Hive won't survive the winter?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by CherryHillFarm, Oct 15, 2017.

  1. CherryHillFarm

    CherryHillFarm New Member

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    Hi
    I am a new beekeeper. I have two hive that we started this year. One hive has been okay while the other has under-preformed all year. We are now approaching winter and I don't think the hive can survive the winter. We live in WV so we will have winter but the severity is unpredictable. The upper brood box is completely empty while the lower has some capped honey. I am feeding both hives now but has made no difference in the poor hive. I had planned to replace the queen in the spring because she was a poor preformer. My question is should I write off this hive, take the good frames from this hive and put it into the good hive to strengthen it for the winter? Or is there something more I can do for this hive?
     
  2. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    have you treated for varroa mites? they will make all the difference in your hive's survival.

    Treat both hives. I use Oxalic Acid Vapor, it is the easiest on the queens, and pretty safe for bees. You need to wear a ventilator to apply it.
     

  3. CherryHillFarm

    CherryHillFarm New Member

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    I have not seen any indication of Varroa mites
     
  4. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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    have you tested for them?
     
  5. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Unless you are phenomenally lucky, your bees have mites. I have never seen a hive totally free of mites unless it was treated recently. However there are high mite loads and low mite loads. K wing, walking bees and deformed wing virus let you know you have a high mite load.

    You can test for mites by doing a powdered sugar shake with about a cup of bees, The sugar shake is not fatal. takes a pint canning jar and a lid with air holes in it. The powdered sugar loosens the mites from the bees, you can see them and count them, bees can go back to hive.

    Or you can try immersing a cup of bees in isopropyl alcohol. That will kill the bees but will absolutely kill any mites on them and let you get a 100% accurate mite count.

    This article talks about viruses associated with varroa mites. http://articles.extension.org/pages/71172/honey-bee-viruses-the-deadly-varroa-mite-associates

    Mites (likes fleas on a dog) weaken their host, and they get trapped in cells with larval bees, where they can hide from oxalic acid vapor and many mite treatments, while they feed on the larva. Opening drone brood, with its long time in a capped cell, can let you see mites on the larva. Freezing drone frames for a couple of days is one way to remove some mites from a hive but at this time of year you probably don't have drone brood.
     
  6. ccjersey

    ccjersey Member

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    I would combine the hives.
    Find and remove the queen from the weak colony
    Put down a sheet of newspaper with a few slits cut in it on top of the upper brood box of the strong hive
    Stack the boxes of the weak (now queenless) hive on top
    Replace top cover etc

    In a couple weeks go through and sort the frames removing empty ones and consolidating any brood to the center and honey to the outside and top. If you can I would get them down to 2 deeps full of stored pollen, honey and brood and then treat for mites somehow.

    Look at Youtube videos how to do a good mite test. I think the usual test is 1/2 cup of bees not 1 cup. This sample contains approx 300 bees, so if you count 3 mites that is 1%, 9 mites is 3% etc. Most times of the year 2 or 3 % is a proper treatment threshold, but going into winter I would plan on treating with oxalic acid or other effective treatment no matter what, just to reduce mite numbers to the minimum possible.
     
  7. ccjersey

    ccjersey Member

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    Varroa testing and control information at honey bee health coalition website
    honeybeehealthcoalition.org
    One thing I have picked up from Scientific beekeeping website is when doing alcohol wash, the bees and alcohol should be swirled in the jar or cup to get best mite separation, not shaken as in the powdered sugar shake.
     
  8. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Thank you CCJersey I just treat anymore, at this time of year, without the sugar or alcohol test, as a consequence I forgot how many bees.

    I throw an oiled sticky board under the hive, (I run screened bottom boards) and I'm really only seeing one or 2 mites on that sticky, but most of the mites are on the bees and in the brood. Will try to get at least 2 treatments in before they go into cluster and one afterward. I'll end up with a couple of hundred on my sticky after I treat.
     
  9. CherryHillFarm

    CherryHillFarm New Member

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    Thanks for all the input. I think I will treat for mites and not worry about testing right now. I really don't think the weak hive can survive the winter no matter what I do at this point. So it sounds like combining the hive is the best option. I should have good enough weather at least till mid November to get this done.
     
  10. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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    I make my own vaporizers for the OA and so can you, very easy and cheap, maybe about $10.00 in parts, somewhere I have a thread on it on this sight, ill look for the link and post here..
    https://www.beekeepingforums.com/threads/home-made-oxalic-acid-vaporizer-easy-and-cheap.11660/
     
  11. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Sounds like a plan CherryHill. thanks for posting that plan Bob.
     
  12. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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    I got a dose of cold last night.. below 40 and its just about 40 now in the morning..I bet my bees were surprised...ill see how the temps go and if they stay down I may wrap them , but weather forecast says warmer..I wonder if this up and down with such a wide spread in temp affects the bees?
     
  13. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Your temps are about the same as mine today, we have a cold front, daytime 80's, I think we got into the upper 40's last night. As long as syrup doesn't drip on them, should be fine. because I use hive top jars I will start removing my jars at night when it is going below 45. Mostly we are in the 50's and 60's at night
     
  14. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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    I have the frame feeders with the ladders that go down into them, so no chance of leakage, they seem to be working the best for me and they are hidden in the hive from any robber bees..
     
  15. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I didn't have much luck with those, but I was using in weather so cold the bees weren't using them except as body dumps. I do put some netting or plastic hardware cloth down the center of the frame feeders to assist with bees getting out if they get off the side wall.
     
  16. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I had the one on the right, there are ladder ridges in the box but no insert or drop down, and yeah I got some dead bees out of a couple of those. Donated them as door prizes at bee club. I prefer a feeder that I can see without opening my hives as I am leaving for work so I make my own. I'll post a photo on the feeder thread later.