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Blundering along with the bees - Hive Journal


Rhsgc

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

 

 

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

 

The hive has a total of 9 bars, previously there were abour 7 whole bars of brood covered in bees. Now there are 2 bars of brood and 1 with a little brood. It's fairly clustered together over the three bars. I didn't see much drone brood at all to be honest. Id say the colony size has halved now.

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@Rhsgc reduction in brood sounds about normal for where you are. Halving bee numbers in a month is a bit of a concern although that probably explains the increase in mite numbers.

 

Given the small amount of brood and relatively low mite numbers I would follow up with oxalic vapour. If that's not an option you could try MAQS or just monitor to make sure mite numbers don't continue to increase. Four is not great but it's likely survivable while brood numbers are low.

 

As bee numbers reduce it's important to make sure the hive doesn't have lots of empty space. Remove bars and move followers to keep them snug.

 

Reduce to a single entrance and staple something across so that there is only space for one or two bees to pass at the same time. The entrance will get visibly busy and that's a good thing. Less chance for invaders to get in. Arrange the bars and followers so that the entrance is central to the cluster.

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@Rhsgc reduction in brood sounds about normal for where you are. Halving bee numbers in a month is a bit of a concern although that probably explains the increase in mite numbers.

 

Given the small amount of brood and relatively low mite numbers I would follow up with oxalic vapour. If that's not an option you could try MAQS or just monitor to make sure mite numbers don't continue to increase. Four is not great but it's likely survivable while brood numbers are low.

 

As bee numbers reduce it's important to make sure the hive doesn't have lots of empty space. Remove bars and move followers to keep them snug.

 

Reduce to a single entrance and staple something across so that there is only space for one or two bees to pass at the same time. The entrance will get visibly busy and that's a good thing. Less chance for invaders to get in. Arrange the bars and followers so that the entrance is central to the cluster.

Thanks Rob, hoping I was mistaken about the volume of be reduction, I'll check again in the evening when they're all home, can peek up through the screened floor.

I've bought the followers to the last comb there storing honey on, but they don't spend much time all the way down that end.

I'll reduce the entrances further and look at treatment.

Thanks again for the advice

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  • 4 weeks later...

Went to the AFB course on saturday and armed with my knew knowledge did my (hopefully) final check of the season.

 

My last inspection gave me 4 varroa with the sugar shake so I've treated with OA 3 times, a 5-7 days apart as the hive still has capped brood,

 

The hive looked good today, it has 6 full bars of capped honey and 4 bars of honey and brood, drones still hanging around and the queen cruising by - of course I didn't shake the bees off that frame; how do you properly inspect the brood that the queen is on?

 

One area of brood was concerning to me, however. It has a patch of uncapped dead pupa, shoddy brood pattern and it also had a couple of chewed cappings that I uncapped, the pupae looked healthy - pearly white and well formed. There are lots of honey stores and some pollen but not a huge amount - could it have been starvation?

the first photo and the attached photo show the brood comb I'm worried about. The other photos show what the rest of the brood looked like.

Sugar shake produced two dead mites, which would make sense as I did the final OA vaporiser yesterday and peak mite fall is reached 24-48 hours afterwards. There were no mites in the cells I uncapped, and the pupae weren't gooey or coffee colored.

Otherwise, lots of bees in there and I scored I little comb honey where they had built some crazy comb on the side wall of the hive.

I've stopped feeding now hoping they will have enough honey for winter, but wondering if I should feed some pollen substitute just in case the dead pupae starved? The bees are still bringing in pollen when they are flying, however.

 

Sure would appreciate any insights!

 

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how do you properly inspect the brood that the queen is on?

You either pick her up and place her on another frame or shake her off over the hive with all the other bees. Learn to pick up the queen by the wings by practising with drones. Being able to confidently pick up a queen is a very useful skill.

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@Rhsgc where were the suspect combs relative to the hive combs? Were they towards the outside? My guess would be that bee numbers took a nose dive about a month ago leaving too few bees to cover all the brood. Those towards the outside were were cold stressed.

 

In your first photo there's one patch the I would have picked open. Slightly darker colour and sunken compared to surrounding brood. Probably nothing but those are the sorts of cells I zero in on when assessing brood. See attached

 

Finally, when assessing photos it helps if the photos are all oriented with top at the top.

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  • 2 months later...

