View Full Version : Two beginner issues

24-05-2012, 08:41 PM
I have two queries and not sure how to deal with them:
1. My first colony is sick... It was very weak whole spring and it looked like chalk brood according to the guy that came three weeks ago. It had 4,5 frames of bees - only about 2 with brood. I opened the hive today and found only 1 frame of bees, no larvae and plenty of dead bees... Also dead bees inside cells as if they would die after hatching or during hatching...
Heartbreaking - so it is...

2. My third colony is doing great - 2 weeks ago 9 frames full of bees. I supered them with 9 foundation frames before going on holidays and gave them 2 extra foundation frames to the brood box. Today i saw 11 frames full of bees, brood and fresh eggs even on the last frame. Also All 9 super frames are built and almost full of honey.
Question is: with that kind of great colony do you add extra brood box to give queen space to lay?
Do you add another super?
When is best time to art swarm it?
Can I breed queens from this colony to preserve and expand that kind of qualities/genes?

Thanks for any answers

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24-05-2012, 10:33 PM
Give it a second brood box if it look like it is running out of space.
Definitely add another super or two.
Do an artificial swarm when you find charged queen cells. Good colonies do not swarm every year.
Bee genetics is not simple as it depends on what your neighbours are keeping and the drones which result from their colonies.

Your poor colony will probably have a nosema or a varroa problem. Get someone else to take a look at it and maybe sample the bees. If it is down to one frame of bees it is a goner anyway. You can make increase from the better colony later on.

25-05-2012, 12:03 AM
Agree with Jon, if you've got 11 frames of brood and no or few stores in the brood box then they would probably benefit from a second brood box. Pollen in the super can also be an indicator.

I add supers when the brood box has 8-9 frames of bees (not brood), or when the other super is covered in bees or there are 8 frames with nectar. The outer frames may not always be used immediately so I also shuffle frames with stores to the outside or upper supers and ensure that frames that need drawing are right over the brood nest. I fiddle with frames in the supers far more than I do in the brood boxes.

Work with the bees when it comes to artificial swarming. As Jon says, when you see charged queen cells, that's the point to start an artificial swarm. If they're not showing any inclination to swarm, hold off on the supers, let them get congested so that they want to swarm and then use that to your advantage. I think that's a perfectly valid method of 'easy' increasing of stock and is not encouraging swarmy bees as you're inducing that desire to swarm.

Likewise agree about the first hive and I think you should get someone with more experience to have a look with you. A colony dwindling over the past few weeks is not a good sign.

25-05-2012, 06:14 AM
Hi Voytech, I notice your localtion is just outside Glasgow so I would advise you contact Steve Sutherland, the bee disease officer for your area and get his advice. It may just be as Jon says Nosema or poor varroa control but it is safer to get a proper check. What is the history of your colonies? Where did you source your bees? There is a nectar flow on at the moment with all this good weather and generally when there is nectar going in the chalk brood normally goes or diminishes. Chalk brood usually apears in early spring when there is little food going in and damp spring conditions.

01-06-2012, 09:57 AM
Bees need lots of space in which to evaporate the honey down so extra space is useful so the idea of supering early is not a bad one. Later in the year the bees can be compressed down a little.
I put a super on when there is 6 - 7 frames of brood in the spring. A frame of brood will give you 2 or 3 frames of bees. I have one colony this year that had 10 frames of brood in a 11 frame WBC just a short while ago. And that's rather tight (!) so I put a second brood box under and moved a couple of the frames of brood down. I was fortunate to have a couple of partially drawn comb so they could have some instant space available to them.

There is obviously a problem with one of your colonies; be wary of re-using anything from it until the cause of disease is known and parts are cleaned up/replaced as appropriate.

01-06-2012, 09:56 PM
Thanks for all answers - much appreciated.
Just need to get more frames pronto ;)
With regards to the "sick" hive today I opened it and queen started to lay (fresh eggs and larvae), bees cleaned the hive from all dead ones etc., plenty of pollen and honey. I have hope for it still ;)

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01-06-2012, 11:55 PM
Voytech. Good to hear that the "sick" hive seems to be recovering, I'd personally still be wary of putting frames from it into another hive until you can figure out what is going on.

