a ton but more then should be there.

Adding it all together, I am thinking probably mite build up in that apiary is probably my biggest problem. Now it took 5 summers for it to express itself and so that is good. I am really thinking that it is more mite then efb but still watching and trying to see. It would make sense for this to be cause I have not split much or had many swarms for the last three years. The other change, this last fall is the very first time I did not feed a couple of gal to each in early oct. My belief is, this has little bearing but is one thing I did different. If I can get by with it, I am still not going to feed this fall.

There are maybe a few pluses in this depending on what the future brings and how bad it gets. One plus is that I finely have enough drawn comb for supers if I get them in the freezer in time. It was my best swarm year and so I am still sitting on my ten hives that I had at this time last year. I know most would think me crazy for letting the dead outs get robbed out now but this is my view on the subject for now. Most of the bees and brood are already gone and the honey is probably pretty thick and if I let the bees reprocess it and some of it ends up in supers in early sept, it will probably be much nicer to extract and much easier to manage the stores for winter in the live hives. This is of of course depending on if I am spreading more disease to hives that are not affected. My view on this is that with the hives sitting next to each other and this late in the game, that ship has probably already sailed though it would be a risk with the added swarms.

Unless I change my mind, I am still going to ride out this year on the same path and re-assess come spring. This may be stupid bee keeping and I am really not a purest when it comes to having to keep bees in a certain way but also still am not feeling the pain in the big picture (not that that isn't coming). I end up with ten hives with out much work. Now I could have did better and lost fewer with a little more effort and may think of that depending on where I go from here but for now am no worse then where I started (unless it keeps getting worse or next year is like this year).

Do I still think that letting things play out like I have is worth it? For now, the answer is yes cause I go by the philosophy that you don't know till you actually see. Have I actually learned anything by seeing. I am not sure yet. I may have to see a little more to know. I do not think it is learning if you repeat the same thing over and over unless it is good enough and does not get worse. I don't intend to buy bees ever and so I hope to learn enough as I go to keep that from happening and make whatever adjustment is needed as I go for that purpose.

So three great years and one bad year, what is next.

Time will tell.
Cheers
gww
 

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Discussion Starter #587
Put two of the dead hives out so they can be robbed easier so I might get them in a freezer and save the comb.


Got one or two more hives to do this with but I only have a little box freezer for comb and so they will have to wait.

One was the one that I had seen uncapped larva and a queen all along. I did not see that queen the last two time I got in the hive. There are a very few small larva still in the cells and maybe a capped brood here or there that did not get cleaned out or hatch (not many though). I might have seen one or two of the small larva in the stomach ache position but saw no discolored larva or what seemed like melting larva.

The other one was being worked on by robbers and had quite a bit of the honey gone but I noticed they work a little slower getting to the capped stuff. I scraped a little of the cappings to really get them going. I figured the honey would probably be crystallized but it sure looked pretty good when the caps were removed. The bottom boxes are old dark brood comb that was completely empty except maybe a touch of pollen here or there. I am not positive I am going to use this comb but I figure the honey combs after being cleaned are almost sure to be ok for supers.

I did have somebody offer me help with medicine if I decided to take some kind of action if I ever decide to find out for sure on the efb. I am going to see how the hives that are left do this winter. I had ten hives in case some decided to die on me thinking that might be a safe number for a couple to survive no matter what. This being my first experience and sorta what I was waiting for so I might see how it happens and it was pretty enlightening. It happens pretty hard when it happens. Might not be done either but I am watching and will see.

I know it will be different when I let the bees rob the frames but when I get them in the house and bee-less, I might take a magnifying glass and see if I can find some kind of scale or mite poop in the cells.
Cheers
gww
 

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Discussion Starter #588
It looks like my oldest un-split hive has a capped superseder cell. It is summer number five for this hive. Not impossible that I might have missed an ealier superseder but don't think I have missed a swarm. I did not pull the frame with the cell that was right up against a full frame of honey. It looked pretty old color wise and nice sized. Seems like a bad time for a change. I have not seen pollen coming into the hives for some time. The bees were active yesterday, like they were on to something flow wise. It was a day after a small shower though and so maybe the plants gave a little extra.

