Hives not thriving

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by babnik, Jul 4, 2011.

  1. babnik

    babnik New Member

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    I recently asked a question about moving hives. So of my three hives, I went ahead and moved two. It has been about 10-12 days since the move and the two hives I moved do not seem to be doing too well. They both have significantly less bees than they had (or at least it seems that way when I open up) One of them almost has no activity at the entrance. Just the occasional be coming and going. By occasional, I mean minutes can pass. The other is slightly better, with more entrance-action, but still way of the third hive which is still at it's original position. I'm beginning to wonder what went wrong. Here's a few hypotheses.

    • Lots of foragers got lost during the move due to orientation problems. Should sort itself out as and when new bees start to forage and are replaced by new offspring. The few days after the move there were quite a few bees congregating around the original site, but this tapered off after a few days.

    • My initial fears about placing them closer to a possible pesticide source was realized and they've had a direct dose of pesticide and are dying slowly. I do know one farmer has recently sprayed, but he warned me before, and checked that the wind was blowing away from my garden before he did. I'm sure this would have affected the third hive as well, which is flourishing.

    • The hive that seems the worst has the occasional afternoon frenzy of activity, which maybe robbing. Is it possible to lose a good number of bees (more than 50% would be my estimate) to fights with the robbers? I have since added an entrance reducer, but it was with some reluctance as it's hot. Would robbing keep them inside a few days as they try and repair the damage and come to terms with their lot?

    • I did see what seem like chalkbrood carcasses on the bottom board yesterday. Small white pellets is the best description I can give. This seems a little unlikely though as we are presently in a drought with extremely high temperatures so moisture is definitely a problem. But who knows? Is chalkbrood possible in extremely hot and dry conditions?

    • As the weather get's hotter we are getting a lot of hornets. Luckily they are of the European variety, although my neighbour keeps telling me he has seen the dreaded asian hornets. I have yet to catch one in my traps. I have read hornets can devastate a hive in 48 hours. Again this may have nothing to do with the move.

    Maybe this has nothing to do with the move, but I need to move the last hive and am afraid the same thing will happen to my only thriving hive. What is my best plan of action now? Just leave all alone and hope for the best? Build some robber screens and replace the reducers? Feed the hives? move a couple of brood frames from the thriving to the non thriving hives? Combine the two weak hives? Wait until Autumn and if still weak, combine then? All the above? None of the above?
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    First, get inside and see what the internal condition is. How much open brood, how much capped brood. Do you have eggs? Is there food?

    Afternoon busy bees sound more like orientation flights. Robbing continues all day. Robber screens are always an asset. They can remove many questions.
     

  3. babnik

    babnik New Member

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    I have been inside. There is brood, both open and closed. There is food etc etc There's just not a lot of anything really.
     
  4. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I would think they will be fine in another week. They lost some foragers to the hive left behind. Another week should have them replaced. Unless the flow has stopped, then you won't see much more than scouts flying until they find a new source.
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    babnik writes:
    But who knows? Is chalkbrood possible in extremely hot and dry conditions?

    and then...

    I have been inside. There is brood, both open and closed. There is food etc etc There's just not a lot of anything really.

    tecumseh:
    I think I have suggested before that I am not familar enough with your location and season that some basics are hard for me to define.

    chalkbrood (if that is what you are seeing??*) does not necessarily occur only during 'wet springs' and periods with limit flows coming in the hive, although without a doubt these conditions magnify the condition several fold. from what I currently understand chalkbrood can also be connected with other disease vectors and if chalkbrood is displayed itself during a flow or when moisture conditions are low I would have some concern for these 'other' problems.

    the last snippet seem to suggest the hive is not thriving??? is this due to some inadequate genetics in the hive or simply your season I cannot know. if you can rule out one or the other (genetics or season) then the other should be your dominate concern.

    there tends to be a significant 'genetic component' to chalkbrood. for myself this condition means a hive needs to have the queen replaced and as quickly as possible.

    *chalkbrood can look a bit like any number of other calamities where unsealed brood becomes mummified. to somewhat discern the difference....chalkbrood mummies do tend to be very white and chalk like.
     
  6. babnik

    babnik New Member

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    I have just witnessed something I've never seen before. I was just looking at the hive, and all of a sudden I saw something fly in close to the hive, and grab a bee. It pulled the bee down to the ground, and settled about a metre from the hive. I quickly killed it, and after closer inspection, identified it as an Asian Hornet (unmistakable yellow legs). My neighbour was right when he said he saw Asian Hornets around here. Apparently as little as 5 hornets can decimate a hive, so this is now my main line of investigation. I haven't found a hornets nest, but maybe this could be miles away? Everything else, including the apparent chalkbrood, could just be a symptom of a weakened hive due to the ravages brought on by these hornets. I've put up a trap, but other than that not sure what to do. I also saw a few wasps entering the hive, a few bees attempted to chase them away, but my guess is that they are just opportunistic as the hive cannot defend itself.
     
  7. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Can you cover the entrances with a wire that the bees can go through, but the wasps and hornets can't?
    Bees can go through 1/4 in. hardware cloth.
     
  8. babnik

    babnik New Member

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    I will try the hardware cloth. Wasps seem smaller than the bees though. Hornets bigger. I'm not too worried about the wasps though.
     
  9. babnik

    babnik New Member

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    I've installed a robber screen. They seem to be having a little difficulty finding their way home. But the wasps seem baffled too. I did see another hornet take a bee today, but didn't get it in time. I tried to follow it to see where the nest is, but they're fast! Not sure if it was Asian or European. Anyway, numbers seem better with more action (good action) in the last few days around the entrance.

    Saw a hornet enter the other hive today. Slightly stronger hive. It was set upon by at least 20 bees and I presume stung. It fell out of the hive and flew away. Perhaps that hive needs a robber screen too.

    The hives are very close to a load of fruit trees, which had quite a few rotting fruit underneath them. These I have cleared and set up a few wasp/hornets traps. Hornets seem very active here this year. Can't find any nests close by though.