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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone!

This is our first time writing on the forums and we're here in need of some help!

So we did a bee inspection today, It was actually our first one of 2021! We live in Ontario Canada and this will be our second year of beekeeping. So my girlfriend and I opened up our hive to find a couple of interesting things. Firstly we find varroa mites! We found a red dot on the back of one of our drones and also some deformed wings in a young bee (see photo (drone right above my finger)), We've already picked up some treatment which we will start tomorrow. Other than that we found a lot of queen cells, Some of these queen cells were in the middle of the frame but others were near the end. Our first reaction was to start breaking the cells open and taking the larva out, as we got more towards the center of the hive we started to hear what we believe is queen bee piping (see video linked below) from one of the previous frames that we didn't break the queen's cells on (the reason we didn't break these ones yet was that we thought if we can't find the queen, which we didn't, we'd leave them). After inspecting the frame we think we heard the piping coming from still no sign of a queen so we wrapped it up. I'm worried we either had a swarm or we have signs of one coming or maybe the previous week is being super siege. We're also afraid that the cells we already destroyed could affect the super siege if that is what was happening. Any advice or things we should be looking for / doing?


VIDEO OF PIPING:



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Queen cells and queen cells broken:
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Hello everyone!

This is our first time writing on the forums and we're here in need of some help!

So we did a bee inspection today, It was actually our first one of 2021! We live in Ontario Canada and this will be our second year of beekeeping. So my girlfriend and I opened up our hive to find a couple of interesting things. Firstly we find varroa mites! We found a red dot on the back of one of our drones and also some deformed wings in a young bee (see photo (drone right above my finger)), We've already picked up some treatment which we will start tomorrow.
Did you treat last year?

Other than that we found a lot of queen cells, Some of these queen cells were in the middle of the frame but others were near the end. Our first reaction was to start breaking the cells open and taking the larva out...
Why would you do that? If they are in 'swarm mode' and have cells prepared, it is unlikely that you are going to stop them by killing the queen cells. They will just make more, and/or, if you miss one they are just going to swarm anyway.

Your best bet is to 'force' the swarm by splitting the queen and a bunch of bees and brood into a new hive. Leave enough queen cells to have good odds of getting a new queen. If you have more than 3 or 4 cells, and they are spread out over two or more frames, consider splitting them out into nuc boxes with bees and brood (and honey frames) to increase your chances of getting a mated queen.

If you let them swarm and you can't catch the swarm, and you fail to get a mated queen from the cells in the single hive, you will be dead in the water and scrambling to buy a new queen. If you make the split(s) and end up with more queens than you need...well, that's a good thing. You can increase your hives or sell off what you don't need.

If you are seeing mites on bees and signs of disease, then you will be better off if you have one or more hives/nucs in reserve in case the diseased one doesn't make it.

...maybe the previous week is being super siege.
Huh?

What is your hive setup? Single deep? Double deep? Something else?

Get a book called "The Backyard Beekeeper", it will give you a good basic knowledge of what to do and how to do it, so that something like this doesn't take you by surprise again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Did you treat last year?



Why would you do that? If they are in 'swarm mode' and have cells prepared, it is unlikely that you are going to stop them by killing the queen cells. They will just make more, and/or, if you miss one they are just going to swarm anyway.

Your best bet is to 'force' the swarm by splitting the queen and a bunch of bees and brood into a new hive. Leave enough queen cells to have good odds of getting a new queen. If you have more than 3 or 4 cells, and they are spread out over two or more frames, consider splitting them out into nuc boxes with bees and brood (and honey frames) to increase your chances of getting a mated queen.

If you let them swarm and you can't catch the swarm, and you fail to get a mated queen from the cells in the single hive, you will be dead in the water and scrambling to buy a new queen. If you make the split(s) and end up with more queens than you need...well, that's a good thing. You can increase your hives or sell off what you don't need.

If you are seeing mites on bees and signs of disease, then you will be better off if you have one or more hives/nucs in reserve in case the diseased one doesn't make it.



