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Author Topic: Weak hive in two deeps  (Read 2436 times)
Duane
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« on: February 27, 2013, 08:03:55 PM »

I just started with a package last spring.  They had filled the bottom deep with bees, honey, and brood, so I added a second deep.  They managed to get about 2-3 frames filled and capped with honey, when the drought started and the flow stopped.  I checked early fall and the bottom was mostly empty of everything but bees.  After asking some advice, I decided to feed some sugar water which they placed in the empty comb in the bottom deep.  A warm day a few weeks ago, I looked in, and they still have the capped honey in the top, some sugar water through the bottom, but there were not many bees left off to the east side towards the front.  Nearby was an empty frame which I placed to the far outside and moved a sugar water frame in its place. 

Now, I'm thinking the bees knew they had enough honey to get them through.  But at the same time, I understand they use a lot raising brood.  I noticed some bringing pollen in a week ago, where from I don't know.  My question is, should I do some rearranging?  I hear larger hives go to the top during the winter so thought they need the honey when they move up.  But being so few bees, should those frames of honey be put next to them and the top deep removed?  I hate to upset any of their preplanned balance, but I'm afraid they have too much space to defend.  Any suggestions and if I should move the honey, where should it be arranged?

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iddee
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2013, 09:59:29 PM »

The bees have it arranged best for their needs. Rearranging just before a cold spell can be devastating.
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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2013, 10:20:08 PM »

i'd leave it alone for now.  how many frames does the cluster cover? 
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Finski
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2013, 03:06:17 AM »

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It seems that your temperatures are near freezing point, and in some days it is 60F. Absolutely, take the upper box off.
You have not summer yet?


What means weak hive, many frames the bees cover? It tells much if you could say how many brood frames it has. So it is easier to evaluate its build up speed.

If the top box has not much bees, take it off. It only keeps cool the brood area and bees must consume more food.

It takes its own time when the colony grows, You cannot speed up it with sugar feeding.

When one box is full of bees, put the second box under the brood box.
When that box is half full of bees, and there are couple of frames brood, change the order of boxes.

If the lower box has too much space, bees cannot protect the hive.


« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 03:16:26 AM by Finski » Logged

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Finski
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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2013, 03:20:14 AM »

My question is, should I do some rearranging?  I hear larger hives go to the top during the winter so thought they need the honey when they move up.  But being so few bees, should those frames of honey be put next to them and the top deep removed? 


That is what you should exactly to do. But be carefull and fast that brood do not catch cold.
60F is quite cold to open brood frames. Just take empty combs off and put food frames next to brood.
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Duane
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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2013, 08:59:02 AM »

I tried not to disturb them much when I had looked, but based upon the few bees I saw to one side, my guess is about one deep frame of bees.  But, since there were bees here and there, there could be more than I think.  Over the top of two frames I saw a circle of bees maybe the size of a softball.  I didn't pull frames right by them but a frame away there were some bees on it, so maybe someone with more experience could make a guess of how many bees there are?

I'm not feeding any sugar now.  I had fed some last fall, but obviously there is no need at the present moment.  I'm just torn between leaving it alone and trying to do something which I may mess up.  The thought that it takes more heat with the basically empty box on top is bothering me.  But if I were to rearrange things, would I put the honey next to the brood or the frames of sugar water and put the honey outside of that?  Thinking the honey might be more useful to them later, alternating with thinking the honey could be most useful to them now?

Our temperatures right now are in the 30Fs.  I hate to think they starve, but I'm not the fastest and don't know what temperature I should open it up to mess with.  The day I looked was in the 50-60s.  I think I moved the honey to right above them.
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capt44
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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2013, 10:03:03 AM »

I would definetly go with the single deep box and put fondant candy and a protein patty right above the cluster.
Just lay them on top of the frames.
I never open my hives unless it is sunny, at least 60 degrees F. and very little or no wind.
If the food stores in frames are too far to the right or left it can be too cold for them to get to it.
Remember when the temps are up and down say 50's and 60's then in the 30's the bees will consume more food.
This is definetely the time of year to check their food stores and adjust as needed.
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Richard Vardaman (capt44)
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2013, 10:09:20 AM »

