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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I received my nuc in late May from a local Beekeeping business. We fed pollen patties and a 1:1 sugar feed for the first 4 weeks following installation. I inspected the hive for the very first time 6 weeks after they had been installed. This is my first hive so I was very nervous -and sweating! I made a video for my local beekeeping business so they could give me feedback but I'll post it here so you guys can give me feedback as well if you like. Needless to say, I had a very small bee colony!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdWAPEhRXgk

Here is a link to an album of pics from this visit: http://imgur.com/a/7XGAb

I resumed feeding pollen patties and this time tried a 2:1 sugar feed. A gallon lasted 2 weeks and I noticed there were SHB in my top feeder so this second time I inspected I removed the feeder and washed it (with a garden hose) before returning it with more sugar water (2:1) and no patties. During this inspection I noticed that 4 frames seemed to have brood and the outside two frames on either side of the box were pretty much NOT drawn. One of the frames just beside a brood frame seems to be largely capped honey on one side.

Here's a link to the album of this inspection. Not great pics because they're stills from a video (which I'll upload later) my husband took:

http://imgur.com/a/RBc33

I'm very concerned that I'm going to lose my first colony this winter and I don't know what I can do to save them. I would love to have everyone's feedback and thoughts on how to sustain them.
 

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The brood looked a bit spotty. Honey rainbow was not great. Are there any pure honey or pollen frames? Looks like they may be struggling a bit, strange pattern.
 

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Do you shake the bees off the frames before taking a picture or something? Looks like a few decent brood frames at the 6 week mark, kind of not synchronized at all which leads me to suspect a damaged queen or poor layer, but I do see eggs even at that time. Second set of pictures, can't see much, again, where the bees, and it looks like there's not much stores in terms of pollen or open nectar at all.

Brood patterns should look like this from any queen worth keeping..



 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I don't shake any bees off. Unfortunately that's just how few are there in the hive. I just assumed my smoker was doing a great job lol...and also that my colony is super weak. As for the pattern, one of the frames is spotty because of where we secured the queen box when she was installed then later removed it. It's worth noting that I've never personally seen the queen any time I've inspected since she was installed.

Is it too late in the season to requeen? What if I can't find the existing queen in order to successfully requeen? I feel like the clock is TICKING on the end of summer.
 

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Yeah, should be more solid. A nuc with a catched queen isn't a good thing. You want the queen already running around in the nuc, she layed all the brood. That is a true nuc. What you got was a caged queen from who knows where and frames of brood. Where did you buy it from?

JRG13 picture is a perfect example of what you are looking for. Solid brood or hatched out rainbows. Peppered brood is not good. Its a sign that larva/pupa are dieing, the queen is poor or the population is low.

Typically a queen will lay out rainbows of brood. It may not the queens fault, sometimes a week hive doesn't have enough bees to support her. But eventually they should overcome the population inbalance with decent forage.
 

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I have no experience but you do have worker brood and open larvae. What you don't have at the moment is bees:(

Hopefully you get some more into your hive...from another hive that is strong.

I hope those with experience can/will speculate on what happened to the population.
 

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It almost sounds like to me that you might have lost an original queen and they made another. That would account for low density of bees and what looks like decent brood now. I would put the syrup to them constantly. Spray some on the undrawn frames. With few bees they will not draw it out until they need it, but eventually will with a good laying queen. I would be watching the spotty brood. It looks like there are larvae in most of the cells and will get capped resulting in a good pattern. The most important question is do you have a mentor or a bee association close to you. It helps tremendously to have an experienced eye looking in when you need them (or don't know you need them).
 

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I seen the spotty pattern where there are not enough bees to cover. The brood dies of exposure, or lack of care. The queen lays back into the dead out open cells.

You need to get more bees, its sometimes possible to purchase frames with bees from other bees. Alternatively, drop them back to a small nuc, and the existing bees can cover the core frames more efficiently.

In general, the hive looks like it is trying, but is way under the critical mass to grow. You need to get the colony back up over critical size, or they will continue to sputter and dwindle.
 

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Brood pattern looks pretty spotty. You could try requeening now, but it really looks like your population isn't high enough to sustain queen laying. Either the queen is bad or you just don't have enough bees and nurse bees. I would put a feeder on the hive and feed them 1:1 constantly. Any undrawn foundation spray with sugar water to get them to draw it out.

You'll need to feed so they can build up honey stores for winter too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I seen the spotty pattern where there are not enough bees to cover. The brood dies of exposure, or lack of care. The queen lays back into the dead out open cells.

