Sunday, March 2, 2008

Strengthening a Weak Colony Part 2

I checked the weak colony today which was featured in the first part of this series. The queen is fat and she is laying eggs!!! This is definitely a good thing. The old bees just were not able to raise any brood on their own and needed the help of a new generation. The two main reasons I feel that was causing this colony to fail was underpopulation and and not enough bee bread from last year. The bees have to have the bee bread to eat so they can produce the royal jelly for their young. Without it the older wintered bees can not raise their replacements and begin to die out. After the population gets small enough the queen along with her remaining subjects will freeze to death when it is cold enough outside. They can't stay warm enough to survive within the cluster when there are not enough bees. If I would not have intervened this colony would have been doomed. I might put this colony into a two story nuc box. It might fare better from being in the smaller space and then I can put it back into the full sized equipment when it is strong enough.

The picture below is looking down into the lower hive body of the weak colony which now is not so weak.

Here is a picture of the queen. She has fattened up once again and is laying eggs. She is laying eggs in the empty cells between the capped brood. This was one of the frames that were donated to the colony. Almost every empty cell represents a new bee which has emerged and joined the colony in the past week. I suppose that since the bees cluster on the capped brood to keep it warm that this was the most reasonable place for her to lay the eggs to keep them warm. If you click on the picture you can see the eggs in the cells, they are left of her. It looks like she just made it over this side of the frame as there were eggs on the other side and another frame.

I must say that I feel much better now than I would have when I discovered this colony had died out. If you can take about fifteen or twenty minutes to devote to a weak colony you can save it. I don't know how much money you make but I'd rather spend about fifteen minutes to save a colony than up to one hundred dollars or more to replace it because I let it die out. It's so easy to do a first year beekeeper could do it if the read the first post, Strengthening a Weak Colony."

I took some pictures but they were not very good. Hopefully these two pictures here will suffice for now. I'll be sure to keep you updated on this weak colony as it gains in strength and population.

1 comment:

Janni said...

I'm enjoying your blog immensely ! I am a beekeeper in Ohio and I plan to visit my hives tomorrow for the first time since the cold spells. I have my sugar syrup all ready to take to them and I'm nervous about what I'll find. I've never fed inside the hive, but I'm going to this year by inverting jars on the frames and incasing them in a hive body. I have 5 hives - had six last year but lost two and split a strong one. I need to replace all the queens because I didn't last year. Would you automatically replace a queen if you witnessed evidence of a good layer for the third year in a row ?