lazy bees

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by metermike, Sep 21, 2014.

  1. metermike

    metermike New Member

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    I am a third year bee keeper. Bought a hive kit, read everything I could get my hands on to get started. First year, no honey in the honey super, but for a new hive I was fine with it. Hive wintered fine, and second year I found 4 frames , 1/2 filled with honey. I wasn't thrilled, but I accepted it. Hive wintered fine again. Third year (2014) Just check my honey super, nothing at all. and in the 2 hive bodies, I got one frame of honey. But I got so much brood, there all over the place. They won't make it through the winter with one frame. Whats going on, why do I have lazy bees. Im in southern indiana, out in the country, and try so hard to make this work out. but I continue to fail. HELP ?
     
  2. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    do you have a drought? If you do you have a dearth of nectar and pollen. I started beekeeping part way through our Texas drought. I got 1 pint of honey first year, 2nd year none, and I fed 150 lbs of imperial sugar. 3rd year got european foulbrood, so I got to harvest 50 lbs of honey because I needed to be sure it cleared up with antibiotics, so peoples got the honey and the bees got more sugar water. this year I pulled 30 lbs of honey from 3 hives, 2 of which had swarmed and emptied themselves of bees. One of the new queens did turn up and come back mated so she got a little honey from the one hive I kept. My one big hive was enormously productive, I extracted around July 1st and a week later they had half filled the extracted frames, so I thought I would get more honey, but during the drought and dearth they ate it all up and that is just fine. That big hive provided the brood and eggs to get the returned queen going, to get the valve box cutout going, and just got split (I bought a mated queen).

    They have a lot of brood due to hatch out soon, and the queen should start laying winter bee eggs soon, so I want her very well nourished, so those bees will be strong.
     

  3. metermike

    metermike New Member

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    Well, My bees have had plenty of access to water. I have not seen any diseases or such, and I wonder if its something to do with the queen. She has no problem laying eggs.
     
  4. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Is it raining there?

    Your bees can have all the water in the world but it takes nectar, which comes from flowers, which come from rain, to make honey.

    you can feed them sugar water and they will store it in cells like honey, but it is not honey. It will keep the bees alive. If the queen is laying there is some flow but probably not enough flow to store as honey.


     
  5. indypartridge

    indypartridge New Member

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    You're not alone. When I inspected my colonies this past weekend I found the same thing: strong, healthy colonies, very low mite counts, very few SHB, and practically no stores. I was surprised because it seemed like we've had a great end-of-summer, early-fall bloom of goldenrod, asters, sumac, iron weed, joe pye, etc. I've checked with some local club members (Brown County & surrounding counties) and many are reporting the same thing.

    Don't know why the fall bloom didn't translate to nectar flow, but now there's no choice but to feed heavily for the next several weeks.
     
  6. Walt B

    Walt B New Member

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    Except for the severe drought year of 2011 (no honey and lost a hive), most of the last 4 years yielded 10-15 pounds per hive...not earth shattering.

    This year I got about 65 pounds per hive. I made some changes, and the weather cooperated. This year I used solid bottom boards, planted a very little bit of hubam clover, the weather was a bit cooler (Didn't hit 100 until August), and Spring was a bit wetter than average. Don't know if any, or all, of these variables contributed to the harvest.

    Just checked the girls a couple of days ago and the super on each hive is about half full. Of course, the hubam is gone by now, but there are plenty of wildflowers blooming.

    By the way, glad to see you posting agin Gypsi.

    Walt
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2014
  7. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Well Walt, I only got about 1.5 inches of rain this spring, but I watered my blooming trees, and the wildflowers that have spread from my place benefited, and I pulled about 50 lbs of honey from 3 hives, but that was because I took 2 of them down, queen had swarmed off.

    The 4th hive I had I had kept in town, pulled it when the mosquito spraying was starting up, and I sold it with its honey.

    After I got down to one requeened hive, the daughter of the other queen I bought came back mated, and I set up a 2nd hive. Then some bees in a water meter needed a cutout before the owner and defender moved, so I ended up with a 3rd hive.
    And my biggest and original from this spring requeened hive was looking susceptible to a swarm, and since she is a lovely and productive queen, I split her last week and gave the split a queen from Beeweavers.

    The valve box gals got a Beeweavers queen too.

    So I, who was only going to have to feed 1 hive, am now feeding 4 hives again. But hoping that someday it will rain again and there will be a flow.

    I got .006 inches in September I think.
     
  8. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    An alternative thought. Mike may have a strain of bees not suited to his location.

    He may do better with a strain that has a smaller broodnest but stores more honey.

    It is probably too late to do anything this season. A possible plan for next year, would be to have another colony with a different strain of bees. With 2 colonies, a comparison can be made and increase/replacement made from the better colony.
     
  9. metermike

    metermike New Member

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    Hello, This is an interesting observation. But, I have no idea what strain my bees are. What would I do? just order from a different bee supplier for spring delivery? Thanks for all your help. Mike s.
     
  10. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Well Mike you have a couple of options. You can feed your bees and attempt to get them through the winter
    You can kill your lazy bees and freeze the comb so that it doesn't get taken over by wax moths and order more bees in the spring
    Or you can take the lazy way out and let them die out and when they have died maybe spray some soapy water on the comb to see if you can salvage it.

    Either way you are going to spend some money on feed (I only buy imperial sugar and I make fondant in the winter because Texas bees are rarely fully dormant for more than 10 days) or you are going to spend money on bees or maybe you can sell your equipment off with or without bees and take your losses in the fall.

    But I am fairly sure if you don't have honey now you can't take any later this year without killing the hive, and as a honey making operation this isn't looking any better than north Texas in 2011 the year I started. Doesn't usually have much to do with laziness. The queen has laid a workforce now you need a FLOW
     
  11. metermike

    metermike New Member

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    I have an extra hive, so I think I will try another source next year and keep the poor production one. So far, in the last week, I have fed them 21 lbs of sugar syrup. At this point, I have spent so much money , I cant back out.
     
  12. Zookeep

    Zookeep Active Member

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    out of 70 hives I have atm 50 were ready for honey production, now some of the 50 did alot better then others, a few never even got above 2 boxes and others are 6 or 7 boxes tall, the trick is to weed out the weak queens, and yes the weather has alot to do with honey production, right now my bees should be filling up on Brazilian pepper but we have had rain just about every day during the bloom, so out of the 50 about 40 produced honey a few made alot, at the end of the year it looks like about 3200 lbs total but this year has been a learning experience, where and when to move hives to get what i want, but I need to learn to pick out the bad queens faster and add new so hives build up like they should, sounds like you should replace a few queens as well.