NZBF: Both hives gone... advice please.

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7
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Manawatu
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Have been beekeeping for just over a year now. Bought a nuc Jan 2020, this was doing so well in late Spring that we took frames out and did a split which also was doing well.

Original hive was two 3/4 brood boxes, plus two supers (one was pretty full, the other half full of honey). I had taken three frames of capped honey off in Feb and was going to reduce these two supers to one and leave for winter feed.

New hive was two 3/4 brood boxes (one full, the other half full).

Went to remove honey/pack up for winter and put in varroa treatments, and hive had swarmed leaving a small amount of bees. Checked the new hive and same, but even less bees.

Am not sure why they swarmed and what signs I missed in the lead up. The original hive, I thought still had plenty of room, and going into Winter shouldn't have needed any more space? The new hive still had plenty of space. Both queens had been laying well. Plenty of honey & pollen in the brood boxes. No drones as such in either. No dead bees.

We are coastal Manawatu.

Suggestions on why/what I've missed so I don't have a repeat please.
 
7
2
Manawatu
Experience
Hobbyist
Would they swarm off from Varroa? Spring treatment was Bayvarol—four strips. Two for each box, and then shifted around each time I looked in. Taken out before I put on the 1st super end of Nov.
 

Trevor Gillbanks

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So what was your Autumn varroa treatment. Let's assume they were clean after the spring treatment.
When was it that they swarmed (date please) or that you checked on them to put in the treatment.
I am in Manawatu and my treatments are due out now. Not just being put into the hive.
 
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Alastair

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Would they swarm off from Varroa?

Yes. But when they leave due to varroa it is called absconding.

However most hives with bad varroa do not abscond but the sick bees crawl away from the hive to die, so when the beekeeper checks the hive he finds just a few bees or no bees, and few or no dead ones.
 
7
2
Manawatu
Experience
Hobbyist
Thanks for the insights. That would explain why both hives have gone. So not enough in the spring and far too late in the Autumn. So I should have taken off the honey end of Feb and put the treatments.

I was thinking that if they had bad varroa then I would have noticed them not doing well. Won't be buggering that up again. Gutted that I've done this to them.
 
7
2
Manawatu
Experience
Hobbyist
Yes. But when they leave due to varroa it is called absconding.

However most hives with bad varroa do not abscond but the sick bees crawl away from the hive to die, so when the beekeeper checks the hive he finds just a few bees or no bees, and few or no dead ones.
How far would they crawl?
 

kaihoka

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whanganui inlet
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Thanks for the insights. That would explain why both hives have gone. So not enough in the spring and far too late in the Autumn. So I should have taken off the honey end of Feb and put the treatments.

I was thinking that if they had bad varroa then I would have noticed them not doing well. Won't be buggering that up again. Gutted that I've done this to them.
I made lots of mistakes when I got my first hives.
It takes a few yrs to get a feel for how your hives opperate in your particular area.
Do you now have two very small hives with laying queens .
If so you want to put them in a very small box , like a nuc box to get them through the winter.
I have nursed a small nuc through winter.
Do you have much capped honey on each hive for their food. You would be better to store what does not fit in nuc and feed it back to them than use an internal feeder.
I found internal feeds created too much moisture in winter in a weak hive.
Keeping the hive warm and dry will be the biggest challenge .
 
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Alastair

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Kathryn a brood pic would be useful, I think the reason Tristan may have asked is to 1. see if it is a mite problem, which you can normally tell by looking at the brood, and 2. make sure it was not AFB.

Other than that, Kaihoka makes some very good points. If the hives still have their queens, a competent beekeeper could save them. By stopping the robbing, killing the mites (if that is the problem), adding bees, and then later seeing they are suitably fed. Are you in a club or do you know any experienced beekeepers who could give you a helping hand?

Just incase anyone does step up to do this, the procedure is see if the queens are alive. If so, move the hives to a new location to lose the robbers, and at the same time addat least a 1/2 kilo of package bees. Not brood, as the existing bees probably cannot look after it. Add mite treatment and reduce the entrance to 2 bees. A couple of days later very carefully feed some syrup if they do not have sufficient comb honey. In a few weeks when the first brood starts to emerge, add another 1/2 kilo or so of adult bees. In another few weeks the hives can be moved back to the original location.
 
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Alastair

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Spotty brood is a sign but spotty brood can be caused by other things so should not be used for a diagnosis. Signs of mite issues in the brood are dead mature pupae, that dies while trying to emerge from the cell. They have their head out but did not have the strength to go further and died, often with their tongues poking straight out. Also there will be partly chewed pupae in the early pupal stage, that the bees have chewed part way down. There may also be dead larvae that did not even make it to the capping stage. All these dead larvae can be differentiated from AFB by the colour of them, and the consistency, they do not turn into gooey ropey snot like consistency that will rope quite some distance like AFB. Can also be differentiated from the somewhat similar sac brood by many mite killed larvae not turning into a sacklike condition full of liquid, but remaining solid.
There will also likely be pupae that have had the caps removed by the bees and you can see the fully formed head of the bee.

And the icon you gave Trevor, you can change it. Just hold your mouse over the LIKE on the lower right of the post, and select a different icon.
 
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7
2
Manawatu
Experience
Hobbyist
Spotty brood is a sign but spotty brood can be caused by other things so should not be used for a diagnosis. Signs of mite issues in the brood are dead mature pupae, that dies while trying to emerge from the cell. They have their head out but did not have the strength to go further and died, often with their tongues poking straight out. Also there will be partly chewed pupae in the early pupal stage, that the bees have chewed part way down. There may also be dead larvae that did not even make it to the capping stage. All these dead larvae can be differentiated from AFB by the colour of them, and the consistency, they do not turn into gooey ropey snot like consistency that will rope quite some distance like AFB. Can also be differentiated from the somewhat similar sac brood by many mite killed larvae not turning into a sacklike condition full of liquid, but remaining solid.
There will also likely be pupae that have had the caps removed by the bees and you can see the fully formed head of the bee.

And the icon you gave Trevor, you can change it. Just hold your mouse over the LIKE on the lower right of the post, and select a different icon.
That's great info, thanks. So yes, there were a few dead while emerging, and the remaining uncapped larvae (again not that much) where white and still formed, did ropey test and looked ok. Both queens gone.
 


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