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Is that uncapped brood or pollen?

5772 Views 10 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Joseph Clemens
I just completed my first night inspection. Much more pleasant when you have africanized bees as I do here in Tucson. However, I'm concerned now.

I have much fewer bees than I had when I did my last inspection. I have avoided spending alot of time with my bees because they are aggressive and tend to defend heavily for several days after inspection. This has resulted in stings in our backyard for me and two of my sons. So, I have plans to re-queen but have to wait for the queen to arrive. I've been suspicious that their numbers have dwindled because I did suddenly notice a lot fewer bees hanging out on the porch a few weeks ago. The bees would pour out of the hive during inspection. I think I had around 30,000 bees during last inspection and would be surprised if I have half that now.

They have two supers filled with honey that I think are ready to extract. I put a third super on about a month ago and it is unchanged.

The bees have plenty of honey in the deep hive body. We were inspecting with a flashlight and I cant tell if they have alot of pollen or if they have alot of un-capped brood. I could not find ANY capped brood.

I just removed the entrance reducer tonight. Here is my fear! How can I tell if my brood overheated and died?

I think that I need to inspect in the daylight again and search for my queen.

If I do in the next few days, I'll include pictures.
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Sounds like you've got a queenless hive. Which could also account for their bad mood. Also sounds like attrition is taking its toll, and soon you'll have no bees. Hope your mail order queen arrives soon.

Just to be sure, you'll have to do a daylight inspection, and of course kill the queen if you find her when you do the re-queen. But no capped brood, and no open brood (doesn't look like pollen at all) means no queen, in all likelihood.

Also-- if the temps have been high, you don't want the entrance reducer. Give 'em air.
Are you in Tucson, or Pima?

I'm in the Picture Rocks area of Tucson and I've already worked out a remedy of my own for the AHB's that used to be the bees I was keeping.
Hello Joseph,

I am in NW Tucson/Marana. I am very interested to hear your remedy and would welcome a second look at my hive.


Well, yesterday I visited dkbee, to see for myself what might be going on with this one hive. It was fascinating, as bees usually are. It was a ten frame hive and had a traditional bottom board for an entrance and an inner cover with telescopic outer cover. The outer cover was propped up so the escape hole in the inner cover provided top ventilation and a small upper entrance.

The hive, at this time, was comprised of two deep supers on the bottom, then a metal rimmed wire queen excluder, then a medium super of plastic foundation, and then two more medium supers. The hive was positioned about fifty or sixty feet from the East side of the home (facing East), amongst native desert vegetation that provided partial shade for most of the day. The hive was on a platform about two feet deep and three or four feet long. The legs of the platform were in reservoirs of oil to help deter ant attacks, apparently with good success (there were ants on the ground around the hive, but no ants were bothering the hive at the present time).

Then we began opening the hive. I first removed the telescopic outer cover. There were bees looking out the inner cover escape hole. the top two medium 10-frame supers were completely full of honey, about 2/3 sealed. The next super, immediately above the queen excluder was empty except for frames of plastic foundation (it had just recently been added). Immediately beneath the excluder, the first deep super was solid with capped honey and pollen, then, to my surprise, the bottom deep was almost exactly the same as the top deep. There wasn't a single empty cell anywhere in the hive, unless you counted the undrawn plastic foundation in the newly added super. There also was no queen, I saw not a single drone, no brood in any stage, anywhere. No eggs -- often, if there are laying workers, they will even lay on pollen, in pollen cells. I also noticed that though there were a good amount of bees spread out everywhere, protecting their hive, if you rounded them all up, there might just be enough bees to fill a 3# package (their population was obviously dwindling). There was a patina of propolis everywhere, but not an excess, anywhere. There was also virtually no burr comb in any super and only a few combs in the honey supers had any cells that were extended. Though I examined most of the combs from the deep brood supers, I did not see a single drone size cell, nor any queen cups or any other evidence that queen cells had ever been built, swarm, supersedure, or emergency. There were also no signs of wax moth larva, yet - :lookout:. I haven't heard of any sightings of SHB, anywhere in our territory, yet, either and there were no signs of them here.

