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Author Topic: Struggling hive  (Read 698 times)
klieb
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« on: May 04, 2009, 04:11:21 PM »

Hi,

I've got a hive that got off to a rocky start last year (installed package, wasn't sure whether queen made it into hive, eventually swarmed in mid-summer when I wasn't paying enough attention). It has made it through the winter, and I'm being much more attentive with weekly inspections.  However, I just don't see the population zooming and the activity building up like in my other hive.

Here's what I think I know about the situation:
- they're not foraging much.  When I inspect on a sunny day there are just a handful of bees entering/leaving the hive.
- I see evidence of larva in cells.  I was having a hard time seeing eggs in cells, but then my eyesight is not great without magnification.
- I don't think that everything is drone brood, which would indicate lack of a queen, right?  I don't hear the buzz that people have talked about a queenless hive having, but then the population is way, way down.
- they've got a full two-side frame of honey from last year, so they're not lacking for food.  i've put a pollen patty and 1:1 sugar syrup in an under-the-cover feeder, but they don't seem to be doing much with it.
- there's some yucky stuff visible one of the frames; look at the left side of Frame E (photo links below).

Frame C:


Frame C Detail:


Frame D:


Frame E:



Thank you for your assistance...

Kurt
« Last Edit: May 05, 2009, 01:42:50 AM by eivindm » Logged
irekkin
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« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2009, 04:48:12 PM »

hey man, i feel your pain. i can't really tell you whats wrong with your hive as i'm pretty green at this myself. i had a similar situation this spring with a week hive. i made sure there was a queen and that they were'nt sick. i took a couple of frames of capped brood and all the attached bees (from a strong hive) and put them in the weak hive. it took a couple of weeks but they eventually came around. worked for me. good luck.
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klieb
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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2009, 03:49:43 PM »

Now with pictures.... see above.  Thank you, moderator!

Kurt
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mgmoore7
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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2009, 04:25:56 PM »

With that few of bees:
1.  Try to find the queen.
2.  Look for eggs
3.  Move to a nuk if possible. 
4.  Be sure to have an entrance reducer. 
5.  If you other hive is doing well:
     -locate the queen in you 2nd hive.
     -while you know where she is, take a frame of brood (hopefully with brood from eggs to capped) and insert into this hive.
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klieb
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« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2009, 04:42:24 PM »

Thank you, mgmoore7, for your response.  Just so that I'm understanding properly...

- the entrance reducer is so that any strong hives in the vicinity don't rob this one of the honey that it has?
- the move to a nuk is so that they don't have to heat as large as space - kind of a "make their hive size appropriate to the population" strategy?
- if I look very carefully and don't find a queen, should I just see about ordering a new queen?  Is the brood frame strategy a better "leg up" for them than ordering a new queen (it's certainly cheaper to do the brood frame)?
- if I transfer a brood frame I assume that I should brush off as many bees as I can so that I don't introduce foreign bees into the weak hive?
- brood frame transfer should result in them raising up a new queen if they need to, right?

The pictures were taken about a week ago.  Hopefully it will be sunny on Friday and I can check them out again.  I did find that their bottom board was really dirty and full of dead bees last week, and I changed that for a clean one.  I'll be curious to see if better hygiene will help them, too.

Thanks,

Kurt
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mgmoore7
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« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2009, 05:04:07 PM »

Thank you, mgmoore7, for your response.  Just so that I'm understanding properly...

- the entrance reducer is so that any strong hives in the vicinity don't rob this one of the honey that it has?
----YES
- the move to a nuk is so that they don't have to heat as large as space - kind of a "make their hive size appropriate to the population" strategy?
----YES
- if I look very carefully and don't find a queen, should I just see about ordering a new queen?  Is the brood frame strategy a better "leg up" for them than ordering a new queen (it's certainly cheaper to do the brood frame)?
----I WOULD MOVE IN A FRAME 1ST AND SEE IF THEY MAKE A QUEEN.  MAKE SURE IT HAS EGGS.
- if I transfer a brood frame I assume that I should brush off as many bees as I can so that I don't introduce foreign bees into the weak hive?
-----I WOULDN'T.  IF YOU ARE PULLING A FRAME OF BROOD MOST ON THE FRAME WILL BE YOUNG BEES AND YOU NEED THEM TO TAKE CARE OF THE BROOD YOU JUST MOVED IN.
- brood frame transfer should result in them raising up a new queen if they need to, right?
-----YES, IF THERE IS NO QUEEN NOW.  IF THEY DON'T RAISE UP A QUEEN AFTER INSTALLING BROOD, THEN THERE IS A QUEEN IN THERE.  COULD BE FAILING.

The pictures were taken about a week ago.  Hopefully it will be sunny on Friday and I can check them out again.  I did find that their bottom board was really dirty and full of dead bees last week, and I changed that for a clean one.  I'll be curious to see if better hygiene will help them, too.

Thanks,

Kurt

They could be failing for other reasons too such as mites or some other disease. 
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klieb
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« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2009, 05:11:16 PM »

Thanks for your advice!  I'll knock together a little nuc box tonight out of plywood, and it should serve to both transfer the good brood frame, and house the small colony at the other location until it has built up strength and/or re-queened itself.

Cheers,

Kurt
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2009, 12:39:47 AM »

I saw eggs in some of the cells but few capped cells that are resulting from the number of eggs being laid.  This is indicative of a disease that ravages the brood, such as chill brood (not enoough bees to cover the bees which appears to be the case), sackbrood, or even chalkbrood.  I don't see signs of AFB or EFB.  It appears to me what this hive needs is a shot of population.  I'd recommend stealing a few frames of stores from another hive, along with the attendant bees, plus shaking some nurse age bees into the hive as well.  The queen seems viable enough from the amount of eggs being laid.

2nd option is to reduce this hive to a 3-4 frame nuc with a frame of undrawn foundation. Includinga frame of stores would help also.

Either way this hive needs to be nursed back to health or combined.  If choosing nursing back to health I'd recommend a plan that replaces the combs in the hive with new comb over the next few months.
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klieb
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« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2009, 01:01:47 AM »

Thank you for your advice. I'll read up on the diseases, and see if I can figure out what's going on.  So to replace the comb, would I do that gradually, or try to move the bees and a donated brood into a nuc with all new foundation all at once?

Kurt
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