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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

I tried a search, but most posts asked about no eggs too and my queen is a strong layer with lots of eggs present.

I have 2 hives and this one has been weak from the begginning. I got 2 nucs in mid-late May and very early it was obvious this one had trouble. It had a stong mite presence about 2 weeks after hiving. I didn't do a count (I know I should), but saw several mites on bees. I used Hop Guard, but overdosed the first application (2 strips per brood frame instead of 2 strips per box). I had 8 strips in the hive and should have had 3-4. Caught my mistake that evening and removed the excess strips the next morning, but the damage had been done. A lot of brood had been killed. I kept the application going at the prescribed amount for 3 weeks total and they appeared to recover right away. I see no sign of DWV, k-wing or other diseases, but I am inexperienced (2nd season).

Its been about 4 weeks since the final application and they just aren't building up. I watched the hives this morning and the weak hive had very little activity at the entrance, less-so than there has been with this hive. I went in this morning to see what I could find out and saw very little capped brood. I saw the queen and tons of eggs in good pattern, but almost no brood capped. There is fresh pollen, but very little fresh nectar and no fresh comb. There is lots of forage as the 2nd (strong) hive is bringing in a lot of honey and pollen.

Minnesota and especially south of the twin cities (I am in Prior Lake) has gotten tons of rain this spring and the sun really only started coming out the last 2 weeks. This is my 2nd summer keeping bees and don't know what to do. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Thank you all,
Chad
 

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As long as you see eggs that turn into larva and then into capped worker brood they probably will be ok.

You can mark a frame that's mostly eggs. Check in 5 days, it should all be hatched. Check again in 5 days. It should all be capped.

If this sequence happens, great. If not where the chain broke will be the clue as to what the problem is.
 

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You could also look to add some donations from your strong hive. Doing bee math, you can see you are at least 3 weeks out from having new bees if you let them be. A couple frames of capped brood with nurse bees (dont bring over the queen) can do wonders to kick start the hive and provide some needed foragers when the new batch of eggs emerge.

I've never had the need to use chemicals, so I am not sure how the major overdose will affect the hive long term.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the comments Wolfer and Zbee. I was planning to add a frame of capped from the strong hive this evening (this mornings was just a quick check) and I'll be sure to include the nurse bees, but I hate doing that because the 2nd hive is doing so well. I'll do that too, Wolfer, and mark the frames.

I have 4 frozen frames of honey from last seasons winter die off that I hope will also give it a boost. We are expecting a flow to come on now that the sun is out here and its about to warm up. Do you think it would help any to put a pail feeder on so the small workforce doesn't have to work too hard to forage as far as getting them to make wax?

Chad
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well, 2 weeks later and no larvae, no capped brood and now no eggs. As mentioned in the original post, there were tons of eggs the last time I was in the hive. The eggs just are not making it. I saw the queen, so she is there. I did give a frame of capped brood and the bees that were on it from the strong hive, and from the looks of it, that just delayed the inevitable. I think this one is just done for. I did see mold or white specks on the pollen that is there (not much), but otherwise saw no sign of disease. Also, the overdose is only part of the problem (final straw maybe). The hive was having a lot of trouble before that.

What interests or confuses me is why didn't the bees try to supersede the queen when they had eggs? The weak hive I had last year was the same way, but the queen was weak; poor laying and sporadic pattern. She was just like I had read about a weak queen being, but the hive didn't supersede her either. I've read so many posts/threads on the forum where the bees are superseding all the time.

When I first overdosed the hive I did email the maker of HopGuard to get their advice, but got no response, not even an acknowledgement of the contact. I'm not impressed with their 'customer service'. I'm not blaming them for my mistake, but some semblance of support would be nice. I won't be buying their stuff again.

Never-mind winter I'd like to get 2 hives that can survive summer! The 2nd hive is booming, though.
Chad
 

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What interests or confuses me is why didn't the bees try to supersede the queen when they had eggs? The weak hive I had last year was the same way, but the queen was weak; poor laying and sporadic pattern. She was just like I had read about a weak queen being, but the hive didn't supersede her either. I've read so many posts/threads on the forum where the bees are superseding all the time.
A lot of times, what appears to be a weak queen, is just a weak hive without enough young nurse bees, not enough "staff support" so to speak for the queen and her laying activity. It might have been nothing wrong with the queen, so the bees did not "see" a need to supersede...it was just not enough bees, young nurse bees that is, to tend to the hatching eggs, to feed the freshly emerged larvae.
The queen was laying a "good pattern", sure...but those eggs once hatched either just got cannibalized, or just not properly cared for...therefore resulting in very little capped brood.

Assuming the hive had plenty of nutritional resources initially, but was indeed heavily infested with mites, and by your description sure sounds like it was, then that is where your trouble started. By the time you realized what's going on, the bee population was out of whack.
To compound the problem, you overdosing the Hopguard sure did not help. You state that you saw a lot of brood being killed.

What Zbee suggested was absolutely the right thing to do in order to get the population back into balance...it sure worked, as you describe that it "delayed" the dwindling process.
But, I think it was too little, too late. Maybe next time, in a similar situation you might consider adding a frame of capped brood and uncapped brood with the adhering bees once a week until the hive gets back into gear...besides just doing the treatment for the mites.

