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Less Bees- what's happened?

my first post!!
We got our hive early this year and have really enjoyed it including harvesting 2 flow frames.
A month ago we removed 2 of 3 brood frames that were full of honey. WE then checkerboarded in 2 empty frames which are being drawn down nicely. But recently there seems to be less bees and little honey production (even though spring has definitely sprung up here). When we did a brood inspection today, we found what could be a hatched queen cell (pictured)?
We also spotted the queen and there seems to be a couple of frames of good worker brood.
Any ideas about why the hive has slowed down??
IMG_0050

Welcome to the forum Jane, lots of good advice on this forum and folks happy to help.
Just a thought, with the recent bush fires there is less bush for the bees to forage and that along with the drought my hives at Coolum Beach have had a hard time finding nectar. I began feeding my hives about a month ago for the first time. There is some flowering but it seems there is precious little nectar about. With the rain over the past two weeks I’m thinking things will improve.
As for the hive having less bees I wonder if the hive swarmed, did you do a preemptive split of the hive?
Cheers

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I’m thinking your colony has swarmed, going by that queen cell remnant in the photo. I’m in Buderim. Because of SHBs, I’d suggest you make sure that any brood frames containing brood or pollen, that doesn’t have a good covering of bees be removed.

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Thanks Peter.
We didn’t split but we did worry the hive was honeybound with 3 full frames of honey so we took 2 of those. Would a split at that stage have been a better option?

Thanks Jeff. What do you do when you remove frames? Replace them with empty ones? We have some SHB but not a lot

Hello and welcome to the Flow forum!

Have you done a “rope test” on those sunken-looking caps? If you have AFB in your hive, that could explain everything that you are seeing. It may just be the light reflection and the extreme closeup making it look odd. I hope that I am over-worrying, but I would want to be safe. Do you have any overview pictures of frames of brood that you could show us? That would give a better idea of whether AFB is possible. :blush:

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Looks like they did a runner on you but it would be worth doing a foulbrood test for peace of mind. Pack them down and remove your super till they get going again.

Cheers
Rob.

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Taking honey from the hive is to give the bees more space to store honey. Doing a split of the colony in Spring is for a different and unrelated reason. A bee colonies natural instinct is to expand in numbers and to fill all the available space with comb and to fill it with stores and brood. Then when the climate and conditions are right, which is in the Spring the colony decides that about a half of the colony will leave taking the queen with them and begin a new hive elsewhere and that the hive will produce a new queen of their own.
Doing a preemptive split is to prevent swarming naturally and the colony thinks it has swarmed, but under your terms, and keeps all the bees under your management. That is a better way of hive management.
Your only 10 minutes from me and I’m happy to give you some time to have a look at your hive if you like to arrange a time.
Cheers

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Thanks again Peter- such a generous offer. We’d love an expert to come and help us understand our hive better. Ill figure out how to PM you my number

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Here’s a photo of more brood

IMG_0055

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Hi Jane, I replace those frames with fully drawn stickies or foundation frames. You don’t need many beetles to wreak havoc on a hive. If all of the brood frames are still completely covered with bees, you wont have to worry. You’ll need to check in a couple of weeks to make sure the colony is queen-rite. That’s important because if the colony isn’t queen-rite, it doesn’t take long for laying workers to take over brood laying.

I don’t see an issue with those slightly sunken caps. I see that all the time towards the end of the metamorphosis period, just before the bees are about to emerge. I don’t see any discoloration under those caps. Rule disease out. It’s the remnants of that recently emerged from queen cell that indicates a recent swarm.

PS, I missed seeing that recent photo while typing this reply. That IS as @Dawn_SD said, a good brood pattern. Let’s hope her daughter is every bit as good.

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That brood frame looks nice and healthy. Great brood pattern too. False alarm on the AFB idea, sorry! :blush:

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Mouse click on my photo icon and then click on message, you can then ‘Private Message’ me.
A really great looking frame of capped brood.
Cheers