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Blundering along with the bees - Hive Journal


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Got my bees a couple of weeks ago, and after reading through lots of hive journals on here decided it could be a great tool for keeping a hive journal (I lose everything eventually so can't rely on the notebook!) and getting advice/input from more experienced beeks on here.


I'm a first time beekeeper in the Hawkes Bay and installed a four bar nuc into my Top Bar two weeks ago (I know, I know, should have started with a lang. But I'm a sucker for punishment and like to learn the hard way, hubby basically built the hive for free so thats what I've got).


Journey so far:

6/1/17 - Nuc collected and transferred into hive & fed. Robbing a couple of days later, sorted out with input from forum members & Rob, a robbing screen and stopping feeding for a couple of days. Restarted feeding after everything settled down - it's desert dry here, not much flowering and sod all stores on the combs.


13/1/17 - First hive inspection. Queen sighted, brood of all ages, new comb being drawn out on one bar, beginning of some cross combing corrected. Combs trimmed at the bottom - due to different lengths between nuc and my top bars they needed to be screwed together resulting in some comb touching the base of the hive.


18/1/17 - Bee with suspected DWV spotted wandering around on the ground, chatted with beek friend for advice. Hive opened, queen spotted, no other bees with DWV observed, some drone brood opened & didn't spot any varroa. Sugar shake done - 5 mites observed. Hassled Rob for advice again and Bayvoral strips installed - nuc previously treated organically so hoping for low resistance. Hive strapped down for wild weather, feeding reduced to every second day due to new comb full of nectar/honey but still no capping.

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Hive inspection today.

Didn't have a second pair of hands so no pics unfortunately.

Bees very quiet, building new comb on two new bars and expanding broodcombs (my hive is wider then the one they came out of).


Some worry as I'm not very good at seeing eggs yet but then spotted queen and eggs.

Not sure how solid her brood pattern is but she is still young and there appears to be something in every cell - must get pics next time!


Plenty of varroa falling, I'll do a sugar shake halfway through current treatment.


Drones hatching but being kicked out, these were layed before I collected the nuc when they had a few more combs.

Still seeing bees with deformed and k wings outside the hive with the poor drones!


Some capped honey over brood so will revisit feeding next week - currently feeding abut 500ml every second day. Pollen stores in there.


Couple of wax month larvae disposed of and some support comb cut.


Aaaand kept the smoker going (don't laugh, it's a proud moment for me!)


Second entrance also opened up due to congestion.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well it's been a busy week for the bees here - a week ago I collected a small colony from a friend to unite with mine as I was concerned about their strength coming into autumn.

Unfortunately when I got it home the combs had collapsed off the bars and all but a handful of the bees were dead - really heartbreaking. It was a very long drive and due the the distance they were moved in the afternoon, I think the long drive in the heat (despite being well ventilated in the air conditioned car) was a but much for the combs. Theres always a risk in moving top bars and I've certainly learned my lesson!

So I repaired as much comb as I could salvage, hung from top bars and added to hive after spraying with air freshener to help the surviving bees get accepted.

We're right across the road from the big fire in Waimarama so spent most of yesterday worrying about them leaving due to the thick, thick smoke blowing across but they stayed put, however they've now lost half their forage.

Went in to check today - grouchy bees! Can't blame them with the smoke yesterday and helicopters all yesterday and today. Dared not light the smoker so we just took our time. No one got stung and they settled pretty quickly.

They've cleaned most of the combs up apart from the very crushed ones at the back, I trimmed some of the more damaged comb off these but am contemplating just pulling them out as the bees aren't on them and there were a few wax moths down there.

Moved the clearest combs up to the brood nest so they can start using them - queenie has fully layed out there two new combs they built since I got them so hopefully she'll use the extra room I did see a couple of very young bees with dwv - hoping they were from brood that were capped before treatment went in. The introduced hive had just finished been treated.


