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Author Topic: Bees already kicking out drones  (Read 388 times)
Oblio13
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« on: July 10, 2013, 03:10:35 PM »

Two of my nucs are already dragging drones out. Isn't it very early for that? Do they sense that they have insufficient stores? I took a quick peek in one of them (an 8-frame medium) and the two outside frames had some capped honey. Also, I watched a bumblebee land and walk into one of them without even being challenged. I waited about fifteen minutes but didn't see it come back out again.
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2013, 04:26:19 PM »

Do you actually have drone cells in this hive or was it just the drones that were placed in the nuc when it was put together.
Bees only support drones when they have ample stores.
The bumble bee probably did not survive inside the hive. Keep an eye one the area in front of the landing pad.
Jim
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Oblio13
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« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2013, 04:47:52 PM »

Do you actually have drone cells in this hive or was it just the drones that were placed in the nuc when it was put together...

I pulled a center frame up a couple inches and saw some brood, and pulled up an edge frame and saw some capped honey. That's as far as I went, and I don't recall specifically seeing drone brood.

The nucs are both dragging drones out, but a nearby 5-box hive is not, so maybe the nucs are just kicking out drifters from the big hive. 
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GSF
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« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2013, 06:42:51 PM »

I saw the same thing yesterday at my 4 week old hive. Didn't know what to make of it.
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2013, 07:45:17 PM »

Has the flow stopped in your area?
Jim
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JWChesnut
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« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2013, 08:03:49 PM »

A paucity of drones is very common in July-mid August in my yards in coastal California. Locally adapted bees reduce numbers very quickly at the end of June, and hives go into "maintenance" mode until fall Wild Buckwheat appears at the end of August. Drones peak again in September.  
I believe mid-summer supersedure and emergency queens are likely to fail at mating due to this phenomenon.   I have observed ++25% failure of nucs with queen cells, wild secondary swarms and walk-away splits -- all increases that depend on successful mating of virgins to occur in this period.

Italian Queens, young hives, and fed bees are likely to keep building -- sometimes with disasterous results.  With local races in established hives (2 deeps or 1D2M brood)+(unlimited honey),   frames that were full of capped brood are suddenly devoid of brood - starting mid-June.    When this final cohort of foragers dies of overwork (by early July) the hive plummets in size, with drones the first to go.   Supers half empty in a week in dearth

When the hive population reaches some equilibrium it immediately begins supering honey again - toyon, wild mustard, acacia and other spp are showing good nectar.  The hive also begins to build in population again.

This life history pattern is influence by the Mediteranean Dry Summer we experience, but mid-summer dearth is a widespread phenomenon.

It is highly adaptive for my bees because- Mite populations drop to non-existent in hives experiencing the break.

I expect we will hear from novice beekeepers saying "Help I'm queenless" based on this abrupt brood break phenomenon.  And frame after frame of empty brood is worrisome-- after carefully nursing growing nucs and celebrating as the brood cluster goes from 3 to 4 frames.  But the phenomenon is normal, adaptive and part of a yearly cycle.

A real-word survey of the survival of foraging bees (author marked 800 bees and tracked them individually).  Author counts time from the conversion from nurse/house bee to forager.  Note foragers have about two weeks of relatively safe existence, then mortality goes through the roof, with 100% of the bees dead by day 18.   This abrupt mortality pattern explain how hive population can change so quickly when a brood break interrupts the continual flow of new foragers.


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