I am a new bee keeper, and just started see my bees doing the washboarding, we also have a 300 acre of field corn within 100ft. of out hive, I have noticed a decline in bees, and a decline in their activity, am I going to loose my new colony? this is a new flow hive I have not put the flow super on as of yet. I would appreciate any advice or knowledge that you guy could provide. Thanks
Corn isn’t really a forage source for honeybees as they are self pollinating. I hope you have other forage? That being said we need more data from you to know what is happening. Photos are always the best aid in describing what you see— a photo of your apiary setup, inside the brood box, etc. Tell us more about the activity change and how long that has been going on, how long have you had bees, what your IPM (pest management) practices/routine has been, how often you are fully inspecting… more more more
What’s the inside of the hive look like?
I don’t think corn provides much for honey bees, maybe scant pollen. But maybe the weeds in the corn.
Has anyone nearby been spraying pesticides?
Welcome to the forum Jerry, you will find lots of advice and help here but we need your help for us to help you, photos are worth more than a thousand words so we can see what your seeing. The 7th icon in from the left with the arrow up is the up-load button for photos.
It might be that if the corn is the only source for the bees that is the problem. When I grow corn in my garden the bees totally ignore it. Some crops are of little or no benefit to bees
Have you done a hive inspection to check for both nectar and honey?
I am trying for the second time to make a response to my post, my first one had to many attachments/images, see if this one works
Gentlemen I finally was able to get some pics of our hive, a little history is I have never had any bees before this year, I was elected to be the company bee keeper since I am also the company orchardist. We purchased a flow hive, and 3lbs of bees the first of spring, we have been feeding some sugar water, and of course they get pollen and nectar from the fruit trees, and some red maples that are around. About 3 weeks ago I added another 8 frame deep brood box since the bottom brood box was 80% full, when I did this I also moved two frames of brood up top, and put two empty frames in their place below. The two frames that I moved to the top was brood, but now appear to be honey, I found maybe two hive beetles while I was doing this inspection, and I have a real ant problem that I am addressing currently, I am building a new support frame with the design that the feet set in oil, and the legs have some grease funnel type arrangement. We have a pretty good group of young people here at the company that we work every spring break, Christmas break, and about any other time they need part time work during college breaks, I don’t know how all that works, I just know that they show up, and I get to teach and preach until they go back to school, as well as some of the other supervisors, anyway that is the background of how we are keeping bees, and because of the washboarding, and an article I read about treated corn I thought I would seek help from you guys, I didn’t know how to include everyone that responded to my initial post, but you all ask pretty much the same question so consider this and response to all of you. Thank you very much.
Nice looking brood pattern and capped honey. You have young brood on that frame too. Looks good to me!
Here is another image of my top board that is typically covered with black ants, I brush them off almost daily, are these ants hurting anything? I plan on fixing all that this week, but my primary focus currently is finding a group that can guide me/us taking care of our bees. Thanks
They steal honey and can try to make a nest in the hive. They do make life harder for the bees, and if there are enough of them, the bees may abscond. They don’t usually directly attack the bees though.
Yes this corn has been sprayed twice.
Some powdered cinnamon on top of the inner cover cleared my black ants out…
Insecticides are bad news for bees. I lost at least one hive to residential use of insecticides last year.
Cool! cinnamon is what I will do, I have talked everyone out of putting the flow super on it this year, and instead work on building a strong colony for next year’s honey. As you can probably tell i am very new at this so feel free to advise as any time. Attached is another pic of one of the frames. Thanks
Jerry you are already making a smart decision to build the colony strength as a priority. I see a good amount of capped brood on the first frame, and in this last picture open cells in the center-- did you happen to see if there is larvae/eggs in those cells or are they filled with pollen/nectar that isn’t capped over? Your frames that you have shown are looking pretty healthy from what I can see. The ant problem is definitely something you want to manage- you shouldn’t have to intervene everyday if you use cinnamon/oil on the legs as discussed by the other posts. Opening the hive every day is a stressor on the colony too so you don’t want to do that unless it is the lesser evil.
In your original note you mentioned seeing less activity-- I’m curious what is giving you that sense so we can understand what you are seeing. The washboarding is normal and usually part of a colony regulating internal temperatures. If every frame is built out in both your brood boxes and covered with bees and they are washboarding perhaps they need another box on top. You could put another one on top or the Flow Hive but you are unlikely to get a fully drawn out 3rd box at this point of the season and will have to figure out if there is too much space for the third box for the bees to successfully over winter. This is the time in the season to be planning on how you are going to treat for mites and get the bees ready for winter in your climate. I hope that you have an experienced beekeeper in your area to give you some input, but overall you sound like you are doing good things Jerry.
