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Bart

NZBF Possible queenless hive

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Hi all, My first hive was a swarm on around the 20/12/16. Initially for the first few weeks it seemed to be performing quite well. The second was also a swarm that I got on the 30/12/16.

 

Its great to have 2 hives to compare against each other and I can see why a lot of books/forums say to have 2 hives.

 

The last 2 to 3 weeks the No:1 hive seems to have stopped progressing with minimal comb being built and there doesn’t seems to be an increase in bee population. I spent 30min yesterday seeing if I could spot the queen or eggs and could see neither. There is capped brood, larva and a few cells of clear liquid but can’t spot an egg.

 

May not mean much as I spent the same time inspecting No2 hive where it is powering along with lots of the same clear liquid cells (still couldn’t see eggs or the queen), larva and capped brood but it’s quite obvious with the difference between the two. I can also see why some bee keepers place a dob of paint on the queen.

 

No1 hive has 3 1/3 frames of comb where as No2 has almost 3 full frames of comb.

 

With only 1 month left of Summer, I’m concerned No1 won’t survive through the winter even if it were re-queened now or to look at adding another swarm (if I can get one this late in the season) in the other half of the horizontal hive and combine in 2 weeks?

 

Any suggestions? Need any further info?

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Going natural comb from a start is very difficult on the bees. I don't know what the season has been like in Australia but very difficult here.

Take a frame of brood (no Bees) and eggs from No. 2 and put it in No. 1 to see if the draw a queen cell.

If the draw a queen they are queenless and let them run their course making a new queen.

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Going natural comb from a start is very difficult on the bees. I don't know what the season has been like in Australia but very difficult here.

Take a frame of brood (no Bees) and eggs from No. 2 and put it in No. 1 to see if the draw a queen cell.

If the draw a queen they are queenless and let them run their course making a new queen.

How long should you allow them to draw a queen cell?

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i would just feed them.

possibility she has stopped laying due to lack of feed.

its a very small hive, barely any size and i don't see any stores.

it looks like they are just about starving.

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Take a frame of brood (no Bees) and eggs from No. 2 and put it in No. 1 to see if the draw a queen cell.

@Trevor Gillbanks - i'm guessing you didn't see this:

No1 hive has 3 1/3 frames of comb where as No2 has almost 3 full frames of comb.

 

I agree with @tristan - start feeding them sugar syrup immediately, these are incredibly weak and need a lot of feed if you're expecting them to draw enough comb and get enough stores on to survive winter/spring

i would just feed them.

possibility she has stopped laying due to lack of feed.

its a very small hive, barely any size and i don't see any stores.

it looks like they are just about starving.

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@Trevor Gillbanks - i'm guessing you didn't see this:

Not sure what you are on @tommy dave You are asking if I saw my own post. Way past beer o'clock for you.

 

How long should you allow them to draw a queen cell?

3 days

 

I also agree with @tristan about the feeding. Swarms caught in mid/late Dec should be filling a 10 frame box by now. The trouble is that the bees were put into and empty frame with no foundation. The swarms (neither of them) were very big and to expect them to do all the work of drawing comb, harvesting and expanding is a huge ask. They look to be in a long hive with langstroth frames. It is all very well to want natural drawn comb, however, there is a limit to how much work the bees can do.

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oops, i meant the lines i'd quoted below @Trevor Gillbanks = the hive that is confirmed queenright only has 3 frames of comb

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Would it be worth combining the two to get a stronger hive for winter then look at splitting in spring once they're (hopefully) booming - if the feeding/brood frame swapping doesn't work fast enough?

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oops, i meant the lines i'd quoted below @Trevor Gillbanks = the hive that is confirmed queenright only has 3 frames of comb

 

Yes. I was looking at the talk of possible queenless. You are correct both hives are far too weak to try the frame of brood trick.

Would it be worth combining the two to get a stronger hive for winter then look at splitting in spring once they're (hopefully) booming - if the feeding/brood frame swapping doesn't work fast enough?

Yes. Combining is a good option.

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@Bart agree with @tristan and @Trevor Gillbanks. To answer your question why one is stronger than the other, possibly the first swarm had a virgin while the second had a mated queen. If so the first brood cycle in hive No1 is only just emerging. To draw comb the colony needs young bees and steady flow. Feed light syrup, little and often then heavy syrup from late February. Fortunately you won't have to worry about varroa treatment.

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Thanks for your feedback and advice all. I’ve set up a couple of feeders today within each hive. Was so pleased ...NOT, when I checked tonight that hive 1 had the feeder almost carried away with most of the Melbourne ant population!!!!....Flam'n Hell!!!

 

Anyway I think I’ve fixed the mongrels up with a very small amount of surface spray at the base of the hive legs t hold them back for a few days. May have to look at a safer solution for the bees with a water barrier. I'II check daily on the feeder levels over the next week and hopefully will see an improvement.

 

Oh, and one last thing did you see the Aussie Open tennis final (Federa/Nadel). One of the great finals matches Ive seen for a few years. Going to be hard getting up for work in another 5 hours.

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Oh, and one last thing did you see the Aussie Open tennis final (Federa/Nadel). One of the great finals matches Ive seen for a few years. Going to be hard getting up for work in another 5 hours.

I love the Fed express. A wonderful player. Well done.

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Hi all,

 

After a couple of weeks feeding, Im please to say the No:1 hive has filled out the first 6 frames to 80% comb capacity with the last one at 50%. I also managed to spot the queen yesterday arvo and noticed quite a lot of brood and larva with the top 25mm or 1" of each frame full of honey. Its been tough finding the time for inspections with me splitting logs to prepare for the winter (ran out of wood last year and had to buy 3 loads!!!) but also we’ve had lots of gale force winds and didnt want to upset the girls.

 

Anyway Id discovered on both hives one end of the comb was slightly skewed which has compounded the issue for the following 3 or 4 frames. The upshot is I’m forced to handle the hives and fix the issue giving more (or forcing more) experience that what Id originally planned to, however it’s also raising my confidence and knowledge in working with both a docile and angry hive (No:2), using the smoker or sugar syrup spray as required and suiting up appropriately :)

 

Any of you newby’s thinking of starting one hive, don’t………start 2 hives instead as you can measure the progress and help determine what’s “normal”

 

Question: When straightening the slightly out of wack comb, am I better to cut it out just below the top strip (im using foundation strips and foundation less frames)and secure with a rubber band or just squash it into place?

 

Im thinking the cut-out is likely to be the better option although messy with honey stores.

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