kitchen_kink: (hawaii sign)
[personal profile] kitchen_kink
So, our household got a hive in May this year. We started with a nucleus hive, but we have a theory that the queen died at some point early on, and they had to build up an establish a new one. Or something. Point is, they didn't build up as strong and in as much force as we expected in this first season. We had put a super on; we ended up taking it off again as they weren't using it at all, and the hive body still isn't completely full, though there are many more bees than when we started.

My question is: what tips do you have for wintering them over, particularly if they have no storage honey? I know they'll need to be fed, but how much, and pollen as well as sugar? And how can we be sure they're fed and safe through the months where we won't want to open the hive at all lest they lose precious heat?

We have a hive-top feeder, a styrofoam box shaped like the hive itself into which they can climb without leaving the hive, though refilling it means taking the lid off.

Date: 2012-08-22 02:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Feed them 2:1 sugar syrup now to help them build up some stores. When you set them up for winter, dump a 5 lb bag of sugar on top of the inner cover below the outer cover. Don't worry about pollen.

Date: 2012-08-22 05:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Cool; thanks.

I think we have a worse problem - possibly an egg-laying worker. So now I'm wondering if it's too late to try and install a new queen...

Date: 2012-08-22 05:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's definitely not too late. Lots of people actually replace their queens every fall! The problem with a laying worker is that if she's releasing pheromones, the queen might be rejected. What evidence have you seen of a laying worker, though?

Date: 2012-08-22 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
We need to look again, but M described what sounds like a patchy brood pattern, and they haven't been building up the way they should have in such a hospitable spring/summer as this has been. Also, they've been fairly irritated whenever we've dealt with them; [ profile] srakkt has had the same kind of bees before and never found them to be so sting-y as these.

Where do you order new queens from??

Date: 2012-08-24 05:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

(A bad brood pattern isn't necessarily a sign of a laying worker - look at the eggs themselves, where you find any. Are they centered in the cell, one per cell? Or are they messy - several per cell, not centered, not standing up right, anything like that?)

Date: 2012-08-29 04:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've been babbling at [ profile] cathijosephine a lot about bees lately. Hoping to build a hive and order bees for the spring. Finally read your bee posts.

Laying workers only lay drones, because they're not mated, and without fertilization you get drones.

There's good photos of what drone cells look like online, like this one:
The drone cells are domed, the worker cells are flat like honey cells.

Seems like it might be good to find a bee club to get in touch with lots of people who know bee stuff. I don't know what this group is like:

There seems to be a fairly established club in my area, which I'm looking forward to going to Saturday.

There's also web forums:

Looking forward to hearing how things go with your hive.


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