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Drones in January

 
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luk_lak
Guard Bee


Joined: 06 Dec 2013
Posts: 85
Location: Isle of Dogs, London, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2016 10:20 pm    Post subject: Drones in January Reply with quote

Hello all,

I think my drones and workers did not read the same books as myself on beekeeping. I thought the workers should kick the drones out the hive in Autumn to conserve the stores.

To my surprise when I was doing observation I saw them in Sep, Oct, Nov... Yesterday was a lovely, warm and sunny day. I was happy to see my bees flying as I did not see them in the last few weeks. Too cold and my observation window does not cover front of the TBH. And again I saw a high proportion of drones.

Any ideas what is going on?
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Tavascarow
Silver Bee


Joined: 24 Jun 2008
Posts: 962
Location: UK Cornwall Snozzle

PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2016 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's nothing you can do about it at the moment but drones at this time of year is a good indicator of a queenless colony.
Sorry to be the bringer of bad tidings.
If you have another queenright colony, you can transfer some eggs in the spring & they might raise a new queen. But if they have been queenless for sometime they might have developed laying workers, & they will reject any new queencells.
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luk_lak
Guard Bee


Joined: 06 Dec 2013
Posts: 85
Location: Isle of Dogs, London, UK

PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2016 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is my only colony unfortunately.

Is that the only explanation? Or is there a chance my colony still have queen?
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1567
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2016 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you absolutely sure you are seeing drones firstly?

If so, it could be that the queen is failing and laying drones because she is unable to lay fertilized eggs although at this time of year she will be laying very little anyway.

As Tavascarrow says, there is nothing that can be done at the moment but in my view there is always a glimmer of hope, so keep your fingers crossedl Even if they don't make it, they will be leaving a very attractive home for the next swarm to come along and populate.

Keep us posted.
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alexg
House Bee


Joined: 25 Oct 2015
Posts: 14
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:26 pm    Post subject: Re: Drones in January Reply with quote

If you see drones in winter, it indicates that something bad is happening with colony.
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luk_lak
Guard Bee


Joined: 06 Dec 2013
Posts: 85
Location: Isle of Dogs, London, UK

PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 5:57 pm    Post subject: Colony almost gone (2nd April) Reply with quote

Thanks for the answers. Indeed something went wrong in my colony. It is almost gone. Just finished inspection as it was a lovely day.

This was my first big real inspection. And unfortunately quite easy as there was almost no bees left. Maybe 100 at the last (first from entrance) comb. Apart from that I was moving slowly, bar by bar, gently cutting the bracecomb and lifting the propolized bars with my hivetool.

There was some cross-combing and I just cut that bits off, leaving the straight pieces on, hoping for this or future bees to use it. I now have about 4kg of honey and it is just from pieces I cut off. Probably twice that much still left in the hive.

So what I saw was:
a) lots of honey stores
b) no pollen
c) no brood
d) no queen
e) bunch of dead bees at the bottom
f) handful fo bees on last comb
g) mould on the bottom of combs, some green and hairy, some some white stuff
h) no drones left at all (unless flying)e

I've added few photos on dropbox that you can see and maybe you'll have some ideas.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/qklf2bkvudyf3su/AACGZI-TKnZR_M_LvW24biNCa?dl=0
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1567
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From all the soiling (poop) on the inside of the hive, I would guess nosema. Did it smell slightly sour and soiled? The honey still looks clean though and very nice.
You are right regarding extraction from your other post. Cut off any uncapped and mouldy bits and crush and strain the good stuff. It will keep in a sealed container until you are ready to extract it once the uncapped stuff has been cut away. You can mash it up with a potato masher and then strain it through a colander and then a normal household sieve and then leave it to stand in a warm room in a sealed container for a few days and the remaining wax particles will float to the surface and can be skimmed off or you can jar it up as it is and the wax and pollen particles will float to the surface of the jar. All is perfectly edible but can be scooped off with a spoon before using if you are particular about such things. Personally I think it all adds to the flavour.

Another alternative is to strain it through a pair of clean ladies tights if you want to filter it through something finer and they can be tied to the handle of a cupboard and left to slowly drain into a container below. Honey will however gradually absorb moisture from the atmosphere and eventually ferment once it becomes dilute enough, so don't leave it unsealed in a moist environment for too long... like no more than a day or two.

Shame they didn't make it. I would scorch the inside of the hive with a blow lamp before you think of restocking and probably start with new clean top bars rather than reuse any of that comb in case of reinfection, but I'm not an expert on nosema.
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luk_lak
Guard Bee


Joined: 06 Dec 2013
Posts: 85
Location: Isle of Dogs, London, UK

PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2016 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara,

When you say soiling/poo do you mean all the brown marks on the wood? I thought those are bits of old honey, propolis. There was no unpleasant smell that hit my nose, rather usual woody-honeye smell. I'll try to smell more carefully and also investigate the marks, scrape some and smell.

Thanks for the tips about honey processing. I've ordered 2 layer honey strainer - that should help. And I'm not that bothered with tiny wax particles as they are edible afaik.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1567
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2016 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, those brown spots on the hive wall are, I believe, poop and are usually indicative of nosema from what I have read.
My bees have had a touch of dysentery occasionally and it tends to be a more yellow colour and they usually make it outside (just) and you see it on the front of the hive, whereas that darker brown colour is, I think, nosema.

Propolis is a more red colour and honey does not get on the hive walls unless spilt by the beekeeper and will then be licked clean by the bees and not leave a mark. It is certainly not normal to have brown spots like that on the inside of the hive so I would investigate further and do some research on nosema.
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luk_lak
Guard Bee


Joined: 06 Dec 2013
Posts: 85
Location: Isle of Dogs, London, UK

PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've checked outside and entrance of the hive and there are no spots. I saw on the pictures with nosema that the whole entrance sometimes is just covered with it. Also the comb I harvested was quite clean. Again nothing in smell, taste and view that look unusual on the first glance.

So maybe the queen just died / failed in late Summer - early Autumn (as I saw drones from Sept) and the colony just dwindled...

Anyway I'll clean up the hive once every girl dies ;(
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luk_lak
Guard Bee


Joined: 06 Dec 2013
Posts: 85
Location: Isle of Dogs, London, UK

PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yesterday I went to clean up the hive.

There were 20 bees left, very docile, just clustered together, fanning wings.

I've collected about 5kgs of comb honey. But I left a bit on top of the brood comb that was in old wax. Hopefully will be useful for next inhabitants or will get robbed.

I've removed all moulded comb but left bits and pieces of clean one.

I've smelled the hive and it was nice smell: wood, honey ect.

I've looked at the dark spots and streaks and it looked exactly like the propolis they used to seal bars ect. When I was scraping it with my hive tool it was super hard - like propolis again.

Based on the above I don't think the colony died of nosema. Most likely queen died or stopped laying fertilized eggs.

I've moved the divider board to make it bit smaller and act like a bait hive. With all that goodies inside it should be a prime home for new bees.

In the meantime I'm looking for a new swarm ...
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