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Author Topic: Package bees installed 11 wks ago... only 1 brood box still. Do they need help?  (Read 611 times)

Offline Helene

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Hello everyone, I am a brand new BK from Sydney (North West).

I have learned lots just through reading these posts, but still can't decide if my bees are doing OK or not.

I finally got my first package early December... after a long wait. Everything went well since the package installation into my 8 frames Langstroth brood box. I fed them 1:1 sugar syrup for the first month, but then it seemed that everything was in bloom, the foragers were very active and the frames were being drawn - so I stopped feeding.

I have been inspecting every 2 weeks roughly. They seemed to be going well but lately, I see very little progress from one inspection to the next. The last 2 times, the 8 frames were nearly all drawn, but a couple remaining empty (particularly the outer ones). Otherwise there is ripening nectar, pollen stores, capped honey, and brood at all stages. But there is not much of anything. And I don't think the population has grown. I added an ideal super 4 weeks ago, thinking that they needed it (since the brood box was nearly all drawn), but there is still nothing drawn on it.

Is it possible that I am at the stage where all the old package bees have died ( it is now about 10 weeks) and that there still isn't enough young bees for the hive to have shown any obvious sign of growth? I would not worry if we were in Spring but we are at the end of Summer and I don't know if they still have the time to build up population until Winter... I was told I needed them to go into Winter with 2-3 ideal supers full of honey...

Should I feed?
I would hate to have to add more bees, or to requeen as this stage...

Any suggestions?

Many thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge :)

 Helene

Offline Helene

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Anybody in Australia can PLEAZZZZZZ give me some advice?
 :cry:

Offline eltalia

  • Queen Bee
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Anybody in Australia can PLEAZZZZZZ give me some advice?
 :cry:

G'day Helene, welcome.
Been busy with my own 'problems' so I come in late in saying I am not
certain what you look for in being advised now, a bit late in my book.
Maybe one reason why no Aussie has assisted so far is in it is not practice
in this Country to do startups with packages - baaad JuJu.
The concept is lifted from Ewetoob, arguably not applicable anywhere
on the Planet, but it happens bigtime in the USA as do the upwards of 47%
death rates which feed the package industry.
Packages here are sometimes used to boost numbers for colonys post dearth
but this too is highly selective.
If you caught that ABC TV "Honey Challenge" the other week you would have
seen firsthand what happened with the package startup option.
Enough said.

December is too late to do a startup.
Feeding startups lollywater (syrup) is a huge mistake.
Yes, the package bees are now superseded and what you are left with is a poorly
established colony, veins packed with sugar, and likely bees struggling under
current summer conditions.
Good news?
At least they are still alive and reading as setting some brood, you got lucky.
For now, remove the super, take out any undrawn or drawn less than 60% framed
from the broodchamber, replacing the void with tightly rolled newspaper in a
shoppingbag...and wait.
Hopefully no other colony under pressure does not attack them or pests overtake
the low numbers. The sun is moving North and so it wont be so long before the
first of blooms post Summer popup - that's your window to add back those frames
and hope for sufficient stores to come on board for a Sydney winter.
Enough?

Cheers.

Bills

Offline Butteredloins

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Hi Helene
Am in wollongong and also fairly new to beekeeping (2.5years). I had one package bee installed this year in a 10f hive and also fed sugar syrup. What might of happened is that they reswarmed, did you see any queen cells. Also with mine I also saw a drop from tonnes of bees and building in the beginning to low bee numbers. I do have two brood boxes now though and have approx. 15frames fully drawn. It's best just to leave them bee and wait till mid March with autumn flowering happens. They should build up stock for winter.
And from my experience and what I read, if you overwinter the bees with only one brood box, which is what I do, you only need about 5 frames on frames with solid honey. Because they still gather in winter around our areas.

Basically in the end do a final check. Is there a queen? Is she laying well with lots of eggs and little drone brood. Is there good ratio of pollen and nectar. If yes to all then leave them for a month and re inspect. They should be fine.

Offline Bamboo

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Hi Helene
Follow the advice given by Bill. Remove the super and excess space in brood box also shut down the entrance to your brood box to a width of about 100mm so you don't have the full width of your 8 frame box. This will enable your hive to better defend itself from other bees who might get a whiff that they are weak and attack and rob what stores are there.
You really do not need to feed bees in Oz unless you are outback in the desert in the middle of a drought.
Conditions in the US and Europe are so different to ours as Bill said they have losses of 47% and more. I read a recent article that a Beek lost 50,000 hives this year! Lets' say at $400 per hive that is $25,000,000 down the drain the good news was he still had 50,000 to do Almond pollination.
I am assuming you bought a nuc and not a package as you have a queen, if you still have the nuc box I would be inclined to put them back in that till they build up a bit and only think about putting them in to your 8 frame when they have built heaps of comb on the roof of the nuc. It may be that you even carry them through winter in the nuc box and transfer them next spring on a flow. All that extra space in the 8f brood box has to be heated as it has to be kept at 34-36C extra work for bees and if temps not maintained poor brood and laying patterns.
Good luck
Mark

Offline eltalia

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All great support Mark what with that local info being key.
With Summer 'offiically' over today many can only hope
forage picks up before those misery days are upon us.
Rain keeps badgering any true work here so forecasts
for a dry warm winter should bring out long promised
blooms among the natives.
[fingers xrossed]

Cheers.

Bill