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Author Topic: Should I intervene and requeen my weak hive?  (Read 1753 times)
kalium
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« on: February 09, 2014, 06:54:42 PM »

Hi guys,

I'm new to beekeeping, I got my first hive about 6 weeks ago, it was a 10 frame deep with about 3 frames (not full) of brood and a new queen.
In that time I've read a lot, but still have very very little experience.

About a week after getting my hive I noticed there were a couple of capped supersedure cells. I assume the virgin queen
emerged as I saw at least on of those supersedure cells was then uncapped about 10 days ago.

I looked in my hive again yesterday and noticed they were feeding yet another supersedure cell
(lots of royal jelly in it).

All the while I find minimal larvae in the cells and there are a few chalkbrood. The hive's population
has not increased a noticeable amount since I got it.

There is no drone brood, there is some honey (uncapped) and pollen, but not a whole lot of either.

So my main conundrum is, should I let nature take its course, wait to see what happens with this new queen that is
still uncapped and being fed, or just buy a queen. Waiting for the supersedure process takes time, and I don't have a very
strong hive to begin with. A new queen will just get in there and start laying right away. Although there are
no guarantees she will be very good either...

Cheers.



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kathyp
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« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2014, 07:56:39 PM »

is this your only hive?
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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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kalium
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« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2014, 08:07:23 PM »

is this your only hive?

Unfortunately yes, otherwise I would probably try to combine it with another.
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yantabulla
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« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2014, 02:56:09 AM »

Where are you in Australia Kalium?
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kalium
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« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2014, 05:10:34 AM »

Quote
author=yantabulla link=topic=43665.msg375671#msg375671 date=1392191769]
Where are you in Australia Kalium?

South East QLD.

I actually started feeding them a 1:1 sugar syrup, which they take up readily. Did i mention it has been very dry and they have few stores?

There is rain coming though, so that may help some.
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Lone
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« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2014, 08:11:28 AM »

G'day Kalium,

I had similar problems when I started.  A couple of times I had new queens that were so bad I lost the hives.  Sounds like the bees want to replace yours.  I've had more success with supercedure than introducing new queens into a poor hive.  You'll find minimal resources coming into the hive not only because conditions are bad outside, but because the hive can't afford to send many foragers out.  Sometimes I've found introduced queens are less likely to take in a weak hive.  Perhaps the queen is not laying well because not much is coming in.  Feeding syrup might help a little bit, but I haven't had much success with doing that either except to keep them from starving.

  Ideally, it would be good to have a frame or two of brood to kick start the population.  If you know another beek, they might be able to help you out.  Are bees covering most of the 10 frames?  if they are only on 3 or 4 of the frames then it would be better to reduce the size of the hive, either by moving frames to a 5 frame nuc box, or putting in a board.  They cope better with reduced space and also defend against pests better.

Have you been around to see what flowers are out?  It's dry here too, but some trees flower despite the dry.  You could probably stop feeding when your population increases, as it would be rare in the SE not to have enough foraging plants unless you are surrounded by cropping land. Syrup doesn't help pollen stores in any case.

In short, since they have supercedure cells I would not introduce a new queen, though that's up to you. Michael Bush's bee maths should help you work out how long to expect a new laying queen.  It's advisable not to disturb them while they are making queens.   http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmath.htm

However...there's a chance the old queen will destroy the queen cells.  I would probably just wait and see what happens.  Sometimes it does take a queen some time to start laying properly..it just can be hard to break that cycle of low population, low stores and low brood.  Might be it's a learning experience.  I'm sure you'll find a big swarm or cut out and have a thriving hive before too long.

Lone


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kalium
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« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2014, 05:50:38 PM »

Thanks for the response Lone. Yes I was not planning on feeding long term. I gave them about 500g, and will leave it at that I think.  If they were starving, that should help.

