Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, new here and new beekeeper. I got the package on Apr 21 put them in the hive and they were doing great. I ended up pulling the feeder out once all the fruit trees in full blossom and everything was fine. Then, here in CT, a couple days of cold rainy weather and the bees starved. The state inspector says I have the queen and about 500 or so workers left. I'm trying the local apiaries for bees to replace but...if I can't get any is there any way to save the hive?

I have put a heat lamp outside the hive for warmth and have food in the top box. Is this a futile attempt and I should write it off and try again next year?

Norm
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,558 Posts
Were they installed on drawn comb. Did you inspect to see if the queen was being left with enough room to lay. If she was kept flooded with feed and incoming nectar new brood production might have been limited. No newbrood, no population increase while older package bees were dieing off every day.

500 or so bees is a cupful and near the lower limit of the critical mass needed to grow. How about mite levels. Though often considered not a worry, I had one experience with a nuc that was merely treading water and not growing. Treated for mites and in a week or so they were going to town.

We really need more information to figure out what is going on, like brood pattern, open cells for the queen to lay, stored nectar and pollen etc.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Installed in box hive with frames. There is comb made and being used. The hive was only 3 weeks old and starved because I removed the empty feed tray and here in CT had 2 days of cold rain. The state bee inspector said other then the dead bees everything looked fine.

Is this hive worth trying to save when winter comes. There are hive heaters for winter months. Do they work?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,558 Posts
Was there a couple of pounds of dead bees on the hive bottom? How much capped brood is there. If everything was fine there should have been enough nectar in the hive that they would not starve in two days. Were the frames you hived the bees on bare plastic foundation, wax foundation or foundationless?

If a package hived in April is not ready by winter time it seems there are some serious issues that a hive heater is not the cure for.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,540 Posts
Unless you saw a massive amount of dead bees in the hive (which you did not mention), I would guess something else is going on. Perhaps you had a two-queen package and a large portion of them took off with the other queen.

Stopping the feed was incorrect, but the bees wouldn't have starved to death due to a few days of rainy weather. I am north of you, north of Albany, NY, so I have had the same kind of weather.

Ask around to buy a queenless package or nuc (shouldn't be too hard to find right now) and see if you can combine with the queen and the remaining bees. (I would do a newspaper combine, and perhaps protect the queen for a few days in a generously sized push-in cage.) It would be good, too, if all the brood (if you find a queenless nuc) is too-old to start queen cells. (Just ask for that, anybody making up such a nuc will know what is needed.)

That should turn the colony around, and pretty fast.

You are thinking about winter, but honestly, that small a quantity of bees might not survive until the 4th of July. You need bees, and lots of them (and preferably some brood to bridge the gap.) Bees are needed to raise brood into adults who can gather resources and make wax so more babies can be raised to make more wax to store honey (or syrup) for winter.

But if you can get some bees in there and re-start the brood cycle, your colony will prosper, enough to build itself up for winter. Just keep the feed on them continuously until they have fully drawn out all the frames you need for winter. In two 10-frame deep boxes, that may mean feeding right on through to August, or later. I have read that you have a summer dearth in some parts of CT.

Nancy
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,827 Posts
Personally, I would feed them and that would be all I would do. By winter they have either recovered or not. I wouldn't heat. They survive or they don't.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,558 Posts
I questioned the the status of frame they were hived on since a package of bees have to raise brood immediately. The best case scenario is new laid eggs take three weeks before they start to contribute to the colony. The bees from the package could have a high percentage of aged foragers who only have a few weeks life left in them. Incoming nectar can crowd out available cells for the queen to lay in, and so can feeding.

Colonies with low population also can get locked on brood and starve. I wonder if this could have been an issue here and that the inspectors appraisal may have lost something in the translation. I see also reference to top box I wonder if the bees might have been hived initially with more space than they could temperature control.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Bees dead by the hand full on the screen with only 500 or so left. They starved according to the CT bee inspector, rookie move by me. He said there is not enough bees to keep the hive warm but I'm going to try and see if I can keep them going. He took out comb with dead eggs in it and the rest of the comb had the queen and workers. Why not try and save them, the other choice is just letting the hive die. I tried finding bees to add but no one can spare any and packages are done. Guess I'll keep food and pollen in the hive and heat it best until temps get in the 80's.

Thanks for the input everyone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,540 Posts
The other thing you can do is make the interior cavity of the box much smaller by using follower, or, dummy boards to take up most of the space. I use that technique all the time. Simply buy pieces of 1" XPS insulation at a Big Box store and cut it roughly in the shape of frames. Cover the exposed edges with shiny aluminum HVAC tape (not duct tape), and also the face of one "frame" on each side of just one, or two frames occupied by the bees. You can also purchased wood follower boards to cover the foam boards. Then as the colony strengthens, gradually remove the XPS boards, one by one until they are back in business. You may need to winter them in a reduced-sized cavity as well.

Since it's over 80 here in north of Albany, you can stop heating the colony, for the time being.

If my explanation isn't clear, let me know and I can post pictures.

Nancy
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top