Problems in Bee Paradise. Mouldy combs and Laying workers with queen present!

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Clover Queen Bee, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. Clover Queen Bee

    Clover Queen Bee New Member

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    Well, due to the unseasonably warm weather, I decided to have a look at my 2 hives... and thank the goddess I did!
    My (supposedly) strong hive had dwindled in numbers drastically, and I found that although I had a yound queen present, the workers were laying! And in my other hive I found that I had mouldy green comb.
    So I was not a happy beek!
    This is what I did - I took the mouldy frames out and replaced them. I replaced the solid floor with an open mesh floor, and attached some hardcore clips to the sides of the hive so that I could get a really nice seal on the hive between the brood box and the super. The hives I have are cheap pine, and it seems whenever I have cold wet weather and then dry sun they warp and crack like nobodies business....
    I have started feeding the stronger hive with 1:1 syrup to encourage them, and I would like to try to put some young brood into the laying workers hive, but I am concerned that the weather is too cold at night for them to be able to maintain the heat and keep the brood warm. I do not want to waste the brood if the colony is doomed..
    So if anyone has any advice out there, I would be grateful.
    I am also hoping to get some of the pheromone that attracts swarms so that I could make the most of any flying around... if anyone has any advice about how to use it etc, please, I´m all ears!
    Thanks to everyone, hope to hear from you!
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Give us some details on the laying workers. Many times, a young queen will lay crazily for a few days before settling down. If there are 3 or more frames of bees, I would give them a frame of eggs,
     

  3. Clover Queen Bee

    Clover Queen Bee New Member

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    well... shes not THAT young.. i mean she is a few months old... sometime during the summer the bees requeened. I think I will try and give them some young brood, but I shall have to see what the other hive is doing, as when its cold the queen in the healthy hive obviously slows down... so last time I looked it was all sealed brood. Do you think I should get rid of the queen that is not laying, or just let the bees work it out once i put the young brood in?
     
  4. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    If you are indeed seeing laying workers are you seeing multiple eggs per cell? (as in several) Like Iddee says new queens can take a week or so to get their groove on.
    You should also be seeing capped drone brood and no worker brood.
    If you believe that you have a dud queen, there is little use in placing a frame of open brood with eggs in this hive as long as she is there. The presence of the old queen will prevent or reduce the likelihood of them rearing another.
    If you eliminate her and place a frame of eggs in be sure to remember which frame you put in, and after 4 or 5 days go back in and remove any queen cells started on any other frames (which would be unfertilized and not viable)
    With a laying worker hive it can take several attempts with frames of eggs in order to suppress the laying workers.
     
  5. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Mouldy combs are proabably an indication that you didn't have good air circulation in your hive. Or else, the warped equipment could have allowed too much rain into the hive. Those could also be reasons for the unexpectedly large drop in population.
    But don't throw out the mouldy combs--when the spring weather has settled down and the population grows, you can return the mouldy frames to the hive. The bees will clean them out and save you the time and effort of their having to build new combs.
    As to the "laying workers", Iddee's thoughts are worth considering serioiusly. If you saw the queen, it's not likely that you have laying workrers. It could be that she was raised/mated just as the winter moved in on you and she never really started laying until just now.
    Increasing the size of the brood nest might lead to chilling and further losses. If you really are convinced that you have laying workers, you could trade frames with eggs between the two hives (without bees hanging on). That way you could give some alternate eggs to the "laying worker" hive without increasing the nests' volume. The other hive should be able to make order out of the cells with multiple eggs or poor brood pattern.
     
  6. Omie

    Omie Active Member

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    Did you actually SEE the queen? And please tell us exactly why you think you have laying workers.
    Please don't kill her off just yet!
     
  7. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that you have a laying worker unless you see lots of mutible eggs in each cell or see capped drones brood in worker size cells. The queen could be laying but was poorly mated or developed and does not have the sperm or the ability to lay a fertilized egg.
     
  8. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    Cracks in hives

    When we have hot dry weather (rarely), and cracks open due to wood shrinkage, I push soft burr comb (wax and propolis) into the crack. It seems to help.
     
  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    laying worker are the easiest thing to spot due to multiple eggs in once cell. a drone laying queen you can typically spot when the cells begin to be capped since all of a sudden a great number of worker cells look more like drone cells. if in doubt and if you desire to hold the bees in place in their existing hive then I would put 1 frame of unsealed (larvae but as close to being eggs as possible) right in the middle of the brood nest. as to the weather... if you Do NOT have enough bees to cover that one frame then it is quite likely too far gone anyway.
     