The small swarms don't seem to be drawing too much wax. They have finished the one medium but have not started on the second empty one though the one I gave comb for the second box, may have added a little more nector then what was given them but has not laid in the new box.

The bigger swarms do seem to be drawing comb yet and have made a pretty good dent in drawing their third medium.

I seen one of the bigger swarms that had probably 8 or so bees cut in half on top of the inter cover. It was weird looking. Several bugs up there and I saw either a bee hanging on a bug or a bug hanging on a bee in the box. Plenty of hive beatles and other bugs corralled on some of the enter covers.

The bees are still very nice and I have still not gotten stung this year except for when hiving the swarm out of the cedar tree.

Cheers
gww

Ps I did take a magnifying glass and look at some of the comb in the frames in the previous post but still did not really see much. I took a stick on a few of the still capped abandoned brood and stirred them around and there was no roping and they looked milky white when stirred up.
 

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gww; I dont think you can read too much into the color of the larvae. The color and consistency of the larvae as it progresses from live to a scale can vary depending on which one or combination of secondary bacteria get going. This also varies the smell or lack of it, so that is not definitive of efb either.
 

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Discussion Starter #590
Frank
Thank your for the comment. I was thinking that color is mentioned on afb and so I was thinking that I might not eliminate efb but was getting closer to being pretty sure the real bad one was not my problem. I didn't think it was afb even in the beginning but figured while messing around, why not at least do the minimum to kinda be a little more sure.

I have read quite a bit more and looked a quite a few more pictures besides yours and have not eliminated efb from the possibilities. I have not bought a test kit though yet and might or might not in the future.

I am thankful for your input.
Cheers
gww
 

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I did have somebody offer me help with medicine if I decided to take some kind of action if I ever decide to find out for sure on the efb. I am going to see how the hives that are left do this winter. I had ten hives in case some decided to die on me thinking that might be a safe number for a couple to survive no matter what.
GWW:

I always enjoy reading your posts and as I have mentioned before I appreciate your willingness to experiment and observe to learn what happens and then use this information to make future decisions by. This I think is one of the freeing things about being a hobby beekeeper and amateur citizen scientist- one can afford to experiment and make mistakes and not have their livelihood impacted by it.

I'll keep following along to see what develops from the brood issues you've been observing this year.

I appreciate your posts-

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #592
Russ
It is very freeing of not needing to do well enough so you can buy shoes for your kids with the profit you intend to make. I don't want to lose but do not mind much coming out even on something that keeps me interested.
Cheers
gww
 

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Discussion Starter #593
After several days of rain and it being cool out side, I decided to look at the swarms to see where they are on comb.

Of the two small swarms that on one I put comb and on the other I put an empty box, there is a big difference in where they are from them being about the same.

No new comb has been drawn on the one with the empty box but the one that got comb has the box about 60 percent full of stores. The one with out comb is light for being in what is probably a hard dirth unless there is stuff I don't see. All I see is a little partrich pear and my garden of which I don't see lots of bees in.

I am thinking I might have to add some of my diseased comb in sept if I want even a chance of not having to add feed.

Two of the bigger swarms have about 70 and 80 percent of their third medium drawn with the top being pure capped honey which I might take part of come sept.

I looked at the super of one older hive to see if they had moved brood out of the super and filled with honey. The answer is no but the brood has hatched. I should have went down and seen if the hive had any brood cause it was a little jumpy and may have a problem but I got hot and decided enough for a day.

One of my dead hives had better traffic then normal (which is not saying much). It still had a pile of dead bees in front of the hive. It is one of the few I have with a board there so dead bees are easy to see. Again, should have looked but guess that will just be on my list.

I will have to look harder later. I hope the bottom boxes are empty on the hives that don't end up filling supers. If not, It is going to be a gripe moving a bunch of frames around to get the brood box reduced to three boxes later.

Cheers
gww
 

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Two of the bigger swarms have about 70 and 80 percent of their third medium drawn with the top being pure capped honey which I might take part of come sept.
Good update, GWW. Sounds like your swarms are doing better than my swarms- I took a peek over the weekend and the best colonies only have two boxes of comb drawn-out.

