well, I’ve been following this thread for awhile. thought bee keeping was much simpler but the way I’m meticulous it will take too much time , money and worry. i want to raise pollinators for my fruits but i think I’m just going to place nesting boxes and buy cocoons for mason and leaf cutter bees. no honey but much better pollinators in my climate. i already have brush piles and ground boxes for the bumble bees to nest in. honey bees just aren’t hardy enough up here to warrant me investing the time and money in them. good luck to the rest of you!
I know about Italians, Carniolans, Caucasians, and even German black honey bees but I don’t know about Russian honeybees. My understanding is they have significantly better mite resistance. What do you know about them? https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/comparison-of-russian-and-italian-honey-bees
Two very interesting articles. Thanks
I need some advice from beekeepers:
THe last 2 years when I have bought bee packages to put in my empty hives, all of my frames inside those hives have had new wax foundations. This year, I have a whole bunch of frames that have empty honeycomb already built on both sides. I’ve tried to research if I can use this or if there is an advantage in doing so, but about all I have found is that there is a chance of passing on foulbrood but otherwise it is a good thing to use predrawn frames. Is that true? Foulbrood is supposed to be rare in my area and I’m pretty sure I’ve never had it, so I think that is unlikely to be a problem.
I have looked at each of my frames that have empty honeycomb and they all look pretty clean and no visible bugs or anything (I know some things aren’t visible to naked eye like mites). Also, I really haven’t done anything to disinfect them and I’m inclined not to. The only thing I see a bit usual (to me) is than the comb is a very dark color on some, not the white or very light tan color new honeycomb has in summertime.
what say you all? Can I fill my first 2 boxes with frames that have last years comb already built on both sides or should I use new frames again.
this is not a constructive post at all, but i feel this is necessary to the conversation. . . foulbrood sound like medieval fantasy problem creatures, like orcs and goblins.
You can use them. I use to uncap and sling the honey out with an extractor. The comb being already built will give the bees more time for collecting nectar.
Thanks, Bill. I thought that would be the case. Meanwhile, I just don’t know why I keep having my bees die out each winter. It wasn’t because they starved to death because this year they still hada couple frames full of honey when they all died. And the did die-not leave. In early March there were probably about 200 bees (a circle that pretty much covered 1/2 of one frame) and the queen was still alive and they had both honey and my sugar water that I started feeding about that time. A month later they were all dead in the bottom of the cage-including the queen. No pesticides had been sprayed. I had those vegetable oil filled traps and they had quite a few dead beetles but nothing too dramatic. Oh well. who knows.
At least they left me some nice clean looking comb covered frames!
Varroa complex is where the hive was infested with mites in the fall and had a heavy virus load as a result in the spring. The bees are unable to forage during winter and are not healthy enough to build the colony back up in the spring. Your description sounds a lot like varroa complex aka Parasitic Mite Syndrome.
Spring dwindle can be induced by feeding bees too late in autumn. Bees produce a winter population of “fat” bees that can live over winter and build up the colony in the spring. If bees are fed too long into late autumn, the winter bees can use up significant reserves of vitellogenin - similar to fat in animals - which turns them from long lived winter bees into bees more like summer populations that live about 6 weeks. The result is a colony that dwindles in March and April and is incapable of building up a spring population.
THanks for that. Is there anything besides not feeding too late into fall that I need to do to prevent varroa complex/PMS? thanks
Educate yourself a great deal more about bees and mites. Commercial packages of bees are varroa susceptible. You MUST treat them to keep them alive. Never start with a single colony. Get at least 2 colonies so if one dies out you can split the remaining colony.
Mite resistant queens are available from a few suppliers.
Bill Carpenter at http://www.carpentersapiaries.com/
Johnny Thompson at 601-562-0701
Adam Finkelstein is another source
http://www.beeweaver.com/ has queens, but they are a lot hotter than most beginners need to work with.
There are a handful of other suppliers.
[quote=“Fusion_power, post:573, topic:4536, full:true”] You MUST treat them to keep them alive. Never start with a single colony.
You used two of the words that should not be used when dealing with most things in life “MUST” and “NEVER” . The other word being “ALWAYS”. No matter who uses those words you will be proven wrong at some point and maybe to the extent that it reflects poorly on the knowledge of the individual that used those words.
Package bees that are not treated for mites can be raised successfully, I know people who do it including myself successfully. While a single colony does handicap a bee raiser it also can be done successfully as well.
Deliberately, fully knowing that someone would point it out. With a bit of study, you might find a derivation of Cunningham’s law.
I’ve been treatment free since 2005 after developing fairly strong genetic resistance to mites in a line of honeybees. I have also watched dozens of beginners start with commercial packages and lose them repeatedly eventually giving up on beekeeping. I do not lightly say that commercial packages have to be treated “unless” they are from a proven mite resistant line. Beeweaver sells a very expensive package that will probably survive with few issues. Given the problems with aggressiveness, I would requeen with Carpenter’s queens instead.
@TurkeyCreekTrees , @Fusion_power , and others: I suspect I very well may exactly the type of person you all are talking about. I’m new to be keeping and have been very unsuccessful at it. For the last 2 years, one or both of my hives were abandoned before winter, and the one that made it to winter only had about 100 bees make it THROUGH winter (in the whole have- about 1/2 a frame was all the bees left) and they died out soon after spring started. Each of the 2 years I’ve bought a package of bees to start over in my empty hives.
