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Help! Can I save my weakening colony?


#1

Warre Hive owner (newbee) here. A week ago, when my newly installed colony was foraging like crazy and looking very healthy as the flowers were beginning to bloom everywhere. I made the decision to remove the top jars feeder. As a stroke of unfortune, we ended up with 6 days of cloudy, drizzly weather 45-50 degrees F.

I checked the hive this morning there were about 40 dead bees on the landing. Yesterday there were only about 10. I looked in my window, I saw some new comb and bees wedged in-between each. I did see a few throbbing bees, but it looked like a lot less than when I checked a few days back. Today is looking to reach about 57 and mostly dry, so there is a chance they might be active. But I am worried for them. The weather is at least going to be warmer for the next week, still chances of small showers.

Because it’s been too cold to open up the boxes, I left a feeder jar upside down (propped up of course) outside their hive. As a last minute desperation move. Any thoughts?


#2

Does not sound too encouraging. 40 dead is a bunch, but remember do to the life span of the worker your colony will be smaller until brood is hatched. Remember a worker lives only 4-6 weeks on average. So in perspective 40 out of 10,000 is a small percentage( I am trying to be positive). Still it sucks to see a bunch of dead bees. But you will always have a few dead bees, once again due to life span.

If temps get over 50 midday’s and you can get your hands on a patty, quickly, it wouldn’t take much on a Warre to slip it on to the bars of the top box.

Hang in there, bees are resourceful creatures.

Best of luck,
Keep us posted.


#3

So the day went by. Mid 50s all day. It just started raining again and I came home to this. They are still mostly alive but moving sluggishly


#4

Yikes! not good. Is that the feed that came with your package? I throw mine away and make fresh. 1:1 sugar/water ratio that a try. Put in a mason jar and poke several small holes in lid.

If you do make syrup do it on the stove in very hot (not boiling) water to devolve sugar completely to get a proper solution and let cool to room temp before giving to your bees.

Sugar water will ferment and turn into alcohol, if that is from your package you might give it a taste to see if it has fermented. Might give that a try. Put in a mason jar and poke several small holes in lid.

On a different note completely. You have your boxes on backwards. Windows to the rear so you are not in their flight path,
they don’t like that and could cause some grumpy bees and subsequent stings.

Another question. Do you have your hive tilted ever so slightly toward the front so rain water does not get inside the hive? Wet bees are dead bees.
And do you have the bottom board inserted so cold air doesn’t get in from the bottom?

Not trying to be a know it all, just trying to be of some help.
H.


#5

I’ll try to answer your questions.

  1. that feed came with the package I installed 2 days ago in another hive. It’s fresh

  2. it is slightly tilted and it’s the composite copper Warre roof. So there is plenty of runoff

  3. didn’t realize that about the windows. They get left alone most of the time and don’t have traffic in their flight path.


#6

Sounds like you are on the right path. Hope they recoup quickly.


#7

I wonder if it’s a coincidence that they’re behaving this way the day following a new colony arriving next door…


#8

The weather finally turned nice today after more than a week. I realized no bees were coming or leaving the entrance. I had no choice but to open the bottom box. Only to find a mixture of thousands of lethargic and dead bees clogging the entrance. There may be a few dozen still alive in the comb but. Here’s the photos. Varroa? Starvation?


#9

Here’s the bottom board.


#10

Wow, sorry to hear that bad news.


#11

Update: Since the turn around in weather and since cleaning out the thousands of dead bees, the handful of bees left in the hive have been back at it. I see them going in and out of the entrance (obviously not as much as a strong hive, but enough for me to observe). I haven’t lost hope on this hive yet! What amazing creatures!


#12

Hope all goes well and they can get re-established. Did you spot a queen?


#13

No I haven’t but I’ve only looked through the window and it was hard to see. I came home today and they were boarding above the entrance. I went in the house for 10 minutes and when I came out they were not.
Today is the warmest day of the season so far too. About 77 high temp. I’m sure they were cooling off right?


#14

77 isn’t really high enough for them to cool off. The temp inside the hive is usually around 90+ even higher for brood.
They may have been orientating.

Bees are interesting creatures. It is my understanding they reset their GPS every day because the earth is in a different position in relation to the sun.

And if you have several hives in a row drifting can be reduced or corrected by painting each hive a different color or a distinguishing mark on each hive as their “address”.

At any rate best of luck with this group.


#15

Thanks. They seem to be busy and doing a lot of maintenance now. Quite a shift from a few days ago. I’ll keep you posted!

Oh ya, and about the boxes being backwards. Beethinking advertises their Warre hives with the windows on the front. So I was just following their lead :slight_smile: