Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
253 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My three hives survived the winter. Two are booming, and one is just getting by. Today I went into the third, frame by frame, fearing the worst.

And it's worse than that! If the queen was gone, I could simply take my losses.

I re-queened last July, with a local girl I bought from a friend, part-feral-cutout/part-Carniolan, and last year she was laying fine. So today I saw her (I recognized her!) but didn't see any brood or eggs. Only a small clump of bees are in the hive, enough to cover maybe 2 frames, and there's a very low level of in-and-out activity during the day. I started feeding them a few days ago, 1:1 syrup, before my inspection today, but they've hardly touched it. They're surrounded by capped honey, some of it open and half-eaten, and there were a few small pockets of fresh nectar.

So I thought of dumping a couple of frames of nurse bees in, from one of the other hives, along with a frame or two of capped brood. The glitch was, I couldn't find the queen from the second hive, and I didn't want to dump her in with the other queen. I thought of dumping them in through a queen excluder with a box on top, but couldn't find the queen excluder. So I gave them two frames with clean bee bread, and closed it up. Now what?

The thing is, that hive was one of two that was quite active earlier this year, in the warmer spells. Now there was 1-2 inches of dead bees on the bottom and the hive was littered with dead bees here and there. They seem still to be loyal to their queen, and they are holding off robbers, just hanging out and waiting ... for what?

Questions:
  1. Might she start laying again?
  2. Maybe she's laying, and the workers are eating the eggs, until conditions improve?
  3. What if I give them a frame of eggs and young brood, and some nurse bees?
  4. Should I give them a chance to build queen cells first? (What method?)
  5. Or maybe just give them some capped brood and nurse bees, and see how things go for awhile?
There's no soft new comb they could use to create a queen cell. Without some more workers, I don't think there are enough to cover the brood. Nights are still chilly. There are, already, drones in the two other hives. Some of them were hatching out today. I didn't see any capped queen cells.

So, it seems like one of those crazy, mixed up situations where there's no one right way to go. :scratch:

Any ideas?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
461 Posts
My three hives survived the winter. Two are booming, and one is just getting by. Today I went into the third, frame by frame, fearing the worst.

And it's worse than that! If the queen was gone, I could simply take my losses.

I re-queened last July, with a local girl I bought from a friend, part-feral-cutout/part-Carniolan, and last year she was laying fine. So today I saw her (I recognized her!) but didn't see any brood or eggs. Only a small clump of bees are in the hive, enough to cover maybe 2 frames, and there's a very low level of in-and-out activity during the day. I started feeding them a few days ago, 1:1 syrup, before my inspection today, but they've hardly touched it. They're surrounded by capped honey, some of it open and half-eaten, and there were a few small pockets of fresh nectar.

So I thought of dumping a couple of frames of nurse bees in, from one of the other hives, along with a frame or two of capped brood. The glitch was, I couldn't find the queen from the second hive, and I didn't want to dump her in with the other queen. I thought of dumping them in through a queen excluder with a box on top, but couldn't find the queen excluder. So I gave them two frames with clean bee bread, and closed it up. Now what?

The thing is, that hive was one of two that was quite active earlier this year, in the warmer spells. Now there was 1-2 inches of dead bees on the bottom and the hive was littered with dead bees here and there. They seem still to be loyal to their queen, and they are holding off robbers, just hanging out and waiting ... for what?

Questions:
  1. Might she start laying again?
  2. Maybe she's laying, and the workers are eating the eggs, until conditions improve?
  3. What if I give them a frame of eggs and young brood, and some nurse bees?
  4. Should I give them a chance to build queen cells first? (What method?)
  5. Or maybe just give them some capped brood and nurse bees, and see how things go for awhile?
There's no soft new comb they could use to create a queen cell. Without some more workers, I don't think there are enough to cover the brood. Nights are still chilly. There are, already, drones in the two other hives. Some of them were hatching out today. I didn't see any capped queen cells.

So, it seems like one of those crazy, mixed up situations where there's no one right way to go. :scratch:

Any ideas?
Are there any brood at all? I am further south than you and some of my queens are just now starting to lay. If you are sure your queen is no good, I would pinch her and add a couple frames of brood and bees, making sure you have some eggs and very young larvae, and let them raise a new queen. Make sure you don't accidently get the queen from the donor hive when you add the frames. I'm not saying this is the best answer, but this is what I would do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
535 Posts
I can't say about where you are but it's too early to raise a good queen here IMO. If your other hive isn't booming I might give her a little longer but if she don't start laying I'd combine them with the other hive. After killing her of course.

After there's lots of drones flying you can do a split. They'll build up faster than your old queen would have.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
253 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Are there any brood at all? I am further south than you and some of my queens are just now starting to lay.
No brood at all. The other two hives are booming. They must have been raising brood for a month or two already. For the last two weeks or so they've been spilling out the entrance and foraging for whatever scraps they can find (mostly winter aconite, and snowbells more recently). Eight frames of brood in one hive, mostly capped, and four or five frames in the other. (A couple of months ago, the really hot hive was pretty much dormant while the other two were active on warmer days.)

If you are sure your queen is no good, I would pinch her ...
I can't do that! (Not yet.) She's butt-ugly but she's a local girl and the rest of the bees that survived are still loyal!

I can't say about where you are but it's too early to raise a good queen here IMO. If your other hive isn't booming I might give her a little longer but if she don't start laying I'd combine them with the other hive. After killing her of course.

After there's lots of drones flying you can do a split. They'll build up faster than your old queen would have.
That's more or less what I'm thinking. If she starts laying again, it'll be a marvel. That I would like to see! And I'd like to keep her genetics going if possible. They were gentle and productive. They were out and about earlier this year -- on sunny days when the air temps were in the upper 30s! But all that said, I don't understand what wiped out most of them a month or so ago. There were some patches of dead brood, some uncapped, half picked out. The numbers have dwindled now to where I don't think they can do much for themselves.

I'll combine later if I have to.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,540 Posts
Could you supply some extra food, including something like a pollen patty?

I know this sounds weird, but what I would do is add some insulation around the hive. Actually what I'd do is temporarily add some insulation within the hive by removing empty frames from the outer edges and replacing them with wooden follower boards and foam insulation panels cut like frames. The object would be to shrink the interior of the hive down to a large nuc size without having the disruption of moving them to a nuc. I nearly killed one of my hives last year. Pure operator error, but it resulted in such a loss of bees that they went from a deep-sized to a nuc-sized colony. I was discouraged and fed up with buying more bee stuff so I got the idea of reducing the cavity size rather than moving them. It worked just fine; I actually wintered them in a double "nuc-sized" deep, made of two boxes arranged like this, stacked up. You should know that there is some concern noted here on BS about the risk of the bees eating the foam insulation but so far, at least, mine haven't and I am watching very closely for that.

The two things I am trying to suggest, from my paltry bee experience of less than a year, are intended to coddle the bees for a bit longer. Perhaps they suffer from some larger, fatal problem which will reveal itself soon. But perhaps, too, they just got ahead of themselves season-wise and ran out of steam, but would recover their equilibrium if they can catch a break. Since you are reluctant to pinch her and start anew, what have you got to lose by babying the colony a bit? Wrapping or insulating the hive will lower their energy cost on chilly nights and adding some pollen patty might boost their energy enough to carry them through.

OTOH, because you have no idea what's the problem and you have other nearby hives I would practice pretty rigid hygiene when moving from the problem hive to the others: changing gloves, cleaning tools, not moving any hive materials or components from this hive to the healthier ones. (The other direction is fine.) And I wouldn't encourage any common feeding or watering stations in your yard right now.

I'm in northern NY, where it's colder than where you are. But I went to school in Bucks County and I know that April in SE PA can still offer some pretty cold nights.

I wish you, and your, hive good luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,676 Posts
This year, a couple of my queens were very slow starters coming out of Winter. The clusters were barely bigger than cantaloupe-size, and some cells had two eggs in them, too, which made me further doubt the queens. This compared to some other hives which were booming, including a hive of Italians which had about 23 deep frames of bees at the end of March.

After struggling with bad queens last year, I have a new philosophy to quickly replace any queens that aren't performing up to snuff. No more coddling! I was all fired up to install new queens right away on these hives, but talking to a commercial beek, he indicated that some queens just need a little more time to shake off the cobwebs after a long cold winter.

The most extreme example: One of my hives looked like a laying-worker hive. No worker brood and lots of capped drone brood in worker cells. The overall hive population was small and the hive was not active during the warmer days. Fearing the worst, I added a frame of eggs and capped brood, planning to add 2 or 3 more at weekly intervals in the classic method to re-queen a laying-worker hive. I wasn't able to get back to the hive for 2 weeks, but when I did there were multiple frames of capped worker brood. Obviously, 2 weeks is not enough time to raise and mate a new queen, and then get capped brood, so the hive had had a queen all along. The ol'lady was just taking her sweet time getting down to buisness.

This early in the Spring, I'd consider giving the queen a few more weeks to start laying before doing something drastic. If your other hives can spare a frame of brood, it never hurts to add such to a hive, but I wouldn't be stealing too much brood this early in the Spring while they are just starting their buildup after a hard winter.

JMHO
 

·
Vendor
Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
Joined
·
54,043 Posts
>1.Might she start laying again?

She might.

>2.Maybe she's laying, and the workers are eating the eggs, until conditions improve?

If they can't keep them warm or there are not enough resources to rear brood...

>3.What if I give them a frame of eggs and young brood, and some nurse bees?

Always a good plan...
http://www.bushfarms.com/beespanacea.htm

>4.Should I give them a chance to build queen cells first? (What method?)
A frame of eggs will do just that.

>5.Or maybe just give them some capped brood and nurse bees, and see how things go for awhile?
That would give the population a quick boost.
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top