Huh?

What is your hive setup? Single deep? Double deep? Something else?

Get a book called "The Backyard Beekeeper", it will give you a good basic knowledge of what to do and how to do it, so that something like this doesn't take you by surprise again.
Hey, Thanks for the reply!

No, we didn't treat last year

We started to kill the queen cells because honestly, we thought that was what should be done. Our mistake!

We had trouble finding the queen during that inspection. We heard that piping sound so once we go back into the hive if we do find her could it possibly be that virgin queen already? Someone else on another forum said he thinks the hive already swarmed. When splitting the hive you mention " If you have more than 3 or 4 cells, and they are spread out over two or more frames, consider splitting them out into nuc boxes with bees and brood" does this mean frames with queen cells in both the nuc split and the original hive?

We are running a double deep right now. we only saw the mites on 1 bee so we believe it's pretty early this infestation started. Good idea on have double the chances of survival though.

Could buying a queen and putting it in now be worth it just to be safe? I'm not too sure how buying queens work exactly.
 

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If you are hearing piping sounds and could not find your old queen, I would say they have already swarmed. Queens will pipe even before they hatch out of their cells. piping is the virgin queens way of calling any other queens in the hive to have the battle royal.

"super siege" what are you talking about here??
 

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"super siege" what are you talking about here??
While checking the bee yard today, it occurred to me that perhaps he heard the word 'supersede' somewhere but has never encountered it before and was guessing at what he thought he heard.
 

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Hi Redin. Welcome to the forum and beekeeping.
Yes, your hive swarmed. Yes, you probably should not have destroyed queen cells. But here is the good news: do nothing for 21 days and when you next inspect, you should see some larvae from your new queen. Timeframe is somewhat guessing based on your reporting.
The bad news is your hive may be severely compromised by mites. You cannot determine mite load by seeing them on bees. You cannot see 99% of them. Generally when you are seeing them, you have a big infestation. The problem is you are taking a risk treating while the colony is in the process of requeening.
What treatment are you about to administer? I consider Oxalic acid to be the most " gentle" and I would not do it during the requeening process. Hold off until your new queen is accepted.
The vids show a lot of bees for this time of year and swarming this early in Ontario is unusual. Did you feed pollen earlier? Do you have brood? You might want to super now and move a frame or two of brood into the super. Get them to draw frames out now while they don't have a laying queen. J
 

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The bad news is your hive may be severely compromised by mites. You cannot determine mite load by seeing them on bees. You cannot see 99% of them. Generally when you are seeing them, you have a big infestation. The problem is you are taking a risk treating while the colony is in the process of requeening.
What treatment are you about to administer? I consider Oxalic acid to be the most " gentle" and I would not do it during the requeening process. Hold off until your new queen is accepted.
I think 5J may have the right of it here. Wait until you have a mated queen working. The mites can't get much worse without a queen laying.

If you buy a queen and already have a queen in there, there could be trouble. You can either wait and see if you get a good one, or you can buy one and pinch the other. I would wait, it's still early yet.

I have never heard a queen 'piping' and never will so I don't know much about that. My hearing was ruined in the Army and I can't hear any sounds above a certain frequency.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hello everyone and thank you so much for the replies!

Okay so here is our plan of action, We are going to open the hive tomorrow with my good friend who has been beekeeping for 10+ years. We're going to attempt to find the queen and make a split if possible. I also will start our treatment which is Apivar strips, our local bee shop said this is the best thing we can start with as the temperature isn't stable enough to start anything else. If we do open the hive and find the queen would it be okay to do the split? (as long as we have cells still). Also, opening the hive to start treating with Apivar stips, will this affect the hive if it is in fact a virgin queen? We never thought our hive could have a big mite problem without seeing them so I guess it's best we start ASAP especially if they did swarm there should be a brood pause during the queen's matting trip.. correct?

'supersede' is the word I meant, from my understanding this is where the colony replaces the queen as she's getting older.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
we were also thinking about setting up some swarm traps we made last year in our backyard incase they're about to swarm.
 

