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Author Topic: Strange hive configuration - should I do something?  (Read 4006 times)
tillie
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« on: May 28, 2007, 11:54:09 PM »

My most active hive at the beginning of the season had bees practically falling all over each other as they entered and left the hive....tons of bees.  They were in a deep (came from a nuc) box for brood.  When I added a medium above, they started drawing crazy comb (that I posted about) and I cut and straightened it.  They filled that entire box with honey - no brood.  I added a third box medium that they ignored. 

The numbers of bees diminished in this hive greatly and I think the queen felt honey bound and they swarmed while I was at work one day.    Today when I opened the hive I found that the second box is still frame to frame filled with honey.  In the third box, there is brood and honey.  The brood is good, but occupies a small area in the third box - and is located in 5 frames on one side of the box - the other 5 frames have only honey. 

About 10 days ago I looked in the deep and saw lots of brood. 

This means that this hive has
--brood in the bottom,
--only honey in the 2nd box, and
--brood and honey in the third box. 
   
    Should I leave things alone?  I know there's a laying queen because I saw eggs today.
    Should I move the honey filled box above the brood/honey box?

Any advice appreciated,

Linda T in Atlanta

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« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2007, 10:04:33 AM »

Linda, if the honey in the second box is capped (or 3/4 capped on each frame), why don't you remove it and extract?  The problem with the honey in the second box up is that when the bees are travelling over it to get to the brood in the top box, the wax cappings can become stained with bee feet travel. 

If you want to leave the honey on, I would put the honey on the top and have the two brood chambers right on top of each other.  I think that the box of honey would create a barrier that the queen would not pass through to lay eggs and that could be a congestion issue.

Wait, you will get lots of answers from our forum gurus, have a wonderful day, great life.

I love your posts by the way, you always have some very, very interesting stuff going on over at your place and I envy that you have them right there on your patio to watch their every move  tongue, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah!!!!  Again have fun, have a great day.  Off to create pancakes for breakfast!!!!  Cindi
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« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2007, 01:34:54 PM »

Cindi

I would love some hotcakes with chocolate chips in them afro

I move the box on the top
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« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2007, 06:04:40 PM »

I aalways give mine 2 deep in spring, most likely over winter with two. I do my first inspections in Feb. and March. As soon as the 2nd deep is well on the way with brood I reverse brood chambers.

I don't know if there is a good strong colony in this area that can make out on one deep without something
going wrong, swarming, moveing up in a medium super, etc."Unless" they  are split, Or take a nuc from them, or, give a frame of brood to another hive every 4 or 5 days.

My march swarm had three deeps on by the middle of April. I did not reverse it.
Ofcourse they had drawn comb to work on.

I would move the super with honey on top, move the mediumbrood on bottom,"IF" most of the brood is in it, then the deep brood in 2nd place. If we have any amount of flows from here on out the summer, Once the Queen and brood moves back up into the deep, Put it back on bottom, then another deep on 2nd place. The brood in the medium in 3rd place will be fine, the nurse bees will not leave them.
Make sure you do have the queen back down in bottom when you do this final move.
If the number of bees have declined , do all of the above, (except) putting the other deep on.

Are you sure they swarmed? some time a crowded colony not prone to swarming, The Queen just doesn't have any where to lay eggs. But this shouldn't cause a large decline all of a sudden.
Thats what I have done
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« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2007, 09:38:18 PM »

Thanks, Cindi and Doak - I'm inclined to move the third box (with brood in it) below the honey filled box.  I don't like it that the brood is split by the honey -

Who knows why they did that but this was a crazy bunch to begin with.  I'm going out of town on Thursday so until Monday morning I won't be able to do anything with the hives, although I could snatch a moment before heading for the airport on Thursday afternoon to move boxes.  Truth be told, I miss the creative adventure I used to have opening this hive - there was always some sort of surprise with how they had built the comb - now they are more orderly and more boring - so I guess they are now showing their creativity with this strange brood arrangement.

I also have wondered if there is a queen in the bottom box as well as a queen in the 3rd box, as if two hives with the honey in between....but I haven't looked for a queen in either box.

Linda T bemused in Atlanta where it hasn't rained in weeks and weeks and weeks - we are 11 inches short in the rainfall department
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« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2007, 09:49:04 PM »

Linda T, I would harvest some frames of your already capped honey and put the frames back on the super, and add even another super on top of that one. This will encourage the bees to make more honey and then they can move up and make even more honey for you in the top super. Of course I am insinuating that you have a nectar flow on right now.
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« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2007, 06:41:20 AM »

So there are two brood nests separated by a super of honey?  If so, my guess is there are two queens.
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tillie
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« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2007, 06:42:50 AM »

So Michael, if there are two queens should I leave everything alone and let the bees figure it out?  My thought is that eventually if there is a queen in the bottom box, she moves into the honey box above and up and up and meets the other queen in a battle to the death.

