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Author Topic: abandoned queen  (Read 2896 times)
Dane Bramage
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« on: October 24, 2007, 02:10:36 PM »

Greetings all,

Fall has definitely fell here in the PacNW.  It'd be more accurate to say we bypassed autumn and went straight to winter w/three weeks of the cold (50's is cold here) and rainy.  angry  Anyways - mid 70's and sunny yesterday and finally had a chance to break in and open up the hives for inspection and maintenance.  I've sad news to report on two of my hives.

One hive is dead 100%.  Loads of honey, "bee-bread" but no live bees whatsoever.  Dead larvae, dead emerging (newborn) bees and a small blanket of dead ones on the bottom (SBB).  A couple of dead wasps too.. which I'm guessing were the agents of demise. 

Second hive has no activity going in or out either.  Upon inspection, I see the queen come right out on top of the frames of the top deep.  Wow - this is a first... she has 4 or 5 attendants... and that's it that I can ascertain.  This was my most productive hive.  I felt like the queen was crying "rescue me" or something but I am remiss on what to do.  I've reducers on all the hives, and have for several weeks (since the rains).  There is no robbing going on - unless we factor in the yellowjackets.  I fear they are causing havoc - possibly even on strong hives. 

The other 8 hives = STRONG.  Loads of activity when weather permits.  Theres a lot still blooming actually.  Fields of dandelions likely being key.  Orange and yellow pollen being harvested.  I was only able to swap one deep frame in one hive (one empty for one full honey from the dead hive) because they are full packed of capped honey otherwise - 2 10 frame deeps on all of them.

So, questions: 
First with the practical ~> what to do with 2 deeps (so far) with loads of honey, etc.,?  I was, of course, thinking to swap frames for empties.. but they're are none.  Should I park the deep above the inner-cover on some of the live hives and let them work it?  Is it possible to save until Spring (I could store indoors, where-ever, as necessary) or will the honey crystallize and be worse than worthless?  I'm keen on the idea of placing packages in well-stocked deeps next spring if that is a possibility... otherwise I do want to make best use of the sad situation.

Now with the curious ~> what's the prognosis on my lonely queen hive?  any feasible rescue scenarios this late in the season?
Any ideas on what could have caused, and how to determine with certainty, the very rapid demise of two strong hives?

Well, it's been all stellar experience to report thus far my first season.  Too good probably!  Undecided  I guess I was overdue for a bit of bad news.. but I'm not taking it laying down.  Any help/advice greatly appreciated.  Weather forecast is for a bit of dry and more-temperate weather for the next week +.

Kind regards,
Dane
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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2007, 03:39:39 PM »

Greetings all,

Fall has definitely fell here in the PacNW.  It'd be more accurate to say we bypassed autumn and went straight to winter w/three weeks of the cold (50's is cold here) and rainy.  angry  Anyways - mid 70's and sunny yesterday and finally had a chance to break in and open up the hives for inspection and maintenance.  I've sad news to report on two of my hives.

One hive is dead 100%.  Loads of honey, "bee-bread" but no live bees whatsoever.  Dead larvae, dead emerging (newborn) bees and a small blanket of dead ones on the bottom (SBB).  A couple of dead wasps too.. which I'm guessing were the agents of demise.

Very possible about the wasps. Hang onto the honey I will discuss that later in the reply. 

Quote
Second hive has no activity going in or out either.  Upon inspection, I see the queen come right out on top of the frames of the top deep.  Wow - this is a first... she has 4 or 5 attendants... and that's it that I can ascertain.  This was my most productive hive.  I felt like the queen was crying "rescue me" or something but I am remiss on what to do.  I've reducers on all the hives, and have for several weeks (since the rains).  There is no robbing going on - unless we factor in the yellowjackets.  I fear they are causing havoc - possibly even on strong hives. 

How are the honey stores?

Quote
The other 8 hives = STRONG.  Loads of activity when weather permits.  Theres a lot still blooming actually.  Fields of dandelions likely being key.  Orange and yellow pollen being harvested.  I was only able to swap one deep frame in one hive (one empty for one full honey from the dead hive) because they are full packed of capped honey otherwise - 2 10 frame deeps on all of them.

Sounds good.

Quote
So, questions: 
First with the practical ~> what to do with 2 deeps (so far) with loads of honey, etc.,?  I was, of course, thinking to swap frames for empties.. but they're are none.  Should I park the deep above the inner-cover on some of the live hives and let them work it?  Is it possible to save until Spring (I could store indoors, where-ever, as necessary) or will the honey crystallize and be worse than worthless?  I'm keen on the idea of placing packages in well-stocked deeps next spring if that is a possibility... otherwise I do want to make best use of the sad situation.

Remember Hive #2 If there is no honey in it. Place the honey on that box. If not store it.

Quote
Now with the curious ~> what's the prognosis on my lonely queen hive?  any feasible rescue scenarios this late in the season?
Any ideas on what could have caused, and how to determine with certainty, the very rapid demise of two strong hives?

There may be no need to rescue it. Outside of giving the honey for it. If the queen is healthy and no pests she probably has things under control.

Quote
Well, it's been all stellar experience to report thus far my first season.  Too good probably!  Undecided  I guess I was overdue for a bit of bad news.. but I'm not taking it laying down.  Any help/advice greatly appreciated.  Weather forecast is for a bit of dry and more-temperate weather for the next week +.

Kind regards,
Dane

Sounds like you are doing very well. Keep going.

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2007, 04:33:28 PM »

Quote
Now with the curious ~> what's the prognosis on my lonely queen hive?  any feasible rescue scenarios this late in the season?
Any ideas on what could have caused, and how to determine with certainty, the very rapid demise of two strong hives?
There may be no need to rescue it. Outside of giving the honey for it. If the queen is healthy and no pests she probably has things under control.

Understudy......There is only the queen and five attendants. They won't make it by themselves.
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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2007, 04:34:38 PM »

Thanks Bredhan,

Hive #2 (the one with the lonely Queen) has full capacity of honey stores.  This is the one where I got 5 supers surplus from a package started in late April. 

Won't the queen freeze if there are not enough other bees in the hive?  I have closed off the entrance 100% a few times (to prevent yellow-jacket entrance).  I never noticed any returning workers. Sad  The few times there were workers lingering (when I had the entrance open) they would peak in and leave.

The stored honey will surely crystallize.  Is this a problem when it occurs in the comb?  Can the bees consume it without problem?

Thanks again!

Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2007, 04:36:33 PM »

I'm wondering if that doesn't sound like CCD  shocked
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Dane Bramage
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« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2007, 04:40:55 PM »

Quote
Now with the curious ~> what's the prognosis on my lonely queen hive?  any feasible rescue scenarios this late in the season?
Any ideas on what could have caused, and how to determine with certainty, the very rapid demise of two strong hives?
There may be no need to rescue it. Outside of giving the honey for it. If the queen is healthy and no pests she probably has things under control.

Understudy......There is only the queen and five attendants. They won't make it by themselves.

This is (was*) my concern.  * I say "was" because she could already be dead today for all I know.  Oh, her ghost is gonna haunt me I know!  evil shocked

Quote from: Jerrymac
I'm wondering if that doesn't sound like CCD  shocked
MY understanding is that with CCD the bees are "disappeared".  I've dead bees & brood (larvae and emerging) with predators lurking.
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« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2007, 04:57:56 PM »

I read it as if thought he saw five attendants with the queen. Is there no brood cells at all?

If so I would grab a frame of brood from another hive and place a honey frame where you took out the brood frame.


Sincerely,
Brendhan
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« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2007, 05:28:42 PM »

I read it as if thought he saw five attendants with the queen. Is there no brood cells at all?

If so I would grab a frame of brood from another hive and place a honey frame where you took out the brood frame.


Sincerely,
Brendhan

Unsure on the brood.. when I saw the queen out on top I closed it up more quickly than I had planned.  With no nurse bees, how would the brood survive?
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« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2007, 05:55:22 PM »

The difference is if there is brood. Don't rush to close up when you see the queen you might squish her.

