Advice sought

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by d.magnitude, Sep 14, 2010.

  1. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Hi guys,
    I think I need a little guidance at the moment. Every one of my 3 hives, plus my nuc, seems to have issues right now and I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. I had noticed several "supercedure" incidents earlier this year, so I've been minimizing my inspections for a while. Yesterday was the first time I thoroughly looked through my hives down to the bottom board, and I didn't like what I saw. Here it goes:

    Hive #1- I thought was great. Two deeps, top FULL of capped honey, bees contently working. I got down to the bottom box and could not find a queen. I saw just a little capped brood (worker & drone, I believe), but I couldn't see any larvae or eggs. There was some additional honey (capped and uncapped) and pollen stored down there. Perhaps my eyes just weren't working properly, or perhaps they're queenless. I did give them one frame with eggs from hive #2 for insurance.

    Hive #2- You may remember from earlier posts, this one seemed to have a double-laying queen. I requeened it early July with a mated queen. She was later superceded by one of her daughters. At this point this hive is a little behind, but has lots of uncapped nectar and there were larvae and eggs in the bottom box. To top it all off, there were STILL some double eggs in there.

    Hive #3- Top box FULL of capped honey. I began to look in the bottom box but these bees were HOT! I managed to pull one frame from the middle of the bottom box before I had to retreat. I didn't see eggs/larvae, but that doesn't tell me much. I had another experienced beek with me and he said they were acting queenless. I'm not sure this is the case, as these bees were just as aggressive during my last thorough inspection of that hive in late July. They couldn't have been queenless that long and still be well-populated. My gut tells me they're just aggressive bees and they may even be good producers.

    Nuc- It's in a 5-frame deep, topped with two 5-frame mediums. Top 2 mediums have lots of honey capped and uncapped. Bottom box had no uncapped brood, but I saw one neatly opened queen cell at the bottom of a frame, and two destroyed queen cells in the middles of two other frames. I don't think they swarmed, as the population is about the same. My best guess is that they superceded, the new queen just emerged and destroyed the other queen cells but hasn't mated and/or began laying yet.

    Sorry for the length of that one; but any thoughts are more than welcomed. I'm a little concerned that none of my four colonies looks like it's going into the fall particularly strong (one maybe). I'm starting to feel like I'm living in a "Da Rat Scenario".
    -Dan
     
  2. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    for the most part they sound like normal hives. this time of the year bees are switching into the lets get ready for winter mode. So you will see decreased laying. A back filling of stores in the brood nest and bees that are starting to get a little testy.
     

  3. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    with the one aggressive hive I wondered in which order you typically worked them? Do you have entrance reducer or robbing screens on any of the hives?

    #1 likely the queen is just slowing down. which at this time of year for you could be a good thing.

    #2 double eggs always worry me but if she is a young queen sometime it just takes them awile to get things right.

    #3 perhaps the same as #1. sometime very little brood can seem like queenless. go with you gut.

    nuc I think you have this one figured out already.

    last point... jumpy, defensive or aggressive hives. sometimes you need to work these first because prying open #1 and #2 just get them wound up for your arrival. think about installing a robber guard on this one hive and then see how it reacts.

    and finally, Da Rat Scenario... oh NO!
     
  4. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Thanks guys, I'm starting to feel a little better about the girls.

    Tec, #3 is usually the last hive I work on a given day, but yesterday it was my second. I do have entrance reducers on all but hive #1 (I plan on putting an entrance reducer on it as well going into winter). Are you suggesting that #3 may be aggressive because it's being robbed? I'll look into putting together a robber screen.
    Related question: Are aggressive (to me) bees also aggressive toward other bees, as in robbing or aggressively defending their own hive from robbers?

    I've read the same point about a new queen laying doubles while she's "learning the ropes". It just seems peculiar that I had a similar situation in this same hive with a previous queen.

    I still hope that they're all in good shape going into the fall, but it's tough to trust my gut without the experience of bringing any hives through the winter before.
    -Dan
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a d magnitude snip..
    I'm starting to feel a little better about the girls.

    tecumseh:
    good that what we are here for... to limit the uneasiness and reduce the uncertainty. beekeeping ain't rocket science and it ain't magic and it you have the desire the experience is yours for the taking.

    d magnitude snip...
    Are you suggesting that #3 may be aggressive because it's being robbed? I'll look into putting together a robber screen.

    tecumseh:
    some hives just seem to fill a bit more threatened and or exposed than others... there is likely a whole host of issues coming together here. any little movement gets a defensive hive's guard bees flowing out the front door to turn any possible attack, which is why I always suggest robber guards in this kind of situation. robber guards are just too easy and cheap a remedy not to try.

    as to your related question...
    I would think defending their own hive from other yes. robbing from others I don't know.

    the double double laying queens does sound unusual. I have seen cases here where such stuff went on for a month (likely more if I had looked real hard) and then suddenly the problem resolves itself. I think I would draw the line between random double egg laying and numerous double eggs being laid.

    as to experience... well by all appearance you are gettin' there.
     
  6. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    A couple of questions that have always nagged me about robber screens:

    If they're so good at foiling robbing bees trying to enter the hive, don't they confuse the returning foragers that legitimately belong to that hive?

    Should they be put on in the evening so that any bees leaving the next morning have to re-orient themselves to the new configuration? If that is the case, are they a good way to move a hive within the same yard and encourage any leaving bees to reorient themselves?

    I do appreciate the advice, and still welcome any other takes on my situation.