This year I had a good looking hive going for about 2 months. Lots of bees, they were laying eggs and new bees were being produced and they were making honey and storing pollen. Everything seemed to be going well. One mistake I made was adding new boxes to fast, so I ended up with all the bees at the top and near empty boxes at the bottom. But I doubt that caused them to abandon the hive (though maybe??) Then about mid June the bees started leaving fairly quickly and within a week or less the whole hive was empty. There weren’t any dead bees to speak of, just gone. When I opened the hive I noticed that even though I’d had a large number of bees for 2 months, there were nothing but empty comb throughout the hive. I didn’t feed this year (except for the first 3 weeks or so after putting the package in in May) but lots of things were blooming around here.
So what do you think? I never treated for varroa, does this sound like my problem? Sadly, I’m about to throw in the towel on bee keeping. BUT LET ME GO AHEAD AND CONFESS SOMETHING RIGHT UP FRONT… Darrel suggested I educate myself a lot more on varroa and bees, AND I HAVE NOT DONE THAT…I absolutely readily admit that I just haven’t devoted the time and effort to reasearch and education that I should have. If I’d spent 1/2 the time learning about bees that I’ve spent learning about fruit growing, things may have turned out different. So I accept full responsibility for my failure. I just didn’t know bee keeping was so hard and/or required such an investment of time and effort. I know that sounds bad, or even like I’ve been a little lazy- and I have. I guess in the end my heart wasn’t in it as strong as it was into fruit growing then I’d have worked harder. I also blame my original mentor a little bit…he led me to believe that if I didn’t want to, I didn’t have to invest a huge amount and time and effort into learning and caring for bees. He really said I could just buy all the stuff, put some bee packages in my hives, and mostly just let them do their thing. Of course it was naive of me to buy that and I should have done more research both before and after getting into bees. And it really isn’t that I am lazy, its just that in the limited spare time I have I prefer investing into learning about and caring for fruit trees than bees…the result of which is my failure at bee keeping.
Anyway, I still have almost $1,000 of equipment and hives that is just 2.5 years old, so I may try one more time next year. So I’d really appreciate if ya’ll say whether or not my bees abandoning my hive sound like its from Varroa/mites or what? I know you don’t have enough information to know anything for sure. BTW…I used my empty frames with comb from last year, which may have been part of the problen> Thanks all.
I would doubt you had enough of a mite problem at this time of year to cause your bees to leave. Your right, kind of hard to say without being there and seeing the situation. Your bees could have swarmed and then no replacement queen ever took over. Sounds like you are learning from your mistakes eventhough it may not feel like it. Adding boxes that arent needed as you learned causes the bees to do what you observed them doing. Bees generally prefer to work up and not sideways in a box if given the opportunity. But having too much hive space is more of an issue when starting a new package of bees or trying to overwinter in a cold climate.
Yes a package of bees isnt cheap but it does provide a lot of benefits in terms of pollination. Unless you have some type of virus that has infected your hive I would give it another go around. Find yourself another local mentor who is willing to help you learn. Join a local bee club/association.
This is arguably the best advice for anyone who is starting beekeeping. Even better if you can find someone as a mentor who has been treatment free for 7 or more years.
Please consider getting bees again but this time do the due diligence to find bees with genetics that can survive varroa.
I’ll give a slightly different answer re whether or not varroa destroyed your hive. It depends on how long the hive had been established. If it was a package that made it through winter, then varroa could have caused it to die out in July. It is also likely they could have gone queenless, could have been overwhelmed by hive beetles after being weakened by varroa, or died from some other problem that occurred in the hive.
Thank you both for the help and encouragement- i may try again. And as I said, its my own fault that I haven’t done more to educate myself on bees…I just didn’t know it was complicated/hard that it required one to learn so much. The more I read the more I realize that I have SO MUCH to learn. I must confess that I’m just not sure I’m devoted enough to invest the time and effort it apparently takes to learn enough about bee keeping to make it work.
I would like to clarify a couple things since you are both trying to help me figure out what went wrong this year…
I have 2 hives This spring, one of them was full of dead bees at the bottom and no bees alive. Not sure if they starved, froze, disease, mites, etc. The other hive had no dead bees, but only about 1/2 of a frame of live bees it the whole hive. IT DID HAVE A Queen, though. So, I left the almost empty hive with a few bees alone , and I bought a package and dumpted in the hive with the dead bees. I did clean out the dead bees. There were 2 boxes on each hive when I started. The packaged bees started off well. They started putting honey in the empty comb and capping it, and were definately laying some eggs which even made it to become new bees. The nearly-empty hive eventually died out and left it alone all summer, empty of bees. The one I put the package in seemed to be doing well, but I noticed the bees were all in the top box so I added one more box and soon added another, for a total of 4 boxes. and the bees just kept moving up instead of filling bottom and then moving up…
not sure if any of that helps but since you all had some confusion I wanted to clarify in case it helped you figure out what happened! Thanks
Hello bee experts, can you tell me what is going on here? Is it common for bees to attack other bees? Sorry for the facebook link, its all I have…
Not sure, I would only assume that the attacking bee was trying to rob the other bee of pollen it has already collected. Or simply trying to drive away from what it perceives as ITS food source.
The attacking bee is not a honeybee.
It looks like their legs or wings got tangled up. You can see another bee fly into them and they immediately disperse. Robbing is also a definite possibility.