You need to get more bees, its sometimes possible to purchase frames with bees from other bees. Alternatively, drop them back to a small nuc, and the existing bees can cover the core frames more efficiently.

In general, the hive looks like it is trying, but is way under the critical mass to grow. You need to get the colony back up over critical size, or they will continue to sputter and dwindle.
This is making a lot of sense to me since this morning I saw 5 dead bees/pupae on the porch of the hive. As a strategy, could I remove the 2 outermost frames from either side (4 frames total) of my 10 frame brood box since they are undrawn and let my bees catch up on the 6 frames for a couple weeks on the 2:1 I'm feeding before I attempt to force them to draw more frames? That would leave their existing 4 brood frames that need attention as well as the 2 they have been trying to pack with honey and pollen.

I'm not sure if I can buy a frame of bees from a local keeper. I'll have to check around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yeah, should be more solid. A nuc with a catched queen isn't a good thing. You want the queen already running around in the nuc, she layed all the brood. That is a true nuc. What you got was a caged queen from who knows where and frames of brood. Where did you buy it from?

JRG13 picture is a perfect example of what you are looking for. Solid brood or hatched out rainbows. Peppered brood is not good. Its a sign that larva/pupa are dieing, the queen is poor or the population is low.

Typically a queen will lay out rainbows of brood. It may not the queens fault, sometimes a week hive doesn't have enough bees to support her. But eventually they should overcome the population inbalance with decent forage.

I did get a caged queen from the local beekeeper supply as well as a box of bees. They have been a great resource to me so far.
 

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Something that will help you out is a pair of gloves. You'll have the confidence to get in their and work. Also, when you do need or want to have a look into the hive pull the outer frame out and lean it against something. This way when you wanna pull out your next frame you could slide it over a bit and then pull it. This way you don't roll your bees and you could really get a good look.

Look on Craigslist in the Knoxville area and call someone from their if your wanting frames of broad and bees.

Good luck!
 

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I may have missed it but what is the mite level? Much of the area within the capped brood has been relaid except one panel that looks good. The queen is working a broad area but something is keeping the brood from emerging. I had a similar appearance in a nuc and mites was the cause. For certain there is not enough bees to cover the brood the queen is producing. I think reducing them to a five frame box or putting a filler in half the ten frame would help them.
 

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check your mite levels. see nybeewellness site or Ontario bee association site for how. if you have a vsh sensitive colony [vsh queens offspring] and a high mite level you end up with brood like this and a weak colony. check the mite count.
 

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The first thing I notice is no smoke coming from your smoker, second when removing frames for inspection take the first frame completely out of the box set it aside or use a frame holder. Slide the next frame away from the other frames inspect and set that one aside also, then continue moving frames away from the others so as not to roll the bees or injure the queen.
Has anyone noticed the sunken look of the capped brood? From the look of the frames there is a queen there but weak, injured or not mated correctly. I would suggest feeding with a 1:1 syrup inside the hive with a top feeder or Baggie but keep the feeder enclosed in the hive. I also do not not see much stored pollen you may have to feed a pollen substitute if there is no pollen coming into the hive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
The first thing I notice is no smoke coming from your smoker, second when removing frames for inspection take the first frame completely out of the box set it aside or use a frame holder. Slide the next frame away from the other frames inspect and set that one aside also, then continue moving frames away from the others so as not to roll the bees or injure the queen.
Has anyone noticed the sunken look of the capped brood? From the look of the frames there is a queen there but weak, injured or not mated correctly. I would suggest feeding with a 1:1 syrup inside the hive with a top feeder or Baggie but keep the feeder enclosed in the hive. I also do not not see much stored pollen you may have to feed a pollen substitute if there is no pollen coming into the hive.
I really appreciate these tips. I've never done this before so I wasn't sure of the best approach. What is rolling a bee? Does that mean killing them or injuring them? I should probably get a frame holder...

I did notice the sunken caps on the brood this most recent visit but didn't know what to make of it. I'm still getting a feel for what is normal vs problematic. The morning after I visited there were dead pupae on the landing board which I still don't know if I should consider hygienic or a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I may have missed it but what is the mite level? Much of the area within the capped brood has been relaid except one panel that looks good. The queen is working a broad area but something is keeping the brood from emerging. I had a similar appearance in a nuc and mites was the cause. For certain there is not enough bees to cover the brood the queen is producing. I think reducing them to a five frame box or putting a filler in half the ten frame would help them.
I've not checked the mite level yet. I will do so this coming week. What is an acceptable filler for the 10 frame? I'm not familiar yet with fillers...
 
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