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Author Topic: Where is my Honey?  (Read 5764 times)
Stinger
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« on: June 21, 2004, 12:32:34 PM »

I have a colony that I have kept for a little over a year now.  Last year I took no Honey from it.   There was absolutely nothing in the two supers that were on it from May to September of last year.  I chalked it up to the fact that they had swarmed the day I picked them up and that last year was a bad honey year.  This year started of pretty well.  By the end of April the first super was about 2/3 full of honey.  In the last week of April I noticed some bearding and they swarmed the first week of May.  I placed two more supers to make sure they had plenty of room and didn’t decide to swarm again.  Since then there has been almost no activity in the supers.  I went through the upper brood box on Saturday and found quite a lot of burr comb on the tops of the frames and on the excluder.  The frames in the upper brood box contained no brood, but were completely full of honey.  I cleaned the tops and sides of these frames to make room for the bees to move up into the supers.  I have assumed that when I installed the new supers (8 Frames per) that perhaps there were not enough room for them to get through the excluder or that I had the frames blocking the way into the supers.  When I removed the three supers, there were no more than a hundred bees total in them.  Does anyone have any other idea what could be going on?  My second hive, which I believe is the swarm from the one in question, seems to be doing storing honey at a much quicker rate after only 5 weeks.
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Beth Kirkley
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2004, 01:38:25 PM »

Sounds like they never got a queen after the swarm. Did you check for queen cells after the swarm? Because any queen they would have started should have hatched and started laying by NOW.
That all seems like bad news. If you don't have a queen in the hive that had swarmed last May, and there are that few bees, I think you need to combine the little hive back with the swarm. That's just too small. But if you combine them, make sure to give them space again. It probably won't swarm right off, but you surely don't want them to think about doing it before summer is over.
Do you know how to combine the hives?

Beth
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Stinger
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2004, 02:59:10 PM »

The Hive is not weak and there is brood in th bottom Brood box.  The top brood box was also full of bees.  The area with few bees was in the supers above teh two brood boxes.  It seems like they can't or do not want to go up into the honey supers
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snowzerdog
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2004, 05:12:12 PM »

Spray the top with sugar water.  It might work.
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Beth Kirkley
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2004, 07:02:01 PM »

I guess I misunderstood. Let me see if I get it right now - please correct me again if I'm wrong.
- there's brood in the first box
- honey filled in the second box
- then honey excluder
- no work being done in 3rd and 4th boxes (and maybe 5th box?)

I'm trying to get a good picture of this. First off, I know my bees don't like going past the excluder. If they're trapped up there when I put it on, they'll go down to the brood area, but they don't like going up past it. So if I've trapped a couple thousand bees up there, the next time I look, I might see just hundred or so.
Next, if they swarmed, when did the new queen get active? And this all started you say about 5 weeks ago? So given the fact that in the first hive the queen had to hatch, then do a virgin flight before laying, the brood in there may only be a couple weeks old. Where as, the other hive (the swarm?) had an active queen, and her first laying has hatched now. Plus she's gotten to lay more. Also, in the first hive (in this 5 weeks time) some of the bees have gone from being house bees to foragers. So you won't have that many house bees right now to do any wax building with no new hatching bees.
You said the top brood box is full of honey? And so the queen is only able to lay in the lower brood box? The hive doesn't sound nearly strong enough - even IF any of the first laid eggs have hatched - to be able to do much work. Is it possible the bees just decided to fill the empty brood cells with honey because it was easy? So they wouldn't have to pass the excluder?
And what kind of hive is this? Is it a langstroth, or something else? How come you only have 8 frames in each boxes? Is this just in the honey supers?

I hope I understood better now, and didn't end up confusing you with this post.
Beth
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Robo
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2004, 08:32:45 PM »

I know I take flack everytime I say it,  but this is yet another example.  Swarming is bad,  and if people are serious about getting the best honey crop, they need to be disciplined and prevent swarming.

When a hive swarms, half or more of the bees gouge themselves full of honey and then leave the hive.  Less workers means less nectar gathered, means less honey.

Think of a widget company that lays off half it's workforce.  Do you think they will make just as many widgets per day as they did before they downsized?
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golfpsycho
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« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2004, 09:08:01 PM »

exactly right.  Not only do they take all they can carry with them, all the foragers leave with the swarm and they leave the colony in poor condition to resume gathering,  Queen excluders must be used carefully, and not just slapped on as a matter of course.  Bees don't like them, and won't go through them unless they REALLY have to.  In the olden days.. bahahahahaha.. they called them honey excluders, because it was just one more obstacle to go through to store the honey.

