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Discussion Starter #1
I purchased two packages of bees this spring just to have the more productive colony abscond. In three days that colony had produced three combs and were filling them with nectar.

Now after two and a half months my remaining colony has produced only six combs of their own. I placed two combs from the absconded colony into their hive, but my remaining bees will have nothing to do with it... so far.

Should I be concerned about the health and viability of my hive? Their numbers seem to be about half of that which I started? I thought by now there would be increased numbers with more activity. Could I be Queenless? I am a bit hesitant to disturb my remaining bees while my unskilled newbie eyes hunt for the queen.

Any thoughts?
 

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After 2.5 months you should see plenty of capped brood. Don't get hung up on finding the queen just look for evidence that shes there. ie eggs, larva, capped brood. You will need to inspect this hive for evidence very soon and act accordingly.

You said you bought two packages. Do you have another hive that you can get resources from?

Steve
 

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Looks like you're giving them too much space. Use a division board and limit the amount of area they have to control. Too much space will slow them down!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Steve, I checked out the hive today. There is definitely brood. You can see photos and videos of each com here:

http://gdnghtjohnboy.smugmug.com/Other/Surviving-Bees/41731625_PHTQv3#!i=3316990418&k=hMCdLTf

all that was left from the absconded hive were a couple of combs with a little nectar. By the time I thought to put the comb in my remaining hive the nectar was gone... probably ants. The comb wasn't used until just recently.

If you would, take a look at my photos and videos and tell me what you think.

I am using a top-bar hive. I have been told to close my screened bottom. I was concerned about the light and drafts, so tomorrow I will drop in a piece of Lauan.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Slow Drone... I am using a top-bar hive and I have 6 unused bars separating my comb from the division board. Is that too much space? On the other side of my divider I have a 3 bar space housing my feeder.
 

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Yes too much space. Move the division board up to the comb or better yet pull 2 bars of comb and move the division board in giving them better control on their environment. Providing any comb you remove does not have any eggs or brood on them. If you choose to pull 2 bars store them so you can give them back at a later date.
 

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I don't have a TBH so I cannot give any advise on how to set them up.

It looks like your queen is laying in most all available cells so that's good

Because of the angle of the pictures I couldn't see any eggs. However I think in pics 13,14 your queen is on the left side also in the second video (the first side you showed)

I like playing I spy :)

Steve
 

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You're right Steve! Very keen eye. I definitely can see her as Steve has pointed out her exact location. Most easily seen in the second video. Excellent Steve excellent:applause: Steve has confirmed you are with a queen kudos to him!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
If I remove comb won't I just create more space? How much room should optimally be provided at any one time? If I had a healthy, thriving hive wouldn't the bees tend to swarm if they started feeling confined? (not that that would be a problem with my colony)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Steve and SlowDrone... Thanks for the Queen spot!

So, I should just improve their environment (less space and enclose bottom) and hope for the best... Yes?
 

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Yes improve their environment! It's easier for you to make the call you're there and can judge the size of the population. I can only go by your pics which leads me to believe the bars aren't built out enough if you're using a KTBH. That's why I was suggesting the options that I did. When first starting with a package about 5 bars will help them get going you will get a feel for how much time it takes for them to build them out and expand based on what you see going on. With what I'm seeing swarming is not a concern yet. The comb should extend 3/8 of an inch of the bottom and sides of the hive. You have a queen you have eggs and capped brood you have live bees you still have a hive just need to tweak it a tad. You'll get it going I'm quite confident of that. Don't be in a hurry and have patience it will work out. Keep asking question and keep learning!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Steve and SlowDrone, thanks so much for your input. It is truly appreciated.

The comb is nowhere near the sides and especially the bottom (again, the screen probably being the culprit here). I do notice the combs seem to favor one side of the hive. They are giving a wide berth to the side getting a couple hours of morning sun.