Wow thank you so much for the reply full of information, my top brood box has two of the 8 frames drawn out, the bottom brood box has 6 1/2 frames drawn out. I did not look very hard for larvae/eggs, I very seldom open the hive, but plan of getting on a schedule to do better inspections, I will get to studying about pest control and start a program, the reason I talked about seeing less activity is they typically go through a quart jar of sugar water every 12 days, and all of sudden that almost came to a halt, and after i put the second brood box on they also seemed to slow down on drawing out the frames, but it may just be my anxiety. I had a couple of the youngsters working with me today, and we built a new stand for the hive, we built the type that has cups on the bottom that we filled with oil to keep the ants out, we are not certain if we did what we should have, but we had a good time doing so. I attached a pic of our hive stand that we put together, I plan on changing to a hive top feeder instead of an entry type feeder, and am looking for advice on that subject also. Well now I’m rambling, its very encouraging to hear the experts say we are somewhat going the right directions, and I do talk with the local bee keeper that is involved with the hive at the zoo, so anyway Thanks again;
Excellent work! You definitely are on the right track. I would recommend however you move that hive into a full open sunny area. Under trees is not ideal as you will get hive beetles in there in shade filled spots, and the danger of a branch falling and whacking the colony open is another consideration (think lightening storm rather than age of tree).
I dislike front entrance feeders and would recommend an internal feeder instead. I found one from Smart Bee designs that I like but I admit I haven’t tested if it fits under the gabled roof of the flow hive; I hate the gable roof on mine because I’ve found they leak and while they look great that leak creates more trouble than I can tolerate. I use Smart Bee Design flat plastic roofs instead and have had great success with them.
Based on your description I think what you are experiencing is that your bees have found a good source in nature that supports them to build comb/store nectar and so they aren’t needing the feeder right now. If you think I’m wrong the other thing to be mindful of is what did you put in the feeder— if its out in sunshine and its just 1 part sugar and 1 part water you might find the feed is spoiling faster than they can ingest it— often beekeepers put in something to keep the mix from turning like a capful of vinegar or commercially you can get some Honey-Bee healthy mix that has some essential oils and stuff in it that is good for the bees. This is another example of why its good to keep the feeder out of the sunshine (and may sound like I’m contradicting my first comment about moving the hive into full sun) but the critical issue you want to avoid with front feeders is encouraging other bees to rob your colony because they locate your feed source on the entrance too easily that your bees can’t defend their colony. Now I’m rambling but I think you get the point. Lower intake of the feeder is a signal that their is either sufficient forage in your area that they don’t need it, or there is a problem with the feeder. Depending on time of year and forage availability in your area you could be near what we call the dearth (a shortage of natural forage) so you should ask your zookeeper friend if you are in a dearth if you are unsure and that may tip you off that your feed is the issue.
- one more idea; you said you have a full bottom box and 6 1/2 frames of 8 full in the second. That is a good signal to either pull a few frames of honey out of the 2nd and replace with empty frames, or if your zookeeper friend thinks you have a good 2 months of warm weather ahead to add the honey super on top. If it were me I’d add the box on top and at this point you can always pull the 2nd box off for winter prep if its full of honey by then and leave the flow hive super on over the winter. I am in Ontario Canada where we have really brutal cold winters and this year I’m leaving my 6 flow hive supers on for the first time— I normally take them off but I had issues this winter with uncapped honey in them and the bees struggled with them a bit in the spring when I put them back on— I think some of the honey wasn’t good for them so I’m avoiding that problem by leaving them on if they are filled with honey.
Thank you very much for the reply, I am so encouraged now, I am going to be out of commission for about 14 days before I can get back To
improvements , upgrades, I found out this morning I tested positive for the virus. So I am bored to no end and it’s only the first day, but I don’t thinkBees
Can get it so if I get feeling Better I may relocate my hive slowly until I
Get it clear of the trees, God Bless and thanks again.
OH NO thats not fun. I wish you a speedy recovery, and hope that you aren’t suffering and can use the rest time to read up on beekeeping/watch some videos on YouTube.