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New Bee

Joined: 02 Jan 2019
Posts: 6
Location: Sheffield, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:11 am    Post subject: Starving? Reply with quote

What does a starving hive look like. Been to my bees this morning, all very lethargic, not much activity on the combs or over the brood. Bees on the floor of the hive - some moving some not. Brood, eggs, not sure about larvae, pollen, no nectar (I'd smoked lightly and there was no roar which was the 1st sine of trouble). Not seen the queen. No queen cells/cups - though I guess I could have missed them as I'm in my 1st year.

So I've dusted them liberally with icing sugar, and put in a syrup feeder.
Any other thoughts.
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Golden Bee

Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1551
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whereabouts in UK are you? What are other bee keepers experiencing at the moment in your area? If weather is good in your area and there is plenty of forage for them, I probably wouldn't feed but I suspect that is not the case. - I only feed if I think they are likely to starve without it.

I have a swarm in an observation hive. (not with frames but natural comb) that I may resort to feeding. My established colonies all have plenty of stores.

Yes it does sound like they are short and need feeding, especially if you are in an area that is going to be wet all this week.
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New Bee

Joined: 02 Jan 2019
Posts: 6
Location: Sheffield, UK

PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok update. Hopefully they've pulled through and they certainly seem to have found the feeders which they were ignoring previously. Done an indirection brood and eggs seen (I find it harder to see the larvae now the comb is darkening). Pollen and uncalled nectar, still not seeing any capped stores so I'll keep feeding. But they've gone mean! (Well a bit). Is this just to be expected as the colleney/season grows it could the Queen have been damaged by the brief famin?
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House Bee

Joined: 17 Mar 2009
Posts: 20
Location: USA, Eugene, Oregon

PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:40 pm    Post subject: BIAB: Progress report? Reply with quote

I saw that nobody's responded to your questions - in over a month. I don't know what's up with that, but I know that it's comforting to find answers to your pressing questions when you're just starting out.
As I recall, you'd had a question regarding lethargic bees; whether or not to feed;and, you'd mentioned an increase in aggression.
There are answers to these questions which are pretty general, such as:
If your bees seem lethargic then your hive may be queen-less, in which case you'd want to do a direct inspection. Smoking the hive before inspecting helps to keep the bees docile and their places - so that there's less chance of smashing them as you put the hive top back, etc.. The more you open the hive the more they may become aggressive, and new beekeepers often tend to want to over-manage their bees. Lethargy could also bee due to changing weather conditions. Since I seldom disturb my bees, I mostly find aggression to be a sign that the hive is being robbed by other insects, such as other bees. Signs of robbing is something that you will want to acquaint yourself with and this subject is easy to find information about. One easy thing that you can so is ensure that the hive entrance is restricted-in-size so that the guard-bees can do their job of keeping intruders out. I'll leave it you to do some reading on that subject.
I've just found that one of my previously empty hives has been colonized within the past 3 weeks, which places the swarm's arrival in the first week of July. A drought starts - here in W.Oregon, USA - in June, and the main nectar and pollen flow is greatly diminished. I have therefor decided to feed syrup to this late swarm, with limited numbers of workers, just to help them work less and draw comb more quickly.
Beekeepers are careful about interfering with their hives, 'playing God', especially the 'natural' beekeepers you'll find on this site.
I'm reticent to say any more, since I'm a lazy/busy beekeeper - and definitely not an expert.
Good luck!
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