Sunday, May 27, 2012

HELP!..I think my hives are a disaster!

OK...I wasn't going to do another post until I got caught up with a few things but I know Pioneer Preppy can give me some advice and any other bee keepers out there who may read this.  It will be another month before my inspector comes and I plan to ply him with cool drink and cookies to keep him here as long as possible to answer my million questions.

Papa Bear and I opened the hives this morning.  Haven't done it two weeks.  I am doing the inspection while Papa Bear acts as cameraman.  

 I think I should be pleased with this first frame I pulled out.  My bee book is missing in action at the moment but I think this is capped brood.

 The second frame pulled looked good too.  After this it all goes down hill.

 The next 3 frames looked like this.  I apparently do not have the frames spaced right.  I think this is the reason for the comb all over the place.  When I pried the frames apart some comb tore between the framesThese are dripping with sticky syrup which I assume is the beginning of honey.  I also saw a couple of larva in this thick comb.  Would this be bee larva there or is it something I should worry about?  This is hive one.  There are 5 frames drawn out now.   I am thinking I should go back in and scrape these chunks of wax out and try to get my spacing better.

The second hive is really bad.  There is very little capped.  I am beginning to wonder if I have lost the queen in this one.  I have not seen the queens in either one although I tried to look good today.  Two frames look pretty much like this.

And then this one with just the comb being drawn.

It was so already hot this morning at 8:30, I didn't get to look as long as I wanted too.  I also forgot my glasses so I don't know if there is any eggs or bee larva in any of those cells or not.
I think I am going to have to make an effort to get out to the hives around  5:30 AM so I can breath and look at the same time.  It already is feeling like July here.  We have hit the triple digits two days in a row and the humidity is so high you are instantly soaked going outside.


  1. Wish I could help. I know zit about bees other than what I read at PP's blog. Good luck.

    1. Thank you Stephen... I don't know zit either except I wanted my own bees and eventually honey! I am an accident waiting to happen!

      I pray things are going better for you.

  2. I don't know anything about bees either, but I hope you get your answers soon.


    1. Thanks RW... I know Preppy will help out when he reads this but I think I already know what he's going to say. Get in there and remove that comb, find my queens and make sure they are laying....LOL

  3. From what I see your bees are doing well MB.

    The comb going everywhere could be a spacing problem but the reality is that until they build comb you will not have proper bee space so it is all a spacing problem if you get my meaning.

    Two bare foundation frames pushed next to each other creates a larger space between the two foundations so sometimes they will build out to the other frame. Also when they build out they will sometimes create tunnels under the comb they built which makes it really hard to find the queen if she likes to run and hide.

    If you know there are enough nurse bees to take care of the brood then you can move the mis-shapen frame to the very end positions which will force the girls to begin working on another frame. Later after you add your second brood chamber you can move mishapen frames to the top box outside position and wait till they fill it with capped honey and then correct the problem.

    Getting an entire hive of perfect drawn frames takes years in my experience. Only my garden hive doesn't connect frames anymore and I just switched out five old frames so they maybe mucking up the new ones now.

  4. Next the girls are building alot of burr comb because they need cells larger than the ones patterned from the frames you have to deposit drone eggs in. Bee chicks are all straight and they absolutely require as many drones as they can possibly get despite the fact us bee keepers don't think they need more than 10 at a time or so.

    I have tried the drone frames with limited success you are going to have to get used to burr comb and keep cleaning it off until the girls stop building it. Eventually they begin using the drone frames but it sometimes takes a while.

    One advantage I can see with those bee keepers who go with all smaller (medium) brood chambers is that it is easier to switch frames around to correct problems.

  5. The last two questions - If the larva were in a cell then they are bee larva. If they were in a cocoon type thing on the side of the box then it might be wax moth larva. If it was a white worm crawling around on it's own then it may also be wax moth larva.

    Queens build up differently and some can be kinda duds. If the second hive still doesn't have capped brood in another week or two then you could try moving some open (uncapped) brood from the other hive so the girls can raise a new queen.

