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Author Topic: Lathargic Bees (Brand New Hive, New Beekeeper)  (Read 3479 times)
jeremy_c
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« on: April 24, 2009, 10:55:09 AM »

Hello,

A friend of mine is doing bees for the first time this year as well. My two hives have a lot of activity. We installed them on Monday. Her's (Anne) is at a different location than mine. When going to her hive yesterday we noticed it had very little activity, even inside. I went back today and just looked at the outside. There are bee's all over the ground just walking around. Yesterday, some bees were coming out onto the landing deck and they just fell off onto the ground. Inside the hive, they were just walking around as well, nothing of any real activity. Even when we opened it up to release the queen, there were maybe 3 or 4 bees flying around.

Today at 10:30am, I saw one bee flying. I have recorded a very short video of this and was wondering if anyone had any thoughts? She is using a top feeder (not the pale type, but the other type (not sure of it's name) but it's a big pan w/two sides and bees come up through the middle. I am wondering if her bees are not getting fed.

Anyway, this video is: http://jeremy.cowgar.com/files/AnnesBees.html

Before I went to her hive (she had to work today) I looked at my two hives (bought bees, hives, equip from same location, same day) and each of my hives have 50-70 bees flying around, quite a few coming back with large pollen balls (more like tubes) on their rear legs. It was quite exciting, but pretty disappointing when I went to see her hive.

If you have any input, we'd greatly appriciate it.

Thanks,

Jeremy
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2009, 11:13:03 AM »

The feeder sounds like a mann lake top feeder, I use them and think they are great.
This sounds similar to another thread I read a while back, bees needed feed and protein. Has she put pollen patties in the hives ?
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kathyp
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2009, 11:36:34 AM »

are they in sun or shade?  what are her temps?  where did the bees come from?  are they getting into the feeder?  any spraying or dusting going on close by?

if you got your bees from the same place and yours are doing well, the easiest place to start is with differences.  list every single thing that she has done that is different from what you have done.  every difference in location.
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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2009, 03:10:50 PM »

Those bees look like they got poisoned with something the way they are falling over like that.

I use the Mann Lake Feeders also and do not have any problems with them.  But I did notice that when the feeder was brand new it had a bad plastic odor to it and I washed it really well before I placed it onto the hive.  This is a long shot, but you might want to make sure the feeder doesn't have an odor which would prevent the bees from eating.  Do you see them taking the syrup when you open it up?Huh?
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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2009, 03:19:54 PM »

Those bees look like they got poisoned with something the way they are falling over like that.

I use the Mann Lake Feeders also and do not have any problems with them.  But I did notice that when the feeder was brand new it had a bad plastic odor to it and I washed it really well before I placed it onto the hive.  This is a long shot, but you might want to make sure the feeder doesn't have an odor which would prevent the bees from eating.  Do you see them taking the syrup when you open it up?Huh?


I never cleaned mine out before using them, but I did have them for six months.
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« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2009, 04:01:54 PM »

thanks for posting the video.  doesn't look very good.  what does the hive look like inside now?  sure there are no leaks from feeder, etc.  if you have exhausted all ideas in and around the hive, start looking farther out.  is anyone spraying, any stuff out that the bees might have gotten into thinking it was food?
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2009, 04:59:43 PM »

Ok, what I found is that the bees are not feeding on the top feeder at all. There are 3 dead bees floating in the sugar water and zero bees up there eating. I checked three times today (just removing the top cover) and no bees ever. I had two boardman feeders, I put them both in w/sugar water hoping that if feeding was the problem there would be ample supply for those that want some.

I went over about 30 minutes ago and about 20 bees were flying around the hive. That is the most active I've seen it. I pulled the boardman feeders out looking to see if anyone was eatting and I found no bees by or in the feeders. The top feeder still had no bees eating. I did not pull the top off as it's not my hive and being brand new to bee keeping, didn't really want to fiddle with someone elses hive. They were happy (called them at work) for me to put in the boardman feeders just in case.

As for poison. There is a sheep pasture and the fence line is sprayed once a year, but nothing else anywhere that I know of. It's some distance before you get to any farm land, although not right in the city. I do not know if maybe a neighbor does something with their lawn. Are there common lawn chemicals that could cause a problem?

Jeremy
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« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2009, 08:52:37 PM »

<quote>
As for poison. There is a sheep pasture and the fence line is sprayed once a year, but nothing else anywhere that I know of. It's some distance before you get to any farm land, although not right in the city. I do not know if maybe a neighbor does something with their lawn. Are there common lawn chemicals that could cause a problem?
</quote>

>> Yes, absolutely.  Here, we have all kinds of insects that like to live in a lawn, so it is common (much more so in the city) to spray insecticides on lawns.  The fence line spraying is probably not a problem, that's herbicide most likely.