Could I get either one of you to identify the queen in the attached photo. I used a red arrow to identify what I thought might be the Queen. Am I close? =)

IMG_3399'.jpg

If that is not large enough you can see it here:

http://gdnghtjohnboy.smugmug.com/Ot...31625_PHTQv3#!i=3319588767&k=CZ2wQsQ&lb=1&s=L

http://gdnghtjohnboy.smugmug.com/Ot...31625_PHTQv3#!i=3319588767&k=CZ2wQsQ&lb=1&s=O
 

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New to this thread. I couldn't enlarge the photo enough to determine if the arrow pointed out the Queen.
In the interest of saving you money, aggravation, time and your bees I would strongly suggest you find a mentor ASAP. I'm not judging or being critical mind you. What led you to believe you should start keeping bees? What training did you receive and what books have you read so far? Finding a queen in such an unpopulated hive should be extremely easy. I'm concerned you may be setting yourself up for a hard time without the help of someone that can work your hive with you to show you basics. If nothing else find someone that will allow you to look over their shoulder. Someone with a giving attitude that enjoys helping seeing other Beekeepers flourish. YouTube has several good videos as well so cull through them. Many are garbage made by new Beekeepers that think they know it all but their enthusiasm clouds their ability to be objective. Look for videos of people without brand new equipment, bee suits, gloves etc.
Please know I am happy to help and my comments, although possibly harsh sounding, are well intended. A few hours with an experienced hobby speed beekeeper is worth the price of several hives.
Good luck
If I didn't make you mad feel free to PM me with questions.
 

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You have a queen . I say you don't need a mentor there's plenty here that never had one and do well.
I never been to a bee meeting and never talked to a beekeeper unless it's the state inspector.
I say jump in with both feet and you'll find it only gets easier as the years roll on.
I'm only a 5 year beekeeper and I have honey and I can keep my bee's alive . I have not bought bee's in 3 years and am selling my first nucs FRI.
Good luck if you truly love beekeeping you won't fail.
I have a TBH and can't seem to keep bee's in it this is the first year I ever tried one something new to learn.
 

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Yes sir that's her! Keeping that in mind you'll be able to see her better in the video. In reply to Challenger, why did any of us think we could keep bees? Beekeeping is for anyone with the interest to do so not only for a select few.
 

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Just trying to help. It's a well known fact that one can learn to keep bees with self education. IMOHO it is much easier, rewarding and cheaper doing so with the hands on help from a good mentor.
So I have to ask is it better to learn under a mentor (assuming a competent one) or alone? If you answer it is easier alone then your pride and ego are clouding your better judgment plain and simple.
Let's give the OP the best advice we can even if it means we have made major mistakes. Not being able to positively identify a queen and the general status of a hives well being is a red flag for me. This shows me that there is a steep learning curve still to be met while expensive bees and associated equipment are at risk.
It is true there are many here that can pilot the ship without a chance of failure however this resource us not best utilized while a hive is in danger of being completely mismanaged. We all started not knowing much but the less time you spend there the better you will feel about being a beekeeper and your bees and pocket book will be healthier. Take this however you wish but it's all being offered to help. If you are so gifted and brilliant you can become the best beekeeper of all time without help from anyone. Just look at posts in beesource.com and you'll find there are many that did/are. Not only that but they've become experts in just five short years.
Ask any beekeeper that's been at it for 20+ years how much he knew after 5 years as compared to present time.
 

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Most definitely a good mentor is invaluable it's not easy to find one in all locales. Some areas people are really lucky there's an abundance of mentors, some areas they're scarce as hens teeth. I've been involved in several beekeeping associations , it bothered me that there were so many beekeepers with extremely vast experience who didn't have the least bit of interest in mentoring. Usually the common statement made by these people were " have you ever heard of Beesource?" and it was left at that. I was lucky I had an uncle that was a beekeeper he said to me I'll teach you what I know if you teach me what you learn share what you know it's the right thing to do.
 

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Times are different now days. There is a lot of info on the net now that you never had 20 years ago and you tube is like a father you never had so may ways to learn theres no need for a mentor .
You can come to bee source and talk to all the bee gods they always find the time .{thank you}
I never said I a was a expert if you ever read my post I only go by experience if I don't know for sure I don't comment.
But one thing I know is I have a sustainable apiary and it only took me 3 years to get on track and it all was learnt by hands on/internet /books/mags. Never a mentor.
My state inspector just checked all my hives a month ago and said my bee's are real healthy and I was doing a great job so I must be learning some thing.
Guessing ya have to be a beekeeper for 20 year or better to know how to keep bees .:scratch: I don't think so. I mean that in the most nicest way.:D
 
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