Honey/Brood Distribution in Weak Hive?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Atomic_Bee_Ranch, Jul 15, 2012.

  1. Atomic_Bee_Ranch

    Atomic_Bee_Ranch New Member

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    Hi, Everyone,
    I'm relatively new to beekeeping (second year, second hive) and I'm having some issues with my newest hive. I have a couple questions about what to do, but I need to give some background first. Bear with me if you can, I would really appreciate any advice I can get.
    I had a hive last year that died very early in the winter. Judging by the quantities of honey leftover and lack of brood the queen probably died in November. I took all the frames out and froze them for several weeks and had the happy accident of coming across a swarm in early April. I captured the swarm and put it in my old hive with all the full frames. I had to replace a couple of the frames with new foundation, but they got (once their numbers grew) a good 12-15 deep frames of honey and 5-8 frames for raising brood. As I said, they were exactly as they were left by my previous hive. I started them with one deep super, added a second when their numbers increased, and finally added the queen excluder and honey super. They were going like gangbusters until mid-June. I believe they threw a swarm and I missed it completely. Now their numbers are REALLY low. We're talking bees covering 3, maybe 4 frames. There is a new queen and she just started laying eggs, but there is NO capped brood.
    What has given me pause is the distribution of brood and honey. There are no bees in the bottom deep and no brood to speak of. The new queen is now laying eggs, but in the frames that are right up against the side of the box. So, if you were looking down on the super, the bees and eggs are on the left three frames and as you move to the right there is honey and then two frames with foundation, but no drawn-out comb.
    My questions are:
    1. Is this a normal distribution?
    2. Did I cause this by putting the filled frames in the hive in an improper order/distribution pattern?
    3. Should I move the frames around to change the order/distribution of the honey, brood, etc. and to encourage them to draw out the comb on the empty frames?
    4. I can get a frame or two of brood from another hive (my dad's hive), should I bother? Or should I just let nature take its course and start over again next year?
    5. Any other thoughts or suggestions for helping or leaving the hive be?
    Thank you in advance for any advice you can give.
    -Tibby
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Hi and welcome to our forum. :hi:

    If you only have bees now covering 3 or 4 frames, don't try to overload them with trying to draw comb at this point, they need to build numbers up first and foremost. With only bees on that amount of frames it is no wonder there are no bees in the bottom box. They are trying to keep brood warm and that can only be done in a confined area such as you describe, over to one side in the upper box. I would try to keep some empty comb near them and honey next to that, or better yet, add a couple frames of capped brood from another hive. Be careful doing this as you do not want to put in too much brood that it cannot be tended to by the smaller number of bees. Perhaps some frames with open brood just ready to be capped with the adhering bees. They will be nurse bees and more readily accepted by the needy hive. I don't know what the flow situation is there now but if there isn't one I would also feed to help them out.
    I am sure others will chip in with some solid advice.
     

  3. klpauba

    klpauba New Member

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    A quick question, PerryBee: if the brood is capped, what is there for the nurse bees to tend? I can understand uncapped brood needing the help of the nurse bees. This newbee wants to learn.

    Thanks
     
  4. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    an atomicbee snippet followed by> my comment...
    1. Is this a normal distribution? >yes this is fairly common.. often times a new queen will begin the brood patch at one side of the box or the other and not the center most frame. this is likely a bit like a three sided coin toss.
    2. Did I cause this by putting the filled frames in the hive in an improper order/distribution pattern? >what is in the frames or not in the frames may have some importance here but no you did not directly cause this to happen.
    3. Should I move the frames around to change the order/distribution of the honey, brood, etc. and to encourage them to draw out the comb on the empty frames? >you could and I often do although this really (imho) likely doesn't accomplish much.
    4. I can get a frame or two of brood from another hive (my dad's hive), should I bother? Or should I just let nature take its course and start over again next year? >see comment to #5 below.
    5. Any other thoughts or suggestions for helping or leaving the hive be? >sounds like you may have too much space for the current population in the hive to cover. you could boost the hive as you suggest in #4 above or simply remove any excess space.
     
  5. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    klpaula - I think by transferring capped brood you don't necessarily need "nurse" bees per se, but you still need enough bees to maintain that hive temp. If you transfer open brood for sure you would need to take the adhereing bees with it as moving those frames to a poorly populated hive would probably end up badly without the "nurse" bees to tend the brood.
     
  6. Atomic_Bee_Ranch

    Atomic_Bee_Ranch New Member

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    Thanks for the advice PerryBee and tecumseh. I really appreciate it. I think I'll try snagging a frame of brood from my dad's hive with bees attached and also remove some of the space (e.g. the lower super that is currently bee free). I'll take the foundation-only frames out and replace them with honey and pollen filled frames, so as the numbers (hopefully!) grow they will have enough food. I would like to feed them too, as suggested, and maybe I'll try one of those feeders that replaces a frame instead of the hive top feeder so they don't need to break out of their cluster as much to find food. Any thoughts on giving them some pollen patty to help feed the brood they will be raising?
    Fingers crossed that this works. We're having an unusually mild summer here that I'm a little worried about both the nectar flow and their ability to keep warm. Thank you again!
     
  7. klpauba

    klpauba New Member

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    Now that makes sense, PerryBee. Thanks for the tutelage ... you're among my favorite "remote mentors"!
     
  8. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Welcome to the forum Tibby. Glad you're with us. :hi:
    You got great advice from the masters, Perry and Tecumseh. Al I dare add at this point is remember to be patient. The bees can be encouraged to "speed things up" a bit by adding sealed brood and nurse bees, but the queen will have to take her own natural time to reach her peak of laying. Try not to have a solid frame of pollen and sealed honey blocking her way as she tries to expand the brood nest. If the bottom deep is totally empty of bees, maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to remove the empty box and save it to add on later, when the family has expanded. Then you could put it back above the brood nest.
     
  9. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Masters? :shock: Maybe Tecumseh, but certainly not me. I know a little, but like to talk a lot! :lol: :thumbsup:
    Kinda fools a lotta people. (most of the time) :wink:
    Thank you Efmesch for those kind words, however misguided they are. (about me anyways) :lol:
     
  10. Beeboy

    Beeboy New Member

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    Welcome. My only suggestion would be to give them less space, as was already posted. To much spaces just asking for wax moths. I learned that the hard way this spring.
     
  11. Atomic_Bee_Ranch

    Atomic_Bee_Ranch New Member

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    Thanks for the heads up on wax moths! I went through the empty bottom super with that in mind and found them on three of the frames. Yuck! I hate those things. They hadn't done much damage yet so I'm sure I would have missed it if you hadn't said something. I'll be freezing the frames until they are needed to kill those little buggers off.