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Author Topic: Keeping a colony going  (Read 1447 times)
ArmucheeBee
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« on: January 10, 2009, 09:25:23 PM »

OK.  I'm down to only two very small colonies.  I started in July so they did not have time to build up.  I have moved both into nucs inside my carport where the lowest temp will be around 50 F.  I'm talking around 100-200 bees per queen right now.  They both have enough honey stores--there's no one to eat it!!! 

How can I "trick" the queen into laying to add workers to the colonies before they all die out?  Can I use a heating pad?  Heater?   Will she lay if the workers can not go outside the hive? 
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Stephen Stewart
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2009, 09:48:15 PM »

A terrarium heater attached to the underside of the bottom board should work.  Feed a little pollen because once they start brood rearing they can go through their pollen stores like Epsom salts through a horse.
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ArmucheeBee
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« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2009, 10:30:22 PM »

I have pollen patties ready for them.  What would you say the temp needs to be?  Should I take them outside every couple of days to remove wastes?   the same location of course, but keep them closed up other than that?
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Stephen Stewart
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2009, 11:08:50 PM »

The terrarium heaters are low wattage units that will most likely raise the enternal temps of the hive into the 50's as the temperature is usually preset.  You can get them at gardening centers (seed starter heating mat) or pet stores (terrarium heater). 
The bees should still forage on days that outside temps allow it.
If you decide to use ppollen substitutes, feed only small amounts as they are an excellent SHB lure.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2009, 09:10:07 AM »

I agree with Brian.  The terrarium heater is your best bet.  Then you're not tricking them, you're helping them.  Smiley
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ArmucheeBee
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2009, 09:25:05 AM »

Brian,

You said into the 50's.  Remember my carport or gargage (attached to the house and enclosed), I don't know what you guys call them, it stays in the 50's even when outside temps are in the 30's.  So are you saying queens will start laying when temps hold in the 50's?
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Stephen Stewart
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2009, 10:36:26 PM »

Brian,

You said into the 50's.  Remember my carport or gargage (attached to the house and enclosed), I don't know what you guys call them, it stays in the 50's even when outside temps are in the 30's.  So are you saying queens will start laying when temps hold in the 50's?

Yes, the key word there is Hold.  If you can get sustained temps in the 50's the queen will start laying.  The laying will continue to gradually increase the longer the temps remain at or above that level, and the higher they go the more the queen will lay increasing the size of the brood chamber dramatically.
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jimmy
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« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2009, 10:56:08 PM »

Could I jump in and ask a question here without butting into Armucheebee's  question ?
I live fairly far down south but, we can expect frost/freezes until later March. If I were to build a hothouse for veggies in the winter and heating it to say 70 degrees to germinate seed, I could also have early bees in say late Jan/early February or even all winter?  I'm brain storming here . I am sure that some beekeepers have thought of this before now. However I haven't .Thanks Jimmy
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BjornBee
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« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2009, 07:21:47 AM »

100 to 200 bees per colony. Second week of January. Hold on...I'm going to see if there is a grim-reaper smiley to use before I go any further.... beat a dead horse

I admire your efforts, and I would probably try everything I could also. But this sounds like a lost cause. For a couple of colonies with 100-200 hundred bees each, to even raise brood, will take months, without any setbacks.

I think you have a better chance IF you combine them, and even then, this may not be enough.

PS....winter loss, is best taken in the fall, through culling, combining, etc.

Good Luck.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2009, 04:31:52 PM »

BjornBee,

I know where you're coming from on your recommendation but there is a way, I've done it.  This past spring we had an extended winter and I lost 3 out of 5 hives due to starvation during rapid buildup because the stores were exhausted at a timethere should have been plenty of forage.  The forage was there, the weather wasn't (I've posted about this before).
I took about a cup of bees from the remains of 4 hives and nursed them back into a healthy hive.  It took a lot of patience and feeding but by Mid-September I had a hive that was 3 medium eight frames with all new comb (the old comb had to be destroyed) and enough stores to sustain itself for the winter.
It was a lot of work, but I feel good about the end result.  I ended up transfering frames of honey and brood back and forth between the stronger hive I had left the the project hive.  I did it because out of the 4 hives I had one queen remaining and I didn't want to lose the queen.. 
I wouldn't recommend it for everyone, but it is doable, so if he's willing to try I'm willing to coach.
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tlynn
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« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2009, 10:07:57 PM »

I am experimenting with a terrarium heater on Brian and Michael's recommendations.  We are expecting 30s at night this week and I have a nuc that is low in population.  I took an identical empty nuc with a SBB and put the heater underneath and set both on a piece of plywood.  I taped a temp sensor from one of those little weather stations in the middle of the middle frame and as of 930 this evening (after about 2 hours) the outside temp is 61F and the hive reading is 70F.  It's a small heater, 8W.  It may make a little difference at 35F, so I am considering trying the 16W heater.  Got it at Petsmart. 

Do you know other beekeepers in the area?  What about asking one to lend you a frame or two of brood (maybe a little difficult this time of year).  I took a frame and nurse bees from a strong hive and put it in the nuc last month and it's filling back up and she's laying.  We have also had 70s and 80s for weeks which really helped.
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ArmucheeBee
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« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2009, 11:41:24 AM »

Brian and others,

Thanks for all the input.  I do not want to lose these queens, so I have brought both nucs inside.  I am using chick waters with 1:1 syrup in both.  In the mornings I am taking them back outside to sit in the sun 54F today for a high.  We have plenty of sun here in the winter even on cold days.  I also cover the nucs with quilts to hold in the heat as long as possible when I put them out.  I used a heating pad under the hives (SBB) a couple of days ago.  I may try that when I have them outside during the day.  On Thursday, the high will only be in the low 30's so they will stay in that day.  Only if it gets above 50 will I put them out.  I hope this will stimulate laying.  What do you think?  It's not much work to me if this saves these bees.
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Stephen Stewart
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"You don't need a license to drive a sandwich."  SpongeBob Squarepants
Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2009, 09:42:45 PM »

Sounds like you have a plan.  You might want to keep some notes on what you're doing so you can review your success or failure later and make improvements.  Keeping the core temp of the hive up should induce some brood laying but be sure to feed some pollen or pollen substitute or the bees can still perish from starvation for lack of pollen even if they have syrup or honey.
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Life is a school.  What have you learned?   Brian      The greatest danger to our society is apathy, vote in every election!
ArmucheeBee
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« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2009, 10:09:09 PM »

I started a log the day I brought home my first hive--a cutout.   Got Mann Lake pollen patties.    Thanks.
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Stephen Stewart
2nd Grade Teacher

"You don't need a license to drive a sandwich."  SpongeBob Squarepants
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