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5 TBHs Olympia WA- 2nd year of keeping
Background- placed Apivar strips in all hives in September Tomorrow will be 42 days in place.
Haven't gone into the hives since placing but all hives actively collecting pollen and hitting our ivy tree hard. I spend every other day watching the hives during 'flight weather' to compare activity levels and because I like to watch them.

While watching the hives, the strongest by far relative to numbers of bees coming and going I saw approx 4 or 5 drones pop out, do a flight then pop in without being dragged out. Of course they may have been the same ones going in and coming out. I did not observe any of the other hives with drone activity.

Would the presence of that small a number of drones this time of year in my part of the country be potentially normal or the timeline between putting in the strips and the presence of the drones suggest I may have killed the queen or that she died and I've got workers laying?

Plan with the next good weather day will be to dive into the hive to see if I've got drone cells, not necessarily hunt for the queen. Is that the right next step? And of course- if I've got workers laying am I'm pretty much screwed this time year as far as trying to come up with a fertile queen to introduce?

Hope the questions make some sort of sense. Thanks.
 

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Gary, You pretty much nailed the two scenarios I could think of. First, some healthy hives will maintain a small number of drones throughout milder winters. Not common, but not unheard of either. Second is that the queen has gone drone layer or that the hive is queenless and is now laying worker. This is less likely and even if it is the case, it is highly unlikely that the Apivar is responsible. A quick check will tell you the story. I believe that your location is in USDA 8a so getting into them should not be a problem in October.
 

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Olympia, Wa beekeeper here, and I still have drones in all my Olympia hives... and they have healthy laying queens
my Yelm hives NOT so much....
 

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Thanks all for the comments. Wasn't thinking the Apivar as a chemical impacted the queen but maybe my putting them in may have done something. Not so easy hanging those strips in the TBH with comb as tightly packed as they get. Weather does indeed stay relatively mild locally. Just need a dry day or windless day. Worst case I have one of those giant "summer" backyard umbrellas on a stand and if temps are warm enough but it's raining can use it to go in without risking rain into the hive. Will provide an update, hopefully this week maybe as soon as Monday. Dry and 60 Monday if the forecast holds. Dry and upper 50's Wednesday by late in the day.
 

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Today's discoveries and of course opinions greatly appreciated. 15 bars PACKED with capped honey [19"bars]. For clarification this is a first year nuc so intentionally did not/will not harvest anything. 3 brood bars out of 5 examined with 1-2" of capped honey across the top of each. 4-5 dozen drone cells on two of the three all looking just short of hatching in tight pattern slightly off center but a boatload of worker cells including what I think were fresh eggs on the periphery of them. Also very tight pattern. Didn't get any photos on account of only having two hands- makes me want an extra set sometimes and winds picking up hard. I didn't find the queen but wasn't hunting for her. And I didn't observe any active or empty queen cells.

IF I understand the general theory of workers laying, they don't lay tight patterns and I wouldn't be seeing capped worker cells if queen was dead? Yeah that's a question. I'm going to blind guess/hope that the drone cells I saw were from September. If we get a good second break in weather mid November should I go in again and either look harder for a live drone count or check for more drone cells? Does that serve any purpose by that time?
 

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in my humble opinion ...your good....wrap em up for winter
I think we in Olympia , with the mild temps and an unusually large number of amazing gardeners provide a variety of pollen and nectar late in the year and so the queens keep laying... including drone brood
 

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in my humble opinion ...your good....wrap em up for winter
I think we in Olympia , with the mild temps and an unusually large number of amazing gardeners provide a variety of pollen and nectar late in the year and so the queens keep laying... including drone brood
Thanks again for the feedback. Going to play less is more moving forward short of a OAV treatment come mid November. Will be dropping candy boards in right after this weekend's hard frost. Helps having a local person also using TBHs. More long story TMI background on support efforts-

We are quite rural up above Delphi Rd on the Mud Bay side [only means something to JJ]. This spring and early summer I intentionally focused on how best to support our bees with pollen and nectar plants so went wild with staggered plantings of 250 sunflowers [Lemon Queen], 500+ sq feet of borage, 1/4 acre of buckwheat, 100 California figwort plants, open faced dahlias [still blooming for now], Takane Buckwheat, california liliacs, purple garlic mustard allowed to go to seed, several patches of perennial wildflower mixes, fireweed and goldenrod. The goldenrod came on earlier than I planned and was done mid September. Our ivy tree came on right on schedule [last week of September] and was wing to wing up until this past weekend. The YJs and baldfaced wasps have taken over. Squash and pumpkins for us to eat also didn't hurt any I think. Call me paranoid but I was syrup feeding hard from mid July up until just recently as well with multiple feeders set a couple of hundred feet from the apiary for all but the one hive we've been discussing only because there is no room in the other 4 hives for feeders. Entries are holes not slotted so without room in the hives to put the feeders decided to go a different route.

So much to learn and so little time.
 

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First year beekeeper down in Portland with 2 TBHs so take my comments for the little they are worth. I, too, have seen small numbers of drones in my two colonies but not in the quantities you mentioned. Also, I finished a 42 day treatment of Apivar in late September and I ended up coming out of the treatment with the same numbers I had going in. I feel that part of the issue was what you had mentioned about the strip not being able to hang freely between the top bars. I had created a gap between the top bars to hang the strip but even that did not work great and the bees propolized the gap. For next year I built some 3/8" wide bars that have a 1.75" slot in the center (just wide enough for the Apivar strip to slide in). I will use these to place between the top bars and hang the strips from them. Will see how that goes but hope it will allow for better bee to strip contact.

You mention you will be "dropping candy boards". What do you mean by that? I created some blank frames and made sugar bricks with #8 hardware cloth as backing and placed these at the end of the honey bars for emergency feed purposes. Did you do something similar?

Kevin

Kevin
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You mention you will be "dropping candy boards". What do you mean by that? I created some blank frames and made sugar bricks with #8 hardware cloth as backing and placed these at the end of the honey bars for emergency feed purposes. Did you do something similar?

Kevin

Kevin View attachment 61096
Kevin, yes. Hard candy poured into a frame very much like that. Ours don't use hardware cloth, but I think I like that idea to help keep 'stuff' from falling through the bottom screen. Can't hurt to try that!
 

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Kevin a more typically design would be 1/2 cloth so the bees can go threw and eat and pieces cant fall over and damage bees/the comb next to it
 

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Agree! I meant to say I use #4 cloth and not #8 which would exclude the bees! It's not evident from my photo but the backing is also #4 hardware cloth. On this particular frame I had run out of material so could only cover about half of the front of the frame. Thanks for the correction.
 
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