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It sounds that you have only 3 frame of bees.
You should make an extra wall and separate a 3-frame room to bees.
Then you take best food frames and shake the bees in front of hive when it is about 70F temp and sunshine.
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Duane
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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2013, 06:58:09 PM »

OK, here is what I think I'll do.  I'll take the honey and put it closest to the bees and remove the top box.  I wonder if I should put one comb on the east side next to the outside and the rest on the other side of the cluster?  Then maybe put a partition.  Would a cut piece of cardboard work?  I'm not completely sure of the purpose whether to keep warmth or to reduce pest invasion.  Not likely anything will be tight against the sides.  What about needing to touch the bottom board?  Or just so it's somewhat reduced is the goal here?

Looks like next week it might hit 60F.  I'm worried now if they can access any food.  But is it best to wait rather than open and poke around when it's 40F?
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Duane
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« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2013, 01:04:05 PM »

It never got very warm last week, but yesterday and today it was sunny and in the 70s.  I started yesterday afternoon, but I kept seeing other bees land in the top like they didn't belong.  Lot's of other bees from somewhere are trying to rob it.  I closed it up and then at the front entrance there were many times when guard bees were attacking them.  I thought I would try it again today in the morning, didn't seen any attacks, but by the time I put it back together already there were a few attacks going on.  I went to remove the empty comb frames in the bottom, but except for one frame, I only found something in all the rest I looked at.  Some capped honey near the tops of some, but may have been from before.  Unless I really didn't look well last time, it looks to me like they are putting new honey in the combs.  Lot's of light brown pollen coming in.  There's a little capped brood where all the bees are.  I'd hate to take honey out they were putting in, and I wouldn't know where to put it.  So, I placed one of the capped honey frames from the top next to the outside east edge and put the top box back on.  Don't know if that's the right thing, but didn't know what else to do.  Lot's of space in the bottom, about 2-3 frames of bees sounds about right, but honey and/or sugar water throughout it.  And I saw what looked like pollen in some of them, even away from the group of bees.  I only squished a couple of bees while looking, and one stung my glove.  Hope I didn't hurt the brood while looking at them.  If I should still reduce to one box, what would I do with the frames with sugar/honey/pollen in them?

I also put in a little screen to distract with the robbing.  I used a narrow upside down U-shaped screen about two bee widths sticking out a couple of inches.  The robbers land on the sides and get attacked.  The ones carrying pollen in eventually find the opening.
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Duane
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« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2013, 05:41:45 PM »

We got up in the mid 70s today.  After the general advice was to reduce the space, and seeing the robbing attempts continually going on, it looked to me when it starts getting warmer the pests are going to start moving in.  Since most of the two boxes are mostly empty except for a few bees here and there outside of the couple of frames of the main cluster, it probably would be hard for them to defend.

Looking in the bottom box, I see the sugar water they had put in there, and what looked like some pollen in a few places.  I chose the most empty frames and pulled them out and replaced them with the capped honey from the top box.  So now I have one box. 

My question is, how long will the honey / sugar water / pollen keep in my basement?  If we get some days above 50 but below 60, if I place the frames in front of the box, will my bees be able to move it in without the robbing bees getting much?

Some of the comb honey I moved down to the bottom box is misshaped.  I didn't cram it right against the next frame and so left a little space where the bulges were.  Other places along the comb has too much space.  I can only think this will cause future problems.  Any advice what to do to reduce problems?  One thought is to remove it after they use the honey but before they put brood in it.  But with trees starting to bloom in the area, will that ever happen?

