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Author Topic: Help recovering a neglected hive  (Read 628 times)

Offline SuperFrame

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Help recovering a neglected hive
« on: November 25, 2018, 01:05:26 am »
I've recently agreed to look at a hive that has sadly been neglected for about 11 months or more, but I am not a very experienced beekeeper, and would like some advice on the best way to rehabilitate the hive, if that is at all possible.

The hive is located in North-West Tasmania and has one brood box and three super boxes, with no queen excluder in place. It is located in a reasonably sheltered, north facing position, with full sun and part shade year round. Before I had a look inside, I saw the brood box and the base of the hive looked like they had been in place some years, and so I prepared a replacement brood box and queen excluder ready for a Bailey Comb exchange to swap out the weathered box and base. The hive looked reasonably active from outside.

When I looked inside, there was not nearly as much honey as I would expect for this time of year, and fewer bees as well. Many of the frames were empty, and they looked like they were suffering from neglect. The hive was active, but I think I may have missed the hive recently swarming. They usually swarm in mid- to late-November in this part of Tasmania, and I think that might explain the lack of honey and reduced strength of the hive? I'm not sure.

Attached are two photos of the top of the first super box (after I had lifted off the roof), and a sample super box frame. Please forgive the blurriness of the image, fat fingers and bee gloves and all that.

Probably the most worrying was the brood comb, which looked empty and damaged. I've never quite seen it like this. Is it diseased? The interior of the brood box also looked damaged and in dire need of replacement. I could not find the queen.

Unless the hive is diseased and needs to be destroyed, my plan is to continue with the Bailey Comb exchange and swap out the brood box and base, and try to strengthen the hive with a sugar/water mixture, particularly while they are drawing out the foundation of the replacement brood box. Then during December I was going to replace the worst of the super box frames one at a time while continuing to feed the sugar/water mixture, and then leave the hive alone for the rest of the Summer to allow it to recover naturally.

Is the hive recoverable? If so, do I have the right plan, or should I be doing something else immediately to save it? If the hive cannot be saved from disease, what is the safest way to destroy it to prevent spread? Advice most welcome, many thanks.

Offline iddee

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Re: Help recovering a neglected hive
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2018, 07:14:46 am »
You are correct in thinking they need to be fed heavily. I would arrange all frames that are empty into a box or boxes, and all frames that have brood or honey in other boxes. Put the empty boxes away and the box or boxes containing brood on bottom, honey frames on top. Then feed for 2 weeks. If you have white larva in two weeks, you have a queen. Continue the care from there. The frames are usable for now. You can replace them as needed if the hive is queen right and savable.
"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me . . . Anything can happen, child. Anything can be"

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Online sawdstmakr

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Re: Help recovering a neglected hive
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2018, 10:11:01 am »
What Iddee said x2.
I do not see any sign of American Foul Brood so you do not need to burn the equipment.
Jim

Offline blackforest beekeeper

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Re: Help recovering a neglected hive
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2018, 10:38:57 am »
didn`t you mention, there?s flow on?
So why feed? We are talking spring time, right?

Offline iddee

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Re: Help recovering a neglected hive
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2018, 12:04:02 pm »
An early spring flow may not supply enough food to raise the max amount of brood. There is only brood in the pics. NO FOOD AT ALL. Feed until they have a little food stored, at least.
"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me . . . Anything can happen, child. Anything can be"

*Shel Silverstein*

Offline sjh

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Re: Help recovering a neglected hive
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2018, 03:41:27 pm »
SF,
I'm in North East Tassie and agree with iddee to reduce the size of the hive, feeding won't hurt but there is a flow on at least in my neck of the woods ( nearly Summer ).
If you can put a frame of eggs , brood from another hive just in case there is no queen also won't hurt.
Good luck.

Steve.

Offline Beeboy01

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Re: Help recovering a neglected hive
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2018, 08:20:24 pm »
The queen could of stopped laying due to no food coming in. There isn't any honey stored in the corners of the brood frames so it looks like they are hungry.  Feed them and add a frame of eggs/brood if available, with a little care I bet the hive will do good.