Author Topic: Bees low on honey, going into winter  (Read 191 times)

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Offline TheFuzz

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Bees low on honey, going into winter
« on: April 15, 2019, 01:17:16 am »
I checked up on one of my apiaries in December last year. The hives mostly have four supers on them, all 10 frames, all deeps except the top super which is a manley sized. They were completely full of honey. I wanted to do a honey extraction to clear up some space, but I couldn't get my spinning extractor to work, so I ended up only taking out a few good frames of honey in each hive, to clear up some space.

I then checked up on them recently, expecting to do a honey extraction as the bees usually store a good amount of honey during this time of the year. To my utter shock, the bees are incredibly low on honey. They only have a few frames of honey throughout the whole hive, except for one that didn't even have a single good frame of honey! I went to the hive that had the most amount of honey and took out a few honey frames, to give to the hive that was struggling the most. The bees were noticeably lower on population than what is usual, particularly the one that had little honey. It was pretty noticeable when opening the hive and seeing hardly any bees up top on the mat.

Winter will be here in six weeks time. I suspect the nectar flow mostly stops around this time of the year. I'm really concerned for them and not sure what to do.

Is it odd at all that the bees could go from having such a huge stock pile of honey, to be on the verge of starving in just four months? My other bees which are an hour away, are also doing terribly and didn't seem to bring in any honey either, but that's less of a surprise because they've never seemed to do well at that site.

I figure I'll have to check up on them in the Winter, and take lots of food to give them. What should I feed them? Just straight white sugar, or might it be best to make some sort of pollen patty? Should I make some sort of feeding device, I can I just put a lot of white sugar on their hive mat, with some water sprinkled in it so they know it's food? If so, how much sugar should I give each hive?

Would it be best to reduce the supers? The one that's doing the worst is four supers deep and it seems mostly empty. I'm concerned that if I remove supers, then wax moth will get in there over the winter and eat and ruin the comb, but maybe that isn't that big of a problem? Is there much of a benefit to reducing their supers when they don't need the extra space? It doesn't get too cold up there so not sure.

Online iddee

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Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2019, 06:29:33 am »
Lots of questions there. First, I can't help you with the honey flow. It's coming spring here and I'm not familiar with your climate.
 As for space, you should reduce it to the point that the bees cover the majority of frames. Also, be sure the brood is normal, not spotty or diseased. Replace the queens if the laying pattern is not normal.

As for the wax moths, protect the removed comb with moth crystals or BT. The moths will destroy it on the hive as quickly as they will off the hive.
“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
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Offline TheFuzz

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Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2019, 03:21:51 am »
Thanks iddee. I'm looking into BT and I think I might need to purchase some. Then I can remove supers from the hives and not need to worry about the comb.

Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2019, 05:24:57 am »
If you can't find BT, moth crystals made from Paradichlorobenzene will work.  In the spring, allow your wooden ware to air out before putting it on your hives. 

Offline tecumseh

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Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2019, 06:23:58 am »
Well personally I would reduce space and begin feeding (lots and frequently)... Sadly I no nothing of the intensity or length of your winters. I guess question on storing comb is about several things... do you have a time when moth population is insignificant and how much black comb vs yellow comb do you have in the frames you wish to store????   

Offline TheFuzz

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Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2019, 05:05:56 am »
Thanks for the tip Bakersdozen.

The winters here are not intense. It doesn't get close to freezing temperature, they slow down in the winter but are still reasonably active most days.

I haven't noticed variations in moth population. I only seem to notice them when a super is abandoned of bees.

The majority of the comb is black. I'm guessing the comb is about a decade old, these bees were abandoned at one point and it looks like they somehow laid brood in just about every part of the hive. Is black comb worth seeking to save with BT? Might it be better to simply remove it and process it in my solar wax melter?

Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2019, 05:48:39 am »

The majority of the comb is black. I'm guessing the comb is about a decade old, these bees were abandoned at one point and it looks like they somehow laid brood in just about every part of the hive. Is black comb worth seeking to save with BT? Might it be better to simply remove it and process it in my solar wax melter?

I am not sure about practices in your part of the world.  Some of us here try to move out comb that is older than 5 years old.  Research has shown that pesticides and herbicides build up in comb. 

Offline tecumseh

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Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2019, 06:54:52 am »
a snip of a question..
Might it be better to simply remove it and process it in my solar wax melter?

my reply... if the number of frames was small that is what I would think about doing.  replacing old wax has several benefits and as suggested above.... bio accumulation of both things in the environment and things created by the bees biology when eliminated improves a hive's health... if you collect honey it may also effect the color of the honey harvested.

Offline TheFuzz

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Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2019, 01:09:29 am »
Good to know thanks guys. I think I'll just remove the old yuck comb then.

Offline apisbees

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Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2019, 04:11:42 am »
Lack of a late summer fall honey flows in your area! Has the summer been hotter than usual with lost of forest fires and a lot of smokey days. Both which will effect the nectar flow and the bees ability to forage.
Honey Judge, Beekeeping Display Coordinator, Armstrong Fair and Rodeo.

Offline TheFuzz

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Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2019, 10:57:02 am »
This has been my first bad Summer and it's quite shocking. The weather has been noticeably hotter than usual yes. There's been many more hot days this summer than Usual. Hasn't been too many bush fires near me fortunately.

Doesn't seem like there's been much rain. I figure that'd contribute to lower nectar flow. I've been told by local beekeepers that the eucalyptus trees produce honey flow after it rains.