I do see foragers bringing pollen back, but the majority of trees around here are narrow leaf ironbark and qld blue gum (neither are flowering).  There may be a couple of other flowering species that I cannot see but the bees can.
There are some peoples backyard gardens as well.

Building a 5 frame nuc sounds like a good idea, except for the whole disturbing the hive issue.

Maybe i will just check in another month, que sera sera smiley
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jayj200
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« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2014, 10:43:18 PM »

do ya all

have a bee keeping club. university

they might have a calender for when and what to expect

including what plant are pollinating and what nectar is flowing

jay
down yonder not down under
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kalium
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« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2014, 05:14:36 AM »

do ya all

have a bee keeping club. university

they might have a calender for when and what to expect

including what plant are pollinating and what nectar is flowing

jay
down yonder not down under

Yes, there are quite a few good resources around for that kind of thing. Unfortunately our eucalypts only flower every few years and for the ones where I am it is mostly autumn-spring.
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kalium
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« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2014, 05:46:23 AM »

So after leaving them for a few weeks, I went and opened them up today and had a quick look. Not sure if the supersedure cell took or not (I also learned that a previous supersedure cell failed because the side was ripped, indicating the queen was attacked or something?), but
they seem to be doing better than before. I still don't see any of this solid brood pattern, that I've seen pictures of. Quite patchy, but the brood is there.

When I checked, there were maybe 4 frames or so covered with bees (which is more than last time), and the SHB problem is in check it seems. I still see them carry out some chalkbrood (and some other half formed pupae), but not a massive amount I don't think.

I also found a gum topped box in full flower about 200 metres away from the hive (I was never quite sure what the tree was until now...). So hopefully they are now on the right path and will build some numbers smiley

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Lone
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« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2014, 12:53:28 AM »

Hello again, Kalium,

I believe the first queen that emerges often rips the other queen cells.  If you do have a new queen, they can take a little while to get going properly.  Sounds like things are on the right track anyhow and you know for sure you do have a queen.  Bees can forage 3km or so in every direction, so where there is one tree out, there will be others.

One thing..have you checked for american foul brood?  Patchy brood is most likely due to new queen, old queen or poor queen, but AFB can look patchy too.  Do the brood string test as per the DPI info, and make sure there are not little holes in most of those cells or a funny smell.  Unlikely but if positive a good learning experience  Smiley

Lone
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yantabulla
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« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2014, 01:02:35 AM »

Yes.  I would check for AFB as well.
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kanga
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« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2014, 01:46:12 AM »

Kallum
Click on this link and it will take you to a link which will draw 1, 2 & 3 km rings around where you have the apiary.http://bees.morkland.org/coverage/

Regards
Kevin
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kalium
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« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2014, 03:42:57 AM »

Yes.  I would check for AFB as well.


Interesting story...

The guy I bought my hive from said that they had AFB at one stage. They were a bit naive and bought some old woodenware, and they got it from there apparently.

So, I was naturally very paranoid. Probably a couple of weeks after I got the hive, and after looking at a bunch of resources on how to identify AFB, I opened up the hive and had a look. It did have the patchy brood, but it did not have the sunken caps, or the small holes in them. I attempted a string test on one that I thought was a bit suspicious, but I just killed a regular pupae. I also don't get any funky smells from the hive.

So...hopefully I don't have AFB. I'll have another look in a couple of weeks and pay attention to AFB as well.

Cheers

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kalium
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« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2014, 03:48:44 AM »

Kallum
Click on this link and it will take you to a link which will draw 1, 2 & 3 km rings around where you have the apiary

Regards
Kevin


Excellent site, thanks for the link.

Yeah I didn't realise we had E. Moluccana around here. I did see a a couple of spotted gum the other day as well, which I didn't realise were in the area either (I knew they were in SE Qld, just not within 3-5km or where I am). Maybe it is time I go for a long walk smiley
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kalium
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« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2014, 06:28:02 PM »

Ok, I thought I better double check the brood pattern again. After my paranoia in AFB was renewed.