I proposed that on Friday I would bring over a nuc with five frames of sealed and emerging brood and we could install them in the medium super of foundation frames and newspaper combine them with the rest of the hive. Keep an eye on them to be sure they accept the nuc queen, and if they don't, come up with a plan to get them queenright.
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Wow, it sounds like his bees had been working hard. I hope you are able to get this hive settled again.
Would it be of any help to turn the hive so it faces away from the house? If children being stung was an issue, I also would have avoided inspections which may have averted this situation. I think I would be tempted to requeen sooner. Of course, as a newbee, I have yet to see either of my queens so that would be a real challenge!
Best of luck to you and keep us posted!
They are actually facing directly away from dkbee's house, though there are neighbors even farther East.
Correction: the top two supers, both full of honey (one to two thirds capped), were shallow supers.
Joseph came by and gave expert advice to this newbee.

The bees went to war after they were combined and it was interesting to see the dead bodies ejected from the colony and to see a couple of bees escaping from the slaughter.

I'm looking forward to releasing the queen.

thanks Joseph!

I put together five medium frames of sealed/emerging brood from five different hives (covered predominantly with nurse bees), the queen belonged to one of these frames, but I caged her to help ensure she was safe until the bees accepted her. We removed the two shallow honey supers, now full of honey, then removed five empty frames from the medium super and installed the five donor frames of brood and nurse bees. Placed the queen cage between two frames of brood, replaced one of the shallow supers and closed up the hive. We did not install any newspaper, because using newspaper is a dangerous thing with daytime temperatures well over 100F nearly every day. I've had some horrible experiences, back when I was still trying to incorporate newspaper into combines - here in the desert.

Perhaps this loss of bee life (in this war between bees of unrelated colonies), could have been avoided. I was thinking afterwards that just the sealed/emerging brood, along with the new queen, might have given them all they needed, without the fighting/killing. It is quite unusual to see such a fuss with predominantly nurse bees. Maybe we should have spritzed the entire hive with vanilla scented sugar water, or similar.

DKbee's hive has a little shade from native desert vegetation, mostly one large cactus on the West side. It is a traditional configuration with non-screened bottom board, inner and telescoping outer covers (the telescoping cover is propped up in front allowing heated air to escape through the center "bee escape" hole in the inner cover, and for this to also be used as an upper entrance.

I believe this combine was done on Friday, 9 July 2010. DKbee released the queen on Monday, and I hope to check back, tomorrow, Friday, 16 July 2010 or Saturday, to make sure the queen has been accepted, but I will bring a ripe queen cell with me, just to play it safe.
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Today, Sunday, 18 July 2010, I visited dkbee's hive to see how the transfusion of bees and queen, went.

I arrived just before 2:00 pm, dkbee and his two oldest children, son and daughter suited up to help and to observe. A smoker was lit, just in case -- though we did not need to use it. The top shallow super, full of capped honey, was removed to harvest the honey. The next super down was a medium of wooden frames with plastic foundation, and a few frames, previously harvested. The next super down is a medium where the five frames of sealed brood and the mated/laying queen marked with blue paint was also installed.

As we accessed the frames that were installed of sealed brood, I noticed that most of the brood had emerged and the queen had quickly filled most of the recently vacated cells, in all five frames, with eggs, two frame of which had already hatched and were being well fed with royal jelly. We located the queen on the fourth frame examined, to see that she appeared to be plump and active - obviously. There was also a torn-down queen cell on this frame, though I don't remember it being there when we installed these frames.

Since we had found what we wanted to find, we did not go into the two bottom supers, both deeps that had been full of honey and pollen on my first inspection.

Here is a photo I took of dkbee's hive and his two oldest children (I'm bad with names, so you'll have to ask him):

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