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Discussion Starter #122
Well well. That laying worker hive now has a queen who is laying eggs! I was pretty shocked and had really given up on it. I suppose I had better stop stealing their resources.

They were being robbed, or maybe just starting to be robbed since it didn't look too bad. I laid an old shirt across the entrance and that seems to have taken care of the problem. No more yellow jackets at the entrance either.

A few days ago looked into all the hives. Lots of pollen but none have much honey. More of a dearth than I had thought? The last few weeks have been dry, which is normal around here this season. But when I opened the hives today there were no attempts at robbing. Saw one small hive beetle, no moths, no mites. The small drone comb was mite-free but it was hard to see much since they were in the middle of a frame covered with bees.
 

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Well well. That laying worker hive now has a queen who is laying eggs!.......
This season I have been playing these "queen raising" games.
Pretty much tired of trying to determine what the heck is going on.
One day the queen is nowhere to be found; next time she is there; next time I see two queens side by side..
All kinds of things are going on - if one is to look.
Pretty crazy.
Still don't really know what I got on hand.
Too many queens, very little certainty who is bad and who is good and why that one is not still laying since long ago (or maybe I need to upgrade my glasses).
 

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Discussion Starter #124
This season I have been playing these "queen raising" games.
Pretty much tired of trying to determine what the heck is going on.
One day the queen is nowhere to be found; next time she is there; next time I see two queens side by side..
All kinds of things are going on - if one is to look.
Pretty crazy.
Still don't really know what I got on hand.
Too many queens, very little certainty who is bad and who is good and why that one is not still laying since long ago (or maybe I need to upgrade my glasses).
It's all good fun. Hopefully in a month more will be clarified. Certainly winter will weed out the stock.

I harass the bees more than I should, opening and doing whole-hive inspections. Sometimes see a queen and sometimes not. For that laying worker hive I actually took a frame and walked out into the full sun to convince myself I was seeing eggs in a decent pattern and not just random drone larvae. This was after seeing some normal-looking capped brood and thinking 'hmmm'. Found the queen on the next frame. She is smaller but any queen is better than none in this case. She will be 3rd-4th generation from the founding queen, I believe. I may give them a frame of brood to bulk them up.

These bees seem to guard the entrances quite well, and I have seen them catching and flying away with SHBs. Some odd behavior I will post a pic of tonight...
 

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Discussion Starter #125
Aug 2020 bearding.jpg August 2020.jpg

What you are seeing is bearding. But why? I can understand if it's a hot day some hives will beard. But these two, particularly the red one, beard all the time, every day. The only time they are NOT bearding is during the middle of the day when many are out foraging. But go out there in the morning, in the evening, on cool nights, and there they are covering the front six bees deep and a foot square. I thought maybe they were just jam-packed in with bees, but I opened the hive and they really only cover 6 frames fully and a bit on the others. Not overpopulated at all. What's up with that?
 

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View attachment 57911 View attachment 57913

What you are seeing is bearding. But why? ......What's up with that?
My my theory (as I recently complained of similar "lazy" bees) - this is about the generational dis-balance in the workforce.

What you observe is TOO MANY young bees.
So many of them - there are out of work.

They don't forage yet; but also not needed inside - hence just get out of the house to free up space.
I think this is a sign of wrong bee for your location - unused bee-force is costly to maintain and yet they bringing nothing to the table.
Ideal bee colony has good balance at all times over the season and so ALL bees are working at all times.
The colony will shrink at proper time and grow at proper time.
The bees tuned properly for the location are much more efficient in resource intake/resource usage over the season - which is what you want if to make a good crop.

These pics I posted before - well balanced hive vs. poorly balanced hive (standing 10 steps from each other).
By the time these excess bees will start foraging, the flow will be largely over.
I hope they might hit some goldenrod IF there is any flow (but we have drought conditions).
20200725_171035.jpg 20200725_171102.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #127
That makes sense, BUT, they have been doing this all summer. I was concerned that they were overpopulated and going to swarm late, but when I checked there were not all that many bees inside, multiple unused frames. They have been hanging out outside the hive for months now.

I just went back and took another pic at 10:00PM. It's cool outside, black night. Why are they outdoors?
 

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Discussion Starter #128
Another bit of behavior I wonder about. Saw it again today. Suddenly there where hundreds of frantic bees in the air swirling around one hive, rushing in and out, acting excited. I see this now and then in different hives. It resembles swarming behavior, but less dense clouds of bees. After ten or twenty minutes they all go back inside and things calm down. I suspected robbing but there was no sign of defensive behavior.

This I suspect is the result of a large hatch, lots of young bees all hatched at about the same time, and they all get the idea to go outside and play, doing their orientation flights together. It's a bit nerve-wracking, waiting for the swarm that doesn't come.
 

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Another bit of behavior I wonder about. Saw it again today. Suddenly there where hundreds of frantic bees in the air swirling around one hive, rushing in and out, acting excited.

In the afternoon, the young bees will be making their test flights, typically around 2.

For a hive that is hanging out I have learned to tip over 90 degress, pull off the bottom board and inspect both it and the brood box from underneath. This inspection will quickly reveal if the hive has 'issues' that may not be seen from above.
 

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Discussion Starter #130
For a hive that is hanging out I have learned to tip over 90 degress, pull off the bottom board and inspect both it and the brood box from underneath. This inspection will quickly reveal if the hive has 'issues' that may not be seen from above.
Can't on this hive. It has a permanent bottom board screwed on. I have however done a full inspection of every frame. No beetles, no swarm cells, decent brood patterns. I'm fuddled.
 

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Can't on this hive. It has a permanent bottom board screwed on. I have however done a full inspection of every frame. No beetles, no swarm cells, decent brood patterns. I'm fuddled.
I don't want to be a critic; however, I'm not impressed by the available entrance. For one it's not wide enough. If you aren't going to change out the bottom (I would), at the very least you could provide a top entrance of slide back the second or 3rd box to make an entrance. Guaranteed that the bees will use it.

I used to have nailed on bottoms back when I had mean as hell bees and I moved 3 high deeps into the honey flow by throwing them on the truck. No more though, as the 'mean' bees have become quite domesticated. If I moved 3 deeps now, I break them down. Not a problem to do this with my bees now.
 

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Discussion Starter #132
The yellow box has a fairly small entrance, but the red one, which is the one that really beards all the time, has two entrances, plenty of space. Both were originally swarm traps that have been pressed into use because I got too many swarms this year for my number of boxes. I like permanent bottoms and narrow entrances on the swarm traps. Normally the narrow entrances don't cause any problems and I don't see more bearding than on hives with full length entrances.
 

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Discussion Starter #133
Taking Gino45's comments to heart, I added mediums above the two hives that like to beard, and put a shim under the lid to give them more ventilation and a way out of the hive at the top. Still bearding. It's fun to watch.

Two hives appear queenless. One has had trouble all summer after it swarmed in June. I put a strong nuc on top of it with 2 layers of newspaper. This is my first year having this kind of problems with hives not making or keeping queens.

The other had a queen a few weeks ago. I will leave it a few days and then go looking for the queen again. If I still can't find her and see no non-drone brood she will get a newspaper combine too. This was a strong hive that was making honey, then it swarmed in July and has had trouble since, though it did make a queen. Now it is way down in numbers and apparently has no queen, and has no honey or nectar stored. All the other hives have some honey and nectar stored. I wonder if they didn't swarm again?

Is it safe to do a newspaper combine with a laying worker hive? I suspect not. I searched the forums for a good, comprehensive post on laying worker problems and solutions, but didn't find one. If anyone knows where one is could you post the link, please? That would be a good thing to make a sticky.
 

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Discussion Starter #134
Sept 2020 Harvest.jpg

A portion of my harvest today. Sweet corn, green and purple beans, mint, zucchini, tomatoes, bitter melon, cantaloupe, peach, okra. The watermelon was picked yesterday, and I also consumed apples from the tree and grapes from the vine, and chewed tobacco.

Most of that was grown from seeds saved and planted. Even the peach. I did buy some zucchini seeds this spring. The sweetcorn is a cross of purchased sweetcorn seed years ago and colored 'indian' corn so it is all sorts of odd colors. Took a few years to get a good, sweet variety but have not had a bad one these last few years.
 

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View attachment 58051

A portion of my harvest today..........
Good deal!
This year I am really hitting on the green beans, because they freeze great AND kids eat them.
I strategically planted my climber green bees around July 4th - so to avoid the Japanese beetles.
Was a good decision.
There is at least another month of the green bean season yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #136
Good deal!
This year I am really hitting on the green beans, because they freeze great AND kids eat them.
I strategically planted my climber green bees around July 4th - so to avoid the Japanese beetles.
Was a good decision.
There is at least another month of the green bean season yet.
I am about to plant my fall crop of green beans. Usually can get a second season in but it's a little late this year.

My wife counts things. Recently we have been counting how many separate foods we eat each meal that we grew ourselves. I believe the final count was 14, including tiny amounts of spices and flavorings.
 

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I am about to plant my fall crop of green beans. Usually can get a second season in but it's a little late this year.

My wife counts things. Recently we have been counting how many separate foods we eat each meal that we grew ourselves. I believe the final count was 14, including tiny amounts of spices and flavorings.
A little late for the fall crop of the bush beans (unless get lucky - never know).
This is why I like the pole beans - these will crop non-stop until frost now.
Still have lots of bush beans too because these don't get as much Japanese beetle damage.
 

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Discussion Starter #138
So I tried to make 'blue shop towel OA' yesterday. I guess the water wasn't hot enough, it didn't dissolve. So the mess is sitting in a pan in the garage waiting until I have time to reheat it and try again. I figure to OA half or somewhat more than half the colonies, and leave a few to soldier on untreated, to see if they survive winter. I have two isolated colonies that would not mite-bomb any others, mine or the neighbors. Should have done this a month ago, but with work and classes, was too frazzled to think of other things. On my last class for a BSN (nursing).

Did a newspaper combine last week. No time to check on them. I need to pop the top and make sure they didn't kill the queen.

The cantaloupes went crazy this year. We have been eating 4-5 every day, and been giving away lots to the neighbors. Nice flavor. Saving seeds. I had a spectacularly delicious melon a few years ago and replanted seeds from it. They look strange, slightly elongated, and smooth greenish skins, with firm flesh. The watermelons have been good too. They love the hot, dry weather.
 

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I figure to OA half or somewhat more than half the colonies, and leave a few to soldier on untreated, to see if they survive winter.
AR1:

Enjoying the updates. If you don't mind me asking, what are you going to use as your 'go-no-go' threshold to determine whether a particular hive gets OA?
 

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Discussion Starter #140
AR1:

Enjoying the updates. If you don't mind me asking, what are you going to use as your 'go-no-go' threshold to determine whether a particular hive gets OA?
Not that organized! Have not even done an alcohol mite count yet. They all have mites, so they all could stand a treatment. Last winter went too well, with no treatments. It is more along the lines of insurance.
 
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