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Hal

Working the Bees

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Johnny Go    152

Yeah, that fall could have done a lot of damage, maybe even killed the queen. You have to have faith the damage was minor.

No matter what, putting it in any other orientation than the original will just make it worse. Even up and down has to be correct, the cells are tilted slightly upward so the honey won't run out. 

If the weather was better then the best way to proceed would be to cut it open and put the comb into frames. I hold it to the frames with rubber bands, maintaining orientation, the bees then attach them solidly. They even seem to carry the rubber bands out of the hive within a couple of weeks. 

Industrious little buggers.

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Hal    213

Makes perfect sense and as I have nothing to lose ... looks like a leap of faith is in order . My last “ cut out “ didn’t work out so I will be looking to see if they make it then enticing them into a hive later ... just happen to have 2 vacancies ! Keep you posted ... 

 

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Hal    213

Update , we left the feral hive alone where it was in hopes of trapping them later . They made it all this time but just , I believe , starved out as I poked around in the hive and stick came out dry . 

Fed my bee’s day before yesterday , or at least refreshed what they weren’t eating . The dug right into the dough mix I made by kneading sugar into the winter patties . It’s time for them to start ramping up brood shortly . If they haven’t I will do a mite treatment with my new Varrox Vaporizer . Best to do this before brood is capped as the Oxalic acid vapor only works on mites in the open , also treating is best done at temps above 40 degrees .  

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Chris    906
On 1/31/2019 at 6:43 PM, Hal said:

I can put a swarm trap down there this year if you like . I figured you liked the idea of having a bee tree on that hill  .  

Looks like we missed the boat. I got across the creek this morning and there was no signs of life at the bee tree. I watched for a while, but then got distracted by a pair of Wood ducks coming in for a landing in the swamp. 

 

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Johnny Go    152

Another swarm will move back in.

Looks like my final tally is that I am down to just six hives.  My five frame nuc experiment was a complete failure.  I've had very good luck with four and five frame nucs in the past.  I think the big difference is I used the corplast EZ nuc boxes.  Didn't insulate anything but the top, other than sticking two side by side.  Those boxes have a lot of small ventilation holes which the bees like to block with propolis.  I don't know whether they had too much or too little ventilation.  I'm going to stick to wood boxes for over wintering. 

I plan to go through the hives today and start getting them ready for summer.  Remove any sugar blocks, flip the inner covers to the summer position.  They've been bringing in pollen for a few weeks now on every warm day, so I'll be checking for brood and looking to see if the are starting to backfill the brood area with nectar.  Red maples are flowering, with sugar maples not far behind, this is when I typically get into swarm trouble.  Going to try and get ahead of it this year.

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Hal    213
4 hours ago, Chris said:

Looks like we missed the boat. I got across the creek this morning and there was no signs of life at the bee tree. I watched for a while, but then got distracted by a pair of Wood ducks coming in for a landing in the swamp. 

 

Could have been the wrong time of day . I have found that not all hives will be out at the same time . 

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Hal    213

JohnnyGo ., I think I can safely say we have had one of three make it through Winter . I’m thinking this year we will concentrate on splits from this hive . Even though I have ordered two pkgs I would like to get a couple hives started from a “ wintered over “ colony . I believe I have nailed down the ventilation factor and have just started using OAV treatments ( on the recommended schedule ) so we will see . This last year I have gotten together with some good folks at Soaring Capital Beekeepers and have learned quite a bit . The splits will , as I see it now will help prevent swarming ... maybe ! Mine have just started to bring in pollen last week so I’m a bit behind , haven’t inspected for brood down in the deeps but took off a shallow super feeder last week with some eggs , uncapped and capped brood so all seems Queenright . She seems to be a prolific wench ! 

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Hal    213

So I get this colony of super docile Italian bees through the Winter , just getting thier numbers up and feeling good about beekeeping again then we get a visit from freaking Yogi Bear !! But this Son of a Bear is in for a biiiggg surprise !! Bear boards down and game cam up ... I want to see his cute little face when he steps up to knock my hive over again , almost hoping he comes back !! These bees have put up with so much and never have been pissy with me , I really want them to get back to normal and building thier numbers . Won’t be pulling honey from them this year as I want to make splits to keep thier docile genetics . Oh well time for fence and a zapper ! E81E38C7-E098-4CCC-9E7A-1E9766085584.thumb.jpeg.56a88eb40c6019c9f490060021474a06.jpeg

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Johnny Go    152

That's a shame.  I've been hit by bears a couple of times, once on a  new hive not inside the electric fence, and once on a hive inside the fence.  The bear got through the fence since I didn't yet replace the bacon in the spring.  Thankfully he got just one, and it fell into the fence.  He must have been zapped as he went after that hive.