    So far everything I see in your pics looks normal. The girls will build some weird comb as they are building up but will then realize they have wasted some space and screwed up and will go back and fix it later as well.

    Honestly I don't fret over the brood chambers that much. Sure it can sometimes become a mess but constantly messing with it to keep it tidy can hurt a colony more. About twice a year I will go into each hive and try and remove the burr comb. When they attach the two brood chambers together I tip one slightly and then run a piano wire tool between the two chambers to separate them. This always kills drone brood and the girls get really upset I am killing off their future cabana boy entertainment. Worker brood is usually in the frames and doesn't get hurt.

  6. Yes pic four especially is a column the girls have built for drones. That is drone larva you exposed when you split the frames apart. In fact it looks like one of the drone larva has a mite on it as well.

    You might try picking up a few drone frames to put in your boxes but as I said they will still build burr comb.

  7. Oh ya and the drone frames work great for controlling mites. The mites prefer drone larva to infect so once the drone frames are drawn out and being used you simply remove one and freeze it. Yes you kill the useless (to us) drone larva but you also remove all those mites.

    After they are dead uncap the frame and let the girls remove the little dead drones and start over.

  8. LOL - Sorry I keep posting but you asked alot of questions. The uneven comb frames as I said when they have a few frames that are good or perfect eventually move the uneven ones to the outside of the chamber. The queen will usually only lay on the middle eight frames so the foragers will eventually fill the outside frames with honey and cap them. Once they are capped remove them and uncap/harvest the honey. After that the extra bulging comb will be straightened out or if it is badly tunneled you can simply remove all the wax and let them start over.

  9. I hope I didn't confuse you too much MB any other questions just ask. My email is connor at fife (dash) drum dot com. I warn ya though I am notoriously bad at checking email so if you don't get an answer quick comment on my blog and tell me to get with it.

  10. PP...Thank you...thank you....thank you. You don't know how much better I feel. I am going to get out there early in the next day or two before it really gets hot and see if I can find the queens. I really thought I would see them easily as they painted a bright florescent dot on the both of them. I did see little tunnels like you said where she may be hiding. I am still worried about that second hive. If I move an uncapped frame to the second hive do I get all of the bees off first? I am afraid...what if the queen is hiding on that frame and I accidentally move her? Also...what do you use for mites. I have read of problems with mites but I don't know what to treat them with or when. Do you just treat them as a preventative even if you don't see any? I read about dusting them with powdered sugar so they will groom each other and that supposedly helps with the mites. Anything to that?

    One last question and I promise to be quiet...LOL Will those bee larva die when I pulled those cells apart or will the workers reseal them?

    Thanks for the email address. I will send you a quick note so you will have mine and then you can erase that comment if you like. Sometimes I go days without reading my mail too!

  11. I will dust with powdered sugar if I see alot of mites. I do not treat in anyway with chemicals. I use screened bottom boards which allow the mites to fall through the screen and makes it difficult for them to get back into the hive. I usually don't run the screens wide open until the night times temps stay above 80 or I see the girls constantly bearding. I also as I said will remove the drone frame and freeze it which kills off alot of mites as well.

    If you move eggs or larva from one hive to another it is a good idea to brush all the bees off before moving them. If you are sure the queen isn't on that frame a few bees moved will not fight and will join the new hive without a problem but best to be 100% sure the queen isn't on it.

    Mites and small hive beetles are the biggest pain for me. I need to re-engineer my hive stands to make a small hive beetle (and ant) barrier. So far between the screened bottom boards, and the rare dusting and drone frame removal I have not had a colony killed by mites. I lost three very weak hives last year due to wax moths and small hive beetles but also I added space too fast to them thinking they would build up as fast as my original bees do. The ones I lost were not from my immediate area originally and had some different traits I didn't figure in properly. Live and learn.

    Sadly I suspect the larva you exposed did die but do not fret it because they were drone larva so no great loss.

  12. PioneerPreppy to the rescue. and all was good again in the world! good luck Mama - you are doing fine!

    your friend,


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