  10. Lburou

    Lburou Member

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    As mentioned in the sage advice above, a new queen can lay multiple eggs in one cell. One trick to reveal a laying worker is to notice whether the eggs are on the bottom of the cells or up on the sides of the cells. A laying worker can be large, but not ususally long enough to deposit the egg(s) on the bottom of the cell, so look for the eggs on the sides of the cell with a laying worker. :)
     
  11. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    That is a very astute observation. :thumbsup: I had never thought about it before.
    (Now all we have to hope is that our eyes can see to the bottom of the cells :cool:)
     
  12. Clover Queen Bee

    Clover Queen Bee New Member

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    Wow! Thanks for all the replies...
    sooo... I know I definitely have laying workers, due to the many eggs in the cells, and at the sides of the cell, not at the bottom as they should be. The Queen was laying fine, all summer, and she was marked, and she was definitely present, which is strange, but as someone above said and I have read in my Bee book by Ted Hooper, it is possible she wasn´t well mated, or perhaps she was an emergency queen, and the bees took a larvae that was already a bit too old... anyway, she was there, but now she isnt! I looked the other day with the intention of putting some yound brrod from my other hive... The queen is now absent, and the very few bees that are present have diminished to such a small amount... I actually have given up on the hive... its sad... but its the middle of winter, and the completely wrong time to try and solve this situaction. I just wish I had looked at the hives in November and December when we had such unusually warm weather, but I was encouraged by fellow beekeepers, to put the bees to bed for the winter and leave them alone... I wont make this mistake again. If the weather permits, I shall inspect the bees in the future!
    So, I now have 1 lonely hive :( and although I had put many strong clasps on the hives to pull them together and try to prevents draughts and warping, I noticed another gap at the front of the hive between the super and the brood body... so I screwed a piece of flat wood there to cover the gap.... the bees were obviously bothered by the gap as it was a windy day and the kept flying to the gap trying to get in or something... hopefully the wood will help.
    I am investing in some ´Swarm lure with nasanov´so that perhaps I can capture some wild swarms, or even if my 1 hive swarms I could catch them... I REALLY want to hold onto my lonely hive and build up... I´ll be so sad if Im left beeless... Ive never even taken the honey yet! I am feeding my lonely hive 1:1 syrup to build them up. They seemed to have 5 open queen cups on the frames, but there were no larvae inside the cups, so I just figure I will look at them in another week. The weather is cold and snowy now, so I doubt there´ll be swarming, at least not until the weather gets warm and nice again, though global warming does seem to be taking its toll on the plants and animals... confusing us all... all my plum trees are in blossom - its far too early! ahh well... let me know if you have any more advice.. thanks!
     
  13. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    "Let me know if you have anymore advice"

    Absolutely!
    Just hang in there! :thumbsup:
    What you are going through is nothing that most of us haven't gone through, and in all likelihood several times. It can be frustrating at times, sad at others, but it is a journey we all have come to accept as being a part of what it is we have chosen to pursue. It is often challenging, rewarding at times, and often times absolutely mind-blowing and heart lifting when things go right! :mrgreen:

    As Riverrat has in his signature, "If beekeeping was easy, everyone would be doing it"

    PS - You are already learning, when in doubt, look here and ask. :wink:
     
  14. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Clover QB, we're all plugging for you and your remaining bees. Have no fear, spring will yet arrive and with it the chances for catching swarms will grow and hopefully materialize.
    Don't feel too bad about the lost hive, chalk it up to the price of learning. Every "miss" is a long lasting hit on the learning curve. :wink:
     
  15. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    and if you still have one (and the comb are still intact from the laying worker hive) you can still make up several from the one live hive and have a large head start on your last year's effort. logically if you had started out with just one then you now would be facing a 50 50 chance that you would have none. I think Dr Conner's own survey numbers suggested that about 2/3 of all new beekeeper do not have a live hive come the beginning of their second spring time. ALL OF THIS is why I almost always suggest anyone starting needs to have more than one hive when they begin.

    imho.... beekeepers and beekeeping organization have not paid enough attention to retaining new beekeepers.
     
  16. Clover Queen Bee

    Clover Queen Bee New Member

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    Ok... so losing hives as I seem to have done many times is normal, and part of the learning curve... I accept that!
    My remaining hive is not super strong, but seems to be doing quite well... so along with the swarm lure, hopefully I will be able to expand! The bees are very hardy, but they have their quirks, sometimes seemingly defying logic, though, that is just to the humble outsider like myself. I am constantly observing, and I suppose it is the fine balance between observation and action that makes a good and succesful beekeeper. I obviously have some problems with the amount of humidity in the area in which I keep the bees, but for now, they are going to have to stay there! Also, the cheap pine hives do not help, but I am constantly ´modifying´them in order to create a more habitable space for the bees, as I want them to stay!
    Question... is it really ok to hold onto the mouldy combs and return them to the hives in Spring or early summer when its dry and hot? Should I actually put the combs back into the hive or just leve them outside for them to clean? My friend said that the best thing I could do is melt them down... They are not incredibly mouldy, but there is a slight green tinge on the bottom quarter of the combs... apart from that they look pretty nice!
    And... any advice on details of administering the swarm lure?
    Thanks again for all the feedback! :wink:
     
  17. Clover Queen Bee

    Clover Queen Bee New Member

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    Actually.. my greatest fear is regards rearing queens... I dont have any equipment and am completely in awe of the prospect. There is an amount of terror in that awe... am I being over-the-top??!!!
     
  18. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]

    Here are a few pics of frames of mine. I have at times just popped them back in, or if you want to take a little extra time, just rinse them off slightly with a garden hose to loosen up the worst stuff, shake them off and then drop them in.
     
  19. Clover Queen Bee

    Clover Queen Bee New Member

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    I am assuming these are some mouldy combs... I had some white bits in the cells like that too, but also, the actual wax of the comb is tinged green, which is another kind of mould... possibly more dangerous??
     
  20. Clover Queen Bee

    Clover Queen Bee New Member

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    Did this mould occur due to too much humidity in your hive due to cracks??