I was gone for a couple of weeks and returned to find my two strongest colonies both swarmed.  One of them showed signs of swarming the first week in may so I pulled the queen and a couple of frames and put them in a new hive.  They still swarmed.  The other one must have recently swarmed since there were numerous queen cells in the hive and no sign of eggs, but plenty of young larvae.

I took some cells for other uses.  One was put into the top box after doing a Snelgrove split on a hive getting too crowded and looking like swarming would be happening soon.  Another was placed into a nuc colony for expansion purposes. 

A third I used to replace a poor queen in another colony.  That queen big and beautiful, but never did get to the point of being able to make more than four frames of brood.  The colony struggled all last summer, but managed to survive the winter.  Finding just four frames of brood when every hive around me was busting at the seams was the final straw.  I easily found her since there were not a lot of bees in the hive.  It was funny though, when I came back with the queen cell she had disappeared.  I couldn't find her after going through the box twice.  I then removed the box and found her on the slotted rack.  As I reached for her she dropped under the rack.  Pulled the rack and couldn't find her.  Finally found her hiding under the bottom board.  If only she was as determined at making brood as she was at avoiding the big pinch she would still be alive today.  I hated to do it, but it went along with some good advice I received from a pro, "never tolerate a poor queen".  She should have been gone last year.

So now I am very likely to be up to 10 hives from the six that survived winter.  Ugh, I really only have time for six at the most, and space for 8.  Here we go again, I just can't seem to stop making bees.

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Hal    213

LOL ... Too many hives , tough problem to have . Gotta slip out for an appointment but I will be back later for updates ! 

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Hal    213

Wouldn’t you know it .... Bruin came back on the night I didn’t replace the card in the camera !! It must have gotten a jolt from the bacon because he hit some boxes I had at the other end of the field for cleaning . In the two new pkgs the queens were settling in will recheck this weekend . One queen box was a bear to get the cork out so I opened the other end and , yup she scooted out Fast ... Grandson was there helping and he kept an eye on her ( even though I could clearly see the fluorescent green dot ) I dumped the rest of the colony and covered it quickly ... those queens are quick !! They went through  1:1 syrup fast for a couple days but they are on pulled wax and are bringing in pollen and are slowing back on that . Adam suggested I use shallow supers as brood box’s ( back is shot ) as my brood frame wax was old and with none to replace on the weekend , kind of easier to inspect anyway . I have room in the fence for one more hive and my overwinter hive is where I want to try my first split from simply to keep that genetic stock going once thier numbers are a bit higher . Johnny Go , I have room fo four and no more even if I get the bug to make another split .. I must resist ... LOL 😂 

PS , card back in camera last night !! 

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Hal    213

Bee check shows all in order and right on schedule. Eggs and capped brood being built out , put on another box to keep them busy building numbers . The old hive ( wintered and bear damage survivor) are building numbers , as this is a survivor, we probably won’t take honey but use to make another hive when they have sufficiently increased thier numbers . 

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Johnny Go    152

Checked my hives quickly.  There must have been one heck of a flow.  Two of my hives, which I recently moved from double nucs to double deep 8 frame hives are in full swarm mode.  I think one already left, and the other is about to go.  I checkerboarded both of these hives just over a week ago, putting an empty frame of comb between brood/feed frames.  In one hive the entire top box is nothing but honey, and all available space in the bottom box has been used for stores. I found swarm cells in the bottom box.  In the other hive I just tilted the top box and found many, many swarm cells on the bottom of the frames.  I don't have 8 frame Snelgrove boards, so I just walked away.  ugh...  Once again, there goes my early honey production.

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Hal    213

So ( terrible problem LOL ) many hives , not enough time ?!  That’s one advantage to being retired and able to walk out to watch the little critters everyday ... multiple times per day . I told Adam I don’t want more than what we have , well ... except a split from that overwintering hive . I kinda like the whole brooding in shallow box’s thing , different mindset , but I like to experiment . So ... JohnnyGo , it does seems to be a heavy nectar flow , we put deadout box’s for all the other bee’s and ours to clean and where they are normally cleaned in a couple weeks they have been out there a month and still not done . 

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Johnny Go    152
Posted (edited)

This weekend was lots of fun with the bees.  Saturday bad fun, Sunday was the best fun ever. 

I went to check my most productive hive this year. This one I did a Snelgrove board split in early May which allowed me to save the queen in the original location and, since I moved most of the brood above the board, the workers were focused on making honey. I've already pulled one super of honey a few weeks ago. 

Saturday I went to check it for honey and make sure it wasn't too strong, found queen cells in the brood box.  I figured the queen was still there, but would be heading for a new home soon along with half the bees in the hive.  There were fresh eggs still standing on end, and the hive was packed with bees. Since my biggest worry is that my bees will end up in the neighbor's houses, it was time to split. This is why I end up with too many hives, but what am I to do?

I tried to find the queen to do another Snelgrove split. No luck despite going through the box twice. 

So, I decided to try something I read on the internet, shake the bees through a queen excluder into the brood box. About halfway through this process the hive decided they had enough of me. I got a whiff of that familiar banana smell, and then it got ugly in a hurry. 

See, I'm a slow learner. I was out for a quick check before heading out to a birthday party. For this, I had on just a tee shirt and shorts with just a veil (I'm not that slow of a learner, stings in the nose hurt).  If I had known I was going to get this involved I would have gotten suited up.

I managed to get the hive closed, but there were too many bees above the excluder to have any chance to find the queen. While I was in the house picking stingers out of my arms  and bathing in hydrocortisone, I decided that shaking them through a screen to find the queen is a stupid idea.  Bad internet.

I was still left with the problem of managing the swarm. 

Woke up Sunday morning and decided to try a different idea that I had read on the internet ( as I mentioned before, a slow learner), a Taranov swarm

The basic idea here is that you shake every bee in the hive out onto a cloth sheet propped up by a board. The field bees who know where the hive is will return to the hive location. The nurse bees and the queen will stay on the board and can be hived just like a swarm. Which is what they are, an artificial swarm.

The set up goes like this. 

First, set up a new hive on the ground in front of the hive to be split.   New foundation is ok, swarms build comb like crazy.

Prop up a board on this hive so the end in the air is above the hive. Cover the board with a sheet and fan it out.  It is best to have the sun shining directly onto the sheet. The bees don't like bright light and will crawl up the sheet and under the board to escape. 

Move the hive boxes to be split to the ground not too far away. Shake whatever bees remain on the bottom board onto the sheet. 

Replace the bottom board in the original location. Put a another empty box onto the bottom board. 

Now begin shaking the bees from each frame onto the sheet, one frame at a time. Put the shaken frame into the empty box in the original home location. Continue until all frames, and boxes if you have more than one box, have been shaken onto the sheet. Be careful you don't damage the queen cell, if there is one. Even if you do, as long as there are eggs in the brood box the bees will make a new queen. 

Now wait. The fields bees will fly back to the original hive location and enter the box. The queen and the worker bees who have never left the hive will either climb into the new box, or cling to the bottom of the board under the sheet. 

Here are some pictures I took during the process.

The first one  is right after I finished shaking the bees. Notice the bees in the air between the sheet and the hive, these are the field bees. Also notice the cluster of bees on the supers next to the old hive. Those are the supers from the hive I was working yesterday which I couldn't return during the previous day fiasco. I put them on the neighboring hive as a place holder.  I ended up returning those supers and the bees in them to the original hive after the split. You can see the top cover to the hive on the ground, which is where I placed the brood box before I started shaking.

The second  picture shows the bees in process of climbing up the sheet. Notice the bees on the left side of the plank, they are kind of hiding in a bit of shade and not moving. I had to move the sheet to get them in the sunlight. Watching them march up the sheet was an amazing sight.

The third  image shows the swarm hanging from the bottom of board over the new hive.  The queen is most likely in that cluster.  This looks just like a natural swarm. I used my tool to carefully knock them down onto the box.  Once there they quickly went into the box.

The last picture shows the new hive, the bees from the artificial swarm are all in the box. This was taken about an hour after I started the process. This hive was put on a new stand. I'll check it in a week to see if there are signs of a queen. While most of the frames were new foundation, the two outside frames were comb with some honey in them.  Later that afternoon there were bees flying around in front of the new hive doing their orientation thing before going out to collect food.

I'll check the old hive in about two weeks to see if they made a new queen successfully. 

In the end, this was the most fun I have ever had in the apiary. It more than made up for my stupidity the day before. 

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Edited by Johnny Go
fixed typos
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Hal    213

So in short ( no shorts ... sorry for the pun ) all the foragers fly back to original box where there were swarm cups ( not scraped off ) to raise the new queen . And the split is complete ( hypothetically) when you knock the clump of bee’s ( queen and nurse bee’s , hopefully ) down into the new box ? Color me scared sh**tless to do a split ! Not that I need to right now as I’m still working on building numbers , but for future reference ... I Like This Method !! And it does look entertaining , in a beeky way of course lol  . Further reading is in store , and thank you . 

