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Advice needed - Liquid leaking out of hive

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Mandeville 

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Hi everyone!

I'm a VERY new beekeeper, so please go easy on me :)

We got our first bees at the very end of August - someone collected a very small swarm and gave them to us in a nuc, because they knew we really wanted to get started. We know there's not much hope of us getting them through the winter, but we want to give them the best chance we can.

All seemed fine - the queen was laying and they were out foraging whenever the weather was OK, and we gave them syrup and then candy as the weather got colder.

The problem now is that there is a puddle of dark reddy-brown watery liquid outside the entrance which has obviously come from inside the hive. There's no detectable smell to it.

This doesn't seem like a good thing! Has anyone any ideas what this could be and what we should do about it?

I'd be really grateful for any advice
Thanks
Mandy
 
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Whats the weather like at yours?

Snow and ice thawing?
 

MJBee 

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Hi Mandy,
Is the hive on an open mesh floor? If yes use a mirror and torch to have a shufty from below. You could also give the side of the brood a sharp tap and listen for a buzz. These ideas will not solve the mystery but will let you know that at least they are still alive. The current weather does NOT allow further inspection.
 

Rosti 

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Just a build on Dishmops theory, what colour is the wood preservative that has been used and is there a logical 'drip' route from the hive outer surfaces to the puddle? You say "obviously come from inside the hive" has it come from the inside? Is the inside wood preserved as well (shouldn't be)? Have you got a water leak into the hive? Pictures would help, same as rest dont open up now!

Alternatively the girls have been on the sherry and spilt some.
 
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roche 

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Could be condensate. MJBee is right - don't open...
 

Mandeville 

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Hello - thank you so much for replying!

Yes - we have thawing snow and ice here, and I'd thought that maybe it was melted condensation from inside.

It's a nuc which we were given and it's painted orangey brown - I've seen lots of hives the same colour so I guess it's ok stuff. Can't remember what it looks like inside - we haven't inspected it many times since we got it. I'm sure water's not leaking into it, and there doesn't seem to be anywhere it could be dripping from outside. It really does seem to have come out of the opening.

It's got a solid floor so no chance of looking up from underneath.

I'll try tapping it tomorrow and see if I can hear anything - thanks for that suggestion.

Rosti - you're right - a teaspoonfull of Bristol Cream is exactly what it looks like!!! I'll have a go at posting some pix tomorrow.
 

Kev 

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Hi Mandy,
Assuming that you dont have an open mesh floor as it is a WBC hive so first idea is condensation as roche said.
Do you have a mouse guard fitted? if not it maybe that something has got in and is eating comb and releasing stores - stored honey or syurp will absorb water and become liquid if uncapped. It could be that it doesnt smell because it is too cold for it to ferment. Try mopping up some of the liquid and taking indors - see if it starts to smell like it is fermenting.
As Rosti said, some pictures would help.

Kev
 

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Do you have a glass crownboard ?
 

jimbeekeeper 

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"need more info" as some would say! A picture tells a thousand words so that would also help. Solid or mesh floor?

Following on from the advice of look into the hive entrance and a good knock on the outside and listen.

But if you are concerend and it was my hive, having followed the above, I would open the crown board and look in for a few seconds.

BUT not much you could do this time of year, unless water was getting in, but most of UK is still frozen, so back to logical that snow/ice has got in and is now melting and been coloured by honey/wax/hive dirt etc.
 
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Nuc made from ply?

Bit thin....?

condensation, frozen, now thawing?
 

Skyhook 

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If they're on a solid floor with lots of condensation, check the level. The back should be a little higher than the front (1cm?) so that at least there isn't a puddle inside.

Also- wait for confirmation on this- would it be a good idea to open the feed hole, at least slightly, so at least they've got some ventilation old-styley, as they're not on OMF?
 

Kev 

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Hi Mandy,
What sort of hive is it? saw that your have WBC listed in your profile and assumed.

Kev
 

Rosti 

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Updated thought since you say its a solid floor.

Have you got it tilted slightly forward to ensure water /rain /snow does not naturally flow into the hive and pool on the solid floor.

Doesn't help your investigation but does protect for the future. R
 
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Snow is very good at findings its way into places where rain doesnt. The ruin of many caravans....
 

Poly Hive 

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The answer on a solid floor is to put insulation above NOT to let the warmth out.

PH
 

Skyhook 

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The answer on a solid floor is to put insulation above NOT to let the warmth out.

PH
On an OMF I would agree absolutely. But, given the mantra of 'cold doesn't kill bees, damp kills bees', is there not an argument here for getting rid of the damp as first priority?

I stand to be corrected given your experience, but this seems to run counter to much of what I've read.
 

Poly Hive 

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If the bees are warm above they tend not to have damp and yes it runs contrary to the match stick brigade.

A great deal of wintering research was done at Craibstone, in harsher conditions than in most of the UK and that was the result. Warmth above.

Just because something is repeated ad nauseum does not always make it right!

PH
 

Mandeville 

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Hi - sorry about the WBC confusion - we've got one of those as well.

The nuc walls are pretty thin, so we have put some insulation boards up against them to try and keep the cold out a bit. The crown board is wooden not glass, and there's an eek (Sp?) above it which makes room for the feeder. We've put some more insulation into this space as well.

The entrance is pretty small and they've propolised it quite a bit, so I don't think a mouse could get in. They've also semi-filled the vent so ventilation could be an issue maybe?

It is possible that it is tilted back a bit - I'll check that in the morning.

The forecast for tomorrow is for sun and a tad warmer than it has been - maybe safe to take the roof off very briefly??

Thanks for all the replies.
Mandy
 
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Checked some of mine today....2 or 3 had 3 to 4 cm long icicles where the condensation was running out of the hive entrance and freezing....but clear like ice.....
 

jean 

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Hey Jimbeekeeper, I nearly burned a hole in my screen with a cigaret butt:D:D
 

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