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Angry Bee Hive - Not sure what to do


#1

Hello All.

I am a first year Beek. I feel like I have not been that successful so far. I have 1 hive.

Background:
I failed to recognize that my package that I installed this April needed another brood box. I now run 2 deep 8 frames (Central Illinois). They swarmed and it took me until late May to recognize it. A new queen got mated but was not laying well, very spotty pattern. I ordered and successfully installed a new queen that was VSH. This was in late June. The hive accepted her and she took off like a rocket, filling several frames quickly. Everything was good in July. They were growing in numbers rapidly and filled all the frames (foundationless). My routine is to inspect every 15 or so days. The hive is on my property near some woods with good mix of shade and sun. My inspection notes from the end of July and mid August note that the hive seemed more agitated than previous inspections

Situation:
I performed an inspection this weekend. The hive was extremely defensive. I was able to work the top brood box, the queen has been up there. I noticed some capped brood on the outer frames but nothing on the inner frames. No brood, little pollen, and no honey. I was unable to note larva or eggs. Mostly because I was being hammered by 15-20 guards. I did note what appeared to be a swarm cell on the bottom of one of the frames. I attempted to get into the bottom box but was bombarded with bees as I separted the boxes. I aborted and reset the hive. Guard bees followed me for almost 100 yards and wouldn’t leave me alone. It is extremely dry here in Central Illinois and the bees are in a derth. I noticed 2 yellow jackets eating dead bees and a bumble bee several days ago as I did a walk by.

Evaluation/Plan:
From what I can tell I have potentially 3 situations going on.

  1. My hive is being robbed/attacked by yellow jackets
  2. My bees have consumed much of their resources due to the derth and the hive is weak
  3. My hive may have late swarmed since there is a swarm cell

I added 2 Quarts of 1:1 sugar water. They took a quart over night. I went to check on the levels yesterday and was greeted with a sting to the ear when I got about 20 feet from the hive. This hive has always been docile and I have never required to suit up to feed.

What should I do? I feel like feeding makes sense now until we get rain and less dry. I am very concerned with getting back in the hive to look for a queen/eggs/larva especially so late in the year. How do deal with the yellow jackets?

I am very frustrated. I understand this is nature and I am only a bystander, yet I want my hive to be successful and survive the winter. All and any advice is appreciated.

Regards,

Joe


#2

I would get them well fed and perhaps their demeanour will be better.
Get some help and when you look in be prepared to separate the brood boxes and putting the top box aside carefully look through the bottom box first. This is always a useful way to approach double brood hives.
It often helps to move the brood boxes away, leaving a regular super on the old site for the foragers to return to. These are the aggressive bees so you can look at the brood boxes a little more easily if you leave them half an hour.

During swarming season your inspections need to be at seven day intervals or even less


#3

You are probably in a nectar dearth and the bees are extra defensive of their honey: With the hive open during inspections, they are more defensive, looking for robbers (insect and mammal).


#4

End of the good season for them and they get toey. I would get a few sheets of plywood a bit bigger than the boxes. Pull the top box off and sit it on a ply sheet, pull the second box off and repeat. Check the top box and see if the brood will fit in the second box. Once you have the top box “emptied” of brood remove the bottom box and put it on another sheet of ply. Put the old top box on the base so the guards and field bees have somewhere to go.

Now, move the other two boxes away from the hive and work your way through them. They will be better as you will be generally handling house bees. Once you have got the brood in the bottom box with stores above them put the boxes back in their original order and start pumpimg the 2:1 feed into them and reduce the entrance to half width.

Probably the reasons they are agro is the dearth so they get protective of their goodies and its moving into autumn for you.

Hope this helps, remember to divide and conquer.

Cheers
Rob.


#5

Thanks everyone for the feedback.

I took some of your advice and divided and conquered today. I think my bees were starving due to the severe derth here now. Here are my findings:

  • The top brood box contained most of the bees. These bees were relativily calm. There was new honey mostly open and little closed. 5 1/2 of the frames had closed brood also. A couple were completly filled with capped brood. I could not find the queen. I also did not see any eggs or larva.

  • The bottom brood box used to be pretty full of honey in July. It was empty today. There was some pollen in the frames. The mood of these bees seemed frustrated. I would smoke them and they didn’t have any honey to eat to calm down.

I placed the brood and frames in the bottom brood box. Placed whatever pollen and empty frames in the top box. Added a beetle trap. Closed up and added a 2:1 feed jar on the top box in an empty super.

Should I be concerned that I didn’t see eggs/larva/queen?

Thanks!
Joe


#6

So, how many boxes do you have in the stack now? No brood in a hard dearth is not too surprising, the queen will reduce laying or stop altogether in some cases. That makes her harder to find because she gets smaller or you may have just missed her, I often never find the queen even if I am looking for her. Its more important to look for signs of her but if she is not laying then those signs are not there.

In your case I would keep the 2:1 up to them so they build some stores. In about a week have another look, they should be calmer if well fed, and look for eggs/larvae. Keep an eye on how much you feed them, if they don’t have room they will backfill the brood nest so its a balancing act so vary the feed acording to your observations but a week of hard feeding should not hurt. I don’t really know your conditions but if they need more room for stores it may be worth putting a box UNDER the stack with foundation. They can then fill your existing boxes and move the brood into the new bottom box if needed. Its good for this box to be on the bottom as it will not cause a heat drain if you get cold weather.

Hope these ramblings make sense. Hopefully someone more familiar with your region will chime in soon.

Cheers
Rob.


#7

I have 1 Deep 8 frame (the one with a bit of pollen and empty foundation) on top. Then 1 Deep 8 Frame with brood and a bit of stores on the bottom. That is it. I closed up the screened bottom to help w heat and cold nights now. I also reduced the entrance.

Joe