I accidently smashed my sugar shake jar so I'll shake them next time to get an idea of whats going on. They've still got bayvoral strips in with a few weeks to go though, wondering if I need to put more in with the new comb? Saw a couple of bees hatching which was really exciting, also some capped drone too so they might be feeling a bit more flush. At least they've got lots of new resource to start using anyway!

They've got nectar, pollen and capping more honey - no doubt mostly salvaged from the new comb.


Any suggestions re DWV/Varroa most welcome

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  • 4 weeks later...

Went into the hive today in the short morning reprieve from the rain to do a varroa count and condense it down a little.

Hive looks much fuller - have had good busy activity and they are allowing the drones to live which I was happy to see.

Good mix of brood and pollen. I'm not sure on how good the laying pattern is at the moment - either spotty or maybe the queen isn't getting to the cells before the bees fill them with nectar or honey; there certainly is a bit coming in! I got a couple of photos from both ends of the scale, one of the better layed out ones and one that wasn't so well layed out -I haven't really seen many other hives so any feedback would be appreciated!


Sugar shake produced no varroa, bayvoral has a couple more weeks before it comes out so I'm happy it's working well at the moment, didn't see any more DWV bees either.

The queen cruised past and spotted a couple of babies hatching! (does that ever get old?).


Removed all undrawn top bars and added thin spacers to reduce the space. They've got a few bars drawn comb at the moment and I'd like to see them all filled out rather than encouraging more comb building (thanks for the advice @deejaycee !). Hopefully this is about the right time to do it for my spot! They are still widening some of the comb I introduced so they will have a little more wax being built anyway.




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Hi @Ruth how many combs of honey would you estimate they have? How many combs of brood. The frames in your post look very light on stores. A few questions:

  • Were the red circled bees emerging or were they dead in the cells?
  • Were the broken cappings in the yellow circle bees emerging?
  • Was it pollen or dead pupa in the cells marked blue?


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Hi Rob

Some of the red we're emerging, I assumed the others were ready to be capped. How would I have determined if they were alive or not? The yellow were emerging bees.

Blue were pollen.

Thanks, that sounds just fine. When a hive is starving you get bees dying as they emerge. You know they're dead because they're not moving.

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I wouldn't be surprised if some were though, after our first lot of rain they had absolutely nothing.

Thanks, that sounds just fine. When a hive is starving you get bees dying as they emerge. You know they're dead because they're not moving.
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  • 1 month later...

Hive check today - Stores are looking MUCH better, breathed a sigh of relief with about 5 full combs of capped honey plus good stores above brood.

Seen a big drop in the number of bees flying lately, however there are still drones cruising around here.

Not a huge amount of brood now, hardy any drone brood either and quite a but of empty comb on the bottom of brood comb, I was a bit worried until I spotted the queen, but couldn't see many eggs. I don't know if this is because they weren't there or because I'm still learning to see them. Hopefully the empty comb is part of thier wintering down/prioritising food storage phase, am wondering if I need to re-queen now or early in spring. My queen was hatched/mated in October/November 2016 but it was a bit a crappy season so I wonder how well mated she is.

Didn't have time to take photos as the smoker ran dry and the girls started getting a bit agitated - they're being harrassed by wasps at the moment so I don't blame them.


More worryingly - sugar shake harvested 4 varroa mites. I had bayvoral in for 8 weeks and the strips came out about 4 weeks ago, sugar shake then was all clear. Should I put more treatment in or is this an acceptable level for autumn?

Will start feeding them again for good measure.

Also discovered the holy grail of getting propolis off my hands - alcohol prep pads. But you guys already knew that right?

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Half a cup

How does the colony size now, compare with a month ago when you got the zero result?


Not a huge amount of brood now, hardy any drone brood either and quite a but of empty comb on the bottom of brood comb, I was a bit worried until I spotted the queen, but couldn't see many eggs.

How much brood is there total? How spread out is it? What is the ratio of drone brood to worker brood?

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