NZBF: Mouldy pollen

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10
4
auckland
Experience
Beginner
I took it varroa treatment today. Hive is looking good with plenty of honey, bees and brood. And they are still out collecting.

I have 3 3/4 boxes. The bottom box has no brood but still some pollen and mostly empty. However the pollen was mouldy.

Is this a problem?
 

yesbut

Staff member
11,892
6,999
Nelson
Experience
Hobbyist
I'd remove it and store in a dry spot until needed in spring. The bees will clean out the mouldy stuff then.
 
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8,649
5,113
maungaturoto
Experience
Commercial
you want to avoid having empty boxes at the bottom (especially if not packed with bees). this is why 2x 3/4 boxes is common.
i would remove it and store it.
 
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3
0
Auckland
Experience
Beginner
Hi, newbie here.1 hive, full depth BB at bottom, QE and 3/4 over with some nectar/honey. Received bees and hive in early Nov'21and harvested a full depth super in early March '22.

Was changing the OA strips on the weekend and observed mould on a few frames (also bee numbers greatly reduced). I understand from this thread that I should be removing the frames with mould and reintroducing them next season for the bees to clean. Correct?

20220501_122955redu.jpg
 
8,649
5,113
maungaturoto
Experience
Commercial
Hi, newbie here.1 hive, full depth BB at bottom, QE and 3/4 over with some nectar/honey. Received bees and hive in early Nov'21and harvested a full depth super in early March '22.

Was changing the OA strips on the weekend and observed mould on a few frames (also bee numbers greatly reduced). I understand from this thread that I should be removing the frames with mould and reintroducing them next season for the bees to clean. Correct?
a frame, i would not bother removing.
if you have an entre box thats empty of bees, i would remove the whole box.
outside frames are the pollen frames and pollen going moldy is much the norm. bees clean it out just fine.

i would be more inclined to pay attention to your mite treatments and bee numbers.
 
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3,513
6,576
Hawkes Bay
Experience
Commercial
Stored pollen is a valuable resource for the hive and I am always hesitant to remove it.
I generally don't worry about the odd mouldy frame as the bees will clean it up in the spring. If you do take pollen frames out of a hive then unless you keep it somewhere like a freezer, pollen mites will infest it and by the time you want to use it in the spring it will just be dust which the bees can clean out quite easily.
One of my biggest jobs every winter is to go through every box and every frame that I have stored and scrape and clean them. I do this as early as possible in the winter as if you leave it too late and the pollen mites have done the job you can get really bad sinus from all the dust.
Strong hives in the spring can and will clean up just about anything from bits of dead brood to old mouldy pollen and they can do a lot better job of it than we can. Combs that have been filled up the silt from flooding are the exception and with wax frames anyway all you can do is burn or bury them.
If you have plastic frames you can water blast them but make sure you dry them properly afterwards.
Any frames which are broken, black with cocoons , have a lot of dead brood or I just don't like the look of them get melted out and the wax is made into new foundation.
 
3
2
Bay of Plenty
Experience
Hobbyist
My bees don't like the bottom box either. They tend to put just pollen in it. I have wondered if it is because they are on a hive doctor base. I wonder if they want their cluster to be higher above ground level in winter because it is warmer and the vented bottom board keeps things a bit cold. Does anyone have thoughts on that? I have only ever used the Hive Doctor base so I don't know whether colonies with a solid base also do this.
 
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Mummzie

Staff member
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Tasman
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I'm sure there are plenty of thoughts about it- and they may well vary- but usually there is a reason.

A Northern Hemisphere beekeeper who visited me once was looking to see if the bees were storing pollen in the bottom box. To him, it was a sign the bees were starting to get ready for winter.
I have solid bases mostly, and cant say I have noticed a difference. Yes, I had lots of pollen in the bottom this autumn. I try to make sure the colony fits the space for winter- ie not much empty space. I reduce the entrances for winter.
 
3
0
Auckland
Experience
Beginner
Hi, Thanks for the replies. Unfortunately, we lost the bees, perhaps we were too slow and/or late in applying the OA strips. The hive has tested negative for AFB. We plan to get a new queen in spring but have the following question;
1. We plan to thoroughly clean the brood box and frames (and rewax) but can the 3/4 super, which has a lot of drawn comb and some capped cells, be retained for the new hive?
2. Can the OA strips be used year-round, this seemed to be implied at a local meeting?
 

Mummzie

Staff member
1,245
1,130
Tasman
Experience
Hobbyist
Hi, Thanks for the replies. Unfortunately, we lost the bees, perhaps we were too slow and/or late in applying the OA strips. The hive has tested negative for AFB. We plan to get a new queen in spring but have the following question;
1. We plan to thoroughly clean the brood box and frames (and rewax) but can the 3/4 super, which has a lot of drawn comb and some capped cells, be retained for the new hive?
2. Can the OA strips be used year-round, this seemed to be implied at a local meeting?

1- Drawn comb is a valuable resource. If free of AFB- then yes, reuse.
2- Is there some reason you don't want to use Apivar / bayvarol ?
 

Mummzie

Staff member
1,245
1,130
Tasman
Experience
Hobbyist
Oxalic Acid treatments are considered organic- yes. But it is a substance that requires careful handling and use.
There are several different methods of application, and many people have success with them. However, in most cases, before they began their organic treatments, they had several years of beekeeping experience and were able to 'read' what was happening to a hive. On the whole they also have a good understanding of the breeding cycle of the mite, and its impacts on the hive.
Some very experienced beekeepers have had disastrous to very poor success with their organic treatments- so 'not perhaps not the most effective' is also applicable.
As a rule of thumb, the organic treatments can require far more beekeeper input and monitoring to be successful.
The first few years of keeping bees is a considerable learning curve, not aided by advice that seems to conflict, but often both advices can be correct.
You can reduce the confusion by using approved and proven varroa treatments for a few years- unless you are in the unfortunate position of having resistant mites (which is also a contentious subject)

For example, do you know definitively why your colony failed? Was it varroa or did something happen to your queen?
 
