Monitoring newly hived bee packages

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Steve777, May 6, 2014.

  1. Steve777

    Steve777 New Member

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    I put 2 3# packages into hives about 1 month ago. Checked after a week and the queen got out and removed the queen cage, but have not yet opened them up to do an inspection as I was delaying for good weather and to give the new colonies some time without disturbing them; will probably do it next week. In the mean time I have been feeding sugar syrup and trying to observe their behavior from the outside. Had a few questions based upon my observations:

    One thing I noticed is I can still take off the top cover and replace the quart jar of feeder syrup without much fuss from the hives (quart sits on an inner cover and an empty super around it). I would have thought that by now the colonies would have grown sufficiently in size to put up a fuss when someone opens the outside of the hive like that (I am not using smoke as it did not seem necessary). It is colder here than most places (days 50-70F, nights 25-35F, and the only pollen so far is trees (aspen, not apples yet) and dandelions, still I would have thought that 4 weeks was enough to start defending their home?

    Another question I have is one of whether or not the hives are being robbed. (I am a bit sensitive to this as my hive from last year was robbed clean and dies over the winter). I notice bees coming and going from the reduced entrances (1" wide). But some of these bees are very different in coloring and would appear to be from a different queen. I don't see any signs of fighting by the entrance, but I wonder if there aren't some foreign bees coming by for a snack? I realize that in a package it is possible that bees from several hives/queens may have been mixed in the package, but after a few more weeks, I would assume of the package bees have dies and the hives are running on new bees from their queen, so they all should look alike. Should I be concerned now with seeing different colored bees?

    Along the same robbing line, I was wondering when I see workers returning with pollen, is that safe to assume they belong to the hive, or would a robbing bee collect pollen and then stop by to rob for nectar?

    In general is there a timetable for new packages in how long they might take to fill their first deep box, second deep, etc? I realize that this will vary with the weather and climate, but a baseline would be helpful to this novice.

    TIA
     
  2. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    If they are bringing in pollen they are not robbers. Queens mate with many drones. Workers are often different colors. Bees are defensive at different times. I often pop the top of a hive and never have a bee fly up. Other days they will be all over me. Pull some frames and all your questions will be answered.
     

  3. CeeGee

    CeeGee New Member

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    Assuming it took a few days to release her, and then the queen started laying within a few days of being released (sometimes they take a bit longer, and often real slowly in the beginning), and 21+ days from egg to emergence, that is about a month. Maybe more. I would think you should start seeing a noticeable difference in the next two weeks. However, camero is dead on - "Pull some frames". You should see a fair amount of capped brood. If not, there are problems.
     
  4. Zookeep

    Zookeep Active Member

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    bees change color with age, they loose the fine hair on there bodies as they get older and some may seem almost black, the pollen being brought in is a good sign, hives almost stop working all together and shut down when there is no brood, as for being able to take the jar without being jumped, bees during a flow are so busy working they dont bother with you plus these hives you have are small, few guards but wait till the hives are 2,3 or 4 boxes high you will always use smoke lol
     
  5. Steve777

    Steve777 New Member

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    Thanks for the advise. It finally warmed up a bit and I did a quick inspection of the hives today.

    The first hive, on new undrawn foundation, seemed OK. The 3# package doesn't look like it has expanded all that much. There were bees covering maybe two-three full frames, but this was mid afternoon on a warm sunny day, so perhaps a bunch were out in the field. They had drawn out about that many frames too, and appeared to be working on more. There was some capped cells on the frames, but not a big solid area on any one frame. They did not seem to have eaten any of the pollen patty I put in there when I started them.

    The second hive was also a 3# package started on drawn foundation. They seemed quite a bit more robust. They seem to cover twice as many frames, say 5-6, and they had eaten 1/2 of the pollen patty I started them with. Again some capped cells, but not the full or almost full frame side that I was expecting. This hive also seems to go thru sugar water about 40% faster than the other.

    So perhaps I am concerned needlessly, but I am wondering if these results for new packages seems reasonable for a cold climate (apples just starting to break bud and leaf, nites still at or near freezing). I expected the hive on new foundation to be behind the one on drawn comb, but is this much difference anything to worry about? How about the lack of a few full frames of capped brood? Or does that heavy brood laying wait for warmer times and more nectar flow? Anything else I should be checking?

    TIA
     
  6. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    It takes 1 frame of honey and 1 frame worth of pollen for the bees to produce a frame of bees. the package that received the drawn comb has been able to produce more brood than the package that needed to draw out the frames first. Bees also draw comb more readily when the temperature is warm not when the temperature gets cool at nights and also while there is a good honey flow on.