Overwintering Advice - Unite Or Not?

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mick-a 

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I have 2 hives:

Hive1 - Inspected two weeks ago and Carnolian Queen is still laying. However this colony has failed to take in much in the way of stores - only 12lbs - and there is room to store more. This colony also has Varroa despite recent treatment.

Hive 2 - In September I marked the Queen (locally reared) but her workers didn't like this and seemed to ball her. i thought the queen would be dead but a week later she was still alive. Two weeks ago I inspected the colony and could find no queen and again today I couldn't find her. This colony has lots of bees and has taken in 34lbs of syrup. It has no Varroa and still has some drones there is no brood .

Is it best to leave the colonies alone or to unite them or do something else? Can anybody help please?
 
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Between a "rock and a hard place"

Pick a sunny warmish day... we are still getting them here on the shores of the Tamar, and go look for your Queen again, my NewZealand crossed Carniolian just loves to play "hide and go seek", but by creaping up without the smoker and singing quietly LaLa Bees, today I caught her unawares!

The Carnolian Queens in other hives almost attack me and never hide... I sometimes do not see them as I am too frightened to go through all the frames ... with the buzziefuss the workers kick up! Threatening them with mini magnets next year if they don't behive themselves!!

If there is no brood, maybe she has come to the end of her days.... or run away.
If you unite beesure that one queen will kill the other and you will need to requeen the colony next year.... but they will make it through you would at least have a strong colony... strong enough to split? .. so order 2 new queens!!

My grandfather... he would be 108 if still alive, always kept his newspapers, and would select the oldest newssheet he had to use in uniting colonies.... I don't know why, something to do with the printing ink?

You could sugar dust the varroa bearing colony before putting the other brood on top, is it too late in the season to treat with ApililifeVar?

Good luck!!
 

Finman 

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Put a larva frame from another hive. If there will be queen cells, then it is queeless.
 

psafloyd 

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I had the first look INSIDE mine since I removed my Apiguard last week and was very encouraged.
There was a lot of activity today with many of the girls coming in with packed thighs (yellow pollen) but as I hadn't had a look inside when i removed Apiguard, I went in at 1300 as it was a lovely warm day with low winds.
Anyway, LOTS of activity on the eight (or is it nine) frames in there. I haven't removed the frame feeder as it was very cold when i removed the main feeder as they refused to take any more than about a gallon in the weeks after I got them.
Anyway, went through the back half of the box, two frames, one half drawn and the other fully drawn but no stores (were not that advanced last time I was in).
The next two are absolutely packed with stores, half of one capped, the rest being covered. The next two very heavy with stores with the next half capped brood but there I stopped.
Didn't want to have it open any longer as I know my queen is there still, with some lively fat and less mature larvae on this frame. I imagine HM was on the next frame, but with the evidence, I didn't bother going further.
As I got the bees late and they weren't overflowing with stores, I was concerned they wouldn't have enough as they didn't feed very much.
Gave the hive a heft (just national brood box, crown board and roof) and it is considerably heavier than it was a fortnight ago.
Will keep an eye out but much more confident than I was before.
 

oliver90owner 

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You should have learned one lesson - never do something from which you may have severe difficulty in recovering from if things go wrong! Do not mark queens late in the season if you only have one or two colonies!

Hive 1 they will always have varroa. No silver bullet so you simply reduce and wait and reduce again. You can kill 100% of the mites but that would entail killing a large prportion of the colony too! So not good.

Neither knowing the eficacy of any treatment nor the treatment given, I cannot comment, except that earlier intervention will be needed than one would normally expect aftre a n efficient treatment. Seems as though the colony is either using stores for brooding, even now (poor choice of strain of queen), or no feed given (poor husbandry) or small colony. As you offer no information on the above, I would guess a small colony. As such it may be more provident to reduce the space or move them into a nuc and feed fondant all winter.

Hive 2

As para 1. I am doubting the presence of a queen but could not be sure from your account. Marked queen, invisible in a colony at this time of the year, etc rings alarm bells, as does no brood for at least the last three weeks. Was there any brood two weeks ago? because I can't tell from here. So it could be 5 weeks with no brood new brood.

What do you mean by 34 pounds of syrup? 34 of sugar or 22 (presuming here that it was 2:1 syrup)?

