I find the Queen alive and create a “nuc”

Day Three of finding starving and dead bees and I am still gutted.

In my angst, I poured too much sugar syrup over the starving bees in Hive One and the result yesterday was a frenzy of other honey bees (perhaps mine) robbing this hive.  It made me feel even worse.

I set out yesterday evening with the plan to dismantle the hive and throw any live bees in the grass so that they might enter Hive Two, but as I was doing a final check, I saw the marked Queen … and she was alive.  There is less than a cupful of bees to look after her, so 99% this colony is doomed, but in a last ditch attempt to save her and the remaining bees I decided to try and create a “nuc”.

I started trying to pull out all the dead bees out of the comb with tweezers but it was taking too long.  So I shuffled the frames to give the bees there best chance.  I also moved the one dummy board to help keep them warm.

I fed them this evening and blocked up the entrance for the next 24 hours to prevent any further robbing.

The weather forecast for next week looks good but I will be surprised if this colony lasts long.

Has anyone else nursed such a small nuc of bees with no eggs or larvae, so late in the year, through the Autumn and Winter? I would love to hear from you.

23/09/31 update: There were no bees in the feeder last night. Today the hive was being robbed again. The feeder was full of robber bees this evening.  I have blocked them all in for three days to prevent robbing and perhaps the robber bees will make it home?

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Author: Roger

regaining my sanity through beekeeping

13 thoughts on “I find the Queen alive and create a “nuc””

  1. I’m a beginner with only the experience of two hives this year, but I would guess that there may be a queenless colony somewhere in your area that would benefit from your queen or that you could acquire for her to unite with. Then I would guess that at least super of honey would be required and lots of feeding now.
    What do you think?

  2. Is your other hive strong enough to rob from? You could move a frame of capped brood (assuming there is some) and those bees will hatch and be warm bodies to help keep the hive warm. Or you could move some bees across. (The safest way is by putting a hive box with frames of bees on top of the weak hive, separated by a single sheet of newspaper. The bees in the top box will eat their way through the paper and merge gently with the weak hive.) We move frames of honey, brood and even bees around all the time to buck up weak hives but our climate is so nice that I never worry about stealing from a strong hive, they can recover from any loss. I imagine the last thing you want is to rob from a hive and weaken it so it doesn’t survive the winter.

    Good luck for you and your poor little colony.

    1. Thanks Laura. Good thoughts. As you say, I’m not keen to risk taking bees or eggs from the strong hive, so I’ll just leave the weak hive and just see how it goes.

  3. If it doesn’t go well, I think I’d kill the queen and merge the remaining bees into the stronger hive (using newspaper to separate them). That way the stronger hive will be more certain to survive (assuming you feed them enough) and you’ll have less bees dying over winter.

    Good luck.

  4. So sorry to hear this. I don’t think it sounds too hopeful to be honest, unless you combine the workers with your stronger hive.

    Another beekeeper once showed me a technique where you hold the combs at a slant and pour sugar syrup into them, as a method of emergency feeding to immediately give the bees a boost. Using the dummy board is a good idea.

  5. Dear
    Is it not better to add and shake some frames of workers from other coloney…so as to replinish…instead of waiting to see the demise of this coloney.

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