Weak hive/ robbing

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by arkiebee, Aug 29, 2009.

  1. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    Hey guys - I was just out into my bees today and discovered that one of my hives apparently has become weak, but I believe my other hives have been robbing it out because I did not see a lot of honey and I did not see a lot of capped brood (compared to my other hives) and at first I thought my queen was dead, but I did see her.

    I have one VERY strong hive that had honey out to the 10th frames - solid & capped - as well as one full super of honey capped and another super 1/2 full. So I thought I would take a couple of the deep frames that are solid honey and some of the super frames of honey and put into the weak hive and close the entrance down. We still have a good couple of weeks of honey flow here so do you think that would encourage my queen to lay?? If not could I take a frame of brood from the other hive & put it into the weakened hive or would that be taking a chance on weakening the strong hive?

    All my other hives have a lot of honey & capped brood. I do have one other that I think I will close the entrance down and watch for robbing from it. I may just close all of them down for now???
     
  2. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Anything a queen lays now has 21 days to emerge, another 10-14 days to become feild bees. Do the math or open a calendar......it will be the first week of October in that time frame.

    Right now is the biggest waste of time, money, and effort, that beekeeper WASTE in trying to save weak hives. A light hive has hope. A weak hive is a goner! Combine, save the comb, and go into winter with hives that actually have a chance. A few frames of stolen brood will weaken one hive and not do nothing to save the other.

    Cut your losses. We deal with insects. Winter prep...which is now, involves culling out the weak. Not taking steps to save them. Combine and move on!
     

  3. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    bjorn writes:
    Right now is the biggest waste of time, money, and effort, that beekeeper WASTE in trying to save weak hives.

    tecumseh:
    I ain't really certain where exactly arkiebee might be located in Arkanasa but quite simply Arkansas is not Pa. whether any action may or might not be 'a waste' would depend somewhat to highly on arkiebee's location.

    if I wished to encourage this queen to lay I would feed 1 to 1 (think dribble). if you feed you need to first come to some solution as to how to feed and limit any opportunity for continued robbing. I would also likely boost with a frame of sealed brood (less the adult bees) from time to time (once every week to 10 days).
     
  4. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I would combine for a different reason. To boost a strong hive with a weak one now will increase the likelyhood of having a hive ready to split earlier in the spring. Even early enough in Arkansas to have two strong hives for the first flow. Much better chance than trying to winter two hives by equalizing them.
     
  5. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    The hive I am talking about would be considered a light hive because I still have a lot of bees in those two hive bodies with some brood and honey. It is just not as much as my stronger hives. They even still have some honey in the super and I am sure they will move it down to the hive body. I just wanted to act before they got totally robbed and apparently the queen - as smart as she is - knew that if she laid more eggs they wouldn't have enough honey to feed them through the winter, and that's why I didn't see much capped brood.

    I am in the north central section of Arkansas and we don't have a cold frost in this area till about the middle or so of October. Everything is still green and blooming here because of the rains we have been blessed with this summer - we still have a lot of things out there blooming and the goldenrod is just now starting. I even noticed pollen being brought in on the bee's when I was working them.

    I did reduce the entrance on that hive and tomorrow I am going to move some honey over from the strong hive because it has a lot of extra honey that I didn't take from them this summer. I was just wondering if I could move some capped brood over to them to help out with numbers in the fall??? I have done that in a split in the spring, but I am almost afraid to do that this time of year. I am also going to put some syrup on them tomorrow - 1:1 - in hopes that will give the queen some encouragement???

    I almost think that next year around the first of August, I am going to reduce the entrance on all my hives - just to be on the safe side??????????????????? It sure is discouraging to see a hive that was really strong go down like this?
     
  6. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Ok, I concede.....there may be areas that you have time. But come on, even with tec's veiw on this, you stated that you had a weak hive, robbing, and no brood. Except for maybe the deep south, I'll stand by my comments that you have about 6 weeks to get this hive in a position to make it through winter. In the world of bees, that is very little time.

    But go ahead, do what you can, and keep us informed.

    I see now it's a light hive and not really a weak hive. Lots of bees, no brood, but a queen. Not sure why this hive can not even defend itself. Maybe there is something else going on in the hive. I'd be culling out the weak, the dud queens, and concentrating my efforts on getting my other hives through winter. Oh, and the middle of October...... sounds about the same time we have frost..... :eek: Looks like we have the same number on the USDA planting zone.
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    might I also suggest a not so small simple bit of equipment arkiebee that I caught onto via iddee some time ago.... robber screen (in some places referred to as florida moving screens). raising a goodly number of nucs in the spring here I always had a good deal of problem with the robbing of lightly populated hives because invariable the spring flow would momentarily stop and the robbing would commence. I have also noted that since the front entry is somewhat more secure this also tends to make a robust hive less defensive and less likely to sting (which is an extra benefit if your location has folks near by).

    ps.. really bjorn I was just trying to give arkiebee some option beyond throwing in the towel. another option might also be to do a combine with an excluder between the two units (typically for me the upper and lower entrance pointed in opposite directions). let the two units equalize and then (prior to the first frost) split apart leaving the 'weaker unit' at the strong hives location and moving the stronger unit a few feet away. if you are lucky enough to have a good fall flow the combined population will pack both with this 'larger' field force having no affialation for either.
     
