Hello All! Another newbee keeper.
I have loved every minute of beekeeping and glad I got involved - until today, that is!
I opened the hive today and the colony is shrinking.
So this is a plea for help with the story so far …
I got my flow hive in December after doing a Beekeeping Basics course in Geelong.
While it was late to be starting off, I was able to get a 4 frame nuc locally and install. It appeared to be a thriving robust colony of Carniolans and I was happy to go ahead as I just wanted to build the colony for Spring 2020.
I had help installing the nuc hive and left it for a few weeks to settle in.
The first inspection revealed a massive nest of jumping jack ants plus larvae in the roof cavity (those mean bastards with the nasty bite, also known as jack jumpers and I’m sure a whole lot of other names).
There was a whole lot of larvae which I assume was pinched from the frames below or was the ants’ - not sure.
I looked up online for how to deal with it and ended up brushing the ants out away from the hive and sprinkling cinnamon on top of the inner cover. There didn’t seem to be many ants in the hive, but the bees hadn’t made much progress since installation, other than drawing out a bit of comb in the adjacent frames (one side only). The ants were in the tray underneath as well so they were flicked out too.
I then checked the roof cavity and tray every couple of days (without disturbing inner hive) and brushed out any more ants. When the ants started to ignore the cinnamon, I sprinkled diatomaceous earth instead (roof cavity and tray) and this seemed to do the trick. The ant population pretty much halved each time until there was no more than a handful.
Since then I’ve inspected the hive every 2-3 weeks to see how the girls are going. We live on a well treed farm with no lack of flowering species. First it was Lemon-scented gum in December followed by Red Gum, then Messmate and now the Manna Gums have kicked off. There are also lots of flowering shrubs so no shortage on that front.
I noticed honey on the first inspection near the top of a frame but pretty much nothing since. There was plenty of brood but no drones. The hive appeared to be healthy with lots of baby bees but little progress expanding into the adjacent frames. The queen is marked and has been easy to find.
I inspected the hive again at lunchtime and to my dismay, the colony had reduced in size considerably. There was some brood but a fraction of what there used to be. Most of the comb is empty.
I’m thinking the colony’s failing? There were also more jumping jacks inside the hive (about 30) which I duly squashed - there hadn’t been any ants for over about 6 weeks.
After another frantic internet search I think I should start feeding what’s left of them (2:1 sugar water) and I’ll reduce the entrance again - already reduced by about 60%).
Can anybody give me some pointers? Much appreciated.
I’m hoping it’s not too late.
Thanks very much and I hope my next post is a bit more positive.