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Discussion Starter #1
What started pretty good with some minor cross-combing has gotten troublesome. I think the cross-combing is getting under control, but a couple of weeks ago, an inspection showed no sign of brood. Since the brood next was cross-combed, I did my first "real" beek-keeping session and cut out pieces that were causing problems, straightened out some, managed to break my first comb completely off (whew! Those were some mad bees), managed my first masking-tape sling (thanks August C!), and found that my bees really like their propolis, and also, there is no sign of brood at all. I may have missed eggs, but there was no larvae, no capped brood, no evidence of a laying queen. I'm giving that one more week just in case they produced a virgin who hadn't mated yet, but I'm thinking I'll have to re-queen.

I've watched the hive every evening the last two weeks for about 30 minutes, and something new has developed. The last few evenings, they've been rejecting returning drones, or killing them outright. The hum in the hive has gotten a bit more high frequency, though foraging is happening. From what I recall, killing drones is a sign of dearth -- they had only a single bar of a capped honey, and I haven't seen a noticeable reduction in worker numbers, so I'm thinking they are running out of food. Do I feed again? Or do I let them learn to adjust to local conditions?
 

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If this is a first year colony, then I would feed them, especially if they only have one bar of honey at this point. You probably are queenless, from what you describe. have you seen open queen cells that would make you think you have a virgin queen in the hive? Start looking now for places that have queens available to ship, or better yet, contact your local bee club to see if you can get some mature queen cells from someone locally.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you!. It is a first year colony, and I was thinking that feeding them seemed a good plan. There were queen cells, but I've seen no evidence of an active queen. I have already contacted the local bee club, just in case.
 

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Feeding inside the hive is a better option that outside, as MB has suggested, it may start a robbing frenzy. I noticed last year that when I had a leaky open feeder, I did have a frenzy and lots of bees died trying to get to the syrup. This year, I made a different feeder that has plenty of room for the bees to get knocked down and get out of the way, and have been very pleased with the results.

I do have this open feeder away from the hives (and close to the house where I can enjoy watching them).
IMG_2518.jpg

I will try and get a picture of the feeder inside my TBH.(the sun is shining on the glass right now and I can't get a good picture of it). The board that is sits on has a C shape routed out at the bottom so the bees can access the sugar water. And it's in a different section of the TBH, so if other bees get in there, they don't have full access to the brood chamber.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I fed the bees just before a huge storm, and just before leaving town. It's been pretty rainy, and checking the hive is first on my list tomorrow morning. The feeder is inside the hive, so hopefully that will cut down on robbing. I thought I might have seen larvae on Thursday, but I was rushing a bit in front of thunder, so didn't confirm. Definitely have the cross combed portion broken into smaller sections with straighter bars between, but not sure if there is larvae whether there's a queen or laying worker.

This beekeeping experience is turning out to be more interesting than I'd anticipated, and I mean that in the best possible way!!
 

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Feeding inside the hive is a better option that outside, as MB has suggested, it may start a robbing frenzy. I noticed last year that when I had a leaky open feeder, I did have a frenzy and lots of bees died trying to get to the syrup. This year, I made a different feeder that has plenty of room for the bees to get knocked down and get out of the way, and have been very pleased with the results.

I do have this open feeder away from the hives (and close to the house where I can enjoy watching them).
View attachment 12179

I will try and get a picture of the feeder inside my TBH.(the sun is shining on the glass right now and I can't get a good picture of it). The board that is sits on has a C shape routed out at the bottom so the bees can access the sugar water. And it's in a different section of the TBH, so if other bees get in there, they don't have full access to the brood chamber.
I like your decorative feeder:) I presume the top hinges up for jar access. How much syrup does your jar hold? If over a gallon where did you get it?
Thanks.
 

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I like your decorative feeder:) I presume the top hinges up for jar access. How much syrup does your jar hold? If over a gallon where did you get it?
Thanks.
My Dad built this for me to look like a bird house to disguise it from the neighbors and also to shield the syrup from the sun. The jar is a 1/2 gallon mason jar from the hardware store, but I haven't ever filled it all the way full. And yes, the top is hinged to allow the jar to come out. It's angled also to keep the jar from falling out, although he got the hole on the bottom so large that it sits further down than I intended. I had designed it so there was plenty of room at the base for the bees to get bumped off the feeder and still have room to exit before there was fighting. Today is the first day that I'm seeing what I'd call a "feeding frenzy" as the summer dirth is definitely in full force here. (we didn't get much rain from the hurricane so the plants are very dry and nectar not flowing too freely even though we have plenty of things in bloom). Last year I had lots of dead bees around the feeder as it just got too crowded. This year, only 2 dead bees, but I still think I'm going to water down the sugar syrup so it's not so attractive to them.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Today's inspection turned up three combs with capped brood, and larvae -- since the pattern looked good (in middle of comb, great circular pattern, pics below), I think this means the hive is queen right and not with laying workers. If those with experienced eyes would be willing to take a look at the pics, feel free to correct me!

I've gotten the cross-combed nest portions broken into 4 smaller sections, with intervening empty bars. The result has been that the nest has shifted more to the middle of the hive, and the bees do not seem motivated to draw out the two empty bars between the lower entrance and the drawn comb. The first piece of drawn comb from the entrance is a huge, fully drawn piece that was filled to the brim with nectar on one side and bee bread on the other -- seriously, just like that! Not stripes of each -- just one big warehouse of food, neatly organized, on opposite sides. Smart bees!

I looked for the queen, but couldn't find her -- or, when I thought I had, it turned out to be a drone (there are lots of drones in the hive). Maybe she's in the last picture? But I don't think so!
Comb #1 with Brood



Comb #2 with Brood




Comb #3 with Brood



 
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