Also remember queens may have cut back on their laying.

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2007, 06:35:59 PM »

the extra honey frames will freeze and you can feed them back as you need to.

can you shake some workers out for your abandoned queen and make a nuc?  if you have a couple of really strong hives to steal from, they might make it through the winter in a small enough box.

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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2007, 08:44:37 PM »

the extra honey frames will freeze and you can feed them back as you need to.

can you shake some workers out for your abandoned queen and make a nuc?  if you have a couple of really strong hives to steal from, they might make it through the winter in a small enough box.

That's was I was thinking/hoping... but also unsure they would "stick" (not migrate back to their own hive(s)) and/or "revolt" (roll/kill the queen).
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« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2007, 11:04:51 PM »

With only a few workers and a queen the hive, at this late date, is doomed unless you have an observation hive and can take a frame of bees from another hive and keep it inside.  As for the stores, freeze the frames for feeding back to the other hives in the spring.  Even if what you experienced with those 2 hives is CCD the time delay and freezing should make the honey consumable.
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« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2007, 11:27:35 PM »

what have you to lose other than some workers that would probably die over the winter anyway.  maybe take frames from different hives?  also, you could try swapping the nuc position with one of the stronger hives.  workers will come 'home' to the nuc.

brian is probably right.  it is late.  it might we worth the experiment.  just don't mess up the queen  from one of your strong hives!  smiley
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« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2007, 11:36:15 PM »

Dane, I really am terribly sorry to hear of this demise with your two colonies.

Do as Kathy said, freeze the honey frames, they will still be in liquid form when you give back in the spring.

If you decide to take frames from the other colonies to give to the lonely queen colony, remember this.  Yes, many of the bees will drift back to their original hive. These are the older forager bees.  Many of the younger bees that have never left the hive yet will still be on the frames.  They will stay on the frames.  It might also be a good idea when you make this nuc that you may, to give a few shakes of bees from some frames from other hives.  These "shakes" of bees will have older and younger bees on them, again the older bees will head back home, the younger bees will stay in their new home.  You can seriously strengthen colonies by giving "shakes" of bees.

The only thing that I may worry about this time of year might be if giving "shakes" of bees, if there would be fighting amongst them.  This I honestly don't know if it would or would not happen.  There may be other responses coming from our friends here.  Good luck, Dane.  If you lose this second colony, be grateful that you have others that are doing so well, and next spring you can make splits, because I am sure they will go through the winter with flying colours.  Have a wonderful day, and keep that chin up.  Cindi
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« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2007, 12:59:19 AM »

Thanks for all the replies.  We have some decent weather on the way.  Provided the queen is still alive, I think I'll try the shake for this one... one frame at a time so I don't accidentally shake in another queen.   

I don't think I have the freezer space to freeze two (much less 4, worst-case scenario) 10 frame deeps.  I'd probably have room if I just narrow it down to the full-honey frames.  Unsure what to do with the partially filled ones then... Is freezing the only storage option?

Fingers crossed & I'll post back w/results.

Cheers,
Dane
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« Reply #15 on: October 25, 2007, 05:00:20 AM »


maybe you can take a couple of frames of emerging brood and add to the queen then merge a frame or so of bees on top.  within 5 days you should have a lot of bees to help her survive your winter as long as she has enough food and pollen.
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« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2007, 06:54:21 AM »



Second hive has no activity going in or out either.  Upon inspection, I see the queen come right out on top of the frames of the top deep.  Wow - this is a first... she has 4 or 5 attendants... and that's it that I can ascertain.  This was my most productive hive.  I felt like the queen was crying "rescue me" or something but I am remiss on what to do.  I've reducers on all the hives, and have for several weeks (since the rains).  There is no robbing going on - unless we factor in the yellowjackets.  I fear they are causing havoc - possibly even on strong hives. 

thats sounds just like what they been finding with CCD, they say not to reuse the frames or wax from these hives, you might could eat the honey but I think they say not to feed it to your bee's, shoot I dont remember, I got to reread that stuff, sorry to here of the problems.....