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We never thought our hive could have a big mite problem without seeing them...
Under normal circumstances you will usually never 'see' the mites. When you start seeing them on your bees, you are already in deep doo-doo. Mites are a fact of life in all but a very few places now. Just because you don't see them, it doesn't mean they aren't there. Mites breed in a geometric progression.

If I told you I would give you a choice between giving you a million dollars immediately, or a single penny tomorrow and double it every day afterward...which would you choose? Do the math. And then consider that for every brood cycle, the increase is not 100%, but, in fact, more like 150-200%. Let's say that you have 1,000 mites to start...a very small percentage of 60,000 bees in a double-deep hive. After one brood cycle you have 2500 more mites, plus the original 1000 for 3500. The next cycle, you are approaching 10,000, another cycle and you are over 30,000- half your bees are being chewed by mites, they are infecting most of your brood with 11 different viruses and shortening the lifespans of both the adult bees and the new bees. In a few more months, your hive is dead and gone. This is where the newbies start hollering about CCD and/or absconding. "Where did my bees go?"

'supersede' is the word I meant, from my understanding this is where the colony replaces the queen as she's getting older.
Superseding and swarming are two different things. With a queen in her second year, a hive is more likely to be swarming than superseding. A third or fourth year queen may be her way out and subject to supersedure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Under normal circumstances you will usually never 'see' the mites. When you start seeing them on your bees, you are already in deep doo-doo. Mites are a fact of life in all but a very few places now. Just because you don't see them, it doesn't mean they aren't there. Mites breed in a geometric progression.

If I told you I would give you a choice between giving you a million dollars immediately, or a single penny tomorrow and double it every day afterward...which would you choose? Do the math. And then consider that for every brood cycle, the increase is not 100%, but, in fact, more like 150-200%. Let's say that you have 1,000 mites to start...a very small percentage of 60,000 bees in a double-deep hive. After one brood cycle you have 2500 more mites, plus the original 1000 for 3500. The next cycle, you are approaching 10,000, another cycle and you are over 30,000- half your bees are being chewed by mites, they are infecting most of your brood with 11 different viruses and shortening the lifespans of both the adult bees and the new bees. In a few more months, your hive is dead and gone. This is where the newbies start hollering about CCD and/or absconding. "Where did my bees go?"



Superseding and swarming are two different things. With a queen in her second year, a hive is more likely to be swarming than superseding. A third or fourth year queen may be her way out and subject to supersedure.
Thanks for the reply! We're going to focus on getting our hive better right away!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Okay so here's what happened,

We opened up the hive! Found some capped queen cells and also found the queen thankfully. We split the hive in a 5 frame nuke box with the queen and left the queen cells in the original hive. We also set up a swam trap to catch any swarms that may occur. We also started treatment on BOTH hives. After some research, it seems you can treat with the strips with queen cells and virgin queens. Both hives are starting treatment for 42 days!
 

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It is my understanding that newly hatched, virgin queens pipe. Piping can also be made by excited workers immediately before taking flight. That is why I am of the opinion that your hive has swarmed in addition to all of the capped queen cells.
Is the queen you found a marked queen? If not, does she look mated? To me, this is acting more like a hive throwing cast swarms, unless you had a marked queen who is still there.
The manufacturer of a product may say it is fine to use during a requeening event, but I am pretty sure most beekeepers would not do it unless the circumstances were dire. They are about to have a brood break and a split which will curtail the INCREASE of the mite reproduction cycle. I would be satisfied with that until the new queens are established
Your experienced beekeeping friend has the advantage of being local. If they are a Successful beekeeper, I would listen to them over me. J
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
It is my understanding that newly hatched, virgin queens pipe. Piping can also be made by excited workers immediately before taking flight. That is why I am of the opinion that your hive has swarmed in addition to all of the capped queen cells.
Is the queen you found a marked queen? If not, does she look mated? To me, this is acting more like a hive throwing cast swarms, unless you had a marked queen who is still there.
The manufacturer of a product may say it is fine to use during a requeening event, but I am pretty sure most beekeepers would not do it unless the circumstances were dire. They are about to have a brood break and a split which will curtail the INCREASE of the mite reproduction cycle. I would be satisfied with that until the new queens are established
Your experienced beekeeping friend has the advantage of being local. If they are a Successful beekeeper, I would listen to them over me. J
I don't think it was piping after. We listened to some youtube videos and it didn't match that well but not sure. We are only seeing capped queen cells now since the first inspection showed open ones, also the number of bees inside makes me believe they didn't swarm? My queen was not marked but my beekeeping friend said it didn't look virgin, Is there a difference in look if they're mated or not? What exactly is a cast swarm? I think we are in "dire circumstance" as the mite problem seems to have gotten pretty bad. Do you think we should remove the strips and stop treating them?

