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NZBF Removing super in winter?

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Hey there, first winter with first hive which was acquired from a nuc last spring. Configuration is full depth brood box on bottom and two 3/4 depth supers on top of that. Although bees filled up both supers with honey in summer, I removed only two frames - being my first season I erred on the side of caution and left them with most of the honey. Treated with Mite Away in late March after noticing average mite numbers on sticky board.

 

Was down at hive a few days ago and noticed significant number of dead bees outside entrance and very little activity. This prompted me to plan an inspection on the next fine day - which was Saturday just been. Was expecting either major robbing, or a mite issue - so went into the hive armed with some Apistan incase mite numbers were up.

 

Opened up top box and was not a single bee in the top super. Most frames in top box were 30-40% capped honey. Second super, a few more bees and much more honey. Almost all frames 70-80% capped honey. Brood box full of clustered bees in good numbers. Didn't want to keep the hive open too long so did a quick cursory brood check - not heaps, but probably a side each of two frames with decent brood pattern - plus c-larvae. Couldn't spot eggs in the light, but will take larvae as sign of queen being present.

 

Here's where I made a snap decision which I'm now unsure about. When closing up the hive I decided not to put the top super back on. As there were no bees in there and a lot of honey in the bottom two boxes - it just seemed like more space they needed to heat over the next six weeks or so of deep winter. Also there is some minor hardware damage to that box which I thought was a good opportunity to take off and repair. I'm wondering if this was a mistake.

 

1; Should I have left the bees with this super?

2; If removing was okay, am I safe to harvest this honey? - only treatment has been Mite Away in March...

 

Hoping someone can give me some advice here!

 

Thanks so much.

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Kiwifruiter    473

Was there any new nector? City hives often gain strength over winter.....

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Posted (edited)

To be honest I didn't do a thorough inspection as I didn't want to have the hive open too long as it was a bit cold - so I didn't check each frame for nectar. As far as I could see it was mostly capped honey, however I have noticed they've been getting out and about the last few days while the weather has been fine. It's been a really strong colony since I acquired it - they've staved off a lot of wasp attacks and numbers of bees and honey stores have always been good. We are actually out in the bush in the Waitakeres, so not so much city.

 

My main concern was whether it was a mistake to remove the top super, i.e.; should I put it back on? - or if it's not an issue, am I okay to harvest that honey.

Edited by Guest

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Kiwifruiter    473
To be honest I didn't do a thorough inspection as I didn't want to have the hive open too long as it was a bit cold - so I didn't check each frame for nectar. As far as I could see it was mostly capped honey, however I have noticed they've been getting out and about the last few days while the weather has been fine. It's been a really strong colony since I acquired it - they've staved off a lot of wasp attacks and numbers of bees and honey stores have always been good. We are actually out in the bush in the Waitakeres, so not so much city.

 

My main concern was whether it was a mistake to remove the top super, i.e.; should I put it back on? - or if it's not an issue, am I okay to harvest that honey.

Leave it off but keep the honey in the freezer so you can put it back on if they need it....

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M4tt    2,541
Posted (edited)

As far as downsizing the hive is concerned , you did the right thing . It is quite important that the bees fill the space they occupy. I will be going through my hives in August and removing boxes where necessary .

 

A reduction in population through winter is normal , but a drastic reduction is not , so you need to know the cause ( mites, disease etc) . A hive that is collapsing from mites through winter is very difficult to turn around .

 

No eggs or brood at this time of the year is also normal, depending mostly on the breed makeup of your queen . You have brood , so there are probably eggs there.

 

Do you know how to sugar shake to check mite numbers ? It is possible your hive became reinvested with mites in late autumn because MAQS is such a short treatment

Edited by Guest

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kaihoka    785

I think it is really important in colder weather that bees fill the space they are in.

It's no different to people using their body heat to warm a room.

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ChrisM    566

I also agree you did the right thing to remove the box.

If there is any mite or disease problem with the hive we don't know, but removing a box wouldn't cure it if there is a problem, so I guess you have it on close watch.

 

Were you tempted to put in the apistan? but you didn't? under what circumstances would you have used the apistan? Did you do a sugar shake or were you only looking for visible mites? Was there any deformed wing virus or anything evident?

 

I think in our situation we would NOT have opened the brood box, but with things not being right, my first port of call would have been to give them a few rounds of oxalic acid vapour to see if they perk up. If they didn't perk up then a brood inspection would be considered at last resort. We also would not have done a sugar shake with fewer bees and in colder conditions.

 

I think a lot of people will be in to spring treatments end of July early August. Given that you did have the hive open, I think I would have bunged in the treatment, apistan is fine if that's what you had. But if I was using a synthetic strip, I would use apivar in spring for a long slow treatment through the spring build up.

