First Nuc Try.

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Tomgillane, Sep 5, 2018.

  1. Tomgillane

    Tomgillane New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Hello everyone. It has been some time since I have asked the forum questions. I am in my second year of beekeeping and not having too much luck. I lost my last years population during the winter to unknown causes. I got a 3# package this last April but had no luck. The package that I got dwindled down to a population of about 200 bees at present. The queen is still in the hive with the few bees staying.

    I purchased a deep 5 frame Nuc from a local beekeeper. When I picked them up the seller made sure that I had at least 4 to 5 lbs of bees with the five frames of brood, nectar, honey, pollen, and a good looking queen. I have had the bees for about one week and I have noticed a big population die off. Bees being cleaned out of the hive, and at least 1,000 or so bees spread out all around the hive. I checked the fresh dead bees and found not mites and the hive beetles are very few. I opened up the top of the hive today and there were a lot of bees on top of the frames. Friday I am going to open and pull frames to find the queen and calculate the population.

    Since I am new to Nucs, is this die off normal? Any comments or ideas would be appreciated.
     
  2. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

    Messages:
    840
    Likes Received:
    85
    Trophy Points:
    28

  3. mark nic

    mark nic New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    3
    I started out with 2 nucs and immediately started to feed them and didn't stop until mid July and while I haven't been involved with beekeeping in 25 years or more I really think I made the right decision as I now have 2 VERY strong hives.
    I fed 1/1 to build up comb and in the dearth I fed 2/1 to add to the stores for winter.
    My plan for the first year was to get the darlings to be VERY strong so I can get at least 3 splits next spring, I have kept them pretty damn crowded and at the moment I am pretty sure they will swarm if I don't get to the splitting in the spring ASAP.
    If you have an Amish community close to you I would suggest you talk to then about buying you nucs from them besides the fact that they can give you a wealth of information, they usually at least around here what you to be a happy customer, I roller a queen just after I got them and was more than willin to pay for new queen but he gave me a new queen free of charge.
     
  4. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    3,467
    Likes Received:
    76
    Trophy Points:
    48
    No it is not typical that the bees in the nuc die off. Do you have pesticides being sprayed nearby? farm fields being treated and if so what with? Chemical plant? Donut factory tossing out sugary stuff that may not be good for bees? And are you feeding. Bees in sun or shade? if in sun, ventilation adequate, I don't remember where you are or how hot it is.

    I brought in a cutout last night and put a feed jar on top (little bitty hive little 8 oz feed jar) but if I hadn't they wouldn't last 3 days, they had brood and no stores.

    do send dead bees off for testing for disease. But I'd imagine their box frames and overall health was fine, and you're looking at an environmental contaminant or they starved. A really full hive starves fast.
     
  5. Tomgillane

    Tomgillane New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    FYI, I sent the dead bees off yesterday. The USDA should get them by this Thursday.

    I opened the Nuc'ed hive this morning and found the hive still had a lot of bees, but their was no queen, no new brood (hardly no brood at all), no larvae, and they consumed all of their stores (nectar, capped honey, etc.). I am still feeding them sugar water. They are consuming about 10oz. of sugar water each day.

    Because the bees seemed to have been queen-less for about 1-1/2 weeks, do you think they stopped sending out foragers? I took the queen from my weak hive and introduced her to the Nuc'ed hive. I did not have a queen cage so I used my queen marking tube. I will let her out tomorrow afternoon. Do you think she will be OK? Some of the worker bees are surrounding the tube and some have entered the tube. Since they have been queen-less for so long, I hope the attending bees don't hurt the newly introduced queen.

    When I moved the queen to the Nuc'ed hive, I made sure I noticed that the weak hive did have about a dozen fresh looking larvae. Do you think the remaining bees will start to raising a new queen? Wish me luck.
     
  6. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    3,467
    Likes Received:
    76
    Trophy Points:
    48
    I would do a newspaper combine, putting the queen back in her hive, putting a newspaper on top and putting the nuc on top of that, both hives sound nuc size, and too much real estate is a big problem but you can fix that later. if the Nuc has been queenless for too long they may harm your queen. By doing a combine you can correct the queenless and the population at the same time.
     
  7. Sour Kraut

    Sour Kraut Member

    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Good advice
    Now is the time to look to be combining weak colonies with a strong one, don't waste your time and effort trying to nurse a weak colony up to strength before winter, it just doesn't work out.
    Combine them now, start stimulative feeding early next spring and as soon as you can get queens, split into 2 or 3 or even 4 during first fruit bloom and feed, feed, feed them up to one full deep and then add a second deep and keep feeding till THAT one is fully drawn.
     
  8. Tomgillane

    Tomgillane New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Well, the USDA results are back. No deases or parasites. I did the combination last week and checked them today. The queen moved down and it looks like the weak hive blended fairly well. It looks like I lost another 1 to 2 hundred bees. I cleaned them out of the hive. It looks like there are about 1, maybe 2 thousand bees left. I have been feeding them sugar water and supplying them with pollen substitutes. They are going crazy on the sugar water, but they are not interested in the substitute. The goldenrod is busting out all over in my area, but no nectar, pollen, or capped honey noticed during my inspection. Also, no larvae or capped brood. Maybe, now that I got the hives combined, the queen my start laying. If she doesn't, the hive will die of attrition. Any more ideas or comments are welcomed.
     
  9. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    3,467
    Likes Received:
    76
    Trophy Points:
    48
    That queen has to start laying, keep the sugar water coming, is there empty comb for her to lay in?
     
  10. Tomgillane

    Tomgillane New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    A lot of empty comb. Why do you think they are not going out after the goldenrod? Do you think the sugar water is making them lazy, or the hive has not delegated foragers?
     
  11. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    3,467
    Likes Received:
    76
    Trophy Points:
    48
    What age do the bees appear to be? Is the queen mated properly? If syrup is coming in and pollen or pollen sub is available, the queen should lay. too much vacant space can be scary, you will need to reduce the hive size to match the population or the foragers may be acting as guard bees. Put empty comb you remove in a freezer for a couple of days in case wax moth or shb have laid eggs in it and get size down so that bees can cover the frames. Keep syrup coming but maybe not the pollen sub. But size is an issue. They have to be able to protect their home and forage.
     
  12. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    3,467
    Likes Received:
    76
    Trophy Points:
    48

    How are they doing Tom? Getting to be time to put on a candyboard or fondant the next warm day, if they are short on stores. The sugar water lets them cap more of what they forage but they won't take it when it's cold out.