Thanks for the reply again!
 

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We are only seeing capped queen cells now since the first inspection showed open ones, also the number of bees inside makes me believe they didn't swarm?...I think we are in "dire circumstance" as the mite problem seems to have gotten pretty bad. Do you think we should remove the strips and stop treating them?
If you did not remove enough bees, they may still attempt to swarm, either before the new queen gets mated, or just after. So, you will need to keep an eye on that. Swarming can be a result of overcrowded conditions and if they still feel crowded all bets are off.

What are you treating with that takes 42 days?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
If you did not remove enough bees, they may still attempt to swarm, either before the new queen gets mated, or just after. So, you will need to keep an eye on that. Swarming can be a result of overcrowded conditions and if they still feel crowded all bets are off.

What are you treating with that takes 42 days?
We took 4 frames out, put 1 new one in the nuke and also but 4 brand new frames inside the old hive. Hopefully enough to keep them busy and less crowded.

We are treating with apivar strips
 

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We took 4 frames out, put 1 new one in the nuke and also but 4 brand new frames inside the old hive. Hopefully enough to keep them busy and less crowded.
That may not be enough. Keep a good eye on them.
 

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@Redin: usually if you discover capped queen cells, the hive already swarmed. Note I said "usually". A cast swarm is a secondary swarm(s) where the other cells hatch and lead a swarm. Sometimes you can have multiple cast swarms which can decimate the mother hive.
Not exactly sure what is happening if there was no piping, so I would defer to your local beekeeper friend. I am a big fan of not doing anything drastic if you are unsure of what is going on. They will reveal their purpose with time. J
 

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I watched the video, couldn't hear any piping. But there were a few things I did notice.

a - No sign of a smoker in use. The bees were starting to get flighty, a couple puffs would help tremendously to calm them

b - Maybe it was out of frame, but I saw no sign of another box. The amount of bees on those frames, they need more space.

c - Watch carefully at the 20 second mark of your video, listen to the 'thump' as the frame is dropped on the box. That's why the bees are getting testy. When you drop a frame like that you make every bee on the frame angry, and every bee in the rest of the box nervous. If you watch carefully in around the same timeframe you will see a bee trying to sting your glove, so they have the alarm pheremone in the air too, that'll get them riled up even more. Again, a couple puffs of smoke will go a long way to masking that.

You state you are in Ontario, but no mention which part of the province. Advice for somebody down in the peninsula would be vastly different than for somebody up around Red Lake at this point in the season. At the 20 second mark there is a dandelion visible in the background, so yes, you are at the time of year when a crowded hive can / will swarm in your area. General rule of thumb we use, early swarms will come during the first week of the dandelion bloom, and the latest swarms will come just as we are preparing for the first raspberry pick. An old timer around here always says you can stop checking for swarm preps the day you eat the first ripe raspberry.

As far as the mite treatments at this time of the year, if you are already on top of the mite population, Oxalic Acid Vapor can help you stay ahead of the issue. But that photo of a drone tells us you are not ahead of the curve. Temperatures are likely to cool for formic to be effective, so I agree with your supplier suggesting that strips are the only viable option for a heavily infested colony right now.
 
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