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House Bee
Jun 19, 2011
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I performed my first "proper" inspection of my one hive yesterday and it was very eventful. I waited this long as I am new and wanted my mentor to be present to help me.

To cut a long story short I obtained the bees as a rescue mission in late October last year. The original beekeeper has passed away last year and the farmer wanted shot of the bees as he has no idea what to do. End result I took the hive home and transferred them to a new brood body as it had a huge woodpecker hole in the side. I have opened them once since to treat for oxalic acid in late Jan.

The plan for yesterday was to:
- have a proper inspection and assess the state of the bees
- start the bailey frame change to get them onto new frames and foundation.

Upon initial inspection of the first half of the frames we came to the conclusion that varroa was NOT an issue as we couldn't see any. However it was clear that they have an issue with chalk brood. Quite a lot in the inspection tray and quite a lot still in cells - we also had to check for AFB and EFB as we saw some perforated cell cappings. This turned out to be chalk brood again. We saw BIAS across these frames too and saw some eggs, so we were sure there was a queen somewhere. We also saw drones and drone cells too. However it appeared that there was a lot of stores and chalk brood. This meant that the queen was struggling to find anywhere to lay eggs. A slight concern, we were confident that the bailey frame change would address this as we had a laying queen.

Frame 8 was the game changer!

Frame 8 contained a fully developed and capped 2" long queen cell AND the existing queen. The queen looked reasonably active, the right length but appeared thin. This meant that we were confident it was a superseadure cell as it was right in the middle of the comb and also the bees reduce the queen's weight by about 30% when they are looking to supersede her.

The main question that went through our minds was:
- why would they be superseding her so early in the year?

We think its down to the fact that the bees know something is wrong with the current setup and this is their answer to resolving the issues?

So the bailey frame change was no longer the favoured option. We had a new plan!

The new plan consisted of splitting the hive. We ran to the garage to gather a spare hive. We build this hive next to the existing one and we moved all the bees and all but one the existing frames into this new hive. We carefully selected a frame that had BIAS and marked the queen. We then moved her to this frame and placed this frame back into the existing hive. We then shook all the bees into the new hive and proceeded to check all frames for additional queen cells. There weren't any. We placed the frame with the queen cell in the middle of the new hive and marked the frame so we know where this one is.

We then closed up the new hive, fed the existing hive with the original queen and closed that up too.

So the ideal outcome of this is:
(i had always wanted to run two hives anyway)

Old Hive:
Foraging bees will return here and think they have swarmed. We reckon most of the bees will make their way back to this hive anyway. They can draw out new comb and the queen can lay to her hearts content. Hopefully they will lose the instinct to try to supersede her again. We don't know how old this queen was so we will look to replace her anyway this year.

New Hive
The bees will realise they are queenless and do everything in their power to make sure this queen hatches safely. Then its fingers crossed she can mate successfully. This process could take 3 weeks minimum. They still have most of the BIAS so should be ok for a while. If this is all successful and the queen starts laying properly then I can start my bailey frame change and get these all on to new frames too - and with a new queen this colony will build up fast. Worst case the queen hatches with chalk brood or never gets mated and we will need to requeen. My mentor has about 17 hives, so he said we can cross that bridge if we get to that point. But hopefully in late April its easier to requeen than it is now.

I just wanted to share this with you all as for a beginner this seamed like some major work. Feel free to let me know your thoughts and I will update the thread as we go along.

I have posted this to the beginner forum as I am new, but I do have a great mentor, so if you are thinking this is too advanced for a beginner then apologies - but honestly I am a beginner :)
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And I hope the thrill never leaves you.....we'll done, and to your mentor who can obviously think on his feet which is good
Excellent! Your explanation is perfectly written and should be used by all newbies as a guide on what to do in similar circumstances.
Thanks for the positive response. I think the key for any new person is to be prepared. My mentor was telling me to get everything ready in advance. So I had already built a spare 14x12 brood and cleaned the supers, floors, c/b's etc. Built/cleaned all the frames and added the new foundation. Even the chap at the beekeeping shop was pleasantly surprised I was building frames for supers in March.

Just goes to show you never know when you will need spare kit.

Thanks again and I will post up the outcome of this split.

Hope she mates well. I still remember the rush I got when I saw the first ever queen I "bred" on a frame. And then another rush when you see those first little eggs!

