Maybe I'm starting to figure this out . . .

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by ablanton, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. ablanton

    ablanton New Member

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    I've not been going deep into my hives the last 6 weeks, or so. I've wanted my girls to make the most of the flow by being productive rather than having to repair everything that I screw up. I have come to understand what many keeps mean when they say that you can tell a lot about a hive just by watching the front door. I have a hive that began getting noticeably weaker through May. The traffic at the front door went from bustling to not much going on. Last weekend, I decided that I better have a look.

    This hive has two deeps for brood. It had one super with 10 frames of honey by the end of April, so I added another. This super was still empty last weekend, so I pulled it back off. I pulled off the full super and set it aside so that I could start going through the brood area. At first, it looked like a textbook example of the "shotgun" laying pattern that I've heard about. Looking closer, I wasn't sure. The scattered brood was interspersed with nectar and pollen. I couldn't tell if she was laying erratically because there wasn't much room, or if the girls were just filling in the gaps that she was leaving. Moving down to the bottom deep, it was completely empty ... nothing... nada! I decided I'd move the queen to the bottom where all of the room was and give her another week to prove herself.

    Today, I went in to check again. I pulled the top deep off and set it aside. Looking through the bottom deep, it was empty ... nothing... nada! No queen and very few bees, so I figured she must have moved back up. I pulled the empty deep off of the bottom board and set the other deep on the bottom board. As I started going through it, I started getting very worried very fast. The first two frames were completely capped with honey. Moving toward the center it was a combination of honey, pollen, nectar, and empty cells. What little capped brood I had seen last week was hatched. No eggs, no larvae. I had pretty much made up my mind to go queen shopping by the time I pulled the 7th frame. Checked the first side, and saw lots of pollen and nectar. When I flipped it over, I was amazed. From sidebar to sidebar, the frame was slam full of larvae and eggs! Found the queen on the 8th frame running around. It was full of honey. I placed the other deep (the empty one that had originally been on the bottom) on top. She will have plenty of room in it to lay.

    I have decided that either this hive swarmed and I didn't know it, or I had a queen to die. During the time they were making a new queen, the girls must have filled everything up and the new queen had no where to lay. I don't know why she didn't move down to where all of the room was and I don't know why she didn't stay there when I moved her down last week. But, the frame full of larvae convinced me that she deserves a little more time. Hopefully, she will get to work in that empty deep and fill it up.

    The other good news was that I only saw 3 SHB. Hopefully, the break in the brood cycle gave a knock-out punch to any potential varroa.
     
  2. pistolpete

    pistolpete New Member

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    I'm not convinced that a break in the brood cycle does all that much to reduce Varroa. We get a solid 4 months of winter with no brood rearing and the mites are as strong in the spring as they were in the fall. They just hang out on adult bees until brood is available. I'm not saying there is no effect, but not as much as you'd think.