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Author Topic: Bee Loss  (Read 458 times)
chux
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« on: June 01, 2013, 08:23:49 AM »

This is my first year with bees, and I'm learning a lot from you folks. I appreciate any help you could provide. My package of bees arrived on April 17, and I installed them in a Top Bar Hive. After about a 10 days of building comb, I noticed supercedure cells. (middle of comb, and not on edges) after a few more days, the marked queen was gone. I left the hive alone for a while. When I went back in there somewhere around May 9, I saw the new queen. 3 days later I peeked again because there wasn't much activity outside the hive. New queen was gone and had taken at least hive the colony with her. There were still a couple of capped supercedure cells, so I left it for a few more days. Peeked again and actually saw a brand new queen. Smaller abdomen ( I assume still virgin), but definitely not a worker or drone. I never saw her again. I left on a short trip on May 29th. The bees had about 8 bars with comb. They had filled most of the comb with nectar or pollen. No brood. Lots of capped honey in there. I got back and peeked in on May 31, and nearly all of the bees are gone. There may have been about 100 left. And every bit of the honey, nectar, and most of the pollen is gone too. What happened?

The day before I started these bees, I caught a small swarm and put them in a top bar right beside these. That swarm hive is going like gang-busters. I also received a Lang deep full of bees and queen around May 15, and filled another Lang deep from a cutout on May 20. All the other bees seem to be doing great, but that package of bees didn't. Could they have absconded? Without a queen? Could they have joined one of these other colonies? Colony collapse? Robbing to starvation? Note, before I left on May 29, I had seen no increased traffic to that hive.

And another question. Would it be safe to move the bars of comb from this hive to the other hive that is doing well? Thanks for the help. 
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10framer
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« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2013, 10:32:16 AM »

please put your location in your profile. 
it sounds like they swarmed then swarmed again after the new queen emerged.  it also sounds like the other hives robbed that hive out once they were weakened. 
for a first year beekeeper you've taken on some potential problems.  a used hive as well as a cut out means you have a lot of old comb in your bee yard.  as a rule i phase out old equipment as fast as possible and i usually won't even do a cut out anymore.
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chux
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« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2013, 11:14:28 AM »

Thanks for the reply. I'll try to update my profile soon. I'm in eastern NC. As far as swarms...Yep, I definitely saw the supercedure queen in the hive. She swarmed with at least half the three pound package. But she left as many in the hive as the small swarm I captured. And the young queen I saw a few days after she left, never made another appearance. I went through the hive several times over the last couple of weeks, and never saw another queen or eggs. I find the unmarked queen in the captured swarm hive fairly easily each time I check. There has been no queen in this hive since that last young queen left. Would they swarm without a queen? And robbing is a possibility, but would that explain the missing bees? No obvious signs of a bee war and dead bees....

As to potential problems...Thanks for the heads up. I'm always willing to listen and consider. I have placed a medium with foundationless frames on top of the deep Lang that was given to me full of bees. I filled the other Lang deep I was given, which had no bees in it, with the comb and bees from the cut out. I then placed a medium on it with foundationless frames. From here out I plan to use medium foundationless frames for everything. Perhaps next year, after they have filled a couple of mediums with brood, I can take the old comb out and put it into a queenless nuc where they can hatch out. Then put the bees in a foundationless box with a new queen and melt the old wax?Huh Just thinking.
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blanc
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« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2013, 01:36:53 PM »

I found out that sometimes you can do all the right things and they still leave. Down south here especially we have problems with obsconding and had many departures of removals and swarms I caught. Some my fault no doubt but others not. I have two sister top bar hives that came from a 2 lb swarm and the boxes are 4 ft wide by 14 inches deep. Lost one do to spraying from power company but have begun to rebuild with the sister hive. They build faster than all the hives I have. I inspect at least every two weeks and place an empty bar in the brood to give them space if things get crowded. Hope all works out for you.
Blanc
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The fear of the Lord is clean,enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, yea ,than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
chux
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« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2013, 06:46:22 AM »

I captured two other swarms this season, that left. I believe both were my fault. The first one ran out of sugarwater while I was on a trip. They were in the TBH for about four days, then obsconded. Heat may also have been an issue. I painted the hive white and moved it into an area that is shaded (maybe too much). A week later, I caught a smaller swarm and put them in there. They are doing wonderful. Queen is a laying machine. They have at least 8 bars of brood right now. I have moved the follower board down a little and placed some empty bars between drawn comb, to give more room. Loving it.

The other swarm that left was a massive primary swarm. I didn't have everything ready for them, but like an idiot, took them anyway. I threw together a TBH that would fit Lang deep frames or top bars. Only had enough bars for about three feet of the four foot box. No follower board. Told myself that there were enough bees to fill the whole box anyway, and put them in and covered it with a piece of plywood. They did nearly fill the box. But I believe it wasn't secure enough, missing the top bars on the end. They left the next morning. Lesson learned: always, always, always have at least one hive ready to go at all times. Completed. Ready for bees. Get them in there quick, and leave them alone with plenty of food.  

What do you think about me taking the now-empty comb out of the other TBH and placing them in the successful TBH? Is that safe, not knowing what happened to the other bees? And where to put them? All at one end? Spaced between brood comb? Thanks for input. I'm learning from my own mistakes, and from the advice of others.
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