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Colony Collapse - It has been a disappointing week


#1

It has been disappointing week. I placed three queens and lost three queens. First, I was trying to start a nuc in my back yard. I managed to lure a modest number of bees into the nuc and placed one of my queens. There was an in hive frame feeder. The activity seemed to be steady but slowed down and then stopped. When I opened the nuc to investigate there were a bunch of dead bees and probably the queen in the bottom.

I went over to the bee yard this morning to check on my other three hives and one nuc. The nuc was dead and it appeared that the queen did not make it out of the holder. My 10-frame Lang has two deeps so there was plenty of room for expansion. I placed a new queen in that hive. It was moderately strong the last time that I checked. Today was a different story. Perhaps most of the bees were out foraging but it did not appear to be strong. I observed capped brood but no new eggs and the queen was released from her holder. I still could not find her. The next hive was a total loss. It had been moderately strong the last time that I checked. There was nothing there and only a few dead bees in the bottom which I cleaned out.

I now have one strong hive which I raised last year with a Buckfast queen from R. Weavers. It is an 8-frame Lang with two deeps. They are not crowded. I placed my FlowHive frames on top with the hope that they will work their way up.

Not sure what to attribute my losses to but I will be looking for some swarms to fill my nucs. I am building an observation hive and two new deeps and other accessories are currently being hot-waxed.


#2

Ron,

Sorry to hear about your losses ! No fun losing colonies one bit. I lost two last autumn n another late winter to varroa mites. I did winter over my flowHive n double deep 5 frame Nuc. Back in the 1950’s n 60’s without mites n other issues it seemed easier. Last season was my first Spring/Summer/Fall/ n so in bạck in beekeeping. I’ve learned n relearned quickly a lot of new n old stuff including to hate mites.

Hmm, how did you try to start a Nuc ? Did you add a frame of food (honey/nectar/pollen) and couple frames of capped n/or mixed brood with lots of nurse bees ?! Just sticking a queen in a box/hive n hoping nosy worker bees will pop in n stay won’t really work Bro ! I’ve built two or three healthy Nuc’s this Spring already. I’ve split medium to large colonies then added a mated queen a few hours later. Seems waiting few hours after split gives the new colony time to get their ducks in a row n realize they are Queenless. They seem a bit more eager to accept her Majesty ! N move on in serious house keeping.

Don’t give up the ship ! It’s a learning curve n experience. I’ve had to go back onto the drawing board on several things. Either we didn’t bother back then or my brain is slipping.

Oh… If your not checking for varroa mites you need to check into proper inspection ideas, detection n treatments if needed. Mites suck bees blood n spread viruses.

Good luck n Happy beekeeping bro,
Gerald.


#3

Thank you for your reply. I set out several nucs with syrup and pollen patties as a way of attracting a swarm. I did have a lot of activity at the nuc in my back yard but others have told me that they were robbers and not a swarm. I assume that there was infighting going on among the bees with the number of dead bees in the bottom of the nuc. The same was true of the nuc in the bee yard but I was unable to observe it. The syrup was gone and the pollen patties partially eaten. I am reading up on swarm capture and will make another attempt but without queens. That was too expensive a lesson. I do not want to see bees die. I do not think that there was a varroa problem though I have no check recently. I do not use chemicals. I practice a number of non-chemical ways to manage varroa.
The nuc that I started last year was from a frame of brood with an added queen. I later transfer them to an 8-frame lang. That is my surviving and strongest hive. I will let that hive build up strength and latter transfer a frame to an empty nuc.


#4

You cannot put food and a queen into a box and expect a swarm to arrive. Swarms come with their own queen for a start. Those queens were just left to die. A good recipe for a bait hive is a 40 litre box with an old empty brood frame, some empty frames, a solid floor and a small entrance.
Put the box up high somewhere. A shed roof is a good height.
Why are you thinking of transferring a frame of brood to an empty hive?
If you want to make a new colony yourself you need at least a couple of frames of brood extra nurse bees shaken in and a frame of food. You need to do some reading up