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Poorly performing hive

I bought a nuc in May with 2011 queen which build up nicely until recently. I gave them a super about a month ago, and gave them a 1:1 feed the week before. They didnt take the feed and didnt go up to the super. The queen is still there but the brood box seems to have uncapped stores in the centre and I didnt see any eggs. Bees had also gone quiter than previous (they were a little bit cross previously). Any ideas/suggestions. I'm a beginner this year so apologies if there's an obvious answer here.


Hi John 2012 will be a year

Hi John 2012 will be a year to remember for all the wrong reasons but please don't let this put you off keeping bees.

Hives built up really strong until Mid late may and some even had some stores. However with 21 Rain days in June and cold ambient temperatures I was inundated with people asking me for queens or whats happened to my hives.  Some hives swarmed and virgin queens couldn't get out to get fertilised or some didn't make it back.

Interesting that you say hive was cross this is an indication of low stores and queenless also may be down to inspecting in poor weather threatening conditions, you say you still have the queen I am guessing she is marked and this is what you see today and you never had a swarm? 

The answer in 9 out of 10 cases however, is she is there but slows down or even completely stops in inclement weather when there is no nectar flow. This will obviously have an inpact on the replacement vol of bees in the hive and subsequently the drawing of foundation and potential vol of honey.

Ambient temperatures also influence sources like clover and other nectar sources, with amient temperatures today at 12 Degrees and rain all day today I am watching my bees to ensure they stay alive rather than a honey crop

What may be problematic if we do get a run of great weather will be that the bees will store in the empty brood chamber in preference to a super and then the queen will run out of space and swarming may occur again this year!

A hive needs up to 100lbs of honey just to survive every year, over and above that goes into supers for us keepers, pooer weather = no forage and poor volume of bees in hive = not enough bees to forage, vicious circle!

Hang in there critically look out for eggs larvae and brood, if you don't have these for over 4-6 weeks your hive may be queenless.   

With all beginners I always recommend joining your local association as they can offer you advice pertinent to what in happening on a local level to bees.


Chair, Roundwood Beekeepers

Dear John,

Dear John,

Thanks very much for you detailed response. I'm fairly sure the queen is still there - she was marked when I got her - and I found her with the mark last time. On swarming i cant be 100% sure but numbers of bees havent changed that much and there wasnt any queen cell left develop fully so i think it unlikely that they swarmed. However on the hand the hive is not somewhere i see every day, and with the weather we have, there have been times when its been 2 weeks between when i opened the hive.

When I said they were cross previously, it could very well be that given i'm a beginner i'm not used to "normal" behaviour so it might be as simple as that. A much more experience member of local group told me last night (without seeing the hive) that it might be that they were trying to supercede the queen. I had pulled down a couple of what looked to me like start of queen cells. He suggested the same as you - to leave well enough for a week or two and have a close look for the queen and eggs/brood at that stage.

It looked to me that they were storing stores in the brood box, the centre of the brood box looked to me like uncapped stores (cells were nearly full of clear liquid and uncapped). Would there be any point putting a empy drawn frame from the outside, into the middle of the brood box to give "room" for her to lay if the relatively good forecast they're currently giving holds out? Would there be any point in trying to feed them again to try to get her laying?

Thanks again for your help, it definately wont put me off. Just means it'll be another year before I get first jar of my own honey!


Hi John,

Hi John,

They say a month is a long time in politics!

Sorry I didn't get to your post sooner.

Hopefully you have seen some eggs larvae brood since your last post. My advice would have been to place drawn brood into the middle, but only if you are certain you are not splitting the brood or freshly laid eggs.

My own bees filled 2 supers with drawn comb within a couple of weeks.

Where I had fresh foundation, nothing doing even with a squirt of sugar water on the frames to get them excited and draw comb. I suppose that shows the value of drawn supers.

Temperament of my own bees in the last week has been mixed as I guess they are getting defensive over stores and weather is all over the place, I also have one hive in the middle of supercedure.

Hope you have better luck next year!