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No Queen, No Brood and bees outside at night

Hi guys, so after transferring my nuc to the brood box 6 weeks ago and having two great inspections with lots of brood in the first plus good comb and honey growth, and then an increase in the population and comb and honey two weeks later, as some of you pointed out, there is hardly any brood. Today I had an experienced beekeeper with me to confirm what many of you suspected… I seem to have lost my queen and there is literally no brood… a new queen is on the way. However…

During the inspection, the guy helping me turned a foundation less frame, heavy with honey a little on its side and all the honey comb fell out. He didn’t seem perturbed but I was gutted - both at the mess, the loss and disturbance to the bees. Maybe I’m being too precious but it all seemed heavy handed and rushed whereas I am usually slow and gentle as I’ve been told I should be.

Anyway, he insisted the right thing to do was to put the comb on the lid of the brood box under the roof so the bees can access it through the hole, and he also said the bees will clean up all the spilt honey… After the inspection, the front of the hive was literally covered in bees and this was at about 5pm. (see 1st photo) By 10pm, many of them are still outside and it is a chilly and drizzly evening.(see 2nd photo) The bees seem to be unable to get back in the hive through the normal entrance. I’ve checked there is nothing blocking their entrance and even when I gently ran a hive tool across the opening and many went in, they immediately came out again.

Has anyone experienced this before and what should I do to help them get back in. I’ve covered the hive with a tarp tonight to reduce the cold for them but I’m worried…Thanks for any/all suggestions and thoughts.


Tamara

If I had comb drop out of a frame, I would “rubber band” it back in. If you use the Search tool at the upper right (magnifying glass) and search for rubber band, you will get lots of posts on how to do it, including photos and videos. :wink:

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I missed this part. That looks like a Flow hive classic (not Flow hive 2). I would remove the slider from the screened bottom board. That will let any honey flood drip out (you should hose down under the hive after a few hours to prevent robbing and ants). Wash off the slider and put it back the next day. You may have a problem with bees gathering under the screen, so have a smoker lit and ready to try to get them out of the way.

Also, if that is a solid board under the hive, I would either remove it, or put some 1cm shims under the hive to let the honey flood escape. The solid board will be trapping it under the hive at the moment, giving the bees sticky wet feet!
:thinking:

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Thanks Dawn, its actually a hybrid with a corflute slider and mesh base. There was a little honey on the corflute so we washed that. The hive sits in a moat of water to stop an ant problem so hopefully that will stop the ant robbing.

We couldn’t return the comb as the guy that was helping us was a bit slow to realise the problem and once he tried to catch it, the comb broken into lots of pieces.

Most of the bees are back in now so hopefully they will settle down.

Thanks for your ongoing advice :slight_smile:

I wouldn’t use that “experienced” beekeeper again.

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If there was a lot of honey in the hive and cleaning up to do, it’s normal for bees to gather at the front like this which is believed to make room inside for the other bees managing the clean up job.

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oh… thank you. that makes so much sense…

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Hi Tamara, glad you posted - I’m thinking this experienced beek is used to wired foundation on frames and has no clue how to handle foundationless ones…you’re not being too precious, I’d have been flustered to watch that happen too! Once the bees clean the comb of honey you can still rubber band it back into the frame - it’ll be easier for you to do once it’s empty and dry. Oops I just re-read, what did you end up doing with the broken comb?

@Bianca @Dawn_SD I thought we were supposed to put the coreflute slider in the very top slot to allow bees to reach honey spills through the mesh?

Absolutely, but if you have a flood, it is better to let it out, rather than make the bees stand in it. Most harvests or accidents will only result in about 50ml of honey leakage, but if you get above 100ml, I think the hive is going to have a hard time removing it from the hive floor. Just my humble opinion. :blush:

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Hi all, Yes I agree he is older and only uses foundation frames. We did warn him as it started to come away but he seemed oblivious to the impending ‘disaster’. Once he’d tried to gather it back in the frame, it was apparent it couldn’t be re used but given our hive has 8 frames of honey and no brood etc, we would have had to add new frames anyway.

It was a good lesson for me to use foundation frames in brood box as it appears there is no downside as I’ll never harvest comb from there anyway.

We took a little honey comb for ourselves to try (YUM!! - strong lavender overtones) and put the rest on the lid under the roof for the bees to enjoy :slight_smile:

Re the corflute slider, my understanding is lower level for increased ventilation and higher level to reduce cold air. There was considerable bit of honey on it so we washed it off to avoid ant/fly issues.

This is what we took for ourselves.

This is true too but the coreflute slider has multiple functions including catching any spilt honey during harvest (e.g. 1-2 tsp), so should be returned in the bottom slot after harvest if required.

I also agree with Dawn’s comments regarding it being a good idea to put it in the lower slot in such special cases as this where there potential flooding due to a broken frame.

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Hi Eva, the question needs to be asked, was it a “freebie” or a “fee for service”, by the experienced beekeeper. If it was a freebie, hats off to him for that, even if he was rushed & heavy handed.

I’m used to wired frames, however I’m also aware of how to handle foundationless frames. Sometimes you just forget. If a comb full of brood accidentally leans over, normally you can save it by gently standing the frame up again… If a frame full of honey accidentally leans over, it’s normally good bye, unless one’s prepared to rubber band it.

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I dont know any experienced beekeeper who would charge to help out another.

Always saddens me to read people asking for money to “help” someone.

It’s not help if you charge it’s a service and as such should be done with great proficiency and respect.

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@HappyHibee I disagree Dean.
If bee keeping is their profession I believe they are entitled to some compensation for their time, knowledge and expertise. Also travel, equipment, potential for contamination of their equipment, etc.
I think it’s a different story for hobbyists with a shared interest, but even still an offer of compensation would be appropriate.
The main thing is that both parties are in agreement on what is expected.

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Good morning all, This person is heavily involved in bee keeping in our area and although he hasn’t asked for or requested payment for his time, I would have been happy to pay it. I think it is more the point that his years of experience has perhaps made him a little ‘slap dash’ and new bee keepers are more precious.

For example, he said to me "you’ll always loose a few bees’ when you inspect. That might be, but I’d still like to be slow and gentle to try as much as possible to not damage any whereas he was taking less care than I’d like to have seen.

He is still incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. I suspect it was more that he doesn’t use foundation less frames and just looked at the frames as though they were more stable.

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I agree with @TimG, I wont step into my vehicle to inspect someones bees unless I’m paid a fee. However I help people over the phone for free. Plus I help where I can here. Most people appreciate the help (sometimes with a gratuity), however there’s always the odd few that don’t & will abuse your generosity. In those cases I quickly back away.

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I like your attitude @tamara .
Once you get more comfortable and experienced with your bees you will find that while you will work your bees to the best of your ability you won’t be quite as precious with them.
Keep up the good work and keep the questions flowing. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Hi all,

So today our new queen arrived and we also arranged a frame of capped and snapped brood with a little larvae and some nurse bees.

We once again checked for any evidence of an existing queen but there was so we removed to frames and added the new brood frame, another frame for the queen to have space for laying (all other 6 frames are almost entirely honey).

We then put the queen cage ON TOP of the frames rather than between two as this cage was quite thick. We positioned the cage under the hole in the hive cover so we could keep an eye on what was happening without disturbing the hive. After just a minute or two, there were literally dozens of bees all crawling over the queen cage. We left them alone, returned the roof and left the hive. A couple of hours later at nightfall, we returned to check and just lifted the roof briefly. The queen cage was COMPLETELY covered by bees.

So, is this a sign that the bees are interested/are attracted by the candy/desperate for a queen or are they trying to attack her?

Do we just leave nature to take care of itself?

Thanks for your guidance and advice,

tamara@boatshedcheesemaking.com

Uploading: IMG_0482.jpeg…

Were they just covering it and fanning or were they biting and trying to sting through the cage?

Hi @tamara,

I found couple of videos for you, so you can see difference. It is a bit hard, because in both cases bees form some sort of ball on the cage. But when they not ready to accept her, they bite and sting the cage. It is almost impossible to remove them from it. Difference is noticeable in second video where colony is ready to accept a new queen.

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