Observation Hive Absconded?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by dr.buzz, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. dr.buzz

    dr.buzz New Member

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    OK, we have an Observation Hive, a four framer, four frames high. We have a marked queen in it.
    We had noticed that even though the queen has been laying since Feb. the population seemed smaller than in the Winter when we put them in it. I thought maybe they just seemed like less bees because all the brood was on one frame and the bees were all on that frame.
    While there is mostly drawn comb in the other three frames, queen never laid eggs anywhere but the one frame.

    A few days ago I noticed different waggle dances. Longer periods of vibrating in place before doing the half circle stuff, and they didn't have pollen. That coincided with them ignoring the 1:1 syrup in their feeder, so I thought they must have found a good nectar source.

    Then yesterday my wife noticed that the queen wasn't laying eggs as much as she used to. She was just kind of hanging around.

    Then this morning they were all very excited, lots more bees doing the extreme waggling....I thought they must have found a great nectar source. While it is hard to see in the cells when they are covered with bees, my wife still noticed that all the cells that glistened with stored syrup/nectar before seemed empty...

    A few minutes later, about 10:00 this morning, they all rushed the exit. Craziness. I thought it was odd, they hadn't gotten honey bound and didn't seem to have a big enough population to swarm, and with the Observation Hive mostly empty, it was easy to see that there were no swarm cells. Some capped brood was left, no open brood. There were still a hundred or so bees left, and they are currently opening capped brood and carrying larvae around.

    The marked queen and most of the bees gathered on the wall at the hive's entrance outside. I sprayed them with syrup and brushed them into a box right under the hive entrance.

    Those are my immediate observations while they are still fresh. I can upload video to Youtube later when I get a chance....

    I wonder if this was typical Spring Dwindling and an absconding that was unrelated to the fact that they were living in an O.H., or what...The reason we put these particular bees in the O.H. to begin with was because they were a punky late swarm from the Fall. Maybe they just never were able to get their numbers up or something? I know if we hadn't been looking at them, we would have just had an empty hive today and no clue why. Actually, we were looking at them at the time and still have no clue why. What do you think?
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    My first guess would be "no pollen" to feed the larva, essentially starving to death. They cannot live on sugar or honey alone.
     

  3. dr.buzz

    dr.buzz New Member

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    Thanks. Weird thing is, they only really stopped bringing in pollen a few days ago, that I noticed, and the frame they were occupying in the O.H. still has pollen in it. And about half the bees came back into the O.H., but the queen and the rest are outside in a box. Would half the bees stay/come back when they abscond? The box I put the queen in...I actually put it right in front of the O.H. entrance outside, and bees were ignoring it and coming back inside. But I don't see any swarm cell inside...
    Maybe you are right, and the two feet of vertical pipe I make them climb up makes them drop too much pollen or something....
     
  4. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    As said, I'm guessing, but I can't think of anything else to cause them to do that.
     
  5. dr.buzz

    dr.buzz New Member

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    Here is a shot of the amount of bees that came back inside, less than this amount is on the other side...

    oh-swarm-4-2-12.jpg
     
  6. dr.buzz

    dr.buzz New Member

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    And here is the closest thing I can see to being a queen cell on that frame, but it's at the top of the frame so it's probably some old supercedure cell that i neglected to pinch somewhere along the line....
    swarm-cell.jpg
     
  7. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    If you think about it from the standpoint of the bees, living in an observation hive is far less than ideal. Not only are the bees in constant light, but they are spread out thin and can't cluster together as they would in a normal hive.
    Particularly problematic is maintaining the proper temperature inside. The O.H. has a very large surface area which cools off quickly in the cold and overheats easily when hot. The bees have a rough time keeping in the proper temperature range for comfort and sometimes reach the decision that another home would be better. :cry:
     
  8. dr.buzz

    dr.buzz New Member

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    Thanks for replying. I can understand them not liking it and wanting to leave. Did half of them just stay with the brood for some reason? They don't seem agitated or making noise like they usually do when they are queenless.......I guess I'll just leave them in the O.H. and observe what the heck they do......Weird bees, not doing what is expected of them. Either abscond or swarm, one or the other. And if you swarm, backfill the joint and leave obvious swarm cells.......
     
  9. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Dr Buss says: I guess I'll just leave them in the O.H. and observe what the heck they do.

    Efmesch adds: That's the scientific method at work.

    Dr Buzz says.: Weird bees, not doing what is expected of them.

    Efmesch says: I guess they have a human side to them.
    :lol:
     
  10. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a snip..
    to begin with was because they were a punky late swarm from the Fall.

    tecumseh:
    I am not certain about Arkansas weather last year but here any swarm during the fall should have been suspect from day one (heck we didn't even have any spring swarms so any fall swarm was either fleeing disease or starvation). you pictures suggest both nectar and pollen in the hive so this time I would think starvation is not the primary cause. I myself would first suspect nosema (the hypothesis could be easily tested with just a bit of fumidil). Most times when I am feeding and a hive population dwindles on a slow but constant bases there is a good possibility that nosema is at least part of the problem (especially in regards to bees in the fall of the year). If so and the hive has not already perished then I would likely also consider changing out the queen (but only after treating for nosema).
     
  11. dr.buzz

    dr.buzz New Member

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    Interesting, thanks. I don't have much experience with absconding, but from what I've read, especially when due to nosema, little brood and no adults are left remaining. What they are doing seems to overlap swarming and absconding both, but doesn't fit neatly into either category.....
     
  12. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    As a whole OB hives are hard to keep. A real challenge even for the best of keeps. I have had some that done real well and others that have had trouble. I found that covering my ob Hive and keeping it in the Dark only allowing allowing light in when I was observing the better the hive done.
     
  13. dr.buzz

    dr.buzz New Member

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    What was the type of trouble you had? Absconding? Too much swarming? I find it interesting that they didn't do anything on 3 of the frames, just the one. And today they are still uncapping brood and carrying out larvae, but I'm not seeing a bad mite problem on any of it.
     
  14. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    Just over all not wanting to thrive. Trouble keeping the queen laying on OB's I didnt keep dark the ones in the dark I had to keep splitting to keep it from swarming. never had one abscond.
     
  15. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Here I am thinking about finally putting bees into the 3 frame ob hive I have and now I find out it's hard? :doh:
     
  16. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    ""and now I find out it's hard?""

    You mean there's something in beekeeping, somewhere, that is easy?
     
  17. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    You hear about it from others. You learn about it from trying it yourself. :rules:
    1. Think of an observation hive as a temporary home for bees. You won't be disappointed if anything goes wrong.
    2. Like River said, prepare a covering for both sides to keep the bees in the dark when you're not observing (it also helps to insulate for the temperature changes).
    4. Finally do it, even if it's just for the challenge, and
    5. Enjoy your observation hive--it's fascinating to see everything that goes on inside the hive even if it is temporary.
    :thumbsup: