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Time for Supers?

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Hello,

 

I have a beehaus in the USA (Seattle-weather very similar to UK) and lost my colony last year and so began again this year. The hives this year are doing very well, all frames drawn out, with lots of activity. I've stopped feeding and wonder if it's time to add supers. If I do add the supers-do I begin with two? And there seems to be some variety in whether to use the queen excluder or not the first week or so. Any thoughts much appreciated, thanks!

Lisa

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Hello, my thoughts for what it's worth. If you add a super without a queen excluder, you are expanding the size of the brood body - only really necessary if you have a very vigorous colony where they are running out of space for brood. Given the size of the beehaus I wouldn't have thought that is likely unless you have a very strong strain of bees.

 

If you add a super with the queen excluder, the bees will use the super for honey storage and that will free up some space in the brood chamber. Ideally you should add a super once the bees are starting to use the outer two combs on the brood chamber. I would only add one, and wait until that is 3/4 full before you add another. Of course a lot depends on your climate and also what forage is available - we're having a warm spring here and flowering plants are abundant. Hope that helps.

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Thanks for the help and thoughts. I will go ahead and add one super and use the queen excluder. Some say not to use the excluder to help the bees move up, but I definitely don't want brood up there so will give it a shot. I'll let you know how it goes :)

 

We are also having a very warm spring here (will be 23+ the rest of the week), so there is a lot of forage about (I can see pollen under the hive at times and the bees also have a lot of pollen on their legs.

 

Thanks again!

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Hello again,

 

Just wanted to check in to see if all going well. I added one super a week ago with queen excluders. I checked today and all brood frames are full in the main hive, and while there are lots of bees on the supers and in the super area, there is only one small area on one super frame being drawn out. Should I be concerned or is this normal?

 

Thanks for the thoughts!

Lisa

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Bees will only draw wax if they need to.

What is on the brood frames? What I mean is how much brood?

They won't be needing to store any extra honey until there is brood over most of the frames with stores only in arcs above brood and on the outside frames.

You can encourage them up by removing the QX.

I know you said you didn't want brood in the supers but you need only have the QX off for a few days, then if queen is on a super frame pop her down and replace the QX. The small amount of brood will emerge and you can use the super as planned.

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The frames are almost entirely covered in brood/pollen cells/open nectar cells with an arc of honey around as you suggest. The bees are up on the supers in quite high numbers, I just don't see any drawing out, which is what I thought they did when storing the honey. I also wondered if I should continue to add new brood frames in the lower hive-any thoughts on that?

 

Thanks again!

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I also wondered if I should continue to add new brood frames in the lower hive-any thoughts on that?

 

Ah.... I had quite forgotten that the beehaus is in all respects a long deep hive.

How many frames do you have in the brood box?

If you have half the box...what's that 10/11? then stop. They will move up. If you continue expanding the nest sideways they won't go into the supers.

 

PS.....but be prepared for swarming preps.

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Thanks for the thoughts-I have 11 brood frames, all full, and the good news is that the bees have moved into the super and are drawing out the five frames, whew. The bad news is that I haven't seen the queen for two inspections and I wasn't convinced this evening that I saw any larvae, argh! I will inspect again at the weekend, but I'm very much hoping that I haven't lost the queen again...

 

Thanks for the advice-will not add any more and will keep watching the supers :)

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Are they taking pollen in? That's often a good sign that there is brood in there.

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Are they taking pollen in? That's often a good sign that there is brood in there.

 

Not really.

A strong colony will pack in the pollen even if it's queen less.

I'd look in again asap.

Look for eggs. Look for swarm cells. The bees do hide them.

If there is no open brood your queen has been gone nearly a week (if the weather has been OK) and it is important you stop cast swarms.

 

Good luck.

Let us know

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Thanks-they are definitely taking pollen in but I will check again tomorrow morning when the light is much better. I'll also look for swarm cells. More tomorrow!

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So I took another look this morning and I did not see any brood, though I did see a few bees being born. I also did not see the queen. As for swarm cells, I had a look and didn't really see any of those, but it's possible there is one in formation.

 

I'm not sure what to do at this stage. The bees still seem very active and are filling the super frames with honey. Lots of pollen, but no brood that I could see. I have another, weaker hive, in the other side and the queen is laying. At this stage, I wonder if I should combine hives and hope they survive. I'd hate to lose another hive after losing last year's...any thoughts?

 

Thanks so much!

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You sound like you could do with an experienced beekeeper looking in

Brood means anything from egg through larvae to capped pupae.

If you spotted emerging bees then they are emerging from capped brood.

DO NOT unite with your other colony unless you KNOW there is no queen. It is very rare fro a colony to be queen less.

Google honey bee queen cells to see what they look like to start with.

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I agree that it would be helpful if you could get another beekeeper to take a look, if that were possible. A queenless colony has a distinctive temperament which an experienced beekeeper may be able to recognise. I always struggle to see eggs as my eyesight isn't great, but if I can identify larvae then I know the queen has laid recently.

 

If you think that this colony may be queenless, one thing you could try is to insert a frame from your other colony which has eggs on. (Shake off any flying bees, just swap the frame over with another one.) If the colony is queenless, they will raise a new queen from it; if not, then there's no harm done.

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insert a frame from your other colony which has eggs on........If the colony is queenless, they will raise a new queen from it; if not, then there's no harm done.

 

Don't rely on this. If queen cells are raised then yes.....you have no queen BUT....and this is a very important but...If no queen cells are made it doesn't mean you do have a queen. Sometimes, even a queen less colony needs maybe three test frames in. (not all at once, mind)

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Thanks again for the thoughts. I did not see eggs or pupae in the strong hive (but did in the weaker), just bees emerging from capped brood. I've contacted my local bee captain to see if someone can drop by and take a look. I'm sure I'm going to work this out at some point, but thanks so much for all the thoughts. I'm going to take one more look tomorrow as well and let you know what I find.

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Bee Captain....what a lovely expression.

It does sound like the queen has swarmed so your next problem is an afterswarm going three days after the first virgin that emerges, further depleting your colony.

BEST OF LUCK....I'm sure your BC can help.

 

There is an excellent publication here...... http://www.wbka.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/There-Are-Queen-Cells-In-My-Hive-WBKA-WAG.pdf

 

And here.... http://www.wbka.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Swarm-Control-Wally-Shaw.pdf

Though it doesn't all work with a LDH but you can get the idea and extrapolate.

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Yes, bee captain is a funny phrase but very apt! Each neighborhood has a bee captain so you can work with one another or hook up with other urban beekeepers-very nice!

 

In the end, if a virgin queen was in the hive, but she may never have mated as no eggs, so I installed a new queen last week. I checked last night and she's out of the hive, so will check at the weekend to see if there is any new activity.

 

Honey supers are filling nicely and just added five more. Now I have to figure out how to get the honey off, but hopefully not too hard. I'll keep the interested posted!

 

Thanks again :dance:

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