My bee year 2010- starting over.

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Omie, Mar 10, 2010.

  1. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    UPDATE......

    Some of you may remember my panic at finding a dead queen in front of my first and only hive last Thanksgiving. Here was the thread of that traumatic event: viewtopic.php?f=36&t=1328

    Today was in the 50's and sunny- a beautiful day. Still no sign of life from my hive, that had a queen die in late November, so I decided it was time to go in and see what there was to be seen.

    Sure enough my only hive was dead as a doornail. :cry: Luckily, I had ordered two new colonies back in January, just to be safe, so I can now look forward to them arriving first week of May. Hopefully they will arrive in good shape with healthy live queens.

    So I dismantled my whole two deep hive with its 18 deep frames. There did not appear to be any signs of disease. Not a sign of any dead brood at all. There were only about 600-800 dead bees in various places in the hive, with a couple of egg sized dead clusters but no queens in them.
    Maybe one in thirty bees had a single dead varroa, and not that many dead mites on the bottom board. No deformed wings, no streaky diarrhea anywhere, no gooey stuff in cells, no nibbled areas of comb, no other signs of pests. Everyone just looked like they died while doing normal things.
    No bees had their heads in the cells, and there was a TON of honey and bee bread etc fairly evenly distributed all over between the two deeps. I think the hive died in late December after their queen died in late November and the workers all got older, so they just didn't get to eat most of what was stored. There were at least 6 deep heavy frames packed full of solid honey, and the rest of the frames had varying amounts of pollen and honey stored nicely.
    I think they just died of old age without a queen.

    Once I had all 18 frames out, I scraped the three old hive bodies down (I had an extra 3rd deep with empty old comb frames too, stored away).

    First, I took the 8 older deep frames with old empty comb on them, and those I put into the worst of the 3 old deep boxes, the one that was stapled solidly to an old bottom board. I added an old telescope top to that and now I have a great swarm lure box to set up soon. I have some fresh lemongrass oil and some bee pheromone coming in the mail as well. :thumbsup:

    Then, I put 9 honey/pollen laden frames into each of the other two old deeps, and bagged each deep hive body with honey frames separately in heavy duty contractor plastic bags and sealed them up stacked in my basement where mice cannot get to them. When my two new bee colonies come, I will use these full frames to feed them and give them a head start. Way better than feeding sugar syrup! :)
    I will be installing the new bees into brand new frames and hive boxes.

    I was happy to see a few neighborhood honeybees checking out the honey frames while I was doing all this. That means my hopes of attracting a local swarm this year as well might be possible. I saw no other types of bees or wasps at all, just a housefly and about 30 honeybees interested in the 'goods' laid out where I was working.
    There were many honeybees in my garden when we first moved in here 7 years ago. Then a couple of years went by without my seeing any- just bumblebees and mason bees on our flowering crab apple tree and on the blue sage. So it did my heart good to see some honeybee action so early today, way before any blooms at all here. I wondered where those bees were living. It felt so nice to have them humming around me with the promise of renewed life as I worked on the frames and hive bodies...like they were saying "Hey, good job, nice place you got there!". :D

    I also realize I got those terrific honey stores out of there and stored safely just before they may have wound up on the 'grand neighborhood robbing buffet table'.

    Now to wait a few more weeks till 'bee time' arrives. This is the longest winter I can ever remember! ;)
     
  2. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    If you have room in a freezer I would place the frames of honey in it, you can leave it in the bags.

    I don't think I would leave it in the plastic bag in the basement, my thoughts are it will mold.

    I know you are getting excited about those new packages that are coming. When will they be in and what did you get??

    G3
     

  3. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Thanks G3,
    My freezer is the size of a microwave oven, and it's full of pork chops and ice cream. :roll:
    I keep a dehumidifier running in the basement to avoid mold on some of the valuables stored there, so I don't think it'll be a big problem. I'll check them every week though, thanks for the reminder.

    I ordered two nucs (yes, shipped nucs w/caged queens) from FatBeeMan in GA, because he doesn't use much in the way of chemical treatment on his bees (I hope not to treat much either) and he seemed to have a good reputation. I liked his philosophy on bees. I just hope they get here in good shape, he says there is seldom any problem in transit, especially just going along the east coast.
    His bees also have a large portion of Russian mix in them, and I think that might be a plus here in my northern colder area.
    Hoping for the best, and hoping to maybe catch a lucky swarm too this year! :Dancing:
     
  4. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    Strange as it may sound, sounds like they starved--even though they had alot of stores, if they couldn't reach them then thats they will starve. The other incomming packages of bees will do well I personally would use the honey in the combs for the new bees, give each package 4 frames of honey on the outside of the central frames as the queen starts to lay the outer frames will open up as used to draw combs or feed brood.
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    if the hive was heavily populated in the late fall my guess would be dwindling due to an inadequate or improperly mated queen. at one time when folks didn't know much about bee disease and such it was common for a lot of stuff to be tagged as 'fall' or 'spring' dwindling disease.

    sorry to learn of the demise of your first hive Omie.
     
  6. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Yes the hive was very well populated in mid November- active and healthy with several thousand happy busy bees, still bringing in pollen, too. Tecumseh i think you are right about the queenless dwindling population being the cause.
    I found that dead queen at the end of November. In late December, a month later, even though we had some warm sunny days, there seemed to be no more activity at all, total silence. I think they all died before the really hard winter even set in in mid January.
    I really don't think they starved. There was TONS of lovely honey and pollen pretty much everywhere on the frames, but only a few hundred dead bees in the hive. No official main 'cluster' either, just dead bees all over the frames looking like they just died while doing normal stuff. Two 'mini-clusters' about the size of small chicken eggs, but no queens in side them. Not a single bee at all with its head in a cell. There were no queen cells anywhere either, and no dead brood, no trace of previous brood at all. Since they didn't die in a big cluster and so much honey and pollen was left, I don't think they even made it into the really cold part of winter when they died.
    My theory now is that when the queen died for some unknown reason in November, there was no way to replace her that late, and that the workers simply got old and died off as winter set in. There was no way for the workers to raise young replacements for themselves. Sad. The only mystery remaining now in my mind is why that queen died in November.