  8. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    Update - It has been 2 weeks since I checked on this hive. What I did in the meantime was give them some honey from my other bees PLUS I put an inner feeder on them and gave them 1:1 - in hopes to give the queen some encouragment. It apparently worked because I checked in the hive and in the super where I gave them some honey they are working it, and they have stored more honey away - quite a bit in fact - and when i got into the top hive body I saw a lot of capped brood. I didn't even get into the lower hive body because I don't want to get down into the bees unless I have too. The bees were really calm and didn't seem to mind me being in there. I put some more syrup on them. but we still have a honey flow going here - my other bees had a lot of honey in supers and even have several frames capped off - it looks like I will have some to extract in a week or so. I left the entrance reduced as well - let me know what you guys think
     
  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    most excellent..

    I really didn't know you were talking of two hive bodies arkiebee. most times when someone says weak hive I think a single hive body or a 5 frame nuc.

    at this point in the year I am mainl thinking about leveling resources between the hives and checking overall condition (mite load, the pattern of the queens laying.. that kind of thing). if there is some surplus left to take that is certainly alright, but you would want to be extremely conservative in regards to what you removed for yourself.

    at some point in time it is good to get into the habit of hefting (or better still physically weighing) a hive to 'determine' stores before the onset of winter. one think that I expect hasn't changed over the years is that a lot more hives will die in the winter due to starvation than any other cause and if the past is any predictor of the future most will die with spring just around the corner.

    best of luck to ya' arkiebee...
     
  10. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    Thanks for the reply, tecumseh, I do think I will replace that queen next spring because I really don't know what happened the first time. When I first got that hive that was one of the hives that really grew and fast! I may be replacing her next spring.

    I know that everyone talks about the "heft" test and even in the books, but do you "heft" TWO hive bodies at once??? I am not very big, but I can still "heft" a 50 lb sack of feed pretty well, but I don't think there is NO way I can heft two hive bodies - I'll have to have my husband or son do it - that's for sure!

    I still haven't taken my supers off yet because I want to make sure the bees have enough. I feel they worked for it, so they deserve first choice - I'll just take the leftovers! I probably won't take the last of it till the end of this month. We are in the fall honey flow now and with our rains we still have lots of blooming flowers.

    I see you are in Texas - are you in the areas hit by drought that we have been hearing about on the news? :?:
     
  11. rast

    rast New Member

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    In a "helf" test, it is usually just the top super. That is normally where the stores are. You don't have to pick it all the way up once you get a feel for it. Just breaking it loose and tilting it up from the rear will suffice. Lay one of your 50lb feed bags on an empty super and tilt it a few times to get a feel for it.
     
  12. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    yes arkiebee we have had a significant lack of rainfall for the past several years (each year a bit worse than the prior year). this summer has been extremely severe with no rainfall and 100+ degree days for almost 50 days. we have had about 5" of rainfall in the past two days which has been a big relief and will hopefully equate to the girls being able to hustle up some stores before november. heavy rains here also means flooding.

    as to hefting. I am a pretty small fellow myself so I don't do no dead lift jerks of nothing that looks like a double hive body and really wouldn't recommend the practice to anyone. if your back ain't bad already, well it soon will be. you can however employ a digital fish scale, a light chain, and a hive tool to fairly accurately estimate hive stores. the idea is to use the fish scale to weight one side of a hive by just slightly picking up (tipping) one end*. you then do a tipping scale weight of the opposite side since you don't know if the stores are centered in the boxes. average these and then subtract from a tipping scale weight of a like configured empty. in the case of story and a half's like I use here you then multiply this number by 2.4. this is the weight of bees and stores in the hive. I acutally use the process more for determining/grouping which hive do or do not need feeding in a yard. after a bit of 'practice' the calculation becomes almost automatic.

    if you need pictures.... go to home.earthlink.net/~etzzzbzzz/index.html and I have a little web page. then go to photo album and I have some pictures of some of the components of my fish scale weighing experiement. there are a number of tried and tested variation on this method of scaling hives... all with the intention of making hefting more accurate and a bit easier on your back. if you don't mind??? tell me if my old site still works.

    *the math/physics calculation is somewhat effected by how your bottom board is constructed. mine have no front porch so 'the tipping point' is exactly the same no matter whether I am weighing the hive at the front or back of the hive.