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Author Topic: Son's first hives - One absconded, one down 75%. HELP!  (Read 876 times)
HomeBru
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« on: May 10, 2009, 02:57:48 PM »

Some may remember, but #1 son decided he wanted to do bees this year so we spent the winter reading, researching, and building wooden-ware. Brought our two packages home from Dadant (Albion, MI) about a month ago and installation was perfect! Hives have south and east exposure, windbreak to the West and north. Weather has been cool and often rainy so it was 10-12 days before we checked on the queens. Both were out, bees were drawing comb and they'd gone through about 1/2 gallon of syrup on each hive. (The queen cages both had three or four "extra" bees inside including the queen, is that normal?)

About a week and a half ago, I was wandering by and noticed zero traffic at the entrance of one hive. Peeked in the top and there sat a dozen drones wondering where all the girls went. Two frames half drawn with some pollen packed in. Ben was bummed.

Yesterday, I went out to watch the other hive and things didn't look "right" so I peeked inside and it looked like only about 25% of the original family was there! It's been cool and rainy so we haven't taken everything apart to look for queen/eggs yet.

I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out what we did wrong and Ben is, understandably, devastated. Here's what I'm down to:

1. Didn't want, like or couldn't get to the syrup. We used plastic hive-top feeders from Mann Lake (end access, not middle). Each hive only went through maybe a gallon.
2. Inadvertently got "bad" material in the smoker on first inspection. This inspection seemed to be the beginning of the end, but there were no dead bees around the hives.
3. Crappy spring, too early of an install.
4. Bad luck.

Thoughts or ideas? Does anyone know where we can get bees this late in NW Indiana?

thx,

J-
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WayneW
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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2009, 03:09:43 PM »

From what i understnd you will loose MOST of your bees before the new brood starts hatching out (aprox 21 days) by that time many of your bees from the packages will be lost.

As for the "extra bees in with the queens, those are her "attendants". They are bees familiar to the queen since they came fron the same hive. The rest of your package are likely NOT related to the queen, hence the 'acceptance period". They are placed in there to care for her until her release, and hopefully her acceptance.

Sorry to hear about 1 package absconding, but hopefully this one will be fine.
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HomeBru
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« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2009, 03:52:38 PM »

Got out between rain showers today and although we didn't have time to search out the queen (I was never good at those "Where's Waldo" books!). There are eggs being laid, bottom center of a number of cells. We were about to start searching when another shower started to hit, so we quickly buttoned up. We'll check again in a couple of days.

J-
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sc-bee
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« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2009, 04:01:54 PM »

>Each hive only went through maybe a gallon.

Seems like a very small amount of feed for bees starting a new package in your area. Any dead bees present in old hive that may look like bees starved. Maybe they could not access the hive top feeder in your temps. Someone in your area will be able to tell you more.

>Sorry to hear about 1 package absconding

Unfortunately this is not uncommon with packages these days. Seems to have happened more than just a few times with packages our bee clubs have ordered. And the packages came from different suppliers.

>Inadvertently got "bad" material in the smoker on first inspection. This inspection seemed to be the beginning of the end, but there were no dead bees around the hives.

Do you suspect something here huh

Hold patient on the other hive and see what you have when you can access the situation. I'm not sure of your local conditions but bees have to have honey and pollen to raise brood. Maybe she hadn't got started good yet.

Be careful with inspections in cool weather---- you may chill the brood she has laid.

Good Luck!!!
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Scadsobees
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2009, 12:48:20 PM »

As far as new bees goes, your best bet is going to be checking locally for beekeepers.  Many hobby beeks will help out with splits or swarms (swarm season is just starting up here), or if there is a local club that will give you lots of contacts.

I'd focus on swarms right now, there are lots of places to get your name listed: online, local fire/police dispatch, local exterminators, etc.

To answer your questions:
1. maybe
2. probably not
3. didn't help any
4. yes, and the bees do what they want

Queen issues, the bees may not have liked the hive (no comb, pretty sterile and new yet), maybe intrusions, etc etc.  There are 150 different things that can play a part in absconding hives, it a reletively common experience.

It is horribly demoralizing, we do know how you feel, most of us have been through it before...there is light at the end of the tunnel, you just can't see it yet!! Smiley

Rick
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Rick
sarafina
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2009, 01:00:33 PM »

I am so sorry about your hives and my heart goes out to your son.

I am a newbee beek so I am not much help, but I just use plain old Boardman feeders and my new package this year was going through a quart a day for about 2 weeks and then suddenly stopped (as soon as I mixed up a new batch, of course!).  I checked my notes from last year and this was the same time they quit taking syrup also so they must be getting plenty of nectar.  I only had one hive last year and expanded to a whopping two this year.  I found plenty of capped brood in the new hive so they are doing fine.

Finding eggs and brood is a hopeful sign.  I hope your surviving hive makes it!

Sarah
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Bee Happy
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2009, 05:01:10 PM »


...About a week and a half ago, I was wandering by and noticed zero traffic at the entrance of one hive. Peeked in the top and there sat a dozen drones wondering where all the girls went. Two frames half drawn with some pollen packed in. Ben was bummed.

Yesterday, I went out to watch the other hive and things didn't look "right" so I peeked inside and it looked like only about 25% of the original family was there! It's been cool and rainy so we haven't taken everything apart to look for queen/eggs yet....
J-
they were drawing comb - I'm a newbie but that doesn't seem the behavior of something that doesn't intend to stay.
I gotta wonder one of the same things you did - too much or bad smoke - or a toxin from some other source.
some others have already addressed the other hive, that maybe they had a (higher than?) 'normal' die off.
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tlynn
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2009, 08:45:16 PM »

I'd find a beekeeping association near you and go if close enough.  This is probably a good place to start - http://indianabeekeeper.goshen.edu/Beekeepers.html.  You'll probably find somebody who has or will have nucs for sale, depending on how your spring is progressing.  If they are strong you can transfer them into your deeps after you get them and you'll be off and running with established hives.  Maybe also check out craig's list.  We get some postings here advertising bees.
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icodebot
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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2009, 04:37:11 PM »

A gallon in 1 month? Thats pretty bad. Mine were doing that in about 4 days.
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