Hindsight says before I fed them last fall, I should have moved the honey down to the bottom box.  I would still have the misshaped comb issue, but everything would have been in one box.
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Steel Tiger
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« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2013, 11:15:08 AM »

Do you have brood? If so, keep the entrance reduced and let nature take it's coarse. Best of luck with them.
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sterling
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« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2013, 07:06:12 PM »

Bees normally store honey in outside frames and cap it and store some pollen next to the capped honey then store nector or sugar syrup in cells in the brood area and don't cap it. that is what they feed on during the winter. When they start raising brood in late winter they have empty cells for the queen to lay in because they have eaten the liquid. and they will not try to raise more brood then they can cover on a cold night. They can use that liquid nector/syrup to eat or feed brood without having to have water like they have to have to eat or feed capped honey. This is a point of argument but bees do not heat the whole hive they heat the area they are clustered in. Your bees made the winter with the honey over head why couldn't they make it till spring without changing what they had arranged?
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Finski
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« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2013, 01:55:56 AM »

We got up in the mid 70s today.  After the general advice was to reduce the space, and seeing the robbing attempts continually going on, it looked to me when it starts getting warmer the pests are going to start moving in.  Since most of the two boxes are mostly empty except for a few bees here and there outside of the couple of frames of the main cluster, it probably would be hard for them to defend.

It is time to do something to it.

At least you can take one box off.

Then get a styrofoam insulation board and make a dummy board. Restrict the bee space as large as bees cover the frames.
Take rest of frames off.

Another style is to make a ready nuc box and move occupied frames to it.

Put frames into dry shelter and take care that roffers cannot go into boxes.

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Duane
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« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2013, 12:30:26 PM »

Thanks for everyone's advice.  I know I'm probably messing them up.  But then I probably messed them up in the fall so maybe this is correcting it?  Or messing them up more?  Yes, that really bothered me about moving things around, but I also know that they need to defend it.  Right or wrong, I moved it to the bottom box.  Something tells me that they can adapt.  I probably will never know what the correct thing to do was. 

But I had a small patch of capped brood and some larva nearby in one of the cluster frames I looked at.  Someone told me I needed to feed them to stimulate brood production.  Even though I had honey. Even though I had sugar water stored.  Even though pollen is coming in.  But I'm choosing not to stimulate them.  Even if it was possible to trick them into raising more brood than they would otherwise, I'm concerned as sterling mentioned that there would not be enough bees to cover the brood.

I thought about putting in dividers, but am also bothered about doing it.  If I'm not on top of it, they would fill their area and be crowded.  And then they wouldn't have their honey.  I was also thought about putting the inner cover between the top box of honey frames and the bottom so there'd be only a small hole to defend.  But decided that moths and beetles could still get in it if they couldn't defend it.  Unless several think I should really restrict their space in the bottom box left, and how to properly manage that space, I think I will let them alone for now in their one box.  But I should have restricted their space last fall, to include their honey, and not fed them.

The fruit trees are starting to bloom, and when it reaches above 50, I see many bees (relatively) coming in with pollen.  Busy little things!  I placed a frame I took out which looked like it had a little pollen in it and placed it in front of their hive, and while a couple of bees nosed around in the sugar water cells, they ignored the pollen cells.  The most interest was shown in the top edge where maybe it was honey instead of sugar water.  I'm starting to think they don't need the honey frames.  Maybe I should take them out (and eat it?!) leaving the frames with sugar water so they can empty it and have space for the brood?
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Finski
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« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2013, 03:16:54 PM »

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You should restrict the bee room that size that bees cover the frames.
It takes time that they start to get new bees.

Put there a dummy board and put there some inslulation.

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Duane
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« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2013, 08:06:18 AM »

I have a general idea of what a dummy board is.  But I need some specifics.  Is the purpose to be air tight, bee tight, or just a general suggestion of reduced space?  For example, there is space above the frames and the inner cover - Do I need to make sure that space is filled?  And then there is space below where the bottom board is - Does that need to be filled to the bottom board?  If I put in insulation, could I just cut some Styrofoam and use that itself as a dummy board?
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Finski
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« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2013, 11:27:36 AM »

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Stryrofom is very handy.

When it glides, you put inner cover on and it pushes board to proper level.

It is important that heat does not escape from cluster.
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Duane
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« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2013, 08:38:50 AM »

It stayed cool for many days and by the time I could look in the hive again, there were some bees on all frames of the remaining deep, there was large areas of capped brood, and there was new honey and pollen stores.  I would guess that there was about 4-5 frames of brood, though not completely filled, and a lot more bees in the box.  Things were a lot different than when I was first asking.  I have widened the entrance and have not noticed any more robbing going on.  I guess the other bees have decided to get busy getting their own nectar and pollen rather than stealing it from someone else.  I have set out boxes hoping to catch a swarm from them, but have noticed no activity yet.