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283
393
Bay of Plenty
Experience
Commercial
Oxalic Acid treatments are considered organic- yes. But it is a substance that requires careful handling and use.
There are several different methods of application, and many people have success with them. However, in most cases, before they began their organic treatments, they had several years of beekeeping experience and were able to 'read' what was happening to a hive. On the whole they also have a good understanding of the breeding cycle of the mite, and its impacts on the hive.
Some very experienced beekeepers have had disastrous to very poor success with their organic treatments- so 'not perhaps not the most effective' is also applicable.
As a rule of thumb, the organic treatments can require far more beekeeper input and monitoring to be successful.
The first few years of keeping bees is a considerable learning curve, not aided by advice that seems to conflict, but often both advices can be correct.
You can reduce the confusion by using approved and proven varroa treatments for a few years- unless you are in the unfortunate position of having resistant mites (which is also a contentious subject)

For example, do you know definitively why your colony failed? Was it varroa or did something happen to your queen?
Chemical treatments are 'Smart treatments for dumb beekeepers'
Organic treatments are 'Dumb treatments for smart beekeepers'
 

Josh

Gold
977
715
Christchurch
Experience
Hobbyist
It might have been covered already.

If you can, chuck all the good frames in a chest freezer, that way you won’t fall foul of wax moth.
 
5
7
Central Otago
Experience
Hobbyist
Oxalic treatments are useful, but I would not use them specifically to treat a hive that has a high mite load. This year I did, however, follow the lead of some local commercial beekeepers, and use oxalic acid strips between the spring and autumn synthetic treatments to keep mite numbers lower, and then I put oxalic strips in again after I had treated with Bayvarol in autumn (and tested for mite numbers) to give the girls a bit of extra help through late autumn and winter. There is always a risk that after synthetic autumn treatment (and your hives test fine) they can get reinfested from someone else's bees - hives somewhere else that were not treated, or had failed treatments.
I did this treatment plan (as described) this season, and all five of my hives are looking good for winter. One of my hives even has four frames of capped brood, both sides, and the girls are still bringing in little sacs of pollen.
I made my own strips, wearing chemical resistant gloves, a waterproof jacket, safety goggles and respirator, because I think safety should always be paramount. I used a stockpot I bought from an op shop for the mixing, a cooking thermometer to get the right temperature, and used the cooking pot hob on one end of our outdoor barbecue, so it was all done outside in fresh air. I put my first ever strips into one test hive first, a week ahead of the rest, so I could be sure I had the formula right and the strips were not detrimental to the health of my bees.
I developed this treatment plan because my very first year of beekeeping I lost both my hives in late autumn/early winter. In retrospect I had treated too late for varroa. I saw both colonies full of bees, but did not realise that as the colonies reduced for winter the mites increased dramatically, and the viruses took hold, and within weeks I lost both hives. When I worked it out I felt so bad I nearly gave up beekeeping. I later did the Level 3 course at Polytech and learned so much, and this year as I wintered down my hives I knew what to do, what I was seeing in each hive, and how to get my girls through Winter with healthy bees, and food for Spring.
 
5
3
Sydney
Experience
International
Oxalic treatments are useful, but I would not use them specifically to treat a hive that has a high mite load. This year I did, however, follow the lead of some local commercial beekeepers, and use oxalic acid strips between the spring and autumn synthetic treatments to keep mite numbers lower, and then I put oxalic strips in again after I had treated with Bayvarol in autumn (and tested for mite numbers) to give the girls a bit of extra help through late autumn and winter. There is always a risk that after synthetic autumn treatment (and your hives test fine) they can get reinfested from someone else's bees - hives somewhere else that were not treated, or had failed treatments.
I did this treatment plan (as described) this season, and all five of my hives are looking good for winter. One of my hives even has four frames of capped brood, both sides, and the girls are still bringing in little sacs of pollen.
I made my own strips, wearing chemical resistant gloves, a waterproof jacket, safety goggles and respirator, because I think safety should always be paramount. I used a stockpot I bought from an op shop for the mixing, a cooking thermometer to get the right temperature, and used the cooking pot hob on one end of our outdoor barbecue, so it was all done outside in fresh air. I put my first ever strips into one test hive first, a week ahead of the rest, so I could be sure I had the formula right and the strips were not detrimental to the health of my bees.
I developed this treatment plan because my very first year of beekeeping I lost both my hives in late autumn/early winter. In retrospect I had treated too late for varroa. I saw both colonies full of bees, but did not realise that as the colonies reduced for winter the mites increased dramatically, and the viruses took hold, and within weeks I lost both hives. When I worked it out I felt so bad I nearly gave up beekeeping. I later did the Level 3 course at Polytech and learned so much, and this year as I wintered down my hives I knew what to do, what I was seeing in each hive, and how to get my girls through Winter with healthy bees, and food for Spring.
I can only imagine how bad you felt. Losing two hives in your first year of beekeeping is a brutal blow. However, they say that if it didn't kill you, it made you stronger. At least you got the experience and the training. And you won't make that mistake again. How are your hives doing now?
 
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