Another cause of what you describe is a combination of underfeeding and cold weather.  My girls have been busy as all get out today, but completely lethargic two days ago when it was below 45 degrees during the day. Last year, I almost lost a hive due to underfeeding in cold weather, but they recovered once I figured out what was going on.

A feeder in the hive is a good thing.  The fact that they're not feeding points towards insecticide, I think, assuming all else is OK.

-T
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« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2009, 09:17:19 PM »

the video looks like the hive is shaded at that time of the day.  i'd like to see how they are at the warmest part of the day and see them in full sun, especially in the morning.   lawn spray could be an issue, but only if it were to drift to the hives.  the number of bees on the grass should be few to none unless there were flowering weeds in it.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

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« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2009, 10:51:53 PM »

the video looks like the hive is shaded at that time of the day.  i'd like to see how they are at the warmest part of the day and see them in full sun, especially in the morning.   lawn spray could be an issue, but only if it were to drift to the hives.  the number of bees on the grass should be few to none unless there were flowering weeds in it.

Kathy, going back in the afternoon around 3:00pm, there were (a wild guess) 15 bees or so flying around the hive. The ones on the ground were still just walking around aimlessly. I pulled off the top cover to expose the top feeder and saw no bees feeding. About the shade... It is sitting under a tree but the tree has no leaves on it at this point in the season, the sun was on the side of the hive in full force. Today in our neck of the woods, it reached 77 degrees F. Is the placement of the hive bad? Once the tree has leaves, it will be shaded quite a bit of the day.

Jeremy
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« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2009, 02:10:36 AM »

Well everybody is ruling out a ticked off neighbor.  Some people think that they can solve a problem they have by being sneaky at it.  I'd do some checking to see if there is a upset neighbor around.  A few shots of wasp or hornet spray can wreak a hive.  Just a thought and i hope that's not the case but some people are just messed up in the head and you can't rule that out.
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« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2009, 05:44:38 AM »

Jeremy,
Just a quick question. Could your friend have used a clear wood preservative to treat the out side of the brood boxes and bottom board? I know that some preservatives do contain insecticides.
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« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2009, 07:23:59 AM »

the video looks like the hive is shaded at that time of the day.  i'd like to see how they are at the warmest part of the day and see them in full sun, especially in the morning.   lawn spray could be an issue, but only if it were to drift to the hives.  the number of bees on the grass should be few to none unless there were flowering weeds in it.


Kathy, going back in the afternoon around 3:00pm, there were (a wild guess) 15 bees or so flying around the hive. The ones on the ground were still just walking around aimlessly. I pulled off the top cover to expose the top feeder and saw no bees feeding. About the shade... It is sitting under a tree but the tree has no leaves on it at this point in the season, the sun was on the side of the hive in full force. Today in our neck of the woods, it reached 77 degrees F. Is the placement of the hive bad? Once the tree has leaves, it will be shaded quite a bit of the day.

Jeremy



You should have them in as sunny a spot as possible.  Hive beetles love the shade.  Earlier sun on the hive entrance gets them out of bed earlier too.  See http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmoving.htm.

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jeremy_c
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« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2009, 09:27:15 AM »

Jeremy,
Just a quick question. Could your friend have used a clear wood preservative to treat the out side of the brood boxes and bottom board? I know that some preservatives do contain insecticides.

Our hives are the same. We got them from Queen Right Colonies. They are boiled in paraffin wax. We did no treatment to our hive.

She is going to the hive this moring (11:30 or so) to look for other causes. I am going to meet her (her hive is about 3 miles away from my home).

I really appriciate all the help that you guys/gals have been with this hive. It's pretty discouraging for her at this point in time. She setup only one hive, so if she looses this hive she may be out of it for the season. She was pretty excited to give it a try too!  I am going to take my camcorder over and I'll record another short film and post a link here as an update. I am really hoping it was just a feeding issue and the boardman feeders I put it will have made a difference, but I'm just a newbie too so I really have little idea.

Again, your comments here have been fantastic. I'll post an update shortly about what we find.

Jeremy
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« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2009, 04:18:51 PM »

Maybe you should introduce syrup with a baggy. Since it lays on the frames,it will not cool so bad.If the syrup is getting cold over night,it takes quite a while for it to rewarm being inside the wood.
If at all possible,be sure the entrance faces south to southeast to get the bees active earlier with the morning light.
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« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2009, 11:55:11 PM »

I saw your video last  night and this morning saw one of mine acting very similarly. kind of a buzz-hop without any takeoff
I stuck my finger out and let her climb on my hand to look closely for parasites or other problem (not sure I'd know if I saw one)
After a few minutes on my hand she fired up the main engines and took off.
It was a little chilly this morning; I'm guessing she borrowed a little of my heat to get herself going.

EDIT: scrolled up to the response about temps and sun. nevermind.
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« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2009, 11:25:24 AM »

Ok, I forgot my camcorder. After being fed w/the boardman feeders for 2 days the hive is starting to look alive. Her bees are not as busy or active as mine yet, but before there were 1 or 2 flying around and now there are 15 or so flying around at any given moment. We saw a few coming back with pollen packs on their legs, so that's another good sign. I am really wondering if they were just not eating from the top feeder. All of the times we had checked, there were zero bees feeding from it.

She does have a ton of dead bees at the bottom of her hive. I am sure most of them came from when we put the package in. However, the number of bees she has left will cover 1 1/2 frames. On both of my hives I have three frames of densely packed bees.

Jeremy
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« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2009, 11:49:23 AM »

and she has her queen?  probably to late now, but it would be interesting to know if the feeder in her package malfunctioned. 
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2009, 12:28:50 PM »

and she has her queen?  probably to late now, but it would be interesting to know if the feeder in her package malfunctioned. 

Yes, we found her queen and she looked fine. I forgot to mention that.

About the feeder, not sure. She took it home with her and was going to wash it repeatedly with hot water thinking of the possible odor of it that was mentioned here in the thread. Right now she has a one of my boardman feeders on her hive (they came with the hive kit and later I decided to switch to pale feeders, so they were just laying around).

Jeremy
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« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2009, 05:00:19 PM »

I hate to even bring this up but, could it be that the syrup mix was to diluted? Just a guess. Brad
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« Reply #20 on: April 27, 2009, 05:26:37 PM »

i was wondering if the syrup can that came with the package was plugged.  did they go 3 days without food while they were in package and in transit.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #21 on: April 27, 2009, 06:40:07 PM »

I hate to even bring this up but, could it be that the syrup mix was to diluted? Just a guess. Brad

I did not mix the syrup (the owner of the hive did and she is going to join the forums here) but she loves cooking and is a great cook. She's pretty confident she mixed the syurp correctly.

Jeremy
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« Reply #22 on: April 27, 2009, 06:41:30 PM »

i was wondering if the syrup can that came with the package was plugged.  did they go 3 days without food while they were in package and in transit.

I'm not sure, I didn't think to check. I'm not sure the original can is around anymore to check :-/

Jeremy
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« Reply #23 on: May 25, 2009, 10:40:00 AM »

Well, it's 1 month later and the lathargic bee hive is still lathargic inside. It has a fair number of bees coming and going with resources but inside it's pretty sparse. She has 1 frame (both sides) drawn out about 90%. Another frame has 1 side that is drawn out about 20%. It's been that way for a few weeks now. Everything seems to be functioning, i.e. we see the queen, eggs, larva, capped pupa and honey but simply in very low numbers. I was with her on the inspection she did this past Saturday and you can see where some pupa has emerged but you can also count the number of capped pupa, I believe it was about 25 cells capped w/pupa.

My general thought is that this hive is simply going to keep working but dwindle in numbers as the older bees begin to die and the fact that there are not enough new bees coming to replace them, the hive will eventually die out sometime in the next month or two.

What do you think?

Jeremy
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« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2009, 11:29:52 PM »

Get a frame of brood and place it in the lathargic hive, bees and all, just leave an empty frame between what's already there and the new brood frame or you can cut a piece of news paper to fit between the frames and fold over the top of the new frame as a combine.  You might see a syupercedure cell created, if so let them do it.  I think you have a defective queen and the bees don't want to make a replacement for her due to unsatisfactory eggs from which to create a new queen.
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« Reply #25 on: May 26, 2009, 12:35:03 AM »

A defective queen would cause the very low amount of comb to be drawn out?

Jeremy
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« Reply #26 on: May 26, 2009, 01:28:03 AM »

a defective queen would cause the very low amount of comb to be drawn out?