Sounds like the swarm relieved them of the necessity of moving up, so they just filled the brood box with stores in the interim.  I would watch them closely, and consider adding another brood box before the congestion in the single brood chamber gives them the idea to go again.
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mark
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« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2004, 09:22:11 PM »

ahh, but aformentioned widget manufacturing company WANTS as many widgets made as before it downsized to a skeleton crew, citing higher manufacturing costs,  foreign competition, tight economy, osha & epa fines, higher taxes,  etc., etc., etc.,  
    soooooo.... why shouldn't we bee able to demand the same from our bees!!  (chuckle chuckle)
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golfpsycho
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« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2004, 09:35:08 PM »

true.. but the rule is, don't demand results without providing methods to achieve them.  Now.. where did I put that widjet?
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golfpsycho
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« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2004, 10:37:12 PM »

I want to add something.  Many beekeepers make an awful lot of honey with only 1 brood chamber.  I'm not suggesting that without adding another brood chamber, you were in dire straights.  It just takes a little more regimented inspection and maintanance to keep them peaked out and performing.  The rewards of beekeeping are many, but that honey crop is the E ticket.
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mattoleriver
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« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2004, 12:01:54 AM »

Your queen excluder is doing you no good.  You say your second box has no brood in it so you already know that the queen is not using that box.  I'm surprised that the first brood box isn't honeybound and swarming again.  Remove the honey excluder.
                                    --OR--
I would be worried enough about the first box being crowded to want to move some of the brood up into the second box.  If you do this you may still want to use your excluder.  If your excluder does not have a wooden frame you can turn it 90* and then center it on top of your brood box so that there is a gap at each end of the box where the bees can pass without going through the excluder.  The queen will probably stay toward the center of the box so she will still be excluded from the supers but the workers will not.  

George
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Stinger
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« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2004, 12:27:37 PM »

If the excluder is removed this should allow the activity to progress upward.  How far up will the queen go if the excluder is removed?  Will she remain below the honey?  I am interpretting some of what is being said to mean that things may be a little tight inside of the hive.  I suspect that the frame and comb inside the Brood boxes are many years old and may not be allowing for easy movement.  I am wondering if I move some of the brood up, should try to introduce a few new frames and foundation into their place so that movement is less restricted.
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Beth Kirkley
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« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2004, 12:52:48 PM »

Yes, in my view the hive needs some rearranging. The goal would be to give your queen 5-7 frames out of each hive box. Put what is brood in the centers, and honey on the outsides (or up top, or just extract it). If she doesn't have that much space, then yes, give them some fresh frames. On the outside of the brood - inbetween brood and honey frames that are on the outer walls. If the queen is wanting to lay, she'll start laying in the fresh cells they build, just a fast as they build it.
But since they had been without a queen for awhile, they just stored honey where it was easiest. That seems part of the problem anyway. So now the new queen has very little area to lay, so less workers are in the hive.
Some fresh frames would be a good choice. But watch out too for over building of the comb on the frames that are already started. When you put a fresh frame next to it, they may just begin to use the extra space to build up the frames they've started, leaving less space for comb building on the fresh frames.

And yes, take out that excluder. Atleast for awhile. If the queen does begin to lay up top, it's because she's found an open cell and really wants to lay. But you can always move that frame down into the hive body, and trade it off for a frame that has honey in it.
Beth
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mattoleriver
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« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2004, 02:44:40 PM »

Quote
Put what is brood in the centers, and honey on the outsides (or up top, or just extract it).

If by "up top" you mean a honey super I would be very careful about doing that.  Many people use several different sized frames so moving frames around is not an option anyway.  If you choose to move honey from the brood nest into the supers, or even to extract any honey from the brood nest, remember that brood nest honey may have been exposed to any medications that were used in the hive.  If you used medications, or if you do not know the history of the hive, all you can safely do with that honey is feed it back to the bees.
Quote
Will she remain below the honey?

The books all say that the queen will stay below the honey but the queens don't read the books.  Maybe she will go up but probably she won't.  If you do nothing to the second hive body it is unlikely that she will pass over it to get to the supers, she'll probably leave with a swarm before she does that.  You'll have to rearrange and open up that second hive body a little bit before the queen can use it.  Even after you open it up it is not likely that the queen will cross over the honey in your first super to get to the empty supers. Regardless of whatever else you do I think you should remove the excluder.
George
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Archie
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« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2004, 04:12:24 PM »

Hi,

I would try    mattoleriver's idea on turning the excluder 90 degrees.  I use this systerm on all my hives until the deep honey super is full then I remove the excluder.  the queen will not walk over the honey above the brood super.

Archie
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Beth Kirkley
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« Reply #15 on: June 22, 2004, 09:19:39 PM »

Mattoleriver had some great points that I forgot. Very important details - thanks. Smiley

Beth
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