 

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Hal    213

Okay , I went over to the site , I have used Rusty’s advice before with good results . Looked at some of the picks of Taranov Board , and decided I like your set up better . With the clump hanging over the new box ( much easier it seems ) Rusty says its more fun than Santa Clause ... now I Want to do a split just to watch them “ walk the plank “ ... 

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Johnny Go    152

As bizarre as it sounds, it was probably one of the easiest manipulations i have done.  The best video i have seen is this one, although it is almost an hour long.  It is the one that convinced me it is easy.

"The Taranov Method" with Adam Novitt

If you have a crowded hive, this is a cool way to do an expansion.

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Hal    213

I’ll admit , it does seem a bit too easy . BUT I like simple and this looks so much more so than all the other methods . Since we have room in the bear enclosure for one more  hive I’ll keep this in mind . Hive inspections Sat . will hopefully show that numbers are building as that’s my goal this year , honey will just be secondary . Also we have gotten a bit more proactive with mite control this year but as the temps are too high right now MAQs are on hold , as are oxalic treatments ... just don’t want to disturb the colony’s now that I can see more foragers coming and going . I am really happy with these bee’s , so docile , but ... Johnny Go , no shorts and tee shirt for me , I have an aversion to pain . In case I didn’t post this earlier . Another pest that seems to have learned to stay away from the fence , see the direction he is looking ? Yup right at the fence and bacon , trying to decide if it’s worth it !LOL .

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Johnny Go    152

Great photo.  I would love to get a video of a bear doing the Electric Bacon Bugaloo.  Maybe I'll set up my trail cam next spring.

Bad news on the split.  I didn't notice a lot of activity in the new swarm hive, so I popped the lid and found just 1-2 frames of bees.  That was a lot less than the number that went in there.  Didn't see the queen.  I guess they absconded, or swarmed anyway.  I had that same thing happen to the one swarm I tried to catch.

Next time I'll stick a frame with open brood and eggs in there to try and get them to stay.  It will also give them a chance to make a queen if the queen had already left.

Best time for mite treatments are end of July, early August, during the dearth before the late flows start end of August.

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Hal    213

Shoot I was just happy to get the pic . video would have been great the second he got hit by the Joules !  No lemongrass oil ? Adam got a jar of it just giggles I put it in a nuc in the field . I kept bee’s in there but nothing came of it . So ... LG oil , open brood = a split , and the split should work ? But better off with the Queen , got it ! Anyway , my queens are marked so it may be easier to make sure she goes in using this method . Yeah , I need to head to Dadants this week for MAQS to be ready for the right time and temps . Kinda waiting too for numbers to build as we are using Screened bottom boards and dont want to slide the IPM board in when it’s too hot ... worrying too much ? Had good mite drop with oxalic vaporizer using that for the first time this year and will use again around Nov. or so I’m advised at the Beekeepers Club . Like when there isn’t any brood . Sorry to not make sense here , been a long day , and I could talk bee’s all day 😂 

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Johnny Go    152

I do oxalic acid in august, several treatments, and a single treatment in November/December. MAQS would be easier on the summer,but i worry about queen loss.

 

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Hal    213

Apparently there was a shift by the mfg of MAQS to another formula ( and a name change ) last year and there was a significant queen loss reported. So with that in mind I am thinking of oxalic treatments instead . Now that the two pkg hives are increasing I’ll hit them and my overwintered hive with oxalic . Hopefully, weather permitting I can inspect them all this weekend ! 

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Hal    213

Good morning for a  hive inspection pkg #1 bottom box , lots of capped and uncapped brood , honey super is being filled some capped . #2 , same , lots of brood and good pattern , super all cleaned and ready to fill . Overwintered hive , wow , this queen is bustin out the brood   , good classic pattern on frames . Figure on dearth starting shortly as sumac is in green and will start feeding syrup when it turns red , this from past experience is about the right time here . Then we harvest sumac to dry for smoker later . Numbers should be good after the dearth to hit the knotweed and golden rod . Now ... gotta say that  the pkg bee’s are in shallows for brood box’s and we will be adding another shallow on that for a total of three ( think single and a half hive ) going into winter . An experiment of sorts , no fun if you can’t walk your own path ! That and easier on the old guy’s back ( no , not a medium box on the compound ) and with shoulder I’m going to be out of action for a good while so need to keep it simple  . Anyway , we are not selling honey this year just need to pull enough for family  , rest stays on the girls for winter feed . Also I had some capped drone brood to check for mites , about 15 and all clean so that’s a good sign . I’m really happy with these Italians , so docile and no need to hurry while inspecting, in fact kind of funny to watch them eyeball me from between the frames . If not for the quick temperature spike I would have taken more time , note to self ... sweatband ! 

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