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Author Topic: declining hive issues  (Read 534 times)
gnef
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« on: April 28, 2013, 01:46:18 PM »

I have two hives currently, both top bar, both feral hives from caught swarms, one from this year, one from many years ago. I live in the Atlanta area to give you an idea of weather.

The hive that is oldest doesn't seem to be doing well. I've posted some images, which hopefully also show you what I'm trying to describe.

My first concern is with the dead bees (pupae stage, I believe?) in the cells. I noticed a random one here and there last year, but this last hive inspection, I noticed an increase in the numbers.

The queen also does not seem to be laying a solid brood pattern, but I'm not sure how concerned I should be. The bees don't have too much honey stored, but they have been foraging, and increasing their stores. I did remove some pollen, empty comb, and a little bit of honey for the new swarm, and the new swarm is doing amazingly well with multiple frames of full brood so far (only about 3 weeks old at this point).

I want to help this older hive not only survive, but thrive. A bit more background - I have not done any medications, and my preference would be to stay that way, but I am by no means anti-medication, and if there is something that I need to do, I will definitely be up for it. This hive was given to me by beekeeper friends about 2-3 years ago, and the hive body was falling apart, so last year I built a new top bar hive for it, and transferred all the frames over. In the process, I think I killed the queen as there were a number of emergency queen cells produced, and they were very aggressive while they were raising the queen. They stayed fairly small the entire season last year, and I ended up having to feed them honey and sugar syrup in the fall to overwinter with. They did survive, but in my first hive inspection, they had very little honey stores, but were foraging fairly well so I did not do any additional feeding in the early spring. They have been active every day that the weather has cooperated. They still have a good amount of pollen, a lot of empty comb, and have started to store nectar and have capped off some honey, but it isn't as much as I would've expected by now.

Ideas? Suggestions? Thanks in advance!










I tried to put pictures in here, but I don't have a high enough post count. I will contact the administrator to see if they can append my post. In the mean time, I would still appreciate any help!
« Last Edit: April 28, 2013, 03:24:24 PM by Robo » Logged
gnef
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« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2013, 01:57:07 PM »

Thanks for posting the pictures for me!
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Ken
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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2013, 01:59:45 PM »

They may need a little feed. Have they been robbed out or swarmed possibly? The bee numbers seem low and not hardly enough to cover any brood.Perhaps rob another top bar with brood and nurse bees from the strong hive?
Is the queen still present?I may have missed her in the photos.
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hardwood
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« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2013, 02:31:51 PM »

Ken, she's in the fourth pic.
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"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Theodore Roosevelt 1907
gnef
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« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2013, 03:45:12 PM »

Yup, I made sure to include a picture with the queen. There was still uncapped brood in addition to the capped brood - the pictures aren't great, so you may not have been able to see that.

They were not strong enough to swarm, and in my first inspection at the beginning of the season, I did not notice any swarm or supercedure cells. My main thought is they aren't that strong yet, and are having issues related to their size. I just don't know if this is a self correcting problem - if the amount of brood will be enough to help them ramp up numbers, or if it won't, then my options.

I certainly can add some of the brood from the other hive, but is that the only issue I have going on?

I am trying to research as much about the different diseases as I can, but I haven't found one that produces dead pupae left in the cell like what I have pictured. Could those have chilled too much due to not enough nurse bees keeping the temperature high enough?

I have tried to limit the amount I interfere with them, but I do want them to survive.
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Georgia Boy
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« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2013, 03:45:31 PM »

I saw her. At least once hardwood said she was in the fourth pic. Found her is 2 seconds. Yay!

David
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Finski
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« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2013, 03:52:41 PM »

.
Have you looked how much there are varroa inside brood?

.
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kathyp
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« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2013, 06:17:06 PM »

brood pattern looks ok, but i see sunken caps and they are definitely chewing some out.

doesn't look like they have enough stores and with numbers down, they may not be bringing in enough.  i'd feed and provide a pollen source inside the hive until they get numbers back up.  i lost an observation hive that did the same thing and in hindsight, i think they chewed out the brood because it was malnourished.

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.....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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hardwood
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« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2013, 06:37:33 PM »

It might be mites as finski suggested. Can you give them emerging brood from your other hive?