    My biggest fears are now
    A) the two new colonies arriving in bad shape due to shipping stress.
    B) running into the sweet woman who gave me that wonderful hive and having her ask me how the bees are. If she asks me after I get the new bees I can just say something like "my yard has become Bee Central, bees flying by the thousands, and I'll be expanding them to 3 hives this year". If she asks me before the new bees come I'll just have to tell her the truth I'm afraid. :| She'll be so sad!
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I suspect a lot of times without a properly functioning queen a portion of the population drifts away to other hives. at least that seems to be the case here when I make up nucs. you can almost tell which nucs have queens (inadvertently) since all the clinger and all the bees from the boxes that leak bees will shift to the one with a functioning queen.

    good luck on your next attempt. perseverance counts for quite a deal in this dance.
     
  8. rast

    rast New Member

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    Also, one thing we tend to forget. We are dealing with a living organism that is subject to internal organ failures that can result in sudden death, just as we are. We like to label and have reasons for everything. It's just not always possible.
    Perseverance can create success Omie.
     
  9. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper New Member

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    I can say I fully understand how you feel. I wouldn't woory so much about telling the lady who gave you the bees. If she has had bees for a while she knows what it is like to loose them.
    My story is quite a story, but will say my first colony of bees was nuc. We found the queen being taken out of the hive the day after we installed then into a deep. The nuc seller sent us a queen over night mail at no charge. Looking back and remembering those bees that first year I now relize they were not doing as they should have. Being new and dumb I never knew. That colony didn't make it thru that winter. We ordered two packages of bees and found a near by bee club. Those two packages arrived were installed and two weeks latter killed as they were all sick. All the equipment was burned and I said enough is enough.
    Club members came to the rescue though and by fall I had 5 thriving swarm colonies from 2 different bee keepers.

    Today I recommend every new bee keeper find a club and join. Not just in name but be a active member.

    :mrgreen: Al
     
  10. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Thanks Al, Rast, and Tecumseh,

    Al, I can't believe that incredible story of what you had to go thrugh to get started! Yikes!

    I am going to attend a two day set of beekeeping classes this Spring. I also did go to a bee club's meeting last fall, and I plan to attend more meetings when they start again this Spring, even though it's kind of a drive for me at night.
    It's Sam Comfort's bee club, so i think it is well worth going to. :) He's sort of my bee guru more than anyone else I've consulted. I like his bee thinking.

    Nothing is going to stop me from getting several hives going this year. :box: ;)
     
  11. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Still over a month away from getting my new bees in the mail.
    But....
    I had cleaned up the old boxes from my deceased hive, stored frames of honey safely away for feeding to the new bees, stored hive components in the basement.

    i put out an old deep brood box with 10 empty but drawn old comb deep frames in it as a swarm lure box...because hey you never know!
    I simply put it tucked back against some spruce trees on a little stand so it's only about 4 feet up off the ground. I didn't want to bother about raising it high up somewhere- I'm kind of limited here in the croweded edge-of-the-village neighborhood on 1/3 acre lot here.

    So yesterday a beautiful 60F sunny day and I went to put some lemongrass oil drops in the lure box. I found several scout bees from somewhere all investigating the box already, attracted simply by the old comb inside. Opened it and no one living in there, but scout bees were coming and going several at a time, bumping all sides of the box three and four at a time, and some were going in the entrance and investigating the comb frames inside the box. Wheee! :Dancing:
    I put some drops of the oil on the landing board and on the frames inside and then let them all alone again.
    Even though the box is not high up, I bet my chances of catching a free swarm later this year will be good!
    Those frames of old dark brood comb are worth their weight in gold for lure use. :thumbsup:
     
  12. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    Omie, i don't know about your climate, but here if i put old comb in a hive to early to catch swarms the wax moths move in before the bees do. Here in SW Mo. i don't put out swarm catcher hives till June. But what do i know. :confused: Jack
     
  13. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Omie is right. Brooks is right. Two good posts for the newbie. Get it out as soon as possible, but watch for pests along the way.
     
  14. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    It's too cold at night for moths here for a while yet (no mosquitoes or butterflies out yet either) but don't worry, I shall keep a close eye out for pests. :)
    We do seem to be running a little colder than where you are, Brooks.
     
  15. rast

    rast New Member

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    Difference in seasons/areas (or why location is important).

    Thur. a week ago, I took and old box I had patched up (literally) for swarms to work with an intention of putting it up in a tree. Poured rain Thurs and Fri. I left the box setting in the detail guys open air stall (covered) on the asphalt. Swarm moved in to box Sat AM. Detail Guy was not very happy with me Mon. AM. He was detailing a boat when the swarm moved in, boat didn't get done. I told him I'd leave an old veil there for him next time :D .
     
  16. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Good one! :lol: :thumbsup:
     
  17. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    At least you know it works. :thumbsup: :lol:
     
  18. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Yeah, and it was just sitting on the ground! :shock:
     
  19. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Well I spent a pleasant several hours this afternoon putting together some frames and foundation for my new hives.
    Still a ways off from receiving my two new colonies of bees from down south. So I'm keeping busy making frames, taking a couple of beekeeping classes, and playing with my solitary mason bees and trying to be patient. :Dancing:
     
  20. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    When are they due in?