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Concerned that majority of stores gone or used up in May

 
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Philngirls
New Bee


Joined: 05 Jun 2014
Posts: 2
Location: Plymouth UK

PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2015 9:19 pm    Post subject: Concerned that majority of stores gone or used up in May Reply with quote

Hi everyone. I've been dipping into the forum and books for a few years now and I've had bees for one year, so am very much a novice, but I've never posted anything. Seems to me this could be urgent, or it may just be my lack of experience, so apologies if I've put this in the wrong place

I went into my HTBH today for the third time this year. The bees seem to have been busy and appear to have been building up quite nicely so I was expecting to see more honey/nectar than the last time I went in. I was surprised to find VERY little in the way of capped honey or uncapped honey/nectar. Now it has been wet for a few days and appreciate that a rapidly growing colony is likely to get through stores pretty quickly if they can't get out, but should I be worried? Should I consider feeding maybe? I don't want to feed if I can help it

Some background info in case this helps:

They started life as a cast swarm last May. They got through winter unaided and in March they still had a reasonable amount of capped honey left

There was a good quantity of capped brood today, and a small number of what appeared to be capped drones. I also saw the queen for the first time. Haven't seen any (hatched) drones yet

There was possibly one capped supercedure cell near the middle of one comb and possibly one capped swarm cell on the bottom of one comb. I would be quite keen to perform a split but I don't feel that would be wise when they have so little in the way of stores. Might they be thinking of swarming, or worse, absconding?

About a month ago I inserted two empty bars in amongst the brood nest, separated by two existing combs - these have been about 50% drawn and contain plenty of capped brood

I cant go and watch them too often or for too long, but I have noticed that quite often, around 4pm they'll appear very busy around the front of the hive. They seem to come out in big numbers, crawl up the front face, then fly off. There are lots of bees in the air up to about 2 feet away from the entrance, either trying to get in, or performing orientation flights and leaving, it's difficult to tell, maybe it's both. I wondered about robbing, but other than a handful of bees on the floor, I never see lots of dead ones lying around, which I would have thought I would

Any help or advice very much appreciated and thank you all very much in advance. I've wanted to keep bees for the bees sake for a long time, and now that I've finally got to this point I don't want to let them down if I can possibly help it
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Adam Rose
Silver Bee


Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 586
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2015 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Philngirls wrote:
The bees seem to have been busy and appear to have been building up quite nicely so I was expecting to see more honey/nectar than the last time I went in.


It's not at all surprising, particularly given the recent cold and wet weather, that they have eaten through last winter's stores in order to build up the colony. A strong colony now means lots of bees which probably means lots of stores again in the autumn. What you are seeing is just normal behaviour.

The weather seems to be improving again, so there should be plenty for the bees to eat now. So you would expect the colony to continue to grow, storing some honey but not huge amounts, and in the main, consuming what they bring in. In the autumn, that will change, as the colony shrinks and they store as much as they can for winter.

I wouldn't worry, unless we have a prolonged spell of bad weather.

Adam.
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mannanin
Scout Bee


Joined: 25 Feb 2009
Posts: 259
Location: Essex. UK.

PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2015 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Adam, everything sounds normal for a healthy colony at this time of the year. No, they won't abscond, but yes, they may well still swarm. Thats what they like to do. Don't fight it too much though. Good luck.
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Philngirls
New Bee


Joined: 05 Jun 2014
Posts: 2
Location: Plymouth UK

PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you both VERY much for the prompt replies, very much appreciated. I certainly feel much less concerned now, if not fully confident, but then I guess I'll never feel fully confident!

I'll try and post further updates on progress in due course in case it's of any interest to anyone else
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