Jeremy

The bees will only draw comb to  the extent that they can stand on.  So if a hive has a defective queen it is possible that the queen's egg production might not even keep up with the die off of exhausted workers.  If you want 10 frames of drawn comb in a hive then you must have enough live bees to completely cover both sides of those 10 frames.  If there is only enough bees to cover 3 frames then you'll only get 3 frames of comb. 
Once brood hatches and the population increases they will begin to draw more comb for the additional bees.  The one exception to this is drawn and capped stores.  Once a frame of stores is fully capped it doesn't need bees tending it.  Brood frames, on the other hand, always need bees attending them. 
The only way to get more comb is to have more bees in the hive.  At the end of the season, winter, the majority of the population has died off and the newer hatched brood, along with the queen, then overwinter in the upper part of the broodchamber and fetch stores from the storage frames for feeding the cluster.
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« Reply #27 on: May 26, 2009, 09:20:03 AM »

I think the problem is she had a package with more than normal count of dead bees and then a feeding problem to start with. All the comb that is drawn (1 1/2 frames) have bees on them. THere are not bees standing in places that are not drawn. So, she just has a very low bee count. For that, the queen does not have many places to lay, thus they will eventually die out as there are not enough places to lay to reproduce even the small number of bees she currently has?

Jeremy
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« Reply #28 on: May 27, 2009, 04:52:55 AM »

I had a hive last year that was just like yours.  You described it well and the video helped.  (My other hive was fine, both italian nucs from the same local guy)  Bees "falling off the porch" right from the start.  I picked up a few hundred "crawlers" and sent them to the USDA bee lab.  They had a high Nosema count and I treated.  They did seem to get better, but the queen wasn't laying well.  I requeened, and the bees killed that one.  I gave them brood from the strong hive.  They eventually made a queen from the donated frames.   A couple more setbacks over the summer, same symptoms, I won't go into detail.  They looked strong going into winter. 

They died in late winter with plenty of stores.  I sent a frame from the deadout to the bee lab and diagnosis was varroa, and they found a few with tracheal mites. 

The bee lab doesn't check for the viruses that are carried by the mites.  After reading, I thought that they may have had one of the paralysis viruses.

The other hive did great, came through winter strong.  The queen is still laying well, good pattern.  There was enough brood to make up two strong nucs for 2 new russian queens. 

Now, I am seeing the crawlers again in front of my "strong" hive, and also in front of one of the two nucs.
Keep us posted with your observations. 
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« Reply #29 on: May 28, 2009, 02:05:39 PM »

I think the problem is she had a package with more than normal count of dead bees and then a feeding problem to start with. All the comb that is drawn (1 1/2 frames) have bees on them. THere are not bees standing in places that are not drawn. So, she just has a very low bee count. For that, the queen does not have many places to lay, thus they will eventually die out as there are not enough places to lay to reproduce even the small number of bees she currently has?

Jeremy


In that case you need to make the bees make a place for her to lay eggs.  Put an empty frame into the center of the hive where the bees will draw it out as brood comb.  If she fails to lay then you need to replace the queen.  Also, expect a supercedure cell to appear if she does begin to lay.
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« Reply #30 on: May 28, 2009, 02:16:07 PM »

In that case you need to make the bees make a place for her to lay eggs.  Put an empty frame into the center of the hive where the bees will draw it out as brood comb.  If she fails to lay then you need to replace the queen.  Also, expect a supercedure cell to appear if she does begin to lay.

I'm not sure what you mean. Everywhere that bees are standing is drawn out into comb. Every open cell either has eggs, larva, capped brood, pollen or honey. If I have Anne (the one who's hive it is) add a new frame inbetween two that are semi drawn out, they will abandon where they are and draw that one out, thus providing some more open cells for the queen to lay in?

Jeremy
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #31 on: May 28, 2009, 03:01:41 PM »

Well, let me see, we were talking about a lathargic queen and then there was this entry:
Quote
I think the problem is she had a package with more than normal count of dead bees and then a feeding problem to start with. All the comb that is drawn (1 1/2 frames) have bees on them. THere are not bees standing in places that are not drawn. So, she just has a very low bee count. For that, the queen does not have many places to lay, thus they will eventually die out as there are not enough places to lay to reproduce even the small number of bees she currently has?

Which prompted my answer about inserting an empty frame in the middle of what should be the brood chamber.  Clear now?
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« Reply #32 on: May 28, 2009, 05:34:22 PM »

Well, let me see, we were talking about a lathargic queen and then there was this entry:
Quote
I think the problem is she had a package with more than normal count of dead bees and then a feeding problem to start with. All the comb that is drawn (1 1/2 frames) have bees on them. THere are not bees standing in places that are not drawn. So, she just has a very low bee count. For that, the queen does not have many places to lay, thus they will eventually die out as there are not enough places to lay to reproduce even the small number of bees she currently has?

Which prompted my answer about inserting an empty frame in the middle of what should be the brood chamber.  Clear now?