    -Dan
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    anything you do at the front entry will confuse a hive for a while. a pollen trap does much the same thing. the bees that belong to a hive will usually alight at the top of the box (or on the side of the box) and after a while or at least come nightfall they wander inside. after a day or so they all have learned and adapted.

    evening would be fine... still I expect if you watched the hive real close some of the early foragers would be confused about the new and improved front entry.

    I am not certain exactly what you are asking in regards to moving them within a yard?
     
  8. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Yes, I figured people use robber screens all the time and don't have any of the problems I was wondering about (significantly at least).

    Apologies, Tec; I didn't phrase my last question very clearly. I know there can be problems with moving a hive, say 5 feet, in that the foragers might leave and go back to the old hive location, not necessarily ever making it back to their own hive. I thought if you moved a hive (5 feet) in the evening and put a robber screen on, perhaps it would make them reorient themselves to the hive upon leaving the next morning through this new, strange entrance. They might then be more likely to return to their new spot. I believe I've heard laying a branch across the entrance can work in a similar way when moving a hive a short distance.

    Sorry I'm drifting off my original topic; there's probably already another post analyzing robber screens. I have to admit, the general condition of all my hives is still nagging me a little.

    -Dan
     
  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I have never given much weight to the strategy of laying a branch in front of the hive. In moving a hive a few feet within a yard I don't think it much matter if you placed a robbing screen on before or after the move some bees would become a bit disoriented, but they are quite well equipped to figure it out for themselves given the time.

    nagging.... each year at this time the heat does much the same to me just multiply your number by 50. at the end of the day I just have to bide my time, wait a while and do the best I can with the resources at hand to correct problems when the weather changes

    good luck.
     
  10. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    tech I agree with you on the branch strategy. Beekeeping sometime contradicts itself. It has been said if you move a hive a little ways you got to put a branch in front of hive so they will reorientate. But the same keep will turn around and say go ahead and move a hive to the out yard the bees left behind will drift to the other hives. If the reorientation with a branch is needed to find home again then if a hive is moved to an out yard in theory the bees shouldnt be able to find another hive to join
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    perhaps???? another example for dmagnitude and riverrat:
    if you make up splits like I do here in the spring where by you take one hive, split it into multiple parts and leave those parts spread in the general area (vs moving them off some ways which is generally my preferred method) you might have six or seven little nucs spread about the old hive location with their entrances plugged and with a large number of bees flying in the air. watch what little box these flying bees alight on and almost without exception it will be the nuc with the old queen. I have seen the same thing when I piled the nucs in the back of my truck and left them for a short period. when I come back a short while later you have one little box literally covered in bees. I think (don't absolutely know) that the workers can sense (I suspect smell) the old queen and they simply fly about until they locate the smell and they know that has just got to be home.

    it is enough of a problem that when I do a split as soon as I locate the old queen I will move that part off some distance. if I do not then I am quite likely to have one part of the split with 90 percent of the bees and the remainder looking almost entirely unpopulated.
     
  12. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Update: (recent developments with my hives were discussed under "Threshold for treating varroa" over in Pests and Diseases. you can check there for the whole story, but here is where they stand)

    Hive #1: As of yesterday, seems to be in fine working order. I don't know why I saw no evidence of brood earlier, because it is very plain to see now. Top box crammed with honey.

    Hive #3: Still very aggressive, and has been for months. I didn't suspect queenlessness, because the population has remained very strong for such a long time. I looked through about 70% of the brood chambers, but saw no brood before I had to retreat, so now I feel a little concerned. Top box is also crammed with honey, by the way.

    Nuc: I suspect has a newly mated queen in it right now, but otherwise seems strong. I'm not poking around in there for a while longer, so she can get herself in order.

    Hive #2: LAYING WORKERS! Every available cell is littered w/ many eggs. I'm prepared to shake these out and put away my nice comb until next year (at least a spring split with have a boost with all this drawn comb). I'm concerned that a LW might find it's way into hive #3 which may be vulnerable and queenless. I plan to put a frame w/ eggs in #3 today, to put myself at ease. If they use if for a queen- fine, if not- even better, that means they've been fine all along. I plan to do my shakeout of hive #2 in a few days to a week, when I'm comfortable about the state of #3.

    Let me know if you see any holes in my plan. I didn't think I had been being neglectful, but I definitely feel like I'm playing "cleanup" right now!
     
  13. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    once again I missed you last post and the message that the tread had been moved. I did make one more comment on the last thread.
     
  14. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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  15. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    No problem guys,
    I did go through with my plan yesterday (see post 14) to move a frame of eggs into hive #3. My back is killing me today. Those top brood chambers are really full.

    I'll do the shakeout in a few more days. I don't have many frames to care for this winter, so I plan to just freeze them and bag and tape them tightly. I have to say, I don't feel so bad about loosing this hive anymore, since I previously thought I lost the hive and the comb to wax moths.
     
  16. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    I would seem perefectly normal for a brood draw down to be taking place at this time--also the nectar flow is slowing down quite a bit--pollen still abundant, but bees need the nectar to make "bee bread" to feed to the kids, with less of any one given item, brood production will slow down, coupled with the loss of daylight hours, the bees are being signaled to be prepared for winter. As for the aggression factor, whenever the field force ( comprised mostly of the oldest bees, also the ones most likely to be aggressive ), have little to do in the field, then they assume other duties like guard duty I am a bit suprised about the hive with laying workers not being almost as aggressive as the other one although I suspose that if they believe they have a " queen " they are somewhat content good luck with that one.