Finally had a fine day when I was home so suited up and got into the hive.

Girls have come through winter with good stores - three full combs of honey as well as other partially full combs with fresh nectar and lots of pollen coming in - really pleased to see that.

Numbers weren't spectacular, but there were at least three combs covered in bees.

Brood in all stages on three combs - not a lot and no solid pattern yet, however I'm hoping it's just the queen getting started for the season; it is early after all! Still pondering re-queening this year, but will see how she goes with a bit more time. Some cappings chewed and one or two dead larvae, but nothing ropey or slumpy, phone is away for repair so will get pics next time.

 

Sugar shake produced 10 mites - late treatment of oxalic vapor in autumn meant they went into winter with a count of 2, and they had drones present most of winter so not surprising that the numbers are a bit up. I didn't do an alcohol wash but suspect it would have produced a few more, so i'll get apivar treatment in in the next week or so. I was hoping to leave it later in spring but the hive has a history of DWV so think it would be wise to treat sooner rather then later.

 

Otherwise they're busy and there was a decent orientation flight this morning, so fingers crossed for a good spring buildup, successful split later in the season and maybe even some honey!

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Finally had a fine day when I was home so suited up and got into the hive.

Girls have come through winter with good stores - three full combs of honey as well as other partially full combs with fresh nectar and lots of pollen coming in - really pleased to see that.

Numbers weren't spectacular, but there were at least three combs covered in bees.

Brood in all stages on three combs - not a lot and no solid pattern yet, however I'm hoping it's just the queen getting started for the season; it is early after all! Still pondering re-queening this year, but will see how she goes with a bit more time. Some cappings chewed and one or two dead larvae, but nothing ropey or slumpy, phone is away for repair so will get pics next time.

 

Sugar shake produced 10 mites - late treatment of oxalic vapor in autumn meant they went into winter with a count of 2, and they had drones present most of winter so not surprising that the numbers are a bit up. I didn't do an alcohol wash but suspect it would have produced a few more, so i'll get apivar treatment in in the next week or so. I was hoping to leave it later in spring but the hive has a history of DWV so think it would be wise to treat sooner rather then later.

 

Otherwise they're busy and there was a decent orientation flight this morning, so fingers crossed for a good spring buildup, successful split later in the season and maybe even some honey!

Without trying to be alarmist, your hive sounds in trouble to me .

What would I do ? Reduce them into a nuc. Your hive is too big for the amount of bees.

 

Treat them with something that will kill mites quickly .

 

Feed light syrup , a small amount at a time , to get the queen laying . All your stored honey is not much use to a weak colony .

 

Even with all the above done , they will take a long time to build up , simply because there aren't enough bees to nurse very many eggs or do other hive duties .

 

It's probably fixable, but you'd want to get to it quickly

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Without trying to be alarmist, your hive sounds in trouble to me .

What would I do ? Reduce them into a nuc. Your hive is too big for the amount of bees.

 

Treat them with something that will kill mites quickly .

 

Feed light syrup , a small amount at a time , to get the queen laying . All your stored honey is not much use to a weak colony .

 

Even with all the above done , they will take a long time to build up , simply because there aren't enough bees to nurse very many eggs or do other hive duties .

 

It's probably fixable, but you'd want to get to it quickly

 

Really appreciate your input m@tt, I'll get in there to reduce/feed on the weekend, hopefully it will be fine weather.

When you say reduce the hive, do you mean I should remove the bars of honey stores? How much should I leave them with. Do I need to be concerned about the bees becoming honey bound with the reduced space and nectar and sugar syrup coming in?

I'll get photos next time too - hopefully I've underestimated bee numbers.

I've got apivar in there now.

 

Thanks again for the advice!

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Really appreciate your input m@tt, I'll get in there to reduce/feed on the weekend, hopefully it will be fine weather.

When you say reduce the hive, do you mean I should remove the bars of honey stores? How much should I leave them with. Do I need to be concerned about the bees becoming honey bound with the reduced space and nectar and sugar syrup coming in?

I'll get photos next time too - hopefully I've underestimated bee numbers.

I've got apivar in there now.

 

Thanks again for the advice!

No not quite .

Reduce the size of the box they live in .

If you have 3 full frames of bees , they'd be better suited to a 5 frame nuc .

Leave some stores with them , and put the rest in the freezer . Don't use those stores for another hive .

