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Not much nectar


#1

Hi All, We are new to beekeeping. Installed our first package about 5 weeks ago and all has gone really well. We have been inspecting weekly and most frames are about 65% drawn. We have seen the queen active, lots of eggs, brood, capped brood, a small percentage of drone cells (some capped), clearly there have been many newly hatched bees and the old cells have new eggs. There appears to be a constant flow of pollen. Our only concern is that it appears that very few cells have nectar in them. We have feeders as well which have hardly been utilized. Clearly the hive is doing well, but is there any reason for concern? We live in Seattle and have had an unusually cool, cloudy spring - high temps in the mid50s with a handful of days in the 60s. Lots of flowers in bloom…

We have an 8 frame Langstroth deep with foundationless frames. The two outer frames have the least amount of comb - maybe 15%-25% drawn and nothing in them at all.

Any suggestions or do we just stay the course trusting that, since they are doing well they must be getting what they need…?

Thanks!
Terry


#2

Hi Terry, I would just stay the course. If possible, I’d try to talk you into using all wax foundation.


#3

With a package I would be feeding them 1:1 syrup to give them a boost. They have lots to do and are using all their stores to expand. A couple of kilos of sugar is a good investment to get a new package off and running.

Cheers
Rob.


#4

I agree with @JeffH. When my bees are building large amounts of comb in a new box, they really don’t store much honey. They are using a lot of energy to produce and shape the wax, so there really isn’t much excess. Once they have fully drawn comb, you will see the stores increase dramatically. :wink:


#5

Thank you for the replies! It’s good to hear that this is a normal outcome. Rob - I have had two quarts of 1:1 sugar solution in the hive since we installed the package. That was one reason why I was concerned - they have barely touched it. But, Seattle does bloom early and often. They must be getting their sugar source from elsewhere.

This has been such a wonderful venture! I appreciate your feedback.


#6

Hi Jeff, All wax foundation vs foundationless? I would love to hear what your experience has taught you. I have heard such a wide range of opinions on this topic.


#7

Hi Terry, I have found that with well fitted wax foundation, that a colony will produce a stronger worker population. By using foundationless frames, the bees will build large areas of drone comb. It wont be evident with your colony yet. After a colony builds a certain amount of worker comb, they will switch over to drone comb. Drones are necessary, but not the volume a hive produces if left to their own devices. In an ideal world, it would be good to allow bees to do everything a-la-naturale, however with SHB in warmer climates & folks in colder climates wanting strong colonies to over-winter, it makes good sense to get the colonies as strong with workers as possible.

The key to my “no trap” SHB strategy in my sub-tropical climate is to maximize the worker comb in my hives & minimize the drone comb. That can only be achieved with well fitted wax foundation.

It’s the fact that drones don’t do any work in a hive, which includes defending, chasing SHB’s etc, that I want to minimize large amounts of them in my hives. When SHB’s encounter large areas of drones within a hive, they are met with no resistance, thus allowing them to lay eggs within unhatched drones. That will possibly start the ball rolling to a hive getting slymed out.


#8

Thank you Jeff! That makes a lot of sense. Sounds like when we expand to our second brood box - probably in 2-3 weeks - we would benefit from wax foundations since they will be more likely to build more drone comb as time goes on. We do have some drone comb on two of our current frames but not a lot.
Thanks again!
Terry


#9

No worries Terry. Good luck with that. Have you followed @VinoFarm’s beekeeping journey? He is in the New England region. I think he would have benefited greatly by using wax foundation from the start.

I saw a Varroa mite strategy on-line once that I like. It involves using foundationless frames so bees build drone comb in them which attracts the mites. After a certain period, you cut the comb out & freeze it & start all over again. That strategy wouldn’t work too well if the bees already had large pockets of drone comb throughout the hive.

There is no need for the drone comb to be wasted because you can render the wax & feed the larvae to chooks, for example.


#10

I have NOT been following @VinoFarms but I am now! Thanks again!

Interesting strategy for Varoa mites - and I’ve got 6 hens who would love to “help” me out :blush:


#11

Well done Terry, that’s fantastic.


#12

Hey @BillandTerryBee and g’day @JeffH! Just another point to consider regarding wax foundation - Jeff is right about its various merits & has load more experience than I do, but Jeff you’ve got the relative luxury of mite-free living in Oz so far. In the US it’s worth noting that commercially produced wax foundation is made largely from commercial apiary wax. The result is accumulated pesticides brought in by foragers and miticides applied directly to hives. We have strong evidence that this buildup does damage to bee health, particularly in combination with the new chems foragers will encounter and bring in on a daily basis as a colony progresses.

I decided not to use foundation for this reason, since I know a lot of people and businesses use pesticides in and near my suburbs. I keep them out of my own yard but my bees will go where they like!


#13

Hi Eva, I understand what you are saying. I still reckon you are all better off in the long run by using wax foundation. That is after you weigh up the pros & cons. The thing to remember about wax foundation is that, for the overwhelming majority of the time, the bees are adding to it, not working it with their mouths or consuming it in any way.

If I was keeping bees in your country, I would certainly still use wax foundation.