My bees have no honey

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by catecalloway, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. catecalloway

    catecalloway New Member

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    I've got my hive set up at my dad's farm in Shedd, Oregon. I drive down every couple of weeks to check on them. At first they seemed to be doing great. They're placed right at the south side of an ornamental cherry grove and they got an early start. They had a little honey on one frame early on. But the last several times I've checked them, their honey has gone away and I feel like they're stressed. At first I thought they might be fighting some disease but I'm not really seeing signs of that as far as I can tell. I didn't consider that they might not have forage, because they're within a mile or so of a clover field and a rapeseed field. However, other that that, there's not much around here except grass seed fields and random gardens here and there. Could they possibly not have found the clover, etc? Do I need to move my bees? It's mid-June and they have no honey whatsoever. I'm worried!
     
  2. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    first WELCOME to the forum!
    "But the last several times I've checked them, their honey has gone away and I feel like they're stressed."

    catecalloway, describe your hive set up,(number of boxes, frames, foundation, drawn foundation,etc) were these package bees? describe why else you think they are stressed? they may need feed if there is no honey and none coming in....sounds like you may have something else going on? how would you describe your bees? and how would you describe the queens laying pattern and the number of bees in your hive (in terms of how strong they are)?
     

  3. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Welcome from here up North as well. :hi:

    I would think that you should feed asap. If there is little or no food, the other potential problems won't matter much.
    Like riverbee says, a more thorough description of what is going on in the hive would be helpful.
    You have found a good place to find help. :grin:
     
  4. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    oops perry's right catecalloway,
    perry's reply to you:

    "I would think that you should feed asap."

    i re-read your post, feed now. if there's no honey stores for them, this will cause stress and starvation, and if especially if you started them on foundation, but i am interested to know why they are not providing for the hive at this time of the year with your location description. we are here to help you out!:grin:
     
  5. Slowmodem

    Slowmodem New Member

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    From what I've seen ( and keep in mind that I've not been around that long) that if you give them some sugar water, if they need it they'll take it and if there's better stuff around, they won't take it. Kind of a "better safe than sorry" philosophy.
     
  6. indypartridge

    indypartridge New Member

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    For new colonies, without drawn comb, I feed until they have drawn enough comb to overwinter on.
     
  7. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    I double sign on that. Any hive that doesn't have reserves of honey is in bad trouble. Starting with a new hive, the beekeeper has to kick things off to a good start by providing them with enough food so that they can take over. {If you buy a car with an empty gas tank, how will you drive to the station for a fillup?}
    Once you get things going, things should pick up: the queen should increase her laying, there will be more bees to forage, and they'll find the clover fields to fill your hive with honey.
    Don''t wait, Time is of the esssence.
     
  8. catecalloway

    catecalloway New Member

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    Thank you so much for your help!

    Here is more information: they're package bees from this April. I removed the feeder about a month ago because every week I went to check them, the feeder was totally full. it was a top feeder inside a super up top-- I put the inner cover up above it and replaced the feeder with frames, but they have not moved up into that box and I'm feeling like I need to remove the frames and replace it with the feeder?

    The laying pattern is pretty solid, I think. A few holes here and there's a pretty solid capped brood area. There always seems to be capped brood, larvae and eggs every time i look, but it's always over the same ground... she's not expanding out at all. I'd say there's brood on about six frames, tapering out at the ends.

    The foundation is plastic, new foundation, and the entire hive is new. We had several weeks of pretty nice spring weather, but the last few weeks have been rainy.

    I'm not sure how many bees are in the hive as I'm checking mid-day when presumably a lot of them are out and about, but it doesn't feel like there are any more than there ever were.

    It sounds like I need to drive down there after work today and put the feeder back on! Any other advice? I sure hope they find those fields!
     
  9. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    It's not the queens job to build comb, that's the workers job, she can't lay eggs where there is no comb, once the workers actually start drawing out the foundation, the queen will move in and then you'll see her crank out the eggs.
    Barry
     
  10. catecalloway

    catecalloway New Member

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    Well, there is definitely some unused drawn comb.
     
  11. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    My feeling is that if you see solid brood pattern on 6 frames as you describe, you are going to see a big increase in population very soon. They sound like they are doing pretty well for a two month old package. Once they have that new hatched population, they'll start expanding the brood nest outward rapidly. And don't forget every time a capped brood area emerges, the cells will be available to the queen to lay in again- she may have filled the cells several times already.
    They didn't take the syrup when you were feeding it before...I wouldn't put them back on sugar water now unless there was a major drought going on in your area.... but that's just me! :)
     
  12. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a couple of snips followed > by my comments.

    Here is more information: they're package bees from this April.

    >at this point I would say the growth of this nuc has been extremely slow for some reason.

    I removed the feeder about a month ago because every week I went to check them, the feeder was totally full. it was a top feeder inside a super up top-- I put the inner cover up above it and replaced the feeder with frames, but they have not moved up into that box and I'm feeling like I need to remove the frames and replace it with the feeder?

    >you placed too much room between the feeder and the bees likely limiting access especially if you experience any cool spell or cold nights.

    The foundation is plastic, new foundation, and the entire hive is new. We had several weeks of pretty nice spring weather, but the last few weeks have been rainy.

    >if this is the newer form of plastic sheet foundation it come from the factory with a very thin covering of wax.... bees have been reported (some here) to not draw this very quickly... adding another coating of wax speeds up the comb drawing....feeding for a small nuc or hive also greatly assist in getting this chore done.

