Saving a dwindling hive

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

PhilN 

New Bee
Joined
Jun 10, 2020
Messages
48
Reaction score
21
Location
Hampshire
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
3
Hi, I continue to soldier on with a real mish mash of hives which, once things have settled down, I hope to rationalise. The issue I currently have is a hive that I think has a ‘late’ mated Virgin queen. I’ve now got a really nice brood pattern... but there are very few nurse and foraging bees left to support the new brood- down to only two or three seams of bees in a 14x12. Should I bump them all in to a small nuc or can I steal bees from a worker drone laying hive I’ve got (which is due to be shaken out anyway)? I’ve got a couple of colonies that I could potentially steal worker bees from to support this hive but don’t know if and how it could be done.
Thanks (one day I hope to be able to give rather than ask for advice!)
P
 

Boston Bees 

Bumblebee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Oct 13, 2020
Messages
1,103
Reaction score
972
Location
West Yorkshire
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
10-20
How much existing brood is there, and of what age?
 

hemo 

Drone Bee
Joined
Jun 2, 2009
Messages
1,345
Reaction score
777
Location
West Sussex /RH.
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
6-10
14 X 12 is too large for 3 seams of bees, place them in a nuc. Its as bad as the qe2 living in Buck palace when ideally a bungalow is more then ample for her.
 

ericbeaumont 

Drone Bee
Joined
Sep 23, 2010
Messages
1,585
Reaction score
1,074
Location
North London, West Essex and Surrey
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
70
Shake out the laying workers (I assume by worker drone laying you mean laying workers) on a board sloping up to the entrance of the colony in need, once it's been put into a poly nuc. The LWs will soon pick up the Q+ hive scent and go in and boost the weak colony; any that don't convert won't be allowed in.

If bees from two colonies are mixed directly they'll fight, but they won't from three colonies. Use bees from supers and shake them onto the entrance board.

Best feed the nuc in the absence of a flow or a strong foraging force.
 

PhilN 

New Bee
Joined
Jun 10, 2020
Messages
48
Reaction score
21
Location
Hampshire
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
3
How much existing brood is there, and of what age?
Not sure! There are approximately 4 sides (2 frames) of capped worker brood on 14x12 national frames. There are just about enough bees to cover the same. I think that I’ve got a very recently mated queen (last year’s seems to have disappeared) and the bees left to rear seems to be dwindling fast... would be a shame to lose the hive as it’s a tidy looking queen!
Shake out the laying workers (I assume by worker drone laying you mean laying workers) on a board sloping up to the entrance of the colony in need, once it's been put into a poly nuc. The LWs will soon pick up the Q+ hive scent and go in and boost the weak colony; any that don't convert won't be allowed in.

If bees from two colonies are mixed directly they'll fight, but they won't from three colonies. Use bees from supers and shake them onto the entrance board.

Best feed the nuc in the absence of a flow or a strong foraging force.
thanks that’s very helpful- I’ll get on to it this morning..
 

elainemary 

Field Bee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
654
Reaction score
707
Location
Yorkshire
Hive Type
wbc
Number of Hives
10
Shake out the laying workers (I assume by worker drone laying you mean laying workers) on a board sloping up to the entrance of the colony in need, once it's been put into a poly nuc. The LWs will soon pick up the Q+ hive scent and go in and boost the weak colony; any that don't convert won't be allowed in.

If bees from two colonies are mixed directly they'll fight, but they won't from three colonies. Use bees from supers and shake them onto the entrance board.

Best feed the nuc in the absence of a flow or a strong foraging force.
Good advice. I have a Nuc that has just mated (sealed cell from a main hive made into a 5 frame Nuc). My mistake was leaving it in the apiary I made it up in & although I kept it closed for first 36 hours lost quite a few bees. Now has 3 frames with brood on it and about 3 frames of workers but not densely covering the brood. Was wondering best way to boost it & whether to unite some frames of bees over newspaper but your suggestion is far quicker. Question: should these bees from 3 or more colonies come from a separate apiary or will it still work if from the same apiary? Know in theory, super bees have not yet progressed to be foragers but good to have insight from practical experience!
 

pargyle 

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Oct 16, 2012
Messages
13,157
Reaction score
3,231
Location
Fareham, Hampshire UK
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
6
Good advice. I have a Nuc that has just mated (sealed cell from a main hive made into a 5 frame Nuc). My mistake was leaving it in the apiary I made it up in & although I kept it closed for first 36 hours lost quite a few bees. Now has 3 frames with brood on it and about 3 frames of workers but not densely covering the brood. Was wondering best way to boost it & whether to unite some frames of bees over newspaper but your suggestion is far quicker. Question: should these bees from 3 or more colonies come from a separate apiary or will it still work if from the same apiary? Know in theory, super bees have not yet progressed to be foragers but good to have insight from practical experience!
It works from the same apiary ... I made up a nuc from three different colonies last year ,,, no problem with the bees mixing and I even introduced (risky but it worked) a bought in queen - in a cage for just a few hours and they seemed to be accepting her so I let her out ... all fine. I'm going to be doing the same sometime next week when a new queen arrives.
 

