Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Almost all my bees on the front entrance of my top bar & hardly any bees inside...my hive has been low in numbers since a brood comb loss.
There are also bees all around the hive on the ground too in clusters....plenty of sugar water in the feeder (inside). Should I gather them up & put them in the hive?? I wonder if I am queenless??!!
They are all listless...no guarding behavior...many look small & lightly colored. I wonder if I had a bunch of brood hatch but what else is going on?

I hope someone can help, this is my first hive & it has been a rough go because of cross combing :(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I opened the hive up & no queen...I think I lost them. There are a lot of little sugar ants coming & going...not sure if that had something to do with the absconding :( So sad
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
159 Posts
Your second note confused me;did they All abscond?
I've had 3 TB starts and not one cross comb. Are you using a level every direction when you set up and have bars with guides? Is the hive facing the morning sun?

Bees can usually take care of little sugar ants unless totally overrun, but the groups of bees on the ground sound odd. Are the wings deformed on the ground bees? Nurse bees don't fly and if they dropped out the entrance somehow(I don't understand how that could happen though) you'd have to put them back in.The loss of a single brood comb should have recovered unless your queen got killed at the same time. Bees usually abscond With a queen since without one they have no place to go.So that sounded odd too. Natural brood are often smaller than package bees, so small in its self isn't always bad. If you think they are OK but "listless" I'd get them back in and order an overnight-mail queen for them. Spendy, but if you have nurses and bees inside with live brood it could work if you get a queen Fast. "Low in numbers" can recover,even some swarms are very small.My bees lived the winter but were down to a large softball size cluster! I was amazed the queen went crazy and filled my hive by May. But it's your call how you start over. queens are sold all year by many apiaries;unlike packages that sell out by now(usually). Ruhl in Gladstone Or isn't far from you. Hope someone who knows more than me answers too! Best wishes, HB
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replies!!!!

I started out with my queen cage on the top bar (I now know better!) & the combs went wonky after that. I've been gently maneuvering the combs since then. Some I had to reattach but they fell. The combs seem very delicate & I tried the hair clips, tape & wire ties & nothing stayed. I think I was not aggressive enough on using the tape though, I think that might have worked if I wasn't so worried about squeezing the brood. I propped up the fallen comb until it started looking like they were done with it & I pulled it out. The hive is completely level & we followed Crowder's plans to a "T", except we added a parascope entrance...everything else is the same.

The queen was there after the brood comb loss 2 weeks ago & she was even there on Monday when I checked.

I collected what I could last night & put them in the hive. I can't see any wing deformation but there is excrement splatter on the front of the hive (outside, none inside). I probably have 50 bees, at the most, in the hive right now, the rest are gone or on the ground outside - I suspect that is where most of them are but I have plants all around the hive so I can't see them all. If I got a queen could they really recover?

I got the package originally from Rhul bee supply. I am not sure I want to go through them again, especially if these have nosema, the splattering was there within a week after I installed so it came with them if that is my problem.

I just don't think this was a strong group to start with, they never filled comb the width of the hive & I've had them since late April & gave them only 10 bars to work with. I have not seen pollen or nectar/honey since the first few weeks...none in the combs now which is high nectar flow from what I understand.

I don't have much honey or sugar water on the floor...the reason why I think the ants are getting to the colony is that there are little cracks in the brood caps & I saw the little sugar ants crawling in & out the brood combs...not sure if they eat the larvae but they surely were doing something in there. They could be a cause of the problem or a symptom - I don't know, maybe someone has some insight?

Thanks all for you help, I wish I had happier things to talk about on this site...I have always dreamed of beekeeping & this first run is not going well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
& here's to happier things to talk about: Caught my FIRST swarm...it just happened to be mine, LOL! The queen was in a ball of bees on the ground & I got her back in the hive. They were right out front of the hive. I still am not sure she is the best queen or if I have a viable hive but I feel a little less like a total failure today & I am now an official swarm collector (in my mind, anyways).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
No, according to someone who looked at a photo of her, her wings are not clipped.

But, the saga continues...yesterday after I put the girls back in the hive with the queen, about 5 hours later we watched them swarm & they disappeared, I was certain all was lost. But then, this am, with tears in my eyes after walking the property & not finding any signs of them, I found a small, baseball sized ball of bees behind my feeder/follower board...so, it is clear they have left the brood comb to live in the next spot over to start anew. I am wondering why they would do that? Should I just let them build comb where they are & then move them back into the other side once they get establish, IF, they decide to stay, that is...

& just out of desperation, I tossed a pollen patty that my neighbor gave me in there - there are no stores in the combs themselves. As I mentioned above, I might have a sugar ant problem but I really don't see many.

Anybody seen this or know why they moved but not too far - why would they leave the brood? It is still cool out so maybe they will go back over later today...

I have quite a bit of dead bees, in & around the hive...not a huge amount but clearly there is some stress on these girls. I am definitely learning a lot, not always sure what I am learning but I am learning that beekeeping is a bit rough around the edges & top bar keeping is even more so since there aren't a lot of us!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
82 Posts
I'm sorry you're having so much trouble :(

When it goes well it's the best day on this earth to be alive, and when it's a struggle like this ...not so much. Please keep us posted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you Annabee :) I do think this colony has a chance but it is a rollercoaster ride, to say the least!! They do seem to like my hive, they never go far...hopefully they stay!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
159 Posts
It just seems that there is Something about your hive they don't like. Top bars are not the problem, it's the bees or the hive set up;it seems to me. Honey bee healthy will help get rid of their nosema if that's a problem and you don't want to use medication.One purchase will last several years with only one or two hives. It's all I've used for 2 years and I always put a few drops in all my syrup quarts and no problems like that with 3 hives so far.I got great bees from Ruhl last year(they didn't ship this year so I had to try a place in Calif for my hive 2). So sorry yours are such a pain!!! You don't have an open screen bottom do you? New bees hate light in the hive.... What you are experiencing really just isn't normal at all. Did you try a drop of lemongrass oil inside (just a drop rubbed on the back-from any place that sells essential oils)so they'd like it's scent? That stuff has worked wonders for many people in a pinch with absconding bees
.Year one is always hard and a ton of learning and adjusting.I lost a swarm last year but had plenty of bees left.
Sure hope you don't lose faith! It almost sounds like something is wrong with your syrup? It's not chlorinated water is it? Wild theory on my part-no one ever mentions something in the water,just trying to figure out something with you! HB
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The bees are all dead or dying now, no more ball of bees. I am convinced they arrived weak & had nosema or tracheal mites. I looked inside the hive today & there is some streaking but not a huge amount.

I think my hive is good, we followed Les Crowder's plans & added a anti-robbing entrance. The inside had lots of beeswax in it & lemon grass oil. I've spent about 4 years researching & learning about how to bee keep, I think I gave it a good run for a newbie but what I didn't expect was such a quick failure!

I do have a screened bottom but have yet to open it for ventilation, it has only been in the mid 70's & the hive is in dappled sun in the late afternoon. We are on filtered/uv sterilized well water. These bees never thrived, I think the package was bad. I've only had them barely over a month & I look back on the photos & feel the colony never grew & only got smaller & smaller over that time I emailed Ruhl but haven't gotten an answer, is it even reasonable for me to ask for help from them? Or should I just move forward & count this as a learning experiment?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
626 Posts
How much lemongrass oil? I've read that a few drops is plenty and too much will run them out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I did what someone mentioned on this message board. I put lemon grass oil on a papertowel & inside a ziploc with pin holes in it. I removed it after they started building comb so it didn't get in their way...now the baggie is back in there in hopes of catching a healthy swarm!!
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top