    I'm not sure how many bees are in the hive as I'm checking mid-day when presumably a lot of them are out and about, but it doesn't feel like there are any more than there ever were.

    >if flying a lot more may be in the air than you think.... checking early or very late give you a better idea of total population.

    It sounds like I need to drive down there after work today and put the feeder back on! Any other advice? I sure hope they find those fields!

    >you may want to look about and see if they are actually visiting bloom... some things (I think perhaps you mentioned ornamental cheeries?) bloom quite vividly but don't produce nectar.
     
  13. catecalloway

    catecalloway New Member

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    Well, I drove to Shedd and fed the bees. I left the second deep on, and used a division board feeder in the bottom super.

    This time I think I saw a little honey on one side of one frame. Dark like nectar except thicker and more solid. Not capped. And thankfully, it looks like blackberry season has started. The bees seemed much happier. They seemed mellower and the quality of their buzzing sounded less like anxiety, I guess. I attribute this change to the onset of blackberry season!

    There are blackberry bushes just everywhere around there so this is their chance to get going. I'm not exactly sure how long blackberry season lasts around here though.

    After blackberry season, I'm just not sure what they're going to do. There will be some neighbor's gardens here and there but I'm getting the idea that every farmer in the area sprays all their weeds down, both at home and around their fields. There are no dandelions even-- nothing-- the ditches around here are bare.

    I'm thinking I might want to just keep feeding them through fall. Good/bad idea? I don't care about the quality of the honey in terms of eating any of it myself, as I don't anticipate that's likely-- I just want to help the bees survive if there's any chance of that at this point. I'm not exactly sure what their chances of survival are at this late date.
     
  14. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I'd keep feeding.
     
  15. texram2

    texram2 New Member

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    I don't have too much experience but I can tell you: last summer year my dad and I bougt 8 nucs in the middle of a terrible drought (absolutely no flowers, blooming trees, etc.) and we just kept feeding until this spring. All of them made it through the winter, 7 are still around and doing ok. Just a slow start. Anyway good luck and don't give up!
     
  16. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    catecalloway,
    "I left the second deep on, and used a division board feeder in the bottom super."

    just trying to follow your hive setup:
    do you have 2 deeps and a medium super on? is the medium super foundation as well? if so, i think i would remove it. how many frames of foundation in your deeps are fully drawn? have the bees expanded into the 2nd deep? are the bees covering the frames? do you see pollen coming in and is there pollen being stored?

    i would tend to think along the lines of what tec said, the growth of your package has been extremely slow for some reason. when a package is started on foundation, the bees must be fed to get them to draw it out, and perhaps as tec pointed out, the bees weren't taking it because too much room between the bees and feeder, limited their access.

    from your description of the weather, and the forage availability, if there are no dandelions, and ditches are bare where there is usually forage for the bees, you may be experiencing a nectar dearth. the bees need nectar and pollen. some queens will cease or slow laying when there is no nectar or pollen coming in.....no food to rear brood with. what line of bees were your package?

    i would feed, without any honey supers on, and feed them until all of the foundation is drawn out, (they may ignore it during the blackberry flow) focus on building up your bees and hive population.
     
  17. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Feed until it is just all you can do to lift the back of the hive an inch off the stand.
     
  18. catecalloway

    catecalloway New Member

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    Oh, thank you! A ray of hope! Good to know-- I really appreciate it. :)
     
  19. catecalloway

    catecalloway New Member

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    The way I described my hive setup was really confusing. I'll clarify:

    I only have two deeps. When I was feeding them, the top deep contained the overturned plastic pail style feeder, resting on the inner cover, which was between the two deeps. So, like this:

    -Outer cover
    -Top deep, empty except for feeder
    -Inner cover
    -Bottom deep, containing brood

    So, there actually shouldn't have been a problem with the feeder being too far away from the bees-- it just sounded that way.

    Then about a month ago, I removed the feeder and put the frames in the top deep. Everything seemed great up to that point. I guess I picked exactly the wrong time to do that.

    Hive condition description:

    Drawn out frames: I would say about six, with the outer frames a little less drawn than the inner ones.
    Have the bees expanded into the 2nd deep: Not at all. I found a couple of bees standing around up there in the frames but they didn't look very busy and there was no drawn comb.
    Are the bees covering the frames: last weekend it seemed like there were a fair amount of bees in the hive, and it was the warmest day we've had so far this year, and there was LOUD buzzing, almost a roar, coming from the blackberry bushes, so I think a lot of bees were probably foraging, which gives me hope that there are more bees than I previously thought. I saw the queen. She seemed driven and purposeful. What holes there were in the capped brood seemed full of eggs and larvae.
    Pollen coming in: I didn't really see pollen on the bees themselves but I wasn't really looking for that.
    Stored pollen: Yes, I would say there was a little stored pollen on most frames, though not much. I don't really have much basis for comparison on that one. Just a narrow moon of dry looking pollen here and
    What line of bees: They are Italians.

    Oh, good to know about how they might ignore the foundation during the blackberry flow!-- that makes sense, but it wouldn't have occurred to me.

    I think this weekend I might drive down there and melt down some wax and brush a coat on the untouched foundation upstairs, as Tecumseh suggested. Anything to help them get their ducks in a row.
     
  20. catecalloway

    catecalloway New Member

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    Oh yeah, and when i removed the feeder and put in the frames in the top deep, the inner cover moved up to just below the outer cover. It did not remain between the two deeps.