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Author Topic: The boys are taking over!  (Read 1809 times)

Offline kedgel

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The boys are taking over!
« on: February 16, 2010, 12:22:08 AM »
A small hive I got from a bird house continues to languish.  I know that cold weather will turn off brood production and can cause them to abort brood.  I also know that once that point is reached, they usually drive out the drones.  Not this one.  Its lousy with drones. After 15 years in South FL, I think I could add up all the cold days from all previous winters and they wouldn't exceed what we've had this winter.  We're actually getting WINTER this year.  So, why so many drones?  In an attempt to get this weak hive built up and to kill 2 birds with one stone, I moved this "nuc" hive to act as a trap hive in a trapout (On Saturday).  Today I checked it and found lots of new ladies on the combs.  Even with the influx of newbees there is still a disproportionate number of drones in the hive.  A few weeks before I moved them, I put in a foundationed frame that the wax moths had eaten a big hole in the center.  They repaired it, but made it into drone comb.  Now the drones are going gang-busters.  I know drones have a huge appetite and eat the stores up, so they drive them off in winter.  This weak hive has lots of pollen/bee bread, but has eaten up all the syrup they stored from my feedings.  They still had some a week ago. I know the excess drones aren't helping.  I've never seen so many drones in one hive in my life! My question is, should I start killing off the drones to reduce the drag on the food supply, and should I remove the frame that has lots of drone comb on it? 

Kelly
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: The boys are taking over!
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2010, 02:11:53 AM »
Bees raise and tolerate the number of drones they want.  Killing them off just causes the bees to use their resources to raise more.  The real question is how many and why?  If there are more than 30% drones, I'd say something is amiss.  Less than that may just be spring.  The number of drones peaks and falls.  They also may be queenless and drones are coming from other hives as they typically do with queenless hives.
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Offline kathyp

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Re: The boys are taking over!
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2010, 02:16:19 PM »
something else that i have observed and i'll let others validate or not....

it seems that a large number of drones sometimes precede the superseding of a queen.  it's an observation i have made in some of my own hives.

there is a queen in there for sure?
« Last Edit: February 16, 2010, 09:56:48 PM by kathyp »
.....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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Offline cow pollinater

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Re: The boys are taking over!
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2010, 08:31:09 PM »
What does the queens pattern look like?  During cool weather I have noticed that they are more tolerant of a drone laying queen.  Once she gets them to a true spring they usually kill her and make a new one.
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Offline kedgel

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Re: The boys are taking over!
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2010, 12:03:28 AM »
Bees raise and tolerate the number of drones they want.  Killing them off just causes the bees to use their resources to raise more.  The real question is how many and why?  If there are more than 30% drones, I'd say something is amiss.  Less than that may just be spring.  The number of drones peaks and falls.  They also may be queenless and drones are coming from other hives as they typically do with queenless hives.

I don't think I have more than 30% drones, but it may be approaching that.  Shouldn't they be expelling them for the winter, especially with dwindling food stores?  Also, I think the cold has arrested brood production as they have been aborting brood and stopped laying.  Queenless, or winter?

Kelly
Talent is a dull blade that cuts nothing unless wielded with great force--Pat Travers

Offline kedgel

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Re: The boys are taking over!
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2010, 12:21:03 AM »
something else that i have observed and i'll let others validate or not....

it seems that a large number of drones sometimes precede the superseding of a queen.  it's an observation i have made in some of my own hives.

there is a queen in there for sure?
Not sure.  I'm 99% sure I got the queen initially, as I plugged the entrance and took the hive, box and all home to install it.  I've been reluctant to spend much time poring over the frames locating the queen given how chilly it's been lately.  I don't want to chill the girls!  It is supposed to get back up to the 70's this weekend, so I'll give it a closer look.  As for supercedure, when I cut out the hive from the owl house (right before Christmas), there were a number of supercedure cells on the combs.  These have long since hatched.  I wonder if the queen war ended up with no winner, as their numbers have been diminishing.  I posted a query about winter bee deaths when I was pondering their shrinking numbers. (I think you responded to my earlier post about how many winter bee deaths are normal)
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Offline kathyp

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Re: The boys are taking over!
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2010, 12:22:45 AM »
well, when you get in there see what your brood looks like and let us know.  take some pics if you can.

could just be that your screwy weather has messed them up  :-)
.....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

Offline kedgel

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Re: The boys are taking over!
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2010, 12:24:13 AM »
What does the queens pattern look like?  During cool weather I have noticed that they are more tolerant of a drone laying queen.  Once she gets them to a true spring they usually kill her and make a new one.
What do you mean by "queen's pattern"?  The pattern of how she's laying?  :?

Kelly
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Offline jclark96

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Re: The boys are taking over!
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2010, 08:41:33 AM »
When I lived in Mobile AL my bees almost never quit raising brood. So the question remains do you have a good queen? Are there eggs, brood? This time of year in most of the country, they would be in a small tight pattern in the middle of their cluster. I am not sure about south FL, have lived there but no bees.

Offline kedgel

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Re: The boys are taking over!
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2010, 09:15:16 PM »
They are clustered in the center of the hive, but I didn't look to see if there were any eggs or brood under the cluster.  They aborted the brood during the last really cold spell and I don't think there is any new brood in the works. The only capped brood left to speak of is drones.  It looked like there were a number of them dead in the comb.  I keep running out of daylight when I try to check on them in the evening after work, so I haven't had the chance to really give them a thorough check out.  I may not even have a queen.

Kelly
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Offline hardwood

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Re: The boys are taking over!
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2010, 09:27:19 PM »
Here they are raising a good bit of brood and a lot of drones in prep for swarm season. I'd look to see if you have worker cells at all. It's normal to have a large population of drones this time of year, but you should still find worker cells too.

Scott
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Offline doak

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Re: The boys are taking over!
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2010, 10:26:21 PM »
I almost replied to another thread today about brood rearing.

For those a little farther South than I am (Macon GA) you will find brood rearing may continue through the wither season, not so great but it will be there. You will also have an earlier build up  than we do, the farther north you go the later.Although you all did have unusual cold this year. Here where I am I have found the the Queen will quit completely for two to four weeks. As soon as the days start that one to three minute lengthening of daylight per day she starts back laying, slowly to begin with. From this time till a good flow comes is a critical time for making "sure" they have plenty of stores.The stores will go like wild fire during brood rearing time.

I hope I don't sound like a broken record, but that is why you and I are here.
During the first few years of beekeeping It is hard to stay on top of every thing, and very easy to let something slip by. Been Beekeeping  for 10 years and I still do it.  :)doak

Offline Joelel

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Re: The boys are taking over!
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2010, 11:36:39 PM »
Some hives in the south has the boys around all year,not so many in the winter months.
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Offline kedgel

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Re: The boys are taking over!
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2010, 10:17:25 PM »
Bees raise and tolerate the number of drones they want.  Killing them off just causes the bees to use their resources to raise more.  The real question is how many and why?  If there are more than 30% drones, I'd say something is amiss.  Less than that may just be spring.  The number of drones peaks and falls.  They also may be queenless and drones are coming from other hives as they typically do with queenless hives.

Well, your suspicions are confirmed.  The over-population of drones is due to them being queenless.  I checked out the hive today and found no eggs, grubs, or workers cells, only drones.  I uncapped a couple and pulled them out.  They were dead, but I didn't see any evidence of varroa.  I'm guessing she got too chillled and died along with the capped brood.  I checked out my other 2 hives to see what their brood level was.  They both had some capped worker brood, but no grubs.  One deffinitely has a queen, the other I couldn't find her.  I'm pretty sure she was still there, as their hive is the larger of the two, and and the bees were clustered too thickly to be diminishing due to queenlessness.  One thing is for sure--even my strong hives have quit brood rearing due to the cold.

Now I have a problem with the queenless hive.  None of my hives has a frame of brood to spare so they can make a new queen.  I guess I'll cross my fingers and try doing one of the cut outs I have to do.  It is starting to hit the 70's again during the day, so I think I can try it.  Otherwise, I'll have to quit the trapout and combine what's left of them with another hive.  :'(
Talent is a dull blade that cuts nothing unless wielded with great force--Pat Travers