Had to shake one out in the yard yesterday!

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by pturley, Apr 16, 2013.

  1. pturley

    pturley New Member

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    I did a full inspection of both hives yesterday (2 left after starting winter with 4). This was my second look this spring. First inspection was two weeks ago, I'll post more in another thread ("My bee year 2013" coming soon).

    One hive is strong (Duncan's bees), while one significantly weaker (Carnie package from last spring).

    Both hives are bringing in pollen loads on about one bee out of three.

    Once I opened the Carnies, I found a terribily small cluster. This was only on two frames, only about 5" in diameter. More distressing was that I could not find a queen, nor any eggs or larvae among them.

    Not finding anything to indicate a queen was present but with them bringing in pollen, it would appear that these bees would likely be close to becoming a "laying worker" hive.

    I closed off the hive entrance, took the two frames of bees to the middle of the yard and shook them out onto the ground. It's a bit of a shame as they were still very well provisioned. The top box was still filled with roughtly 20lbs of honey (medium).

    I set this box on top of the remaining hive. With luck, this will help boost them up even stronger in preparation for a split in the very near future.
     
  2. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    What's done is done.
    An alternate option would have been to take one frame of eggs/young brood from the stronger hive and place it in the middle of the small cluster and then do the shake-off. That would have strengthened the weak hive with brood and given them an option to raise a new queen if theirs was really missing. The fact that they were busy bringing in pollen could be an indication that she really was there, even if not seen or laying.
    It's exactly for situations like this that beeks are encouraged to have at least two hives.
     

  3. pturley

    pturley New Member

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    I am 100% confident there was no queen. I searched through the cluster more than once (taking my first sting of the season in the process) and didn't see her. Add to that, no sign of eggs or brood, just empty comb.

    I had added small frame of eggs and larvae directly next to the cluster around two weeks ago when there were three times as many bees. There wasn't enough of them left to warm them then*** (they didn't even break cluster to cover the nearby brood), I saw little chance of them doing so now.

    I decided that with so few left, it wasn't worth sacrificing another frame of brood.

    ***= NOTE: Our nights are still getting fairly cold, into the mid 30s (F)
     
  4. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    The man on the spot, with the bees in his hands, is definitely in a position to make the best decision.
    Well done Paul. :thumbsup:
    I wish you a fast build-up and the option, when the time comes, to make a split. Or even better yet, to have a big swarm enter your empty equipment. :grin:
     
  5. pturley

    pturley New Member

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    Fingers are crossed for either, or both!

    Only the tulips and daffodils have bloomed yet, but it is 60F+ and sunny here today, it won't be long now!
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    some time you can get soft between the ears and think you can coddle a weak hive along and get it too survive. of course on some rare occasion you can but most of the time at the very best these 'poor doers' just continue to limp along as weak hives and invariable require two or three times the labor as something that is prospering. I have come to believe (took me a long time) that you are almost always better to stack the provision of the weak hive on something that either now or very soon will need the extra space... so at least as far as I am concerned taking your loss now is almost always a better decision than taking you loss later.

    with a weak hive and cold weather another strategy is to do a paper combine with a queen excluder < sometimes after the girls below eat thru the paper and add some numbers to the top box you may even discover that yes there was a queen there but almost invariable she ain't the kind of queen you want around anyway.