Keep plugging-away... have a good week.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #595
Ok, so my fifth hive of the year just got robbed out. I can not believe they lasted this long. So, time to break it down and freeze the comb since no bees will be guarding it any longer. That makes 50 percent loss year long but still puts me at the ten hives I started with. Got one more that was really bad but I have not been in it for a while. It wasn't bad enough to get robbed yet though.:)

Russ
I doubt my swarms are doing better than yours but two of them were the biggest I have seen and so started with more in the beginning. My other normal swarms are doing normal (for me).

I still read your thread but am trying to learn guitar and so am only looking on the site about one time a day.
Cheers
gww
 

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Discussion Starter #596
I pulled the before mentioned robbed hive out so I can freeze it. I looked through a few of the comb. There were still a few interesting capped drone in worker comb (not many). They were hatching as I looked. The couple hundred bees that were still left in the hive were dead in front of it (taken out by robbers). There were honest queen start efforts in the hive at some time in the past.

I looked in the top two boxes of my last really questionable hive. It is also going to die I think. I saw my first pollen coming into the hives today for awhile of not seeing this before. This hive was carrying some also and it made me curious.

It has some bees in the top box mostly and some capped brood. However, I did not see the queen while going though the small space the bees are covering in the two boxes. She may have ran to the bottom two. So, the capped brood could be old that died and the bees did not get around to cleaning up. I did see where the bees had uncapped a few cells after they were capped. It was a fairly spotty pattern on a few frames. I thought about shaking a good frame of bees in but figured why waste the resource and also take a chance of shaking a good queen in.

Not a bunch of honey in the hive but enough to keep the bee density going till fall flow. It is a dead hive though. It is bringing in pollen though and so will be fun to watch a little longer. I could be crazy but think these bees look a little brighter yellow then most of my other bees. I really like seeing the bees where they gather water. I have noticed except for some size differences, most are pretty similar color at the bird bath and so I could just not see and process well.
Cheers
gww
 

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... but am trying to learn guitar...
Well, now we will have two things in common.

Next time you are East of the Mississippi and have a little time to spare, you should stop by and we can do some pickin' and talk bees.

Are you ready to venture a guess as to what might be the root cause(es) of the colony failures this year?
 

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Discussion Starter #598
Russ
Are you ready to venture a guess as to what might be the root cause(es) of the colony failures this year?
Not really. Since I did neither mite counts or testing for efb so that I might know for sure, it could be either or both.

I have read of common failure from mite during spring build up and so they would over lap.

I have seen some weird looking bees as well as the weird brood and so the bees would lead to more mite. I did not see bunches of capped drone brood this year.

I have never tore open a more then one or two drone brood during an inspection and the few I did, I have never seen a mite on them with my eyes but I also can not see eggs and so no biggy. I don't doubt mite presence at all though. I look at the comb and see some bad looking cells but the scale does not sit on the bottom edge of the comb cell but more at the very bottom if you laid the comb flat on the table. Looks more like piled up pollen filling half of the cell on a few. Some of the oldest brood comb does look much smaller then newer comb (I assume cocoon build up. I still have not threw any comb away and am getting quite a stock pile finally though they may hurt me in the end. Something you could use right now though.:)

The last hive I looked in was the first that I noticed the bees uncapping capped cells and that is something newer for me to see though I might just not have caught it on others.

The one I tore down was laying worker, I am pretty sure.

Nope, I am still a dummy. I should have stolen a queen from one of the swarms and let them make a new one for the last hive that is still going but I got no guts and so let it ride knowing it is probably on its way out. I do wish I would have tore into some of the brood this last look to see if it had bees under it. But I didn't.

I still have to do a little extracting and hive reduction. I dread that if a flow is not going but also can't put it off much longer if I want the bees to have a chance of putting whatever might come into their brood nest before frost.

Guitar? Only 15 days in, no picking yet. My two months on the ukulele has not made the guitar easier except for tough fingers. I thought it would be easier then it is but have lots of time to keep plucking away.
Cheers
gww
 

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Discussion Starter #600
ar1
I seemed to get a good fall flow last year. I extracted on sept 1st and bees got a medium after that. Not sure of every year but think it might depend on rain and we are good this year on that. I have my hopes.

I fed all years before last.
Cheers
gww

Ps I did receive the seed from you and so say thanks once again.
 
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