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Hive Inspection *puzzled*

1138 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Trin
So, I did a hive inspection today.

It's been 15 days since my last inspection. At that time this hive was 2 medium 8 frames and 1 deep 8 frames chuck full. I began making boxes and frames and added one more box after a few days as I was afraid they would swarm, but I did not inspect the hive. The weather was chilly and often cloudy/rainy/windy.

We had been unseasonably warm in April and May turned cold and nasty. Even as many blooms froze it was a couple days and things were blooming again. Highs that first week since the inspection were in the 50s and 60s and lows in the 30s and 40s. This past week we were highs in the 60s and 70s and lows in the 40s and 50s. It's rained about half of the days.

Finally, a nice warm sunny day. So, I inspected the hive. I anticipated being able to do a split so I had all my equipment ready. Upon opening the hive, both bottom medium boxes were light and scant. There were no eggs in those 2 boxes. There were some emerging drone. The bees were putting in some nectar...some pollen. The top deep box had 2 frames of honey, 4 frames of brood, 1 frame of pollen, 1 frame of drone. I found the queen in that box and she had been laying some eggs. They were just little rice shaped. that decline because the weather was so chilly?

The other thing I noticed that I wasn't sure about was it seemed there were drone that were emerging, but they didn't seem to be moving much to get out. Other than that, the bees seemed busy. There was one here and there with mite wings. Most of them looked healthy. The comb looked healthy. It smelled good. The queen cups were empty.

I didn't know quite what to do, so I took off the box that I had added a couple days after the last inspection. They had done nothing with it and now there was plenty of work to do in the bottom two.
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There was one here and there with mite wings.
Bingo! Time to reevaluate you mite management strategy, and to treat immediately.

i would also look at that drone brood for mites, just for fun. My guess is you will see plenty.
It's the strong hives that go down with mites quickly, once they start to go. Because the large bee population can harbor a large mite population without problems being obvious. But once it gets to the stage where the mites are overpowering and bee numbers start going down, and of course mite numbers continue going up, the mite to bee ratio gets to where enough bees are affected to bring the hive down rapidly.

If you take a look at the brood, you will likely see some uncapped and dead ones.
Thank you!!! Why were most of the stores gone? And...should I get rid of the drone?
It's the strong hives that go down with mites quickly,
Sorry, without actually seeing the hive I can't answer that.

Should say too, that mites are an assumption based on 2 things, being deformed wings and reduced bee population, but it's not a 100% certainty. Well, the DWV does indicate a high mite load, but something else could have happened also.

It could be the hive swarmed, taking a lot of bees and a lot of honey with the swarm. If this happened shortly after you last inspection, the new virgin would have had time to mate and start laying eggs. You say there were no eggs, but then you said when you found the queen she was laying eggs, so I'll assume the queen has recently started laying.

In any case, sounds like the hive should be treated for mites with a treatment that is reliable and works well, and after that just allow the hive to build up and with luck you may still get a honey crop this season.
It seems that "the mites" did it is too easy of a boogy-man call.

I am not saying that you didn't have mite issues, but if your stores are all gone in very short time and you didn't see a storm of robbers, then it looks like the bees have swarmed or absconded. However, if they were weak enough that they got robbed out sometimes they will give up and just join the robbers. Not sure whether this is the end of your spring, or the end of your fall, but when you describe the hive as "chock-full" if that means there were no open cells to lay in, and much of the cells were filled with honey or nectar, then 15 days is too long of an increment to wait between inspections (in that conditions).

Consider that if the hive is full up, you have eggs in all ages, so one that was 3 days old could be moved to a queen cup and closed/capped and such before you got back to it.

Definitely be aware of your mite situation, but just as important be aware of the "fullness" of the hive.
Also know the difference between queen cups and queen cells. If there are a few relatively short queen cups, this is normal in any hive. If there are longer empty peanut looking cells then it is more likely that they swarmed. If your queen was marked and is still there then it is probably related to some stressor. Maybe mite load or viruses, they often go together. Pesticides could also wipe out a lot of bees quickly. Bees that have been fed on by varroa are doomed. Mites will feed on more than one bee.

I would probably do an OAV treatment and check for mite drop if you have the ability to have a white board under the hive. It would give you a quick sense of what is going on. (some state's allow OAV treatments as long as supers are not on the hive.) People make laws because they can. There is something a bit nebulous with oxalic acid usage laws in my opinion. In Michigan the government doesn't test for oxalic acid in food. They just follow FDA recommendations as far as allowable levels. It is a natural occurring acid in several vegetables/greens. One treatment to get some information shouldn't have much of an impact on levels.
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