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steve_e 

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I have a possibly daft question but with my hives outside my kitchen window I'm able to observe them several times a day - maybe turning a new beekeeper into a twitchy nervous one...

Over the last couple of weeks I've noticed occasional wax uncappings happening under two of my three hives (it's a crushed sandstone base so much more visible than grass and the hives are OMF).

It seems to happen within a day and looks as though one frame is involved (a strip running from front to back).

So the question is, what is this an indicator of? Are the bees just uncapping and consuming their stores? If so why so much in such short spurts?

Or is it possible a lot of new brood is emerging at one time? Probably the wrong time of year for this to happen (and I might be clutching at straws here as I think one of those colonies might be queenless...)?

Or any other reason?
 
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During bad weather they will consume stores, simple as that, especially when day time temperatures are fairly high and they are not clustering to conserve energy.
 

steve_e 

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Thanks Rooftops. So this seems OK do you reckon? It appeared in pretty much a day.
 
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That does seem a lot for a day but as it is all in a line it looks as if it came from a frame rather than a mouse. Just be careful it wasn't robbing so keep an eye on the entrance when the weather is warm and the sun is out - look for bees hovering and darting around the entrance looking to find a way in. Also check for dead bees under the entrance, another sign of robbing.
 

oliver90owner 

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Rooftops guesses seem fairly close to the mark, possibly the second more so, but being in a line back to front goes against that, as a guess.

What we need to make a good guess is more information. Relative positions, strength of colonies, strain of bees might all be usefull. Is this strip to the edge of the colony or nearer the centre line? Is this both hives at the same time or consecutively? Are those bees active? Mouseguards fitted or not and when, if they are?

The shavings look, from the distant pic, to be well spread, but that may be due to the weather. If you are observing them several times a day, I would be surprised that you had not noted some different behaviour.

Regards, RAB
 

steve_e 

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Thanks both. Rooftops, I'll see if I can detect any robbing or defensive behaviour.

Both hives are pretty active (although not today, it's a bit nippy down on the coast in the south-east at the moment).

The lines are down the edge of the colony so not the central frames. It's only happened twice, a week or two apart between the two colonies so apparently unrelated.

They both have reasonably good stores, with fairly well filled BBs (and I also left a part filled super above each BB - one thing that has just occurred to me is that they may be uncapping the super honey and bringing it down into the BB?).

No mouseguards fitted but the entrance blocks are quite small. I know mice can get into very small entrances, but after a recent conversation here about the drawbacks of mouseguards I've been toying with the idea of not putting them on.

The three hives are probably only three feet apart from each other (to return to the robbing/drifting possibility). Is this asking for trouble?
 

Hivemaker. 

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Does it happen during frosty,or colder nights? Have you pulled the entrance block and looked.
 

steve_e 

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Hmm. One yes, one no, I'd say Hivemaker. It was certainly sub-zero last night, but the first time it was mainly damp and windy, but not particularly cold.

What would I be looking for if I pulled out the entrance block?
 

Hivemaker. 

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Just look to see if there is a lot more wax and debris on the floor inside.
 

Poly Hive 

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This is an instance, one of the few mark you, where I will say open up and look.

From the pic it seems way too much wax for a few cells being uncapped, and with it being very cold (at least here) the bees will be clustered but if it is a mouse it will not be.....and with luck will scoot straight out.

PH
 

oliver90owner 

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Both hives are pretty

And the other one? Also is there a super on the other one?

They may well be moving stores up from below the broodnest.

only three feet apart

Distance is fairly unimportant. Relative strength is far more important.

As an aside, it is not good practice, having only part-filled supers on - the unused space needs to be kept warm. It may have been better to pack them out with something. You also said 'with fairly well filled BBs'. If there were empty frames, it may have been prudent to move the colony to one side of the box or to fit insulated dummies.

All things considered, if it not mice, there is little to do about in mid-November.

Regards, RAB
 

steve_e 

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Ok, thanks people. I'll keep an eye on them over the next few days and if it carries on or gets worse, or if the weather warms up a little I'll go in and make sure there are no mice in residence.
 

MJBee 

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As the debris looks as if it is from the outer frame it should be possible to GENTLY unstick the crown board and SLIDE it 2" to the left thus exposing the suspect frame(s) without letting all the heat out. Have a torch handy to see if there is a mouse in there, it should only take a second or two.
 

oliver90owner 

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There is an OMF unerneath. Look up underneath. There will likely be larger lumps of comb on the OMF if there are mice in these hives.

Regards, RAB
 

steve_e 

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Thanks both - I'll see how it looks from underneath first and then open it up if necessary. :)
 
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