02-06-2012, 11:23 PM
Hi Yoytech,
sound a little like the sick one might have been starving? I know it might be a stupid question but how were the stores?
I#d feed it liquid feed to help build it up whatever you do- the few worker bees will be overworked just raising brood so not having to forage nectar would help them.

03-06-2012, 11:06 AM
Thanks, It may be good idea - I'll do that today.

In the meantime - i left frames in the nucleus box in my garden and guess what! I catched the swarm...

Hold on... These are not bees... BUMBLEBEES instead ;) 6 nice own bumblebees. Any advice what to do with them? ;)

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18-06-2012, 09:29 PM
So different issues now ;)

The strongest hive is queenless, could not see Any uncapped larvae at all four days ago. Today I checked and not even capped brood so i queen died about 3 weeks ago - coincides with me coming back from hols... Must have killed her. I have found 2 QC opened.
Now I have no queen, nor eggs to graft or whatever...
So what do I do now?
I been advised to wait - maybe queen has superseded but not mated yet.
All 12 frames in the brood are full of honey, super full of honey. I added second super but they dont draw foundation.
Also - if the queen is present and will mate - where will she lay eggs? Bees will make room for her to lay?
In the meantime I took 1 brood frame from my middle colony and put this in the queenless hive - is that ok?

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18-06-2012, 09:57 PM
I'd wait. There could easily be a virgin waiting for better weather to get out and find the drones, and yes, may be a supercedure. Or you killed the queen, or they swarmed.

The bees will make space, and there is no point in adding brood to this colony. It is already the strongest colony. In large colonies sometimes they seem to want to wait until the brood is hatched before the queen lays.

18-06-2012, 10:19 PM
Queenless/non laying hives seem quite happy to pack the brood area with stores even if there's comb in the supers above. If the space is there then once she starts coming into lay they'll quickly move the stores if they need to.

I think if you're not sure what the state of play is that adding a frame of eggs can be helpful, but if you think it's likely been three weeks since the previous queen was lost and you found open queen cell(s) then it's still early days to be worrying.

18-06-2012, 10:31 PM
Thanks for reassurance guys ;)

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23-07-2012, 10:13 PM
Hi I have just moved to the isle of Lewis and would like to keep bees are there any beekeepers on this island?

23-07-2012, 10:23 PM
Not only are there beekeepers on Lewis, there are enough of them and there was enough enthusiasm for them to try to form a group. Check out this thread, which includes one of my favourite SBAi posts. Whatever happened to Kennycreed?


I think that the ringleader was Judith. I'll try to look out her details and let you know, unless someone else gets there first.

Welcome to the forum!


23-07-2012, 10:53 PM
Judith?! Elizabeth. A Personal Message is on its way to you. They have a Facebook page too:


06-10-2012, 08:46 AM
Hello! How many hives to start with? I found some information http://keepingbee.org/how-to-start-beekeeping-beekeeping-for-beginners/ but maybe you know.

06-10-2012, 09:19 AM
Hi arysa - I started with a single nucleus - it seemed logical to me to start small and build from there when I had more experience of working with the bees. I felt I would therefore grow in my learning as the bees grew themselves. It is of course a personal choice, but the old phrase of " don't run before you can walk " comes to mind. I now have 2 colonies, which over the course of the last 18 months have just about thrown every conceivable test my way - and in a strange sort of way - I'm almost glad they have, as I have gained so much more valuable insight into their lives. Good luck if you are starting out.

06-10-2012, 09:33 AM
One to start with makes sense. A nuc is a good idea as in theory you should not have to deal with swarming issues until the second season.
In the long term, beekeeping is easier with at least two or three as you can solve a lot of problems, lack of a queen for example, by taking brood from one colony and giving it to another.