So now my question is, what about those frames of honey they had stored last summer?  They are bringing in and storing new honey and don't seem to be using the old.  Are they ever going to use the old capped honey?  Some of it is misshaped.  If they aren't going to need it, should I use this opportunity to get rid of the misshaped comb and eat it?
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Finski
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« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2013, 09:05:58 AM »



So now my question is, what about those frames of honey they had stored last summer?  They are bringing in and storing new honey and don't seem to be using the old.

I have the same problem. Too much old honey in combs.

I will soak most of old honey into 40C water and I dilute it off. I must get free those combs.

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Duane
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« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2013, 01:16:32 PM »

Good news, bad news?  My hive is no longer weak!  I've never seen so many bees.  It's hard to look in the hive without mashing some of them.

Seemed like I just got them down to one box and then I was adding it back after they had expanded across the bottom box.  Now I see bees in the top box and above the escape hole, but they still have at least 4 blank frames in the 10 frame deep.  They even had eggs and now capped brood in the top box!  It looks like they are planning on raising brood.  Right or wrong, I now added a medium super thinking they are running out of space based upon several things.  I believe there are enough bees to protect the space if that is the only issue.

Last year, I noticed what was called a queen cap.  I asked someone about it and they said not to worry as they build them and tear them down.  Last time I went through the bottom box, I saw several of these queen caps.  I even saw some in the top box.  With one in the top box, it looked like they had specially built the comb around it up from the bottom (foundationless) with the cell in the center of the little arc.  Now It has been extended slightly, maybe a quarter of an inch and a bee had it's head down in it.

Should I be worried?  I may be imagining things, but the bees hanging out on the front of the box seem different.  I put the screened bottom board in, but they still hang out and now, instead of densely clustered, they seem evenly spread out doing their little "cleaning" act.  Not a lot of them on the front, but maybe up to half the deep height and a few on the shady side when it's hot.  It's way past apple bloom time, and the sweet clover is blooming good.

I was hoping to catch some swarms this year, but none came, even though they were robbing mine.  So I considered doing a split, but thought it might be good to leave well enough alone.  I have chosen to go with mediums instead of deeps, so not sure how that would work out.  I could not worry and hope if they swarm they'll go in my boxes, or try to do a split attempting to keep the main body of bees together to hopefully make some honey.
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sterling
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« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2013, 06:27:49 PM »

>but they still have at least 4 blank frames in the 10 frame deep
You may have to move the unworked frames into the brood nest. Not all at once. They will sometimes have a honey frame at the edge of the brood nest and they see that as the wall of the hive and will go up when they can instead of out.

 >They even had eggs and now capped brood in the top box!  It looks like they are planning on raising brood.
If they do then they are raising brood the planning stage is over. cheesy
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Duane
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« Reply #22 on: June 19, 2013, 01:30:19 PM »

That gave me some hope until I looked in them today.  The queen cap I was mainly worried about doesn't seem so much, but maybe some others right next to it.  However, in the bottom box, I saw about a third the way down the frame what looked like a queen cell vertically against the comb.  It was about 3/4" long.  A bee was in the way and I kept trying to look in but had problems seeing if there was an egg in it.  I turned it upside down trying to look (didn't know honey would drip out of the frame!), but I could not keep that bee or another away from it. 

I casually looked for the queen but did not see her.  I did see new eggs throughout the box, but some of the empty brood cells in the bottom box did seem empty.  Of course, they may have just hatched out.
How much time do I have to wait and see versus the queen will leave?  I wouldn't say they are crowded, and the reproductive stage should be over, but what if something's wrong with the queen?   Looks to me like she's laying eggs in lots of places.  And I do see capped workers.  Many capped drones in places.  Lot's of pollen, but doesn't seem like much honey.  I just don't know what happens when they swarm.  Will the queen keep laying right up to the time she leaves?
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Duane
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« Reply #23 on: April 01, 2014, 06:53:21 PM »

Well, I don't think they swarmed and they put honey in the top box.  Last fall on a questionable temperature day, I separated the boxes and put a screwdriver between them to while I tried to lift the box off.  I tried to lift it but that deep full of honey was heavier than I felt like lifting and since I wasn't sure I should be doing it anyway, I just tipped it back down.  Glad I'm planning on going to 8-frame mediums!