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That's great! one of the biggest thrills and frustrations of trying to look after the little buzzers is that you can't be entirely sure of the outcome even when you've followed the very best advice! good luck and may you continue to enjoy the adventure!
The main question that went through our minds was:
- why would they be superseding her so early in the year?

Chalk brood

you dont want these genes in your apiary
Hi Curry,
Welcome to the forum to you and your mentor. A very well written account oozing with professionalism of what must have felt like a very eventful day. Can't wait to hear how you get on with all that!
Yeah good shout. We'll see if they try to supersede here again then in the old hive. I wanna check how they are getting on but i cant. Must resist, must wait till the weekend....
Still have resisted the urge not to open either of the colonies bee-smillie

I have however just checked the feeder in the existing hive and the one pint of sugar solution I gave them on Monday has gone. So filled it up again. They have lots of comb to draw.

I am a little concerned though about the new hive (the queenless one with the old frames and the capped queen cell). I am noticing a lot of bee poop on the front outer wall of the hive? Is this to be expected? They aren't flying much but are walking around the exterior of the hive. Is this because they are queenless?

It sounds to me as if they are ill. Bee faeces at the front of the hive now in the season may indicate nosema.

Reference queen cell: are you sure it's viable? Depending on the state of the hive (you give few details about age of comb and number of bees) it may even be an old, resealed and neglected cell, especially if is on an area of comb that they have abandoned.

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It sounds to me as if they are ill. Bee faeces at the front of the hive now in the season may indicate nosema.

Reference queen cell: are you sure it's viable? Depending on the state of the hive (you give few details about age of comb and number of bees) it may even be an old, resealed and neglected cell, especially if is on an area of comb that they have abandoned.

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Thanks for the reply. I am confused as it's only just started since moving the bees to a new 14x12 on Monday. They were in a 14x12 in a White WBC case before and there was no evidence of this. In fact the other 1/2 of the colony (in wbc) are not showing any signs of this.

The queen cell is was right in the middle of the frame in a 'worked' area of comb. The comb doesn't seem too old but the frames are broken hence me wanting to change them. My mentor seemed to think it was viable. And this cell wasn't there in October. My mentor also didn't raise any concern over nosema on Monday either. He also told me not to expect many, if any, flying bees from this new ql hive. I haven't spoken to him about this yet.

I am not disputing what you are saying - I am a beginner so have to take advice. I plan to open this hive on Sunday to see if the queen hatched. I will look for signs of dysentery in the hive too and report back.

Appreciate the help :thanks:
Hi Curry,
You have a hive full of newbies all the old hands are with the queen. They will not do much at first as they are nurse bees, but will take on foraging duties soon. A bit of poo on the outside of the hive is not unusual at this time of the year and some young bees will not venture far to do it.
I would not worry on those scores.
Ok so performed a hive inspection on both hives.

Existing hive:
2-4 seams of bees. They have drawn two and a half sides of comb in total - one and a bit each side of the old frame I left in. Filled with nectar, pollen and eggs. They have emptied the one pint feeder twice in the six days. (1.5lb sugar to 1pt water) so filled it up again and put it on. Will check this on Wednesday. Also just ordered 2 x 2.5l ones.

New hive:
2-4 seams of bees. The queen cell doesn't appear to have hatched - any way of double checking? Queen cell was capped on Monday when we found it. Didn't look for a queen - she'd be virgin and not laying. I can never find them anyway, Lots of queen cups (about 6) some with white stuff in them. Assuming they are building more? Can't check anything else till Wednesday but can I get some ideas of things to check please? Shall I start feeding this hive - they have lots of stores so prob not worth it?

Any other comments / advice?

Thanks ;)
Hi Curry,
You may have been a little bit too eager to have a look for the virgin to have emerged. She may not be due out until tomorrow or it could be an old resealed QC. Were the bees paying any attention to the QC? Well, it would appear that you now have a bunch of emergency cells on the way produced by a small nuc which is not ideal.
Hey Beeno,

No the bees weren't paying huge amounts of attention to the Queen cell. They were showing interest in the other cups though. Fingers crossed she's hatched by Wednesday inspection.
Failing that I could leave it two more weeks for all the larve to hatch and amalgamate the hives back together again? The old hive now has new frames so they might just be happy with that?