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Author Topic: Causes of weak hives  (Read 1748 times)
beemidwife
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Location: Waleska GA


« on: June 01, 2011, 09:18:09 PM »

I posted this on another list without much response:

I have four hives. I call them the garden hive, the swarm hive, the little hive
and the creek hive.

The creek hive is my oldest. It was created from a split in 09. I made the
little hive from this one last summer because it was getting so big. It has had
an ongoing SHB problem that seems better this year than ever before. It is not
building up well this summer. There is some brood but just very slow and not
much activity around the entrance. I even saw some roaches in there; something I
have never seen before. (Using all 8 frame mediums)had 6 boxes over the winter
and am now down to 3. Why?

The garden hive was started with a nuc spring of 10. It has always been lively.
I happened to be working nearby when it swarmed this spring and caught the swarm
(my first, very cool experience.)This hive is still booming. Lots of activity
and storing of honey. 6 boxes on this one.

The little hive was made late last summer, live and learn. I split it from the
creek hive June 15th and then we had a drought and I had to feed it all summer.
I fed the others too, bad dry summer here in GA.
After an unusually cold snowy winter I was thrilled to see them alive and making
a vigorous start this spring. They were not eating the syrup and seemed to be
building up normally. Now they are eating syrup and dry sugar. I gave them some
honey from the swarm hive on Saturday. Little activity around the entrance, some
brood and some stores. Just don't seem to be enough bees. How can you tell if
there are robbers? At one point it seemed like a lot of drones (anyway, big
bees)were going in the entrance.

The swarm hive is from the garden hive mentioned above. Up to 4 boxes since
April when I started it. I was late adding the 4th box they are multiplying so
fast. Huge amount of bees in there. They are making lots of drones too. Should I
be concerned about that? Is it because I let the m run out of room and they
were/are preparing to swarm again??

So what are some things to look for with my slow hives. I want to help them
catch up to the others.


Since then in my research I have decided to put a frame of brood and bees from each of the strong hives into the weak hives. I am terrified I will transfer the queen since I can never spot her.

Also I read that bees just starting on foundationless frames will often make more drones.

What do you think? And do you have anymore opinions/suggestions/experience with the other stuff in the post above?? I am here to learn!!!
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2011, 11:20:57 PM »

>Since then in my research I have decided to put a frame of brood and bees from each of the strong hives into the weak hives. I am terrified I will transfer the queen since I can never spot her.

Shake all the bees off the combs before transfer and you won't have a queen on them.  Smiley  If you want to boost with bees, then shake the bees off and put them above an excluder and after an hour or so pull them to put in the other hive.

Also, learn to spot the queen:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesqueenspotting.htm

>Also I read that bees just starting on foundationless frames will often make more drones.

That is a commonly believed myth.  Bees have a threshold for drones they will meet by one means or another.  They also have a threshold for drone comb.  Foundationless bees can get the drone comb more easily.  But according to Collison's research they will raise the same number of drones.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
beemidwife
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Location: Waleska GA


« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2011, 12:18:17 AM »

Michael,
I don't have a queen excluder.  Smiley I don't use one in my hives. I will just be really careful. I have looked at your site many times (its actually my first go to spot for info). I will read about spotting the queen again before I move the frames of brood tomorrow. 

So why do you think there are so many drone cells in that swarm hive? Is is common that the swarm hive grew so quickly? A part of the chemistry of a swarm?

I am so pleased with the foundationless comb in this hive too. I mistakenly had all the frames too far to one side in the third box. (8 frames, I haven't been filing down frames to fit nine but I might start!!) On the empty frame between drawn comb and the side of the box with the extra space they built TWO panels of comb, perfect and straight. I wish I had a picture of it, but it broke when I took it out.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2011, 02:04:07 AM »

>I don't have a queen excluder.  I don't use one in my hives.

I don't usually, but they come in handy for things like this if you can't spot a queen.

>I will just be really careful. I have looked at your site many times (its actually my first go to spot for info). I will read about spotting the queen again before I move the frames of brood tomorrow.

The only way to be reasonably sure you don't have a queen on the frame you have in your hand is if you know where the queen is...

>So why do you think there are so many drone cells in that swarm hive? Is is common that the swarm hive grew so quickly? A part of the chemistry of a swarm?

Any booming hive from early spring to the start of the flow will raise a lot of drones.  10-20% is typical.

>I am so pleased with the foundationless comb in this hive too. I mistakenly had all the frames too far to one side in the third box. (8 frames, I haven't been filing down frames to fit nine but I might start!!) On the empty frame between drawn comb and the side of the box with the extra space they built TWO panels of comb, perfect and straight. I wish I had a picture of it, but it broke when I took it out.

New comb is very soft.  Bees always use any space.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
T Beek
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« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2011, 06:00:48 PM »

My hives got hit by a Bear three times in three weeks this Spring.  First time I ever had any issues, as the electric fence always worked....until a young, determined and hungry one nearly did me in (I ain't done yet).

Of all the problems I've ever encountered keeping bees, I believe that BEARS cause weak (demoralized/dead) hives worse than anything else I know of.

A trap is set, the freezer is finally empty and the shotgun is (as always) loaded.

Sorry if this is a bit off topic.

thomas
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AliciaH
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« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2011, 12:22:25 PM »

Causes of weak hives...

I did a split from a full hive a month ago.  Took the old queen, two frames of brood and two frames pollen/honey and put them in a nuc box.  What's interesting is that the old queen isn't laying as well in the nuc.  She is laying in spotty patterns and not filling in gaps well where brood has hatched.  It's been a month and they're still in a nuc.  I looked yesterday and the bees have started a couple of supersedure cells.  This queen is only a year old, but it looks like her time might already be past. 
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Scadsobees
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« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2011, 12:38:26 PM »

Hm...you don't mention too  much about the insides of the hives.

A slow hive can be because they got knocked further back over the winter. It could be because the queen is a dud. SHB's (and roaches, although they're just visitors) are opportunistic and while SHB can hurt a strong hive, more likely they'll be in a weak hive.

Too many drones can be because it is the season, because they have too much drone comb, or because they have an undiagnosed laying worker.

Extra brood will bolster a small hive, but if it is a queen problem, then that will only help temporarily.

I'd check my strong hive for queen cells, and if I saw any I'd use those to requeen the weaker hives.
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Rick
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