You could pop in a test frame from your other colony to see if they draw queen cells. No chance of getting mated, but at least you might have some more information on which to make a deciision. A positive result (ie queenless) would mean uniting, if possible, at the earliest opportunity.

Whatever you do is likely to be wrong, so I think doing nothing may yet be the best of a bad job. She may be there, but your marking was ineffective and queen-finding ability is less than experienced, shall we say.

At least a suggestion and some ideas, but may not be what you are wanting to hear.

Regards, RAB
 

Vergilius 

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Mick-a

Sorry to say but it sounds like a pretty grim situation- I would leave them alone aside from feeding hive 1 some fondant.

Drones still around could indicate that there is no queen in hive 2 although I cannot be certain.

Ben P
 

Hebeegeebee 

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RAB's advice seems a trifle negative...
Not a good time of year to do it but you could put a test frame in and see. If queencells then cut them out and unite. If you have a mentor - ask for help in spotting the queen as experience does help with these things. (My kids seem to spot them better than me).

Or leave alone. Or steal a couple of frames of stores from the heavy hive and donate.

Always lots of choices!

I have one colony that has failed to take feed and is light; bees still flying well. So the lack of feed taking may not be your fault!

With two other colonies (sister queens) one pushes everything up to the super and there was no stores in the brood chamber a month ago. The other packed the brood chamber with stores and ignored the super. An example of how colonies behave differently. That's the fun of it.
 

mick-a 

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Thanks for the quick replies

Thanks for the replies that have been posted on this so quickly. Just to give a bit more information about the hives.

Hive 1 was treated with Apiguard in mid September. They have been given feed in the form of 2:1 syrup and have only taken in 12lbs of sugar delivered in this way. We have provided them with more than this (in a contact feeder) but they have not been taking it in. The queen is there and laying. The bees have been out and about today – which has been sunny.

Hive 2 as mentioned we marked the queen in September and had the problem with balling when released from the marker cage. However she was definitely still there and active a week later. The marking was very visible and we think we would be able to see her if she was there – but realise we could be missing her. There is no brood and there has not been any for at least 3 weeks. The bees are vigorous, no Varroa and have taken in 34lbs of sugar fed in the form of 2:1 syrup.

We are in North Yorkshire and have heather near our house and there is himalayan balsam nearby – so they did have access to other food sources late in the season, but Hive 1 is a lot lighter than Hive 2. We did wonder about transferring some frames from Hive 2 to share the reserves.

We are trying to avoid the situation of losing both colonies over winter. We have a vigorous well stored, disease free, but probably queenless colony and a weaker, less well stored, diseased, but queened colony.

So it’s a dilemma and we are nearly in November!
 

oliver90owner 

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Hebeegeebee,

RAB's advice seems a trifle negative

Hang on a minute! Try actually reading my response before making comments like that! Yes, read it properly


I included, which you seem to hav totally missed:

You could pop in a test frame from your other colony to see if they draw queen cells........ followed by ....A positive result (ie queenless) would mean uniting, if possible, at the earliest opportunity.

For hive 1 may be more provident to reduce the space or move them into a nuc and feed fondant all winter.

Negative indeed! I think you may need a trip to specsavers!


You say:Or leave alone. Or steal a couple of frames of stores from the heavy hive and donate. When you don't even know how heavy the Hive 2 actually is! Come on with all the missing detail, what can one really expect?

Heres another negative thought: You say So the lack of feed taking may not be your fault!

I might say (if that is the case and they are not using stores for brooding instead of winter reserves): The queen, if imported, has a fair chance of being nosemic, just to add an extra possible complication. Now, who is to blame if the queen is of imported origin? Certainly not me. I don't subscribe to that route in any way.

There was not really alot to go on. I just spelt it out as it was, but only if.......and you, well any of your additions above and beyond my response didn't really hold water anyway.

RAB
 

Poly Hive 

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Precisely we are nearly in November. And your location is further north than mine so I suggest this.

Do not rob Peter to pay Paul.

Your contact feeder is not working change to a frame feeder.

If your bees still refuse to take syrup then put on an empty super and feed fondant.

If you lose the possibly queenless colony then you lose it, but dinna risk the Q+ one while you do so.

You can always make up the loss next year from the survivor but not if BOTH are dead.

Tough love maybe but the realistic option.

PH
 

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