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« Reply #17 on: October 25, 2007, 07:09:35 AM »

i read on bee-l last week that some people were reusing the equipment from the ccd deadouts and have experienced no ill results. 
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« Reply #18 on: October 25, 2007, 12:31:47 PM »

All the evidence I've reported and "CCD" is being thrown out as the sole potential cause?  You all need to fasten your tinfoil hats a bit more securely!  hahaha - just teasing but, seriously I really think the cause is something more basic.  Remember, as posted earlier this thread, that there ARE dead bees (& brood) present.   

Quote
Colony Collapse Disorder (or CCD) is a little-understood phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or Western honey bee colony abruptly disappear.

I tend to think it's the YJs.  The nasty early turn in the weather forcing the bees to bundle, likely not protecting the entrance, YJs still active and perhaps getting in easily w/no guards... I wonder how many YJs it would take to take down a hive.  If they got the Queen it would be check-mate.  Cry

At any rate - I've already redeployed one frame to another hive and do plan on using the rest.   I don't anticipate this causing any problems but will definitely report back with my experience.

Cheers,
Dane
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« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2007, 07:08:51 PM »

and on another section of that site it tells the symptoms, does yours match?

Quote
Symptoms
A colony which has collapsed from CCD is generally characterized by all of these conditions occurring simultaneously[17]:

Complete absence of adult bees in colonies, with little or no build-up of dead bees in or around the colonies.
Presence of capped brood in colonies. Bees normally will not abandon a hive until the capped brood have all hatched.
Presence of food stores, both honey and bee pollen:
i. which are not immediately robbed by other bees
ii. which when attacked by hive pests such as wax moth and small hive beetle, the attack is noticeably delayed.
Precursor symptoms that may arise before the final colony collapse are:
Insufficient workforce to maintain the brood that is present
Workforce seems to be made up of young adult bees
The Queen is present (i.e. she is not lost)
The colony members are reluctant to consume provided feed, such as sugar syrup and protein supplement.

and this was in your first post

Quote
One hive is dead 100%.  Loads of honey, "bee-bread" but no live bees whatsoever.  Dead larvae, dead emerging (newborn) bees and a small blanket of dead ones on the bottom (SBB). 


Second hive has no activity going in or out either.  Upon inspection, I see the queen come right out on top of the frames of the top deep.  Wow - this is a first... she has 4 or 5 attendants... and that's it that I can ascertain.  This was my most productive hive.  I felt like the queen was crying "rescue me" or something but I am remiss on what to do.  I've reducers on all the hives, and have for several weeks (since the rains).  There is no robbing going on - unless we factor in the yellowjackets.  I fear they are causing havoc - possibly even on strong hives. 


see the first line in the top quote with little or no dead bee's,,,,, could have been the first one to get it and died out, the second hive you could have caught in time to see it, you never said how many dead was in the second hive? it could be yellow jacket but does sound like symptoms of CCD from what you are saying....

oH SORRY HAD MY TINFOIL HAT ON AGAIN   tongue grin Wink
 
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« Reply #20 on: October 25, 2007, 08:48:28 PM »

doesn't absconding seem more likely?  just because a queen was left behind, does not mean that it was not absconding.  could have been a 2 queen hive, a new queen, etc.  i would hesitate to jump to the conclusion that it is CCD.  the hives could have been disturbed by robbing, or even the honey harvest.
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« Reply #21 on: October 25, 2007, 10:27:32 PM »

Dane, have you done anything to kill the yellowjackets?  What I mean is the traps set around the colonies?  I had excellent results with the yellowjacket traps. And get this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This morning I thought I would try to put some Kombucha in them and see how they liked it, I was getting rather tired of wasting beer on them.  I see they love Kombucha way more than beer, good, cheap and thank goodness it won't be beneficial to their health.