The syrup is to stimulate the queen to lay , and generally supply an easy feed for the bees . You don't need much. A nurse friend of mine described it as ' supplying fluids to the sick '.They'll store a bit around the brood uncapped , and use it or move it as they require more space for eggs.

 

Once your nuc is full of bees again and expanding , they go back into a single 10 frame box again and continue expanding

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No not quite .

Reduce the size of the box they live in .

If you have 3 full frames of bees , they'd be better suited to a 5 frame nuc .

Leave some stores with them , and put the rest in the freezer . Don't use those stores for another hive .

The syrup is to stimulate the queen to lay , and generally supply an easy feed for the bees . You don't need much. A nurse friend of mine described it as ' supplying fluids to the sick '.They'll store a bit around the brood uncapped , and use it or move it as they require more space for eggs.

 

Once your nuc is full of bees again and expanding , they go back into a single 10 frame box again and continue expanding

Thanks, it's a top bar so talking in terms of frames is really helpful, the combs are 19" at the top and 11" at the bottom - about 11" deep so a bit bigger then standard frames I think. I'll reduce them back using the follower board and gradually expand as needed - and here I was thinking I would get to worry about swarm control this season!

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Once your nuc is full of bees again and expanding , they go back into a single 10 frame box again and continue expanding

This is a top bar hive @M4tt :D

 

@Rhsgc the idea is to make it easier for the bees to thermo-regulate and to concentrate the cluster into a space they can defend. Stores on the fringe will be too cold and won't be used. Better to remove these to the freezer and shift the follower boards in. As the population grows and the season warms up you add the stores back in.

 

You'll need to be very careful with the combs while frozen as they will be brittle. Make sure they are fully thawed before putting back into the hive.

 

@Rhsgc jinx!

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Forgot to mention. Mark the bars so you are not tempted to eat them yourself. Apivar is not food safe.

 

Was interested to read this on the apivar site: Apivar Information

 

"Toxic for mites but safe for your beeswax, queens and respectful for your hive products.

Apivar® leaves the bee, honey and wax and all other hive-derived products unaffected.

Studies have proven that under normal conditions and use Apivar® is harmless for the bee and for all products made in the hive. Investigations designed to detect residues of active substance in honey, wax, propolis and pollen have shown that you may harvest these products immediately after the end of the treatment period, no withdrawal time being necessary.

 

Thanks to the progressive and measured release of the active substance from the unique Apivar®formulation, your hive is healthy and its products are free from contamination.

 

Moreover after successive Apivar® treatments for several years, no accumulation of Amitraz residues can be noticed even in wax."

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your point is well made and it has been discussed on here before. The consensus in the past has been that the apivar itself disappears but it breaks down into 'other things' so the publicity material you quote is only half true. At the end of the day the majority of people believe it is unwise to eat apivar honey.

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Been back in the hive today to condense and reassess brood.

Must say I'm pretty concerned about them, any advice would be much appreciated.

I've removed all the combs they weren't storing fresh pollen and nectar in - there is a huge amount of fresh nectar and pollen in there compared to Monday so something is flowering well.

I've taken pictures of the bees on each comb in the hive then gone back through to inspect the brood - the numbers seem OK I hope.

The Brood itself wasn't great - I didn't see the queen and I didn't see any fresh eggs, worried that I might have inadvertently killed her in the last check.

Sunken and perforated cappings, nothing greasy or very dark looking - I opened these, some of them had brown larvae, they were unevenly colored and nothing roped out, I was also able to remove the contents whole. There were varroa in some of these and some had masses of tiny black cylindrical thinks that I have never seen before, I've tried to take a picture of the contents of one like this however my camera at the moment is pretty average.

Spotty, sparse brood pattern, some freshly emerging bees.

A handful of drone brood

I'm worried at worst I have AFB, at best the hive is currently queenless with PMS. I've got mite strips in there, they have 5 weeks to go. Didn't see any DWV bees or queen cups/cells.

Feeling pretty gutted - would appreciate any advice, is it too early in the year to buy a new queen?

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@Rhsgc it's I bit hard to tell much from the photos. Yes, a bit early to buy a new queen. If it would help I could swing by this afternoon or tomorrow.

 

It sounds like the aftermath of autumn varroa damage.

 

Hope thats the case, we're away for the rest of the weekend now, but I sure would be grateful for an extra pair of eyes next weekend if you've got time?

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