Less Bees, No honey in Super

I am brand new to beekeeping. My flow hive classic started off with a bang. Proliferation of bees was of plenty.

I harvested this new hive
8/7 4 quarts,
8/21 6 Quarts,
9/5 1/2 Q. Few bees in the super window. Concerning. Opened hive on 9/5 to inspect. One frame was extremely dark and capping was dark golden brown. Concerned for dead larvae, and extremely dark comb. Read up and the frames should be good for 3 years? any rate I removed and put in a new frame, plus now I can add my 8th frame that would not fit with the nuc.

Keeping an eye on the hive with binoculars daily, activity seems the same. Examined the frame. No mites, realized what appeared to be dead larvae was jelly and capped honey, 50% of frame had healthy larvae. So live and learn. But, now I know what a frame looks like.

9/16. Again, hive still low on bees. Little odor to hive, not sweet- little musty. No bees in window super. I looked at the hive as at 2pm at 72 degrees. Possibly not all bees had returned to hive. Inspected again. New frames 7. 3 2x3 in comb. Frame 8 no comb. Frame one dark capped cells, Frame 5 had a double comb. Not sure how this happened, guess it was d/t the extra room?. Before placing the 8th frame. Frame 6 had light capped comb that was yellow translucent when held up to the sun.

Any suggestions, I’m afraid my queen is dead. If so, can a place another queen before winter. I understand that after harvest everything slows down, but I think my bee population had decrease at least by 1/3. Thanks, Lisa

Welcome to the forum Lisa where you will get lots of helpful advice and tips.
I’m concerned that you are reporting a musty smell, that is telling me that there is an issue in the hive and that should be a priority to find out what is wrong and how to fix it. A local bee group is the first ‘port of call’ to have it diagnosed.
The double built comb is likely because the box didn’t have the right number of frames in it so the bees had room to be a bit creative :grin:
It could be that with Winter coming in your area it may be that the Flow Super should come off for the Winter.
You will know if the queen is dead by doing an inspection of the brood box and looking for larvae, if you see that then you will know she was good within the past week.
About now you are thinking your a bit out of your depth on your own, and if that is so then you need some help, number one is to check out the musty smell, two is to find out if the hive is queen right and if not then buy a new queen and introduce her to the hive, Three is to find a local bee group so that you can get hands on experience and finally four is to put the binoculars away and not to be afraid to walk up to your hive and hit them with a little smoke and learn what to expect to find as ‘normal’ in an inspection, and be prepared to ask for help when your not seeing ‘normal’.

You’ve described my hives right now:

My guesses:
You have mites if you live anywhere on Earth except Australia.
The dark comb is from bee foot traffic = normal: As the bees walk on the combs, it gets darker.
The smell is most likely Goldenrod. My apiary reeks of the classic “wet gym socks” smell right now because the bees are on Goldenrod.
At this time of year, the population should be decreasing. Drones should be getting or have already gotten evicted.

My suggestions:
Inspect hive to verify young brood: I believe your queen is fine but you need to verify right now.
Search up and perform an alcohol wash mite check to give you the true mite load:
Treat accordingly with a proven mite treatment i.e. Apivar, Formic Pro, etc. unless your test shows no mites:
Give them their frame of comb back so they have time to uncap and clean out all the dead larva: they all died when you took it out of the hive. They need drawn comb to over-winter.
Put the super(s) away until Spring.
Make sure the hive has at least 80 -100 lbs of honey or bee-processed sugar syrup.
Make plans to insulate the hive under the lid and supply moisture control. During the cold months the bees generate heat causing condensation. Cold bees are ok; cold and wet bees are dead.

New comb

A little bit older:

Really old comb!

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Thank you for the great advice. I’m going to the next quarter local bee group. I believe the smell is from golden rod. It is fully bloomed now. I will do the mite test. L

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Is this the first year for that hive? How hard are your winters? I have no experience with mites or goldenrod but the Chillipepper man has handled that. If you only have one box you may need to give them a box of foundation and feed them to build up for winter unless its going to be mild. If you do that make sure your flow super is off the hive and remove the QE.


Goldenrod smells like old gym socks. If you smell rotting meat or rotting oranges, you should see what’s going on…

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