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Author Topic: 1 of 3 hives about empty in S.E. NC???  (Read 652 times)
challenger
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« on: January 11, 2009, 09:23:32 AM »

I have one hive of my 3 that has been depopulated due to my use of a top cover that let the bees get too cold and use up almost all the honey they had stored. I took 2 frames of solid honey from the 2 other hives (1 ea) and put them in the 2 deeps that I use for each brood chamber about a week ago. I looked at them today and they look worse-more are gone and it is down to maybe 1 1/2 lbs of bees. I think the queen is still there but I didn't see her-I did see fresh eggs which may be a laying worker so I will look again in a few days. In an effort to save these few bees I reduced the hive to a single deep and put everything in there and also did some insulating on the exterior.
It has been very warm here and my 2 other hives are going nuts-w-eggs, sealed & unsealed new brood and drones PLUS it looks like they are getting nectar! I don't see anything blooming and should have tasted it to see if it was just water but it was right next to sealed honey? Is anyone else getting such early activity?
How much effort should I put to saving this colony? I guess I will see if there are larvae in a few days in if so I was going to poor some honey in some empty frames of comb and maybe rob some pollen from the other hives. They have all been bringing in a lot of pollen all fall/winter but there was not any pollen in this colony I messed up.
Any help is appreciated.
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1of6
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2009, 10:30:49 AM »

Howard,
     Good to hear from you again.  You said in one of your other posts that your bees really don't experience winter, so I'd like to pose one possibility - opening up your outer cover to provide a little more ventilation is most likely not what would have done this colony in - I'd look elsewhere for other factors that may be dragging it down.  A lot of us run our hives with the outer covers propped up a little, and our bees reach temperatures much lower than your'e encountering.  Robbing, queen issues, and even nosema can cause issues in a hive, and are probably a little more in the direction that you might want to consider looking.  I hope the solution presents itself though, and look forward to hearing more about what you find.
     I think that laying worker situations will most often result in many eggs per cell, drone cappings rather than worker cappings, and I believe the eggs are often not anchored to the bottom-center of the cell, but rather inconsistenly located and sometimes on the sides of the cell.  A drone-laying queen can also drag the colony down as well.
     Some others will hopefully weigh in with better suggestions, but I wouldn't feel too bad about the outer cover thing - I think other factors are probably at the heart of this.  Good luck and let us know what else you find.
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specialkayme
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2009, 12:35:50 PM »

I don't have as much experience as many others here, but I guess I'll chime in untill they show up.

I wouldn't really worry about it. If I were you I'd give them a pollen patty, some sugar water, and wait. If it's a dying queen there isn't really anything that you can do at this point in time (no other queens available, and no drones flying to make your own). If the colony has laying workers (which I don't think it is, mainly because it doesn't happen too often, and you would see the signs that 1of6 said), then the colony is done for anyway.

I would anticipate that if the temps arn't cold, they are bringing in nectar and pollen, and you don't have a hive full of drones this time of year, you're just over exagerating. Just feed them and wait. Come back in 3 weeks and see if there are any problems.

But if someone more experienced than I says otherwise, I'd go with them.

Good luck.
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challenger
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2009, 09:02:35 PM »

I have 2 great hives-w-some drones and drone brood-not a ton of drones in these 2 hives but more than I would think for this time of year. I am also surprised at these 2 hives being so strong so early and IF they are bringing in nectar I see nothing blooming so it confuses me to see nectar in the comb of the 2 strong hives.
It is the 3rd hive that is poorly and I strongly suspect low supplies was the problem because the comb is only 8 mos old and is squeaky clean but totally void of any honey. In addition there was a lot of wax chewed off the comb and I've read this is a sign of hungry bees/starvation. Of course the next few days/weeks will prove it all out. I did mention that we don't get a real winter here but I suppose this is from a formers N.E. resident so maybe there would be some that would argue it. I am right on the line for zone 8-9 and we had about a week of sub freezing temps about 2 weeks ago lowest temps were high 20's.
Thanks for the input and I'll keep in touch. Maybe someone in the same temp zone will look at this and chime in?
Howard
Hampstead, NC
I don't have as much experience as many others here, but I guess I'll chime in untill they show up.

I wouldn't really worry about it. If I were you I'd give them a pollen patty, some sugar water, and wait. If it's a dying queen there isn't really anything that you can do at this point in time (no other queens available, and no drones flying to make your own). If the colony has laying workers (which I don't think it is, mainly because it doesn't happen too often, and you would see the signs that 1of6 said), then the colony is done for anyway.

I would anticipate that if the temps arn't cold, they are bringing in nectar and pollen, and you don't have a hive full of drones this time of year, you're just over exagerating. Just feed them and wait. Come back in 3 weeks and see if there are any problems.

But if someone more experienced than I says otherwise, I'd go with them.

Good luck.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2009, 10:54:03 PM »

It is the 3rd hive that is poorly and I strongly suspect low supplies was the problem because the comb is only 8 mos old and is squeaky clean but totally void of any honey. In addition there was a lot of wax chewed off the comb and I've read this is a sign of hungry bees/starvation. Of course the next few days/weeks will prove it all out. I did mention that we don't get a real winter here but I suppose this is from a formers N.E. resident so maybe there would be some that would argue it. I am right on the line for zone 8-9 and we had about a week of sub freezing temps about 2 weeks ago lowest temps were high 20's.
Thanks for the input and I'll keep in touch. Maybe someone in the same temp zone will look at this and chime in?
Howard
Hampstead, NC

That's more a sign of robbing.  If your hive still shows some pollen and unopened brood cells it was robbing.  Robbing bees will leave the brood in the cells and usually the pollen too as they are after the honey.  The population drop due to fighting in a robbed hive often means there's not enough worker bees left to cluster or recover and the queen is often killed during the robbing.   

Starvation will reveal no honey or pollen stores, no brood except some brood cells open on fully formed/colored brood (due to cannablism), and lots of bees head down in cells on all combs, especially in the brood area.  A robbed out hive, in late fall or winter will usually succumb to starvation or freezing because of the diminished cluster size.
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