On your follow up post treatment, you describe that there was plenty of fresh pollen but no nectar coming in into this "weak" hive...despite the fact that nectar was available as the strong hive was bringing it in...so again, the bee population out of whack with not enough foragers at this time. Those nurse bees that were lacking in numbers weeks back...sure did not turn in large numbers as foragers. I would have also fed the hive 1:1 for stimulation...nectar might have been available but not enough foragers to bring it home in sufficient quantity to stimulate brood rearing and wax production...

It is a cycle and a rhythm that once it gets broken...it takes time and resources to fix...and it is not always easy to do.

Just my observation...
 

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Would it be possible to downsize this hive to a 5-frame nuc with two frames of capped brood from the booming hive? Just curious if it can be saved.
 

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HatTrick - I know how it feels to have an issue in the bee yard and not know what to do.

Have you thought about switching hive locations? All the strong hives foragers will become foragers for the weak hive and if the queen is not laying due to lack of resources, she will kick in in gear from what I read. The strong hive should have enough resources to make it a week or so and the strong hive nurse bees will become foragers and new nurse bees will hatch. It will slow the growth of the strong hive but may let you see if the weak hive queen is worth saving. If it doesn't work in two weeks, pull the weak queen and place a frame of capped brood in the hive and as they hatch add a frame of eggs. They should make a queen.

NOTE: - this is from what I have read, not that exterienced yet.

Good Luck
 

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Would it be possible to downsize this hive to a 5-frame nuc with two frames of capped brood from the booming hive? Just curious if it can be saved.
This is exactly what I would do need to get the density up, and the only way to do that is with more bees or a smaller box. It should be plenty of time to build up to at least a double stack nuc especially if he has drawn comb
 

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I am a first year but just wanted to add a word of caution. I started feeding a couple of weak hives I have seven. I was using frame feeders with one to one sugar syrup. I caused a huge robbing issue which caused more issues. They robbed the understrength hives right out and set them back even further. I have read on here the idea of feeding the stronger hives and then swapping frames to strengthen the weak hives. I am doing that and it is working. Just something to consider.
Good luck.
 

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Thanks for the comments and advice everyone. Its very appreciated. I've learned a lot from this site.

I'm tempted to try to reduce it to one box with 2 frames of brood (capped and hatched) and a frame or 2 of pollen and nectar from the strong hive. But with only 2 hives I'm hesitant to weaken the strong one when its about to put start filling supers. It does have some honey as I gave it a couple frames from last winters die out. This would be my first honey harvest, so I don't want to risk that, but I also want to learn and see what would happen if I stocked it like a nuc, try to put it back in rhythm. That description made a lot of sense to me, and looking at how its season has gone, I can see that being the case with this hive. Swapping locations is even tempting, but in my mind that would set back the strong hive too much. I had family over this evening, so couldn't try yet, but hopefully will get a chance tomorrow. To help foraging I'll feed 1:1 and put a patty on if/when I try this. I've been considering going to 4-5 hives next year, so when I have a weak hive I'll have more than 1 left to rely on.

ABruce, thanks for commenting, too. I did the same thing last year. I tried feeding the weak hive when I knew it wouldn't have enough stores for winter and triggered robbing. The week hive was ravaged pretty bad, even the strong hive got robbed out some. I got screens put on and that stopped it.

Chad
 

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I thought I'd post about how this all worked out so far. I did reduce this hive to 1 box. I had added 2 frames of last years honey so they'd have food and there was some pollen in the hive too once I condensed it. I added a second frame from the strong hive that had a nice mix of brood from eggs to capped along with the bees on the frame. With the honey flow on and having the 2 frames of last years honey I did not feed or add a patty. That was about 4 weeks ago and it looks like the hive is functioning normally now. I was in tonight and saw a good amount (considering) of brood of all stages on several (3-4) frames on both sides. The other frames are being used for honey. I don't think its enough to get this hive through the winter as the main flow is tapering off and the final flow (goldenrod) is starting to bloom, but I'm glad I took your advice and was able to get results. I think the key factor that kept this hive from recovering was not having enough bees to take care of the hive when it was spread over 2 boxes, so it shut down. The population was knocked down too far with the overdose and it took me too long to react. I do have a deep box with several frames of built comb, but I doubt they'd be able to fill it in time for winter with such a low population. I don't have any nuc boxes and have not managed a nuc into winter, so wouldn't know what to do anyway. I am tempted to throw a super on and see if they will at least build some comb that could be used next year.

As much as I'd like this to go well I appreciate that this was a learning experience. Especially being able to see a positive response after taking action. I feel more encouraged about being able to fix a problem before it gets out of hand.

Thanks everyone for your input.
Chad
 

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Agree with JRG13 and also, put on a box of drawn comb, it's too late to make they try to draw wax in their condition. With drawn comb, it gives immediate storage space for the feed and brood space for the queen if she picks up the pace from adding the pollen patty. Good luck into winter.
 
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