I took out the varroa strips from my hive today, and had a check. The frames in the bottom box were very mouldy, so I have removed them, leaving the box empty. Built a stand to elevate the hive about 30cm also, hopefully this will improve airflow and ventilation. Second box is looking good, lots of bees and honey and new brood. Bees are still very active.
However, when I was moving the boxes, I found a queen above the queen excluder. I put her back down into the brood box. I then found two more queens as well.
Is this something I should be concerned about, or will they sort it out for themselves? God knows if there are any more queens in there!
First off I would remove the Queen Excluder over winter or place it below the roof, you don't want the cluster of bees moving up and leaving the Queen or in your case Queens behind.
If it was a summer I would say move the other Queens to a new hive, did you spot the Queen cells these came from? Do you think they have been mated? Its very unusually to see more than one Queen in a hive.
The empty box you have at the bottom, I would remove if its empty. Reduce the space over winter to hold the cluster. Having empty boxes will just encourage robbing bees or wasps to come in.
Hope that helps...Gary
Thanks for your advice Gary.
I have done as you suggested. The hive was looking great until just this week, I noticed a lot of dead bees at the entrance. I opened it up today for an inspection, and there is a pile of dead bees on the bottom.
Would they be suffering from starvation? I have had a good look and can see no signs of disease that I can see. There is not much honey left in the hive, although they a foraging well when the weather permits, I have lots in flower at the moment. One box is full of bees on the frames, so although lots of dead, there are still many many living bees.
If they are starving, should I feed them or will this only stimulate them to produce brood that is not sustainable at this time?
Thanks for your help.
Hmmm Dead Bees, could be just the normal winter die off. Or could be something else.
Normally a colony will remove the dead bees, is the hive pretty weak?
If there is not much honey then yes I would feed them with 50/50 Sugar / Water mixture.
If the bees don't need it, then there will not use it.
We talk about this as our beekeeping tip in our latest podcast http://kiwimana.co.nz/countdown-to-spring/