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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I began my 12th year of beekeeping in April 2017. Now there are almost 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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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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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Analytical Thinking about the New Dead Hive

So the hive that appears dead today (it rained and was too cold to open it today) needs some careful thought and I have not been able to get it out of my mind today.

First it originally was my Northlake swarm hive - a swarm from a hive of bees that had been living "for years" in a column in a business condominium complex.  So potentially these were feral survival bees.  They lived through the winter of 2013 and I was thrilled to have a survivor hive.

But this year, as my son-in-law called it, was the Year of the Foot.  I dealt all through bee season with my injured leg (now all better after a YEAR) and it really hampered my beekeeping attentiveness.  I have to acknowledge that my hives were neglected more than they were cared for in bee season 2014.

So the Northlake Swarm hive went queenless some time midsummer.  Because I was not in my hives every week with a cast on my leg, I missed the queenless situation until it had probably gone on a while - not long enough to develop a laying worker problem, but still long enough.

When I recognized the queenless problem in the hive, I didn't have any swarm survival hives, so I gave them a frame of brood and eggs from the Sebastian hive (the one that we moved from the yard of the GSU professor in spring 2014).  I did that three times before they made a queen.  Two frames came from Sebastian and one from my Morningside hive in the community garden.

So the queen that developed in the Northlake hive was no longer a survivor queen.  She had been made from eggs with a less clear history.

I just grabbed a frame of brood and eggs from a hive that seemed to have a lot and didn't give the genetics much thought.

This year if either my nuc that has overwintered or my neighborhood swarm hive that has overwintered go queenless, I'm using each of them to provide brood and eggs for the other.  That way they will still get survivor genetics.  I am resolved to be a much more involved and careful beekeeper in this year of NON-INJURY - crossed fingers that that remains true.

Tomorrow I'll check on Stonehurst and see if it survived - it's not a feral hive - it came from Mountain Sweet Honey last year, but it may have made it.

My ongoing goal should be to use survivors to make queens for any queenless hives.  If Tom's hive which came from Bill Owens and also appears to be a survivor hive made it through this cold period, I will split it in late March for the same reason - it's a survivor.  The nuc currently alive in my backyard came from that hive as a split in 2014.


3 comments:

  1. I had an experience similar to yours Linda; we are all on the hunt for Varroa resistant bees. I did manage to get a few daughters into other colonies before my one possible colony (donated, which had done well in spite of a calendar year of being untended) became overwhelmed by Varroa vectored viral disease, but I am not much further ahead with them thanks to the fact that locally, the honey bee gene pool has almost no survivor drones. Most bees in our area are either from this spring's imported packages, or are from packages imported in the last year or two. There are no feral colonies, aside from escaped swarms off package hives, which generally die off within the year thanks principally to Varroa. In this area, it is perhaps impossible to rear wild mated "locally adapted" or "survivor" queens...because the drone pool is overwhelmingly imports. What I try to do instead is breed up queens from hives that demonstrate the best vigour, hoping that over time my stock will improve even though I have no control over the drone population.

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  2. What I am dying to do and probably will do is to go over to the Northlake business condo where the bees were living in a column and set a swarm trap!

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  3. Swarm trap near the column sounds like a good idea.

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