I shook off all the bees of a couple of frames of brood and took a couple of quick snaps (god bless camera
phones these days).

This is some empty comb I put in a couple of week ago, with a close up as well.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/26831580@N03/12998859614/#
http://www.flickr.com/photos/26831580@N03/12998583823/#

This is some comb that has always had brood in it:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/26831580@N03/12998572503/#in/photostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/26831580@N03/12998429535/#in/photostream/

I did notice a small pin hole in one or two cells, but they both failed the string test (just larvae).

There are a few cells which have been half ripped open and dead larvae inside.

Perhaps EFB?

On the positive side,  I did see a bee hatching!

At the least I think I will move them to a 5 frame nuc in the next two weeks.
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kalium
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« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2014, 06:31:32 PM »

Ok, I thought I better double check the brood pattern again. After my paranoia in AFB was renewed.

I shook off all the bees of a couple of frames of brood and took a couple of quick snaps (god bless camera
phones these days).

This is some empty comb I put in a couple of week ago, with a close up as well.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/26831580@N03/12998859614/#
http://www.flickr.com/photos/26831580@N03/12998583823/#

This is some comb that has always had brood in it:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/26831580@N03/12998572503/#in/photostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/26831580@N03/12998429535/#in/photostream/

I did notice a small pin hole in one or two cells, but they both failed the string test (just larvae).


By 'fail' I mean, they did not string out, so I guess they passed the test.
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yantabulla
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« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2014, 02:30:37 AM »

Kalium,

There is nothing in the photos that is indicative of classic AFB.  However, there are a few concave cell caps which I would look at carefully.  Both EFB & also chalk brood can present that way.  With chalk brood the mummified larvae will be present at the front of the hive and also in the comb.  I couldn't see any but they could be there.  I would investigate the contents of the concave cells with a match.  EFB has a granular appearance and texture rather than being ropey.  It is also important just to poke the matchstick in and pull it out without twirling it around.  As you are aware AFB will usually rope.

The most conclusive diagnosis would be to take a smear on a slide & get it of to the lab.  If you go to the QLD DAFF website you can find info regarding sampling for diseases.

http://www.daff.qld.gov.au/animal-industries/bees/diseases-and-pests/european-foulbrood

In summary it is hard to tell from your photos.  Definitely crap brood.  Send a sample off to the lab for definite diagnosis.

You are a registered beekeeper I'm sure.

Good luck,

Yantabulla.



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Lone
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« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2014, 08:34:40 AM »

Kalium and folks,

I've just had a similar quandary.  I'd added a frame of brood to a swarm that came from one of my hives, but mostly it was older brood.  After a couple of weeks I checked and realised there was no brood so presumably queenless.  They had built one queen cell, which was empty and chewed at the end.  Then I went to check the hive from which the swarm had come, and it was also queenless, but had several queen cells.  I took a frame with about 3 cells and drove no more than 5 minutes to where the swarm hive was.  I mentioned to my offsider that it was strange that a capping had come off a queen cell.  Next thing I noticed a queen on the frame.  I just scooped her into the hive without thinking.  I didn't think to introduce her slowly, so I guess it's likely she'll be killed?

I have so many questions about swarms.  It's all pretty new to me.  But that's for another day.

Lone
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Wombat2
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« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2014, 01:55:07 AM »

Lone - you might get away with it. On the course I'm doing we were told and demonstrated that if you can introduce a new queen into a queenless hive within half an hour of being removed from the old hive she will be accepted.

We had a confirmed queenless hive ( 7 days without activity) and took a queen from a nuc and sat her on top of the brood frames - the new hive workers checked her out for about 3-5 minutes, she just stood there turning a bit while the you could see workers taking turns to come up to her some walking over her then when they were done she disappeared down into the body of the hive with attendants in tow.

More than half an hour you have to use the cage with attendants and candy etc.
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