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Concerned about my hives!

1278 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  mathesonequip
Alright, so with the lack of my beekeeping experience, I leave alot to be desired for. My "booklearning" only gets me so far!

I have 2 hives that were trasnfered from 5 deep frame nucs. Going to all medium frame hives. I have 2 mediums that contain my deeps and the rest of the box is filled with medium frames. I have gotten to the point that I felt it was then necessary to add another box because of crowding. In order to rid myself of these deeps, I built my own queen excluders. I have determined that I will not be using them unless necessary, in such cases like this. So, I referred to Micheal bush's site about hardware cloth sizes. I used #5 hardware cloth for the exluder screen. I measured one at a local store and the dimensions are slightly smaller than the cloth. The hole size measures 1/4" for the hardware cloth, or 5 lines per inch.

So, when I did this operation, I found the queens in each hive and put the new box on the bottom. That way the drones could come and go. Put the exluder on after shaking the nurse bees and putting the filled frames in as well. Put the original boxes back on top the exluder.

Fast forward to today and taking a gander in the entrance every night and watching them during the day, my more aggressive hive is doing 1000% better than the more docile hive. Alot of activity during the day and looking in the entrance at night, almost all the frames on the bottom box are drawn out with bees all over them.

At this point, I'm lost on the sure thing to do.

I've considered that maybe I only have a few options:

1. Kill the weaker queen and make queen lure out of her, combine the hives for a stronger colony.

2. Order 2 queens from the fat beeman and replace the weaker hive with one queen and put a few frames from the stronger hive into a nuc box and have the new queen lay in that and build.

3. Try my hand at a 2 queen hive system

I dunno, its very frustrating to see the hive doing so terrible compared to the other. I looked under there before posting this and did not find any bees on the bottom frames nor any of the frames barely drawn out. Is it possible the queen squeezed through the excluder?

So, what do you beesource companions say?
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> The hole size measures 1/4" for the hardware cloth, or 5 lines per inch.

I believe that this hardware cloth is #4 hardware cloth, not #5. Queens can fit through #4. If you count the wires over more than one inch of cloth, you will see that counting both the first and last wire doesn't work out properly.
Go ahead and do an inspection to see if the queens are trying to do their job, and where they are doing it, before you decide to replace them. You might find that you've done something that is leading to your bees' observed differences.

Your goal this year should be to have as many bees and stores in the hive as possible going into winter. If that means letting them occupy deeps and mediums, so be it. You can always switch over next year. Talk to beeks in your area to identify a good configuration for your hive going into winter.

It sounds to me like you might have excluded the majority of bees into the bottom of one hive and in the top of the other hive. Do you use an upper entrance? Why not just remove the excluders and allow the bees to sort things out?

Get the correct sized frames into the corresponding boxes. You're prompting them to draw comb on the bottom of the medium frames in that deep super; you'll wind up having to remove all of that comb (=resources) if you want to move those frames into a medium.
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>The hole size measures 1/4" for the hardware cloth, or 5 lines per inch.

Five lines per inch is 1/5" between wires and slightly less for the hole and is known as #5. #4 is four lines per inch and slightly less than 1/4" for the hole. #5 will work for a queen excluder but it's not the best. The bees have more trouble getting through #5 than a nice smooth queen excluder. #5 is commonly used as an excluder in Africa (where it is called "coffee wire mesh") but that doesn't meant it is ideal for the job. #4 will let the queen through quite freely.
You are trying to make management decisions on information bases on conjecture. watching the entrance although can be quit informative for a beekeeper. In this instance it does not tell you enough. you need to get into that hive and determine what is going on. does the hive even still have a queen. there are a number of things that could be troubling the hive and without proper inspection making a speculative decision is unwise. remember if you have excluded the queen from her brood chamber. She now has to wait for the nurse bees to build comb before she can lay.
All the manipulation of the hive can set things back. Not all hives react the same to a major transformation of their home.
We fast forwarded to today. But have no idea how much time that was. Without such knowledge it is difficult to know exactly how to advise you. and to do so would also be speculative if it has only been a few days a wait and see attitude may be the prescription. A few weeks would obviously require different action.
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2 hives performing a lot different at a given time really is to be expected. I would suggest breaking down and buying a real queen excluder or 2, if you do not have much money at all even the plastic ones are better than hardware cloth. instead of the deep frames in 2 mediums build a shim to use with a medium, 9 5/8 minus 6 5/8 or 3 inches, depending on equipment maker. some may use 9 1/2 and/or 6 1/2. leave the deep frames on bottom till spring... just going by outside activity can fool you. I got a package this year that seemed like it must be weak hardly any bees buzzing around, well they were in 2 deeps, 2 weeks ahead of the rest, they seem to work only no hanging around, still acting the same and they do not fly much until it is warmer compared to the rest. but yes you can get a lot of clues as to what is happening by looking and listening.
I recall a person stating that I should swap the hives sitting locations as they may have drifted from one to the other. Is this a viable alternative?

It has been raining for many days now and still has yet to let up. I really hoped to get in these past couple days to see but have to wait on the weather. Supposed to get better by Thurs. hopefully...

I have 2 shallow boxes to house the deeps I received from the nucs. The area where any comb could be built is the extra space on the bottom of the deeps.

Like I said, it was cheaper for me to build the queen excluder because of its hopeful one time use scenario. If it gets the job done, thats all I care about.
I also stated in my first post that I used the medium frames that were already drawn and laid on in the bottom box so they has something to go off of. The queen did not have to wait if much at all. This is now going past 2 weeks time. This weekend will be 3.
it is hard for new or experienced beekeepers to do what they want when they want to if they do not have spare hive parts. a queen excluder or better yet 2 and at least an extra complete hive will be used as you go on. 2 excluders and an extra box between them makes for a 2 queen set-up to start a split, house a weak swarm, or even help a week colony get going. you do not need every thing out there but you need some spare equipment ready to use now. ordering or building for this afternoons needs is not a good strategy, the same for the assumption that I will never use it because things will always go well.
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