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  • Congested hive+ aggression and dead bees

  • Beginners forum, ask beekeeping related questions and get help from other experienced beekeepers. Please use the Search Feature please to avoid duplicated threads
Beginners forum, ask beekeeping related questions and get help from other experienced beekeepers. Please use the Search Feature please to avoid duplicated threads
 #10709  by Bobbysbees
 28 Apr 2021, 21:24
My hitherto" nice" hive, on a brood and a half plus Q excluder and super; seem to be having issues.
They seem to have an abundance of drone brood 2 sides of a deep frame(drawn as drone comb) plus a side of the half brood box. The queen is green in her third year loads of capped and open normal brood stores in the brood boxes plus in the super which is nearly half drawn.
A lot of the empty cells in the brood box have been filled with nectar not all though.
I pulled the brood frame of drone comb out and replaced it with a part drawn frame from another hive, checked the drone brood I pulled out for varroa and no sign(checked the inspection board and maybe 10 to 15 mites on it if that after being in for 2 days ,not much detritus . I do have a spare deep box but no drawn comb just foundation .
They seem pretty tetchy vail bumping but not following far if at all.
There also seems to be a good 20 to 30 dead bees on the flag stone in front of the hive varying sizes aswell as the odd drone but also some much smaller darker bees among them.
My thoughts are that they are in need of space. so whether or not to pull a couple of food frames ,add a patty and checkerboard a few foundation frames . Or just to split the half brood and the deep with a full deep of foundation. Or just to pull a split out and hope they raise a queen.
The latter I'm a little loathed to do as I already have a split waiting to raise a queen but if I get a couple of cells I suppose I could give the second split a QC from the first to speed things up.
I'm open to suggestions so any advice would help.
 #10710  by NigelP
 29 Apr 2021, 08:07
It's difficult from what you describe to know if space is the issue. Are the brood and 1/2 plus super crammed with bees everywhere? If not it might not be space. The temper could easily just be that they the numbers are expanding and their true nature is showing. In my "bad girl" apiary I went though some hive s a couple of weeks ago and was wondering why I had assigned them to this apiary....gentle as lambs. Last Saturday they were back to their usual monstrous behaviour. Requeening has started.
 #10711  by Patrick
 29 Apr 2021, 10:42
There is not a clear stand out issue apparent to me, aside from an aging queen. You say they are storing nectar in the brood frames, is that because there is not enough space elsewhere or is it amongst brood? There is a lot of capped brood but are there also eggs and larvae?

As their behaviour is not too bad, I would leave be just for the moment. The risk is you do something based on not much evidence and you are none the wiser if and when the bees respond unexpectedly, whether it was the underlying problem or caused by your intervention. As Nigel says, bees behaviour can alter during the season. I have had hell colonies in the autumn be like pussycats in the Spring, yet with the same marked and clipped queen. Weird.
 #10712  by Bobbysbees
 29 Apr 2021, 15:04
The super is not fully drawn and isnt that rammed with bees but pretty much all of it that is drawn has stores in.
There seems to be plenty of younger brood eggs and larvae in the bottom 2 boxs, round about 3 frames in the deep and 2 or 3 in the medium(and a fair smattering of nectar and bee bread in between the younger brood) . But it looks to me that every spare cell once brood has emerged is being back filled with nectar.
When it warms up I might try pulling the outside honey frames from the brood box and spinning them out to put back in for space.
Also a question. Is culling/cutting out excessive droon comb from the brood box worth it to try and have them draw it as brood comb?
I will wait for the next few days worth of better weather after that, to see if their temperament readjusts as the high humidity ,liquid sunshine and chilly winds wont be helping there.
 #10718  by AdamD
 30 Apr 2021, 08:46
Bees won't draw comb unless they have to so if they suddenly have a large amount of nectar coming in, they will need to draw the comb to put it somewhere, so they will dump the nectar wherever they can. (OSR nearby?).

The few dead small dark bees outside could be a sign of varroa damage - do they have fully formed wings?