This spring, I was quite pleased to see all the bees flying in and out, some gathering pollen from who knows where.   When a day came I could look in,  the top box had bees all over it.  And was still very heavy!  When I looked in the bottom, it was mostly vacated with few bees and some patches of capped honey here and there.  I had looked through half the top box, but didn't know where the brood was.  There was a cloud of robbing bees when I put the hive back together.  I have reduced the entrance to two bee widths.

A couple of weeks later, there was a tremendous drop of bees flying.  I looked in the top box and not many bees on the outside frames.  Looking in the other half of the box I didn't look in the first time, I did see a couple of frames with bees plastered tightly to the sides, which I assume was the brood.  Now, another week, hardly any bees flying even when it gets above 50F. 


I didn't think I had a weak swarm this year, but I don't know what happened.  One thought I had is they had the top filled with honey except for the two frames.  They moved up to there to raise the brood, but when it turned cold again, the rest of the bees couldn't fit there, nor in the capped frames of honey in the top box.  So they were left to the bottom box which had nothing for them to eat.  A large number of bees were carried out in front of the hive.  So many that carrion beetles are crawling through them.

So, same old question, but different, almost opposite conditions.  I could remove the empty bottom box, but if they start building up as fast as last year, there may be no place for raising brood since the top is mostly filled with honey.  I tend to be of the idea to leave them alone.  Since it's been said they naturally move down, and since they are in the top this year, there is plenty of empty drawn brood comb right below them.  Any reason I really should or really shouldn't change something at this point in time?
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Duane
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« Reply #24 on: April 03, 2014, 09:03:23 PM »

It got above 70 today, so I seized the chance to see what was happening.  The two frames that had bees all over the sides, had much less bees and towards one end.  I pulled them out and saw sporadic capped brood.  Some of the open cells had deflated larva laying on the side.  I stuck a piece of grass in it, but it was not stringy.  I could not find any eggs.  There were more than the two frames with some capped cells, but I did not look close at any of them.  I took the bottom box off.

I'm thinking it's goodbye time for them.  Although, I did see a bee coming in with pollen, so maybe they are more hopeful than I.  I don't know if it's disease or if the mites got them.  I had been seeing dead mites on the slide in board below the screen for some time.  Not so many now.  Not so many anything now.
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Duane
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« Reply #25 on: May 04, 2014, 05:02:38 PM »

Amazingly they are still alive.  Every once in a while, I see bees bringing pollen in.  I looked today and being this is a month later, had expected to see double the amount of bees.  It looked like fewer bees than before.  They were on the insides of two center frames.  Just a small handful of bees in the top corner.  I did see the queen and capped brood.  I saw one working chewing out a white mature larva.  They have plenty of honey and I see pollen left over from their earlier brood nest.

They seemed to be  doing so well this spring.  I see where they had about a five inch diameter brood nest on several frames.  And then there was a drastic decrease in flying bees.  I had a slide in insert under the screened bottom board and pulled it out and saw about an inch of dead bees on the bottom.  I at first thought maybe disease, but the larva weren't stringy, and so then thought European Foul Brood, but from what I read, I wasn't sure it was that.  Then I thought with all the cold weather we were having, maybe they died from starvation or coldness and then just abandoned the brood.  But after a month, I would have expected an increase in bee numbers.  I didn't get a good look at what brood they had, but the caps looked normal to me.  Just maybe a dozen.

If I had other bees, I would give up on this hive.  But since this is the only one I have, I'd like to save it, if for no other reason than a challenge with how few bees there are.  Anyone have any guesses as to what happened?  Any suggestions as to what I should do at this point?
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