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I have 2 new hives of Russian bees that I bought this year as nucs. I didn't get them until fairly late, mid-June if I remember right, so they missed the big flows. I've been checking on them periodically and they've been doing well: they drew out all the comb on the bottom brood box so I stacked a new brood box on each hive. They started drawing out some of the frames in those and filling them with honey when I last checked about 6 weeks ago. I didn't check the bottom brood boxes at the time so I don't know if there was new brood.

I just checked them again today. When I checked the first hive there didn't seem to be much progress at all in terms of drawing out comb. There also seemed to be less honey. I pulled off the top brood box and I saw no sign of a queen: no eggs, no larva, no capped brood; plenty of nicely drawn foundation but no signs of a queen. I also noticed a few (5 or 6) small (about 1/4 the size of a bee) beetles and some mites on the bees. (I had thought Russians were mite resistant) I slid out the tray on the IPM bottomboard and noticed small white larva in silky tunnels, they looked like wax moth larva only smaller -- I assume those are Small Hive Beetle larva. When I checked the next hive it was exactly the same.

I have a few questions:

The big one is basically: How can I make it through the winter with these bees?

and then under that are:
1- Is it possible that I have laying queens but the beetles are eating eggs faster than she can lay them?
2- Do I need to re-queen and is it too late?
3- Should I try to combine these hives and feed them as much as they'll take?

Some other things you should know: I've never fed them and I've never treated them for anything. (I know it doesn't really make any sense but I had this idea that if I do those things they'd never learn to take care of themselves -- find all the nectar sources, groom themselves properly...that sort of thing) Also, the location the hives are in doesn't get any direct sunlight until mid day due to a ridge next to my property and the hives face WSW. (I could actually move them to another location that would get more direct sunlight for more of the day but a bit less in the late day.)

Anyone out there who can tell me what to do and in what steps to do it?

Any help at all would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
 

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<1- Is it possible that I have laying queens but the beetles are eating eggs faster than she can lay them?

To my knowledge the wax moth eats wax and the small hive beetle eats pollen. Never heard of them eating eggs. So that would a no to the first question.

<2- Do I need to re-queen and is it too late?

You will have a really hard time finding a queen this time of year. If one of the hives has a queen do a newspaper combine and feed them.

<3- Should I try to combine these hives and feed them as much as they'll take?

Yes

And more sunlight you can provide the better.

IMHO :D

[ October 18, 2006, 09:28 PM: Message edited by: Rob-bee ]
 

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first off 5 or 6 shb in a hive is no large deal. moving the hives to an unshaded location should remedy that problem. In the meantime you may (I would) locate any comb infected with shb larvae and freeze for 24 hours minimum to eliminate this infestation and then you may wish to return comb (especially those with nectar or pollen) to the hive.

likely the queens have shut down due to the season and limited nectar flow. If your season has not turned really really cold then you could test this by beginning to feed both units for a short duration (I would think a minimum of two weeks). After some defined feeding time check back to see if you have any eggs or larvae (your situation also suggest why marking the queen is good insurance). I would suspect with the russians that they will be slow to begin brood rearing once they have halted for the season.

If you discovered that one is truely queenless then you should still have sufficient time to combine.
 

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Dandebug, the recent frosts in our area have knocked out much of the wonderful aster and goldenrod we've had this year. If your haves are in full size boxes and don't have 30-40 pounds of stores, I would feed, feed, feed.

If the colonies aren't filling the boxes (with bees) and you have doubts about queenrightness, a newspaper merge as suggested above might be wise. It may be a new process for you, but easier than you probably think. Do a search on this site for previous discussions on the topic - you will find good advice. Also, any of the basic how-to books will have instrucions.

But - you might also try finding the queens first, to keep from creating a problem you don't have yet. Especially if they were new queens this year when your nuks were started, it'd be a shame to loose one unnecessarily.

Good luck!
 
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