You have an old queen so she might be slowing down or producing more drone as a result of her age - is the drone brood scattered in the brood nest (signs of the queen failing) or in patches around the brood nest (normal and a sign of a prospering colony)? Sometimes bees get a little less settled if the queen is failing - supercedure may occur if that's the case.

If you feel they need more space and the queen is OK, (congestion doesn't have to result in aggression) you could go to double brood (my preference over brood and a half); Split the brood vertically over two boxes, say 4 above 4, or whatever quantity you have, with foundation either side. Put the queen in that, place a queen excluder above so the broody super will revert to a super and give honey space as the brood emerges. Check for queencells in the super if the queen has been seperated from it. (Alternative is to put the broody super above the part-filled one. This is fairly likely to result in queencells being drawn, it being separated from the queen's pheromones and you could make a nuc from a good queencell).
 #10739  by Bobbysbees
 02 May 2021, 00:31
Thanks Adam. There isnt any OSR around our area nearest is about 4 miles down the road. Possible they might go that far afield but haven't seen any crystal honey other than the ivy from last year. (the taste of its a give away).
I keep a close eye out for Deformed wing virus as I worry about varroa burdens on my bees. The black bees weren't suffering from it that I could see though, they might have just been from a feral colony trying to rob. (mine got 2 rounds of OA vaper at the start of the year and Apistan strips last October.
Are there any Varroa treatments that are safe with supers on?
The drone Comb was In larger patches and had been drawn as such last year I think, when I tried some half sheet foundation/ starter strips. (with it mostly being on the bottom 3rd of the frames I guess that's the preferred location as well as when they draw brace comb/ladder comb it tends to be drone) .
I had thought of putting my spare deep box under the half brood ad would of tried it if I had drawn comb. But as it I dont it would pretty much act as a split if I missed any QC during inspections.
That being said I would love to get a good split off them to drop into my Long hive.
Will wait to see how things are on my next round of inspections.
 #10752  by AdamD
 04 May 2021, 12:08
"I had thought of putting my spare deep box under the half brood ad would of tried it if I had drawn comb. But as it I dont it would pretty much act as a split if I missed any QC during inspections".
If you split the brood from the brood box into two boxes, with an excluder above and the broody-super above that, it's unlikely that queencells will be drawn in the super as it is close enough to the queen and remaining brood. Foundation is fine either side of the brood in the two brood boxes; the bees will draw it out as they need. You could add a super frame of brood in the brood boxes which will usually result in drone comb being drawn underneath. Drone brood in patches is a sign of colony prosperity and maturity, giving the bees some space to play in and by drawing drone comb under the super frame it should reduce the amount of worker space converted to drone. Hopefully, he says.
 #10780  by MickBBKA
 07 May 2021, 01:09
The black bees could be the start of CBPV which often does not entail any wing damage at all.
I think you have a failing queen. She is not laying in the empty cells so they are filling them up. I had this once and wondered what they were up to. I went on holiday for 2 weeks and came back home to a brood and a half of drone brood and 3 empty supers that I presume they fed to the drones as the workers died off. The old queen was still present, for about 30 seconds during the inspection. I never was able to save the colony.
 #10843  by Bobbysbees
 11 May 2021, 17:31
Well the bees made my decision for me.
Did my inspection this morning as its the first dry day we have had. Lo and behold I was confronted with half a dozen swarm cells (on the bottom of the deep frames). So I picked the frame with 2 really good ones on (knocked down the others) , picked it up took it to the other end of the garden after finding the queen ;left her with the half brood box and a full brood box of foundation underneath it. The reason I put it under it was 2 fold 1. I figure bees naturally build down when they expand and 2. once they have drawn that out and the queen moves down on to the new comb I can move the queen excluder down to get rid of the broody super. I left the honey super on the original colony and put one on the top of the new one with a QE in between.
Looks like I will have to keep an eye on the original colony as I Think you may be right and the Queen is on her way out.
I would of let them swarm and been happy with the new queen staying but as the original queen has clipped wings (not by me) I figured my only choice was a split and I will just have to requeen that lot when I get the chance.