Scott
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"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Theodore Roosevelt 1907
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« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2013, 08:21:08 PM »

Ken, she's in the fourth pic.
Didn't have my specs when I posted, But I see her fine now!  Smiley
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10framer
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« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2013, 08:35:09 PM »

sure sounds like varroa but when i blow the pictures up i can't see any on the adults. 
i agree that you don't have enough bees to cover the brood.  i think you probably had some chilled brood during the last cold snap and you don't have enough bees to do all the housework in a timely manner.  there was a night in the low 30's in butler last week and several in the 40's.  i'm betting the bees got ahead of themselves raising brood because of the crazy weather we've had.
i've never run a top bar hive but my understanding is that you should have a divider that you move to expand and contract the size of the hive. do you have those bees closed down to just those 4 frames?
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Jim 134
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« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2013, 08:38:17 PM »

They may need a little feed. Have they been robbed out or swarmed possibly? The bee numbers seem low and not hardly enough to cover any brood.Perhaps rob another top bar with brood and nurse bees from the strong hive?
Is the queen still present?I may have missed her in the photos.

I see very little feed.  
Maybe  a newly mate queen Huh



                 BEE HAPPY Jim 134 Smiley
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"Tell me and I'll forget,show me and I may  remember,involve me and I'll understand"
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"The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways."
 John F. Kennedy
Franklin County Beekeepers Association MA. http://www.franklinmabeekeepers.org/
gnef
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« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2013, 08:52:16 PM »

Thanks for the suggestions, keep them coming!

I have not reduced the size of the hive. There are many more frames with more bees that aren't shown, but numbers are definitely low from what they have been in the past, and compared to the swarm hive that I have next to it.

I can't see any mites, but I've never really had a mite problem to use as a benchmark. This hive did have some hive beetles, but I shake as many as I can out and kill those as I see them. I did not open up any brood to check for mites. I may try to do this some time this week, and look much closer, and maybe take some macro pictures if possible.

Looking around, it looks like what I saw of the brood is called bald brood, which could be caused by wax moth larvae, or a genetic trait in some species of honeybees. I thought the brood cells that were open were dead, but it is possible they are still alive.

I will definitely think about feeding them some honey or sugar syrup now. They had at least a full frame of pollen, so I'm not that concerned about supplying that.

For transferring emerging brood, I may be able to do that in a week or two, as the swarm hive is pretty new itself, and I don't want to transfer over a frame that the other hive won't be able to manage. It will still be a little while for the oldest brood from the other hive to emerge, so I'll wait a bit on that.

I also noticed that the weak hive has been expanding the brood frames towards the rear of the top bar hive. I don't know if that is significant for this or not though.
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10framer
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« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2013, 09:11:51 PM »

i think holding off on adding the frame of brood is the right call if the other hive doesn't have it to spare.  unless it is emerging right now you run the risk of chilling some of it too with so few bees.
 
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kathyp
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« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2013, 09:18:46 PM »

with a swarm or a package numbers will go down until you have brood hatching.  that's not a concern as long as you don't have a sudden drop that you can't explain.

i do think you need to feed though.  they use a lot to raise brood and unless there are a lot of stores that we can't see, they don't have enough in there for the job.

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.....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
Jim 134
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« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2013, 08:21:35 AM »

I just hope you do not get over run with SHB.





                        BEE HAPPY Jim 134 Smiley           




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"Tell me and I'll forget,show me and I may  remember,involve me and I'll understand"
        Chinese Proverb

"The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways."
 John F. Kennedy
Franklin County Beekeepers Association MA. http://www.franklinmabeekeepers.org/
fshrgy99
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« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2013, 08:48:46 AM »

I am not experienced enough to offer a qualified opinion but perhaps a question might be more appropriate. I have almost no drones yet so your season must be well in advance of mine. I see tons of drones in your pics. What is a typical ratio of drones to workers in the spring?
Dennis
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kathyp
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« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2013, 01:48:36 PM »

good question.  no real answer  grin

he's in the south, his beekeeping season is well underway...not that it ever really ends in the south, as compared to what we deal with in the north.

some years i have had tons of drones.  those were usually nicer years with early, warm, springs.  also had lots of swarm calls in those year.  some years, like the last two, very few drones and very few swarms.  looks like this will be a nice year.  i don't see tons of drones at my own hives yet, but the couple of swarms i have seen had a good number of drones with them.  i have not gone deep into my hives yet.

people will give you % of drone to worker and tell you that you should be concerned if you have to many drones.  i don't buy it...unless there is something wrong with your queen and there are other signs of that. 
the bees create what they think they need.
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.....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
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