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Hey there - thanks so much to everyone for the great feedback and replies. That's really helpful and I appreciate it.

 

I apologise for not being a little more clear in my initial post re the mites/treatment and how that unfolded when I had the hive open on the weekend. I did in fact put the apistan in whilst in there, had been nearly four months since my last treatment so I thought I may as well while I was there.

 

As have a hive defender on at the moment (I was intending to take it off once wasp numbers reduced after autumn, but as the little #######s have hung around much longer than I'd anticipated, I left it on) I am able to get an idea of mite numbers with the pull out tray in the bottom and a sticky board. I could see there were an average number of mites in the tray, along with the odd bee carrying a mite. It didn't seem out of control - but then again, I'm only into my first year of this with a single hive, so I don't have much comparison. Certainly no worse than they've had at any other stage though. I didn't notice any deformed wings.

 

Also, to clarify - I don't think the bee numbers are down too significantly. I was concerned about this after seeing the dead bees in front of the entrance and not seeing any in the top super when I first took the lid off - but by the time I got down to the brood box, it was clear that they were all clustered in there very tightly, but in good numbers. They became very active and as soon as I got down to the bottom box and have been actively flying while the weather has been good the last few days.

 

My suspicion about the dead bees outside the front of the hive is robbing. I've noticed a bit of bee on bee warfare happening at the entrance sporadically over the last few weeks, plus I am STILL getting wasps attacking at the entrance (entrance is totally reduced and has been for months as wasps are bad out here). Perhaps that combined with a bit of a mite resurgence since the last treatment would have worn right off...

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I also agree you did the right thing to remove the box.

If there is any mite or disease problem with the hive we don't know, but removing a box wouldn't cure it if there is a problem, so I guess you have it on close watch.

 

Were you tempted to put in the apistan? but you didn't? under what circumstances would you have used the apistan? Did you do a sugar shake or were you only looking for visible mites? Was there any deformed wing virus or anything evident?

 

I think in our situation we would NOT have opened the brood box, but with things not being right, my first port of call would have been to give them a few rounds of oxalic acid vapour to see if they perk up. If they didn't perk up then a brood inspection would be considered at last resort. We also would not have done a sugar shake with fewer bees and in colder conditions.

 

I think a lot of people will be in to spring treatments end of July early August. Given that you did have the hive open, I think I would have bunged in the treatment, apistan is fine if that's what you had. But if I was using a synthetic strip, I would use apivar in spring for a long slow treatment through the spring build up.

 

Thanks for this Chris - Can I ask, what is the difference between Apistan & Apivar? As I have put the Apistan on now... I should still be able to put Apivar in late spring yeah? I'm still getting my head around all the treatment options and the best multi pronged approach and at what time.

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M4tt    2,541

@waitakerebees thanks for your reply. You sound to have thought the situation through and responded well .

Bee to bee robbing is not really happening at this time of the year. I'm pleased you got some treatment in as mites will certainly be challenging the bees , from what you describe . Your bees are probably throwing out dead bees .

 

I hear from others that the Waitakeres is very bad for wasps and they are very tough in hives

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Posted (edited)
@waitakerebees thanks for your reply. You sound to have thought the situation through and responded well .

Bee to bee robbing is not really happening at this time of the year. I'm pleased you got some treatment in as mites will certainly be challenging the bees , from what you describe . Your bees are probably throwing out dead bees .

 

I hear from others that the Waitakeres is very bad for wasps and they are very tough in hives

 

Thank you M4tt. That's interesting to know re robbing not happening so much at the moment. So, if they are throwing out dead bees - would they be dying in the hive from the mites potentially, or is there a normal die off this time of year as numbers reduce?

 

And yes - The Waitakares are appalling for wasps. It's horrible. I could sit down by the hive for fifteen minutes and one by one kill dozens of wasps as they arrived at the entrance. I've got traps everywhere and they seem to be making a difference - but yes, it's a real issue.

 

I'm looking forward to having made it through my first winter and not being so worried about them!

Edited by Guest

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yesbut    3,330
what is the difference between Apistan & Apivar

Different active ingredient. A lot of people won't use Apistan because the tau-fluvalinate miticide it contains is fat - soluble and builds up in the wax. Wax contamination is held to be a growing problem.

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M4tt    2,541

And the active ingredient in Apivar is Amitraz.

The two products are not related except for similar sounding names .

 

I wouldn't be that comfortable with dead bees out front at the moment . To me it screams mites , but without seeing the numbers I can't be sure

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And the active ingredient in Apivar is Amitraz.

The two products are not related except for similar sounding names .

 

I wouldn't be that comfortable with dead bees out front at the moment . To me it screams mites , but without seeing the numbers I can't be sure

 

Yeah, it freaked me out when I saw them out the front. Glad I got the Apistan in when I did. I cleaned up around the hive whilst there so I can keep an eye on any continuing dead bees.

