So we only got out 1st nuc yesterday. Installing couldn’t have gone better. Nice calm bees, warm day (30c) good activity for the rest of the day including some pollen coming in already.
Next day was cooler (17c) and the activity has dropped a lot. A bee or 3 every 10 second or so. Hugely less than I’ve seen on other local hives in similar temperature.
My question is… Is this normal selling in for a new nuc, or do I have something to worry about?
I’m in Coogee in Sydney, by the way.
Any advice greatly appreciated.
Very likely normal. Especially if it was windy and cooler as well. A nucleus has fewer bees than an established hive, so more of them will be required to stay at home and heat the house to 34 - 35 C (their preferred brood temp) when the outside temperatures drop. I wouldn’t worry, just let them settle in for a week or two.
Thanks for the reply Dawn. Where would we be without forums…
I’ll stop worrying and let them get on with it.
17C is not a fav temp for the bees to be outside, especially if windy. Your new bees are likely busy with house keeping.
In a few days they will come out more and orient themselves, and if all goes well, you have heaps of bees in the front of your hive at times.
Then in 6 weeks, there will be so many bees going in and out and doing orientation flights, you’ll probably think, omg, what did I get myself into.
Enjoy. Things will calm down towards autumn.
Never fear to check your brood box. Just get in there and learn.
Beekeeping is awesome.
Hello Ron,. What is happening is very normal. There is a lot of activity for the bees in the hive to do so there will be less foraging but as they adjust the hive to their liking they will begin with more foraging as they use their stores.
Like humans moving into a new home, there is lots of things to move about till we like the set up.
Over the next month there will be a big change in the colonies activity and the numbers of the bees increase.
thanks for settling my mind at ease guys.
even after reading multiple books and watching countless hours of youtube videos before the bees arrived, i didn’t come across anything that warned me about the lull in activity.
thanks again…i’m sure there’ll be more questions coming soon.
I suppose it is hard to put 30 years’ worth of observing bees and trying to think like a bee into a book! A hundred billion human neurons still can’t work out exactly what the bees are planning all of the time. But when you have worked with them for a decade a or two, you have a pretty good idea of what they require, and what they do to get it.
the bees only send out as many foragers as they have on hand. In the early stages there is likely a lot of work needing doing on the home front- so it’s all hands on deck. You should expect still to see a point of heightened activity sometime around 12 to 2 pm when the inside only bees come out en-mass to ‘drop the kids off at the pool’.
Ok, so here’s the next drama.
I shone a torch in and noticed what to me, and I’ve had bees for 3 days, looked like chalk brood on the grate at the bottom.
I’m heading for the books.
Ok, so here’s my hypothesis, please correct me if I’m wrong.
We installed the bees in the hive on a 33c day.
Is been cooler since, around 17c Max, 9c at night.
There may not be enough loose bees in the colony (it was a nuc 3 days ago) to keep the amount of brood warm so some of them have died of cold.
Is warming up to twentys from tomorrow and is spring, so trust that they’ll sort it out.
9C at night will make the bees cluster in the hive for warmth but I wouldn’t expect looses of bees at that temperature. I would feed them syrup to help them build in numbers and to induce them to making comb.
With the SW freezing winds it will make it a bit tough on the bees but as soon as the temperature rises the colony will soon recover.
Is a bit warner tomorrow, I’ll give them some syrup.
Wasn’t expecting dramas this early.
Hey Peter, sorry, one more question.
How long and how much should I feed them?
If you are going to feed them with an inverted jar in an empty box on top you could start with 500 ml to a litre, just keep feeding them till you see bees returning with pollen and assume bees returning without pollen are bring nectar back.
I would feed them and inspect the hive weekly, when there is an increase in capped honey then stop feeding the bees but continue to keep an eye on them.
If you are in a pollen dearth put a tray of unbleached white flour a short distance from the hive and they will take that back to the hive as protein to substitute for pollen.
Just to add to @Peter48’s advice. I often feed nuclei for around 2 weeks if I installed them early in the season. There is no need if you have a really solid nectar flow, but if the weather is a bit unpredictable, it is very helpful for them.
About the possible chalkbrood - do not open the hive while it is as cold as you describe. I know you haven’t, but it can be very tempting. Opening the hive would just make it worse. Wait for a day when you are nicely in the low 20s and there is little wind.
Thanks both for the great adice. It’s 23 tomorrow so I’ll put some syrup in to give them a leg up.
I have a bottlebrush tree in the front yard that’s about to explode in the next week or two, that’ll keep em busy.
That does look a little bit like chalkbrood mummies to me. However I can’t quite be certain from the photo… If it is: judging by your timeline- it seems impossible that this has just happened since you put the Nuc into the big hive. If they are mummies: I think they must have come with the nuc? maybe you could contact your supplier and ask them if the Nuc might have had chalkbrood and see what they say. If they are a good supplier they should be quite upfront with you.
If it is chalkbrood- hopefully it will disappear as the colony grows. However you might want to carefully look at the original frames in a few weeks- and if you see a frame that is badly affected- consider rotating it out of the hive.
So, here’s the latest.
Spoke to the supplier (sent him the photo), and he said it looked like chalk brood and if i wasn’t happy he’d give me a full refund if i return the bees…that’s good.
But after reading all your replies and some book work i put a bag of 2to1 syrup in today, just to give them a little hand. From what i read the spores are pretty much in most hives and it only rears it ugly head when the hive is weak…which i assume mine is, as it’s a new nuc (i.e. half a hive).
Going to give them a couple of weeks and see if they can grow the colony and get over it.
There is some pollen coming in, and some coming home with none, so hopefully that means that they’re bringing nectar. But by the time i get home from work it’s cooling down and the activity has dropped off for the day.
i’ve put the bag on the top cover under the roof. didn’t want to put another box on for fear of making to too much space and creating more of a cold problem. the nights are stiff 9 to 13 degrees C.
i need to do some research on rotating out frames. Haven;t read much about that.
anyway, that’s where i’m at…just have to hurry up and wait.
keep a close eye on it- and plan to rotate all the original Nuc frames over time. You should be able to get them all out in about a year. I had a hive with chalkbrood and it proved slow to clear up- but eventually it did.
I wouldn’t be in a hurry to do that until the colony is stronger. It takes a lot of bee energy to draw out the wax on a frame, and it is best if you have plenty of bees in the hive to get it done.