elainemary 

Field Bee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
654
Reaction score
707
Location
Yorkshire
Hive Type
wbc
Number of Hives
10
It works from the same apiary ... I made up a nuc from three different colonies last year ,,, no problem with the bees mixing and I even introduced (risky but it worked) a bought in queen - in a cage for just a few hours and they seemed to be accepting her so I let her out ... all fine. I'm going to be doing the same sometime next week when a new queen arrives.
Just wondering if a good proportion might fly back to their original colonies if nearby, when shaken out in front of the nuc?
 

pargyle 

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Oct 16, 2012
Messages
13,157
Reaction score
3,231
Location
Fareham, Hampshire UK
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
6
Just wondering if a good proportion might fly back to their original colonies if nearby, when shaken out in front of the nuc?
Ahhh ... you are thinking of shaking them out ? If the original colony is there they will go home. I introduced frames of bees from three different colonies ... different thing sorry.
 

Sutty 

House Bee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Mar 11, 2021
Messages
230
Reaction score
104
Location
Glossop, North Derbyshire
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
3
Could you simply exchange the hive positions with a stronger colony to strengthen it with the stronger colony's foragers? Maybe feed as well.
 

ericbeaumont 

Drone Bee
Joined
Sep 23, 2010
Messages
1,585
Reaction score
1,074
Location
North London, West Essex and Surrey
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
70
Just wondering if a good proportion might fly back to their original colonies if nearby, when shaken out in front of the nuc?
Supers bees are more likely to be house bees, so won't have located on the original site. You could always add more after a few days.
 

RichardK 

House Bee
Joined
May 17, 2021
Messages
149
Reaction score
102
Location
Perpignan, France
Hive Type
dadant
Number of Hives
More than I planned
14 X 12 is too large for 3 seams of bees, place them in a nuc. Its as bad as the qe2 living in Buck palace when ideally a bungalow is more then ample for her.
Can you expain why is too much space is not good? I can see it would be harder for them to keep warm, but are there other considerations?
 

elainemary 

Field Bee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
654
Reaction score
707
Location
Yorkshire
Hive Type
wbc
Number of Hives
10
Supers bees are more likely to be house bees, so won't have located on the original site. You could always add more after a few days.
What do you think to the idea of shaking bees from super frames from 3 hives, into a washing up bowl with lid, spraying with sugar water (bit like making up an Apidea) and then tipping them directly into the Nuc to boost the number of nurse bees? Would that work in your experience and would the newly mated queen be safe?
 

Finman 

Queen Bee
Joined
Nov 8, 2008
Messages
26,271
Reaction score
635
Location
Finland, Helsinki
Hive Type
langstroth
Hi, I continue to soldier on with a real mish mash of hives which, once things have settled down, I hope to rationalise. The issue I currently have is a hive that I think has a ‘late’ mated Virgin queen. I’ve now got a really nice brood pattern... but there are very few nurse and foraging bees left to support the new brood- down to only two or three seams of bees in a 14x12. Should I bump them all in to a small nuc or can I steal bees from a worker drone laying hive I’ve got (which is due to be shaken out anyway)? I’ve got a couple of colonies that I could potentially steal worker bees from to support this hive but don’t know if and how it could be done.
Thanks (one day I hope to be able to give rather than ask for advice!)
P
The stolen worker bees will return to their original hive, and in a bad case they first kill the nuc queen.

You may give from a big hive one frame of emerging brood. Shake first all free bees off.
Then give from a bigger hive one food frame, which has lots of pollen.
 

Finman 

Queen Bee
Joined
Nov 8, 2008
Messages
26,271
Reaction score
635
Location
Finland, Helsinki
Hive Type
langstroth
spraying with sugar water (bit like making up an Apidea) and then tipping them directly into the Nuc to boost the number of nurse bees?
Sugar spraying is a good start robbing in the nuc.
And you first give foreign bees from another hive. They return to their home and tell that there is an excellent robbing object in the next door.
 

elainemary 

Field Bee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
654
Reaction score
707
Location
Yorkshire
Hive Type
wbc
Number of Hives
10
Yes, that works but best done during a flow, otherwise fighting will result. As a flow will be on, no need to feed.
Sugar spraying is a good start robbing in the nuc.
And you first give foreign bees from another hive. They return to their home and tell that there is an excellent robbing object in the next door.
Thanks!
 

ericbeaumont 

Drone Bee
Joined
Sep 23, 2010
Messages
1,585
Reaction score
1,074
Location
North London, West Essex and Surrey
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
70
What do you think to the idea of shaking bees from super frames from 3 hives, into a washing up bowl with lid, spraying with sugar water (bit like making up an Apidea) and then tipping them directly into the Nuc to boost the number of nurse bees? Would that work in your experience and would the newly mated queen be safe?
I don't know, Elaine; try it.
 

Latest posts

Top