Perhaps I should look very carefully to see if I can find the queen, but I'm rarely very successful at that and there are a lot of bees in the bottom box.

Might the hive have swarmed and the small group in the five frames above the honey be a caste that started out with a virgin queen who is now laying?

Or should I do something?  I've read your site on two-queen hives and it sounds like it might keep going like that and I would add supers in the middle since this is not a horizontal hive?  Note: because I have the top propped, both the bottom and top box have a way to enter separately.

Boy am I having adventures this year....... shocked huh : cool

Linda T trying to be a bee-supporter in my hives
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tillie
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« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2007, 07:46:25 AM »

I just stood out and watched the hives for about 5 minutes - lots of bees coming in and out of the main entrance - only saw one bee go in the top.  That may not mean anything....but FWIW.  If there were two queens would the workers from the upper hive be able to come and go from the main hive entrance?

Linda T off to work in Atlanta
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« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2007, 09:48:22 AM »

It seems if there are two queens a split would be an obvious option. How often does that happen, Michael? That there are two queens.
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« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2007, 08:06:07 PM »

More often than you would think.  Having a split brood chamber is one way, having a mother daughter team during a supercedure year is another, and then there are the several ways in which we do it intentionally.
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« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2007, 10:38:39 PM »

>How often does that happen, Michael? That there are two queens.

I have no idea how often I don't know it.  Smiley  Only how often I see it.  Not common, but I see one now and then.
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« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2007, 10:43:45 PM »

Do you have any advice, Michael?  Should I make any changes in the hive or leave as is?  I'm leaving town tomorrow evening and have only about an hour in the morning if I need to do something....

Linda T
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« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2007, 07:05:36 AM »

>Do you have any advice, Michael?  Should I make any changes in the hive or leave as is?

You can just leave them alone.  They seem to be doing fine.
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« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2007, 07:08:41 AM »

If this were a "normal" hive, at this point I would add a super above the full frame of honey to give the bees more storage room. 

You're saying leave the bottom group "honey bound" as it were?

Linda T in Atlanta
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« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2007, 11:59:04 AM »

I checked the hive again today and there is still brood in the bottom, solid honey in box #2 and in box #3, I think I saw the queen - at least there are many newly laid eggs and this bee doesn't appear to have a hairy thorax and is sticking her bottom into what looks like the obvious next cell for an egg.  The only reason I am not sure it is a queen is that she doesn't have her retinue all around her....solitary.  You can see newly laid eggs in orderly rows in the cells going up the right side of her.




Still wondering if I should add a box above the honey box since if this were a "normal" hive, that's what I would do when the top box got full.....


Linda T hopeful in Atlanta
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« Reply #16 on: June 04, 2007, 12:51:30 PM »

OK, If you can check the bottom and see if it has "eggs" in it at the same time the queen is in top, most likely you have 2 queens. If you have the extra equipment and want another colony, and there are plenty bees in top and bottom, make a split. Take the full box of honey and add another box to the parent hive and the new split. If you don't have a good necter flow right now, feeding is in order.
Wish I had that situation.
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« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2007, 02:26:01 PM »

As you know, doak, I'm just about 40 miles north of you in Atlanta where we have drought and a questionable nectar flow, but I have enough capped honey in various hives to feed, if that's what I should do.  So I'll check as soon as I can to see if there is evidence of another queen in the bottom and consider moving the one hive into two.

Are you saying harvest the full box of honey and give each of the split hives a new empty box?  Maybe to accomplish the feeding goal, if I do this, I could take some of the capped honey and split the frames between the new hives, adding empty frames to the sides....

Linda T having fantastic bee adventures in Atlanta
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« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2007, 07:33:07 PM »

Tillie:

Here's a possible solution for you: Put a super in between the lower brood box and the super of honey. Put a queen excluder on top of that super.  Invert the order of the remaining 2 boxes. 
If you have 2 queens the lower brood box will enlarge into the 2nd super and you'll still have an active brood chamber above the excluder.  If you have 2 queens you can then safely remove the upper brood chamber making a split and super the split as you make it.
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« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2007, 10:23:46 PM »

Tille, I think Brian D. Bray hit the nail smack on the head.Why didn't I think of that?
OHwell!
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« Reply #20 on: June 04, 2007, 10:38:44 PM »

That sounds workable and even though I've owned it, I've never used my queen excluder. 

This would mean if she is only a single queen in the upper box, she'll still be working away at the brood and if there are two of them, they are separated by the excluder (thus the name, duh!) and the lower queen can be working away as well.  If that works, then I can split them into two hives.

I don't want the bottom box to be in a state of continual swarm which it will be if there's a queen in there who's honey bound by the filled super above.