I hope things work out well for you, be aware of those blasted and dreaded yellowjackets, I hate them almost as much as the varroa mite.  I know hate is a strong word, but it works for me. Have a wonderful and beautiful day in this life.  Cindi
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« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2007, 09:10:05 AM »

doesn't absconding seem more likely?  just because a queen was left behind, does not mean that it was not absconding.  could have been a 2 queen hive, a new queen, etc.  i would hesitate to jump to the conclusion that it is CCD.  the hives could have been disturbed by robbing, or even the honey harvest.


bee's leaving a queen and brood, highly unlikely IMHO but in this world now days there aint no telling, I wouldn't want to have anything like that happen to mine either, Dane could have had something else happen to his hives for them to be that way, he hasn't said if his hives matched the symptoms yet, but the ole saying goes, if it looks like crap, smells like crap, then its probably crap..
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« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2007, 09:31:20 AM »

Ted that ol' saying of "looks like crap, smells like crap, then it probably is crap" is one of the best sayings in the world.  Seems everyone is familiar with it eh?  I love it, so true to true!!!!  Have a wonderful day, great day in our life.  Cindi
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« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2007, 10:50:53 AM »

Oh crap.... I thought it was a duck  shocked
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« Reply #25 on: October 26, 2007, 10:54:29 AM »

This , if I rememeber correctly, a strong thriving hive. Making a total collapse from YJ unlikely. I would imagine that the yellowjackets came after whatever happened to your hive. I would suspect the more traditional diseases before CCD that went unnoticed by first year beek. The more stuff that happens the more you learn. I would look for mites or other diseases first or just bad luck.
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« Reply #26 on: October 26, 2007, 12:43:19 PM »

Thanks for all the replies!

Definitely difficult to tell...  I've been reading (elsewhere) of those with experience on YJs systematically destroying their hives and I think they are, at least, a contributing factor.

Cindi ~> yes, I've been trapping them and even found one nest (which I immediately destroyed) but it was further away and they still keep coming.  I'm actually not seeing so many of them now.  But when I open a hive and a YJ comes out, it's not encouraging (happened one time).

and on another section of that site it tells the symptoms, does yours match?

and this was in your first post

Quote
One hive is dead 100%.  Loads of honey, "bee-bread" but no live bees whatsoever.  Dead larvae, dead emerging (newborn) bees and a small blanket of dead ones on the bottom (SBB). 


see the first line in the top quote with little or no dead bee's,,,,, could have been the first one to get it and died out, the second hive you could have caught in time to see it, you never said how many dead was in the second hive? it could be yellow jacket but does sound like symptoms of CCD from what you are saying....

oH SORRY HAD MY TINFOIL HAT ON AGAIN   tongue grin Wink
 

I hi-lighted in red the part of my first post which makes me think it is not CCD.  "Small blanket" meaning the bottom was blanketed in dead bees, and by "small" I meant not a deep pile... but definitely significant numbers (~100+?).

I appreciate everyone's input.  Leaving the postmortem & diagnosis speculation aside for now (please) could anyone please help me with this previous question ~> is freezing the only safe method of storing filled frames?  I've already treated the empty hive with Bt (for wax moth) and have it closed 100%, but still in the bee yard.

btw - I took a couple of frames (w/larvae & live bees) and did a swap from a strong to the lonely-queen hive yesterday.  Unsure if it was too late or not.

Thx again!
Dane
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KONASDAD
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« Reply #27 on: October 26, 2007, 01:42:41 PM »

Personally, I wouldn't use frames from a hive that collapsed w/o additional knowledge as to why it collapsed. Finsky has often provided great ways to keep small colonies alive through the deepest of winters. Including heating w/ small lite bulbs, feed info and the like. Perhaps thats the way to go. Again, I wouldn't take from the questionable hive anything and put it in a healthy hive until you have a gretaer knowledge of why. Also, I wouldn't weaken a strong hive too much to save the weak one this time of year. Feel for you. I have had some scares, but no losses yet myself and know I am lucky so far.
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« Reply #28 on: October 26, 2007, 02:42:53 PM »

if the honey is capped, it should keep just as it would in a container....however, keeping ants, etc. out of it, could be a problem.  you also might run a risk of mold on the frames.  not such a big deal as i understand it.  the bees can take care of it later.  i bought a chest freezer at costco for < 200 dollars.  by removing the frames from the boxes, i can store quite a few in there.  an investment to consider?
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