 

Is there anything else I can do re mites at this stage or just hold tight and hope the Apistan does the trick in time?

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M4tt    2,541
Yeah, it freaked me out when I saw them out the front. Glad I got the Apistan in when I did. I cleaned up around the hive whilst there so I can keep an eye on any continuing dead bees.

 

Is there anything else I can do re mites at this stage or just hold tight and hope the Apistan does the trick in time?

If you've got your sticky board on, you will be able to check mite fall. Apistan kills mites fast . However , there may be resistance to it which can catch you out .

Keep an eye on them . Check the dead bees out front regularly and a quick peek under the lid to get a feel for if the bees are going back or forwards , with a puff of smoke . Bees will be crankier now than other times of the year , and even crankier if they are dealing with mites

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If you've got your sticky board on, you will be able to check mite fall. Apistan kills mites fast . However , there may be resistance to it which can catch you out .

Keep an eye on them . Check the dead bees out front regularly and a quick peek under the lid to get a feel for if the bees are going back or forwards , with a puff of smoke . Bees will be crankier now than other times of the year , and even crankier if they are dealing with mites

 

Thanks - That's really helpful. Yeah, they are definitely a little 'moody' at the moment. I can usually go and sit right out the front and keep an eye on their comings and goings without any issue - but have noticed a definite change in temperament lately. I usually weadeat around the hive without a suit, but ended up being chased off when I attempted this a few weeks ago.

 

Am hoping as I've not used Apistan before (only MAQS in autumn) they won't be resistant... if that's how it works.

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M4tt    2,541
Am hoping as I've not used Apistan before (only MAQS in autumn) they won't be resistant... if that's how it works.

Unfortunately your mites are not only your mites . They spread around on bees , so resistant mites may come from neighbouring bees and establish in your hives .

That's a bit over simplified , but yes , rotating different treatments is good .

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M4tt    2,541
Posted (edited)

Monotoring the efficiency of your treatments is something you should learn to do . That way you'll know what's working

Edited by Guest

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Rob Stockley    2,558
Posted (edited)
Yeah, it freaked me out when I saw them out the front. Glad I got the Apistan in when I did. I cleaned up around the hive whilst there so I can keep an eye on any continuing dead bees.

 

Is there anything else I can do re mites at this stage or just hold tight and hope the Apistan does the trick in time?

At this time off year there are fewer insects seeking protein. So dead bees don't get carried off so much. Check the dead for deformed wings and for bees that died before emergence - both signs of mite damage. If the dead bees are largely hairless with ragged wing edges then they're just old.

Edited by Guest

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ChrisM    566
Thanks for this Chris - Can I ask, what is the difference between Apistan & Apivar?

 

yeah, exactly what they already said above....

so, apistan is fast acting and the same chemical group in bayvarol, often used in autumn for fast knockdown.

apivar is a different chemical that is slower acting, slower to treat, often used in spring during low slow build up.

if you mix it up or repeat it once it is no big deal, just try to avoid repeated use of one or other continuously.

 

whilst I am using maqs and OA and all that, we didn't start out using those and if you haven't got your head around all that stuff then I'd probably recommend to avoid maqs for now and get it all figured out and running with synthetics first..

 

if you do a sugar shake (or alcohol wash) when it is warmer and the apistan is out you can review whether you should treat again or not needed. if your hive is in trouble with mites then apistan is a completely valid choice for fast action, gotta do something fast once the horse has bolted.

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Posted (edited)
yeah, exactly what they already said above....

so, apistan is fast acting and the same chemical group in bayvarol, often used in autumn for fast knockdown.

apivar is a different chemical that is slower acting, slower to treat, often used in spring during low slow build up.

if you mix it up or repeat it once it is no big deal, just try to avoid repeated use of one or other continuously.

 

whilst I am using maqs and OA and all that, we didn't start out using those and if you haven't got your head around all that stuff then I'd probably recommend to avoid maqs for now and get it all figured out and running with synthetics first..

 

if you do a sugar shake (or alcohol wash) when it is warmer and the apistan is out you can review whether you should treat again or not needed. if your hive is in trouble with mites then apistan is a completely valid choice for fast action, gotta do something fast once the horse has bolted.

 

Thanks Chris, that's great - appreciate it. Will keep an eye on them this week and any further dead bees out the front. Plus will make sure I am up to speed on how to do a sugar shake test come warmer weather.

Edited by Guest

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At this time off year there are fewer insects seeking protein. So dead bees don't get carried off so much. Check the dead for deformed wings and for bees that died before emergence - both signs of mite damage. If the dead bees are largely hairless with ragged wing edges then they're just old.

 

Thanks Rob. I'll keep an eye on any further dead bees and assess the condition of them too.

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