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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a!
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Monday, August 30, 2010

Possible Crisis Intervention

What was left of Mellona has been surviving but failing to thrive.  I've seen so much evidence of hive beetle problems that I have been going after the hive beetle using the Sonny-Mel trap and AJ's but haven't opened the hive further for fear of releasing more beetles.

When I opened the hive to check on the traps today, I could see wax moth detritus and was quite alarmed so I looked into the hive.  The bees were living on eight frames - four in the bottom box and four above in the next box.  The rest of the hive was filled with wax moth, slimed honey and a lizard.

I decided the only possible hope for this hive was to give them a new home.  I took the hive completely apart.  Here's what the slatted rack looked like - gross, gross, gross.  I invited the lizard (I think it was a skink - see photo about 5 down on this link) with a nudge out of the hive with my hive tool.



Here are two of the frames covered with wax moth web and mess.



I luckily found the queen on the first wax moth covered frame.  I coaxed her onto a drawn frame that I had waiting for her and put her into the white box on the bottom.  I then added or shook bees into the hive.   I put a few frames from the old hive in that showed no wax moth occupancy and weren't slimed.

I shook bees into the hive from each frame.  As you would expect, many bees did not want to leave their box, so I stood this one on its side to encourage them.



So the bees and the queen are now in the bottom box with drawn comb and two frames of honey.  I'll probably take a frame of brood from the Blue Heron hive, if there's one available in the medium box on that hive and add it to this hive.  The top box is an empty box serving as a surround for the Sonny-Mel trap and the baggie of sugar syrup that I put on this hive to feed the bees that are there.  I do have a shim that I could use in place of the empty hive and that would give the bees less room to have to protect. I'll change that when I get home from work today.

My experience with the slimed honey frames is that the bees do want the honey.  I didn't want to put slimed frames into the clean new hive situation, so I put the slimed honey frames into the empty hive in the yellow boxes.  This doesn't leave it exposed to the beeyard, but it can get robbed out by the Mellona bees.  Beekeepers say the bees won't eat the slimed honey and I think that's true inside their own hive box, but out in my carport or in this yellow hive box, I guarantee they'll transfer every bit of it to their home hive.

My deepest regret this year is switching positions to equalize the beeyard.  I now have essentially lost two hives because I did that; I harvested no honey from Atlanta this year because I did that; and I have felt like a terrible beekeeper because I didn't honor the old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."  Never will I do a switch to equalize hives again.
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7 comments:

  1. You are not a terrible bee keeper, you just had a bad year. You have taught so many of us so much through sharing the successes and the disasters. (I am still chuckling over your Subaru bees!)
    Chin up - next year is sure to be better.
    Barby in Upstate NY

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  2. Ahhh, we're all learning by doing. I also made a terrible mistake by moving a hive. I lost hundreds of bees who went to the old spot and just died there. I felt awful and will never make that mistake again, (I'll make some other one no doubt)! Thanks for sharing both your succcesses and your failures. I know I've learned so much from you.

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  3. Linda, I am sure that you are not a terrible beekeeper ... they probably don't give the "Master" title away to just anyone. Selfishly, I am somewhat comforted,as a first year beekeeper, by your woes as my hive is failing and may not survive the winter. Heck, it may not survive until winter. I will try again next year, if it does not work out.

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  4. Linda, we all have to live and learn and I think you are a great beekeeper!! Hang in there. I still enjoy your posts and have learned so much myself, even though I am not a beekeeper.

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  5. Oh, Linda, you are a marvelous beekeeper who has helped so many of us with our bees through your experiences, good and bad. Things sometimes go wrong regardless of our efforts. We've all made mistakes and enjoyed successes. It seems to come with the territory of keeping bees that we live and we learn as we go. I hope you will reflect on all the good you have done for bees and all the minds you have inspired with your wit and wisdom. We're going to open our hives for an inspection this weekend and we may find slime and SHBs too. You can never tell with bees.

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  6. Anonymous12:41 PM

    “I decided the only possible hope for this hive was to give them a new home.”

    I would boost this hive with bought naked bees without frames and without a queen.
    This time of the year they are cheep.
    You could do this with all hives.
    Stronger the bee populations are, more brood they can take care of.
    They will go stronger into winter.

    More hope for the next season.

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  7. Good idea - I'll see if I can find some "naked bees" - what a concept! But I'll for real look for that - maybe Don will have some in Lula, GA

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