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Author Topic: Help needed. Colony has dwindled  (Read 189 times)

Offline rgennaro

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Help needed. Colony has dwindled
« on: September 11, 2020, 08:17:13 pm »
Hi everybody

today I went to remove the honey supers from my hive and they were reasonably full. I inspected the brood chamber (I admit to have neglected my inspections lately for various reasons) and it was basically empty! Very little honey/nectar, some pollen, almost no brood. The brood was mostly larva, some capped though it looked like drone brood. There were 2 queen cells, one open and one capped. In July this hive was massive, now it has dwindled to few bees.

Given that it's mid-september and I am in upstate NY what are my options?

My plan is to :
-- go back in tomorrow and put the honey in the brood chamber, replacing the empty frames.
-- Double check everything and make sure there is no queen or LW
-- Order a new queen which I should get by Monday

I suspect it's all a losing proposition at this point, but I want to give the girls a chance. Any other possible strategies?

Thanks

R

Offline .30WCF

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Re: Help needed. Colony has dwindled
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2020, 08:32:19 pm »
Any other hives to combine them with.


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Online TheHoneyPump

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Re: Help needed. Colony has dwindled
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2020, 08:42:54 pm »
Diagnosis first. -> WHY <- did the hive crash. 
Know that first before putting any resources to it OR to use the bees or equipment from it in any other hive.
The number one cause of a crash at this time of year is high varroa mite.  Parasitic mite syndrome (PSM).  Google that so you know what to be looking for as you examine the combs more closely.
The number two cause of a crash at this time of year is a failed supercedure a month ago. Since you have larvae present, that is not the case.
That is based on what you shared so far.  There are other causes, too time consuming to list them all off.  Show us some pictures and that may lead in specific directions.  For example another possibility is EFB, which you can read over here at:  https://beemaster.com/forum/index.php?topic=54019.0;all

Next is the experienced advice:  "Take your losses in the Fall".  Which basically means, NO to your plan. The hive as described is likely well beyond recovery this late in the year. Even if you requeen, there will not be any appreciable amount of new bees until end of October.  And there would not be many as queens are really slowed at this time.  Just shake it out and put the equipment away. Come back in the spring and try again.  Ensure you know the cause and understand what to do about it, because the equipment may need treatment before it can be used again. If you have other hives that the bees will migrate to, the bees may need to be treated or the other hives will suffer the same fate.

Do you have other hives or just the one?
« Last Edit: September 11, 2020, 09:08:14 pm by TheHoneyPump »
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Offline rgennaro

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Re: Help needed. Colony has dwindled
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2020, 09:17:02 pm »
Thanks for the advice. No other hive to combine with, this is my only hive.

I will go back tomorrow and try to figure out what happened. I suspect high mite count. I was going to treat now, but I guess I should have treated earlier. I'll see if I can take pictures.

If I shake the bees and take the equipment in should I save the honey in the frames for next year? Or start from scratch?

thanks
Rosario

Online TheHoneyPump

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Re: Help needed. Colony has dwindled
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2020, 11:29:01 pm »
OK, if only one hive and you decide to go for the shake out. Prepare a pail or tub of warm soapy water.  Shake the bees off into that. It is over quick for them and prevents whatever they may have from spreading/migrating to some other nearby hive (neighbour). 

Honey .... take / extract everything you want for you. Spring brings with it a renewed start, a new season, and fresh nectars. The only thing to leave would be pollen combs.  Put those and brood combs in a freezer for minimum 48 hours.  Then bag them sealed tight and store someplace cool and dark, until setting things up anew in the spring.
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Offline rgennaro

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Re: Help needed. Colony has dwindled
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2020, 12:02:22 am »
Before giving an update on my situation, I want to thank THP for always being such a source of great helpful advice.

That said, I decided to go against his advice. Not because I think I know better, but because as a hobbyist with only one hive maybe my outlook is different. So I put the honey back in the main hive and ordered a new queen. My thought process was "if this fails what do I have to lose?" The honey (1 gallon maybe?) and the $60 to overnight a new queen. The bees would be dead either way.

Another reason I decided to try was that when I went back in, I realized the hive still had a lot of bees (more than one deep full for sure) and I didn't see any signs of disease or mite infestation. I am now beginning to think that the hive might have swarmed and the new queen didn't come back. This by the way happened to this hive last year as well.

I put the new queen in on Tuesday, and today the queen was out of the cell and walking around the hive. They have plenty of honey at this point and also pollen. The only problem is that the next 3 days low temperatures will hover around freezing, but it will warm up again next week. There is tons of goldenrod all over the place and I plan to feed them syrup and patties through October. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Now for the next question: I still need to treat this hive with OAV. How long should I wait since the re-queening?

Thank you all again

R

Online cao

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Re: Help needed. Colony has dwindled
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2020, 12:39:36 am »
Now for the next question: I still need to treat this hive with OAV. How long should I wait since the re-queening?

Question.  Why would you need the OAV?  New queen with brood break should cause a drop in numbers of any mites that you might have.

Online TheHoneyPump

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Help needed. Colony has dwindled
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2020, 12:58:36 am »
Best time for OAV, or any treatment type, is now within 5 days before she gets new brood on the go that gets near capping.
Imho - Brood break does not significantly reduce mite load.  What the break does is halt mite reproductive opportunity and also forces the mites to be on adult bees where they are exposed and susceptible to treatment.  The break will enhance the efficacy of treatment(s).
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Offline Oldbeavo

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Re: Help needed. Colony has dwindled
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2020, 08:18:20 am »
Not really a help for this situation but having a second hive allows for supporting a down hive, brood, eggs to grow QC etc.
Single hive bee keeping sometimes doesn't have easy options.
Also having a nuc of bees on hand doesn't hurt to support hives.

Offline rgennaro

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Re: Help needed. Colony has dwindled
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2020, 02:43:39 pm »
That?s a good point. I had always wondered why the suggestion is to keep at least 2 hives and this is an argument I didn?t think of.