Bee hive update

Well, as previously reported, I was concerned about the smaller brood (the swarm control brood) which was not thriving. I hoped they might get a move on but they have gone in the other direction. Clearly the queen has stopped laying or she has been knocked off by something. I opened the hive and all was very quiet.  A scattering of bees on the super, but no comb built out there, and underneath in the brood box the brood frames were mostly uncapped and empty, with a sparse few capped and emerging young and really very few bees in the hive at all. The colony is dying and will be all done in a week or two.

But next door - and this may be connected - is total frenzy. Two whole supers of capped honey and thousands of bees coming and going. I watched them carefully and noticed some flying out of the big hive, up, and back into the entrance of the other hive. Normally this would be met by a hoard of sentry bees who would tackle the intruder and kill it.  But as it is such a weak colony there are none defending.  So I think they have been raiding the other hive.

Brutal.  But at least the big one should survive winter.

On the insect theme, our butterflies have hatched.  One has his wings stuck together


It is always slightly distressing opening a hive and discovering they are dead or dwindling.  Here I have a split emotion. Joy at progress of Hive 1 and sadness at Hive 2. 

I heard that Mike Myers was a well-known apiarist...

Take on bees (take on bees)

Take bees on (take bees on)

I've been stung

in the...

*super high voice*



The waning hive is now entirely silent. Not a bee to be seen. Most oddly no dead bees inside either. Makes me wonder if they swarmed and found a new home then the stragglers moved out when they found the queen’s new place. But NO dead bees. Not even a corpse. Then I noticed a nest of earwigs. They’ve probably been eating the bodies. 

By contrast the other one is almost overfull. There must be 50-60,000 in there. 

It’s making me wonder. If the queen dies in a hive and there is a residual brood colony I wonder if they ever change allegiance and move into another colony. This could explain the sudden drop in one population and the huge crowd in the other. Like they just moved into the nicer house next door. 

I have a nuc (beek jargon for a baby colony) since last week.

Very late in the year.  But have you see the instructions for assembling a beehive: they make IKEA wardrobe instructions look like ‘How to put a stamp on an envelope’ incomplete, in a foreign language, for a different model, with obviously mislabelled pieces.

My ambition at the moment is to get them to grow enough and store enough to survive the winter.  So I will feed them a lot. 

At the moment three frames have lots of brood. 

They are foraging for pollen ok. 

I’m worried by the wasps. All day long there are half a dozen outside the entrance hovering like apache helicopters. Seeing the bees attack in pairs is entertaining and educational:  but the fight is to the death, and although two or three bees defend against each wasp they don’t always win :(   I’m looking at ‘robbing screens’  to protect the entrance and wasp traps that don’t attract bees.



Sorry to hear about your hive.

Sounds like absconding more than swarming. But that should leave behind the nurse bees who are too young to fly and the brood.

I understand that individual bees, particularly drones, can wander off into a different hive and be accepted. I don’t think a cast of workers will leave without a queen. Left queenless they’ll try to rear a new queen if they have viable young enough larvae. 

Yes - all valid points but

1 no queen cells on the frames 

2 they did leave behind nurse bees and some brood but these only survive a few weeks and the brood dwindled, suggesting queen death or departure some weeks ago as the laying declined and thus the remaining population declined gradually.

3 there are some un-hatched capped worker and drone brood cells in the frames (not many - say five per frame). No sign of disease etc like EFB. 

This was a swarm control nuc. Quite small when I put it in the hive - 5 frames of brood. It never got going and seems to have been a gradual weakening of the queen then curtains over last 8 weeks. 

Yet the other is massive and by far the biggest hive I have ever reared.  I have never heard of workers joining another hive. Drones do relocate and this may have happened earlier, increasing rate of decline of the nucleus. 

It is very late for a nuc. Feed weekly 2 pints of water to 2 lbs of sugar and hope for the best. You will do well to maintain those.

the hives I have built have come without instructions. Just boxes and boxes of wooden bits. But I already had others so was able to work it out. 

Wasps are a major issue in Aug / Sept and they will take brood. Also watch out for wax moth. 

My uncle is besotted with his bees. He's recently suffered sight loss in relation to his cancer and he's devastated that he won't be able to keep them any more :-( (or :-) as it's RoF).