Yes, but I don't think the queen was ever in direct question. One mentioned that it might be the queens fault, but the queen seems to be doing all that she can given what she has to work with. Now, about inserting an empty frame... They really only have 1 frame drawn (90% on both sides) and then the frame next to it is only drawn about 20%. So where exactly would I insert this frame and why would it matter if I inserted an empty frame when the frame right next to it is only 20% filled (and has been like that for the last 2 weeks)?

I am simply thinking that her hive is going to fail this year, I don't see a way out of it, but I'm a new beek so I was hoping for some magic solution to tell her.

Jeremy
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« Reply #33 on: May 28, 2009, 11:05:33 PM »

I didn't realize you only had 1+ frame of bees in the hive, I assume they're in a nuc, if not they should be.
Was this queen by chance from an OB hive?  If so you might have to add a few frames of bees and brood to give the queen the message she has more room now.  Bees from OB hives will sometimes fail to develop beyond the 2-3 frame stage as that is what they've become accustomed to. 
I would make sure they're in a nuc and add 2 frames of bees and brood and then see what happens.  They should draw that 20% frame out and start on the 5th frame and the queen should begin to lay on more than 1 frame.
If that doesn't correct the problem I would recommend dropping the queen is a vial of alcohol and using her as a swarm lure base.
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« Reply #34 on: May 29, 2009, 08:20:33 AM »

I'm going to show my newness and ask what an OB hive is? No, they are not in a nuc. Her (Anne) and I purchased our packages from the same place, picked them up together. She bought 1 package, I bought 2 packages. Our bees are at different locations. Mine are doing fantastic. Her's are the bees described here. She is not computer savy, I've asked her to join and she tried a few times but failed (for a reason unknown to me). So, we both purchased the same hives even to place them in, a basic beginners hive w/SBB and paraffin dipped. The only difference between her hive and mine when we started was that she seemed to have a higer percentage of dead bees at the bottom (I wish I could quantify this, but I can't as I don't remember, from now on I will start paying more attention to this) and she used a top trough feeder and I used a 1 gallon pale feeder. They were 2# Italian packages. They were installed on Apr 20th. Last week I added on a second deep to one of mine and I'll probably need a second deep on the 2nd hive in the next week or so.

She only has the one hive and I don't want to be stingy but I am not sure if I can take a frame or two from my hives and put in hers, would I be risking my hives for the winter given this was their first year and they were only 2# packages to start? Also, how would we transport the frames to another location, being new beeks, we don't have extra equipment laying around. I am sure she will be disappointed if her hive fails this year, but she understands it's part of the learning experience. I guess the thing we would really like to understand is why her hive failed so maybe we can do something about it next time around if we see the same symptoms. I am sure this is hard to judge not knowing what % of the bees were dead on arrival. That may be the crucial piece of information we do not have :-/

Jeremy
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« Reply #35 on: May 29, 2009, 03:17:35 PM »

OB = observation hive
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #36 on: June 01, 2009, 09:09:16 PM »

Quote
She only has the one hive and I don't want to be stingy but I am not sure if I can take a frame or two from my hives and put in hers, would I be risking my hives for the winter given this was their first year and they were only 2# packages to start? Also, how would we transport the frames to another location, being new beeks, we don't have extra equipment laying around. I am sure she will be disappointed if her hive fails this year, but she understands it's part of the learning experience. I guess the thing we would really like to understand is why her hive failed so maybe we can do something about it next time around if we see the same symptoms. I am sure this is hard to judge not knowing what % of the bees were dead on arrival. That may be the crucial piece of information we do not have   :-/ 

If you take 1 frame of bees/brood from each of your hives it won't affect your hives that much as they are still in the heavy buildup mode.  It also shouldn't affect your hives ability  to overwinter as you still have plenty of time and forage to build both hives up to double deeps, or the equivalent for winter.  If you have a nuc box pull a frame of bees and brood from each hive and place them in the box, then put in 3 empty frames to  space and keep the frames from bouncing around.  If you use the top and bottom for the nuc just plug the entrance with folded door screen so the bees get air.  I usually fold a 4 inch wide strip of window/door screen over on itself to plug the entrance.  Then take them over to your friends house and install the bees, one frame on each side of the bees already in the hive.  The extra bees from 2 sources, the fact that there is drawn comb and brood, and placed on each side of the current brood nest will confuse the bees sufficiently to combine them without have to resort to other methods.

The bees and brood will be find transported that way for several hours.  The brood is the most delicate and as long as there is bees to cover the brood then you can wait up to 6 hours if you have to.
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