Floor trays and dead bees

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    Hello all.

    Am new to beekeeping and acquired a nucleus of bees in June of this year. All my knowledge so far has been from books and the DEFRA inspector on his visit.

    I have a varroa floor and have kept the tray in situation as I found that by taking it out at an early stage that my bees would fight and die. I did not know any better until the DEFRA man came and told me that I should have the tray removed and that the purpose of the floor was for the treatment of varroa to close the hive and count the average mite fall. I was relieved in a way because with it on, the tray fills with water/condensation and the debris go mouldy and is a hassle to clean (which I do regularly to limit bacteria etc). After his visit, I took the tray out and the bees once again fought and after a few days I found lots of dead bees on the floor of the hive. I replaced it and all was well with no fighting or dead bees and they returned to normal behaviour. However, a few weeks ago I opened my hive and it was damp inside so I removed the tray again believing that the air flow would be better and that the damp would probably kill my bees over the winter period. I’ve left it off for now but the same is happening, dead bees. Does anyone know what is going on? I do not believe it is other bees robbing the hive. Have I conditioned them? Is it too light with the floor off or too windy as the location of the bees is in a fairly windy place. They appear to be happy and healthy although, I do not think they have built up in numbers very well. They still have 2 1/2 frames of foundation to draw out. Any advice would be greatly recieved. Many thanks. Kathy.

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    Hi Kathy,

    First of welcome to the forum!

    Sounds like you either got a very small nuc (4 frames) or they are fairly lazy bees (you do get hives like that). Have you been feeding them up until this point? With a small nuc it would have been advantageous to be feeding them regularly from when you got them.

    With 2.5 frames left to draw out they wont be able to fill this with honey but if they have syrup then some might be stored. The best thing you can do now is get some fondant and squish it on top of the frames to give them extra stores throughout Winter.

    Damp will most certainly kill your bees, make sure you keep the mite tray off and that the hive is over a foot off the ground, with no dense weeds/foliage around it.

    How do you know the bees are fighting? I take you have actually seen them doing this, if so where and when? How many dead bees are we talking?

    If you havent seen them actrually fighting then finding dead bees is perfectly natural especially this time of year. It also a good thing as it means your bees are good at hivekeeping! Any dead bees should be picked up from within the hive and disguarded by workers with this valuable trait.

    It could also bee that when you remove the tray the bees notice something different and investigate the area, buzzing around it repeatedly, this will stop once they have had a good nose about the change.

    So if we are only talking about less than 100 bees then its most likely housekeeping and totally unrelated to your tray. If its 100->1000’s then it must be another reason other than inter-hive fighting as this doesnt happen in my experience. Bees dont fight each other from within the same hive, if you are witnessing bees fighting then it must be from another local hive trying to rob. If this is the case, stick a mouse guard on (which should be on now anyway) to restrict access so its more easily defended.

    Hope that helps Dude

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