Question:  If there are two queens, is it possible that all bees would still use the main entrance - the ones from above as well as the ones from below?

Linda T in Atlanta
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« Reply #21 on: June 05, 2007, 12:02:48 AM »

Hi Tillie,

Do you have any normal hives? Wink

This is one of those times I would recommend an excluder. Place it between. If you have only one entrance the bees will still come in.

If you do have a two queen hive. The excluder will answer that after one week. Because you will have no new brood or eggs. 

Sincerley,
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« Reply #22 on: June 05, 2007, 12:09:21 AM »

Are two queened hives really such a bad thing?

It seems to me a similar thing happens in Carpenter Ants. It's called Oligogyny and is the workers tolerance of one queen but in the presence of multiple queens they become aggressive. Carpenter Ants normally create sub colonies from the main nest but don't ever disconnect form the parent one and this allows new queens to stumble into these areas and be accepted by the workers. It's situations like this that really boost the number of workers though it is a flook nature. Not that they last long at all though, eventually the queens meet and someone loses an arm or later dies.

I suppose multiple queens in a bee hive would run the risk over winter of the queens killing each other and the bees not being able to requeen.
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« Reply #23 on: June 05, 2007, 06:34:00 AM »

>Are two queened hives really such a bad thing?

Many people run them on purpose.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beestwoqueenhive.htm
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« Reply #24 on: June 05, 2007, 07:24:09 AM »

Michael,

I read on your website about keeping 2 queen hives horizontally - which would make adding a super to hive one work fairly easily, but without the horizontal configuration, adding supers to the bottom hive box in a vertical configuration seems daunting.

Linda T in Atlanta

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« Reply #25 on: June 05, 2007, 09:01:55 PM »

A vertical configuration on a 2 queen hive can be a lot of work.  You literally have to tear the entire hive apart to inspect the 2nd queen (actually the 1st queen).  Then there's always the risk that in tearing the hive apart the queens get placed so that they are in the same brood compartment.
I've done 2nd queen hives but have always found it to be much more trouble than it was worth.  I would follow my earlier suggest and make it easy on myself.
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« Reply #26 on: June 05, 2007, 09:59:25 PM »

I'm going for it, Brian - I just wanted to understand more about Michael's concept of the 2-queen hive.  I have some time on Thursday and since we NEVER have rain in Atlanta, I'll do it then.  I'm excited about the adventure and the possibility that I end up with a free hive!

Linda T in Atlanta
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« Reply #27 on: June 06, 2007, 03:14:33 PM »

OK, so I had a break in the middle of the day today and did the deed. 

I took what may be Queen A's hive off of the top - consisted of the box (Box 3)  in which I saw her laying and a box (Box 4) above that.  I then removed the honey filled super (Box 2) - to be sure I checked each frame - all honey - no brood.  I did not look in the deep (Box 1) for brood or a queen.

 I did take the 6 center frames of the capped honey out of Box 2 and added 5 frames of SC starter strips and one full frame of SC foundation.  I then put the renovated super (Box 2) back on top of the deep - with two full frames of honey on each side and starter strip frames in the center.  If there is a queen in Box 1 (Queen Bee), she now has room to grow her brood.

I put a queen excluder between Box 2 and Box 3, the one in which I saw the young Queen A laying on Monday.  I put Box 3 back above the queen excluder and put the already started Box 4 on top of that (has about four frames of honey in the center that they had made from last year's comb remnants)...

So if the Queen is a lone queen in the hive, no matter which box she is in today, she has room to lay brood.  If there are two queens, A and Bee, they each have space to expand.  If there is evidence of eggs and young brood in both Queen boxes next week, I'll split the hive.  Otherwise I'll remove the queen excluder and conclude that this is indeed a strange hive.

Linda T having Bee adventures in Atlanta
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« Reply #28 on: June 06, 2007, 06:25:29 PM »

Sounds like a game plan.
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« Reply #29 on: June 06, 2007, 06:31:29 PM »

tillie, I think you did right. Sometime we get caught between a rock and a hard spot.
Thats when we have to cover "both" ends.
Good luck, and keep us posted.
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« Reply #30 on: June 06, 2007, 11:54:34 PM »

I just read Robo's post in another thread (http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php?topic=9876.0) in which he commented that if you put a queen excluder in the middle of the hive, all the drones will die without an upper entrance. 

I don't have an official upper entrance on the hive in which I have just inserted a queen excluder, but there is a top entrance created by propping the top above the inner cover.  Will this do it or have I trapped the drones in Box 3 and Box 4 by using the queen excluder?


Linda T confused in Atlanta

Duh, obviously when I got up this morning, I realized that of course, a top entrance is a top entrance and whether it's a stick propping up the top or the big front door at the bottom "offical entrance."   The drones will be fine.
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