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Author Topic: Questions on some of George Imrie's techniques.  (Read 2324 times)
Rogan
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« on: August 09, 2008, 02:28:22 PM »

I'm a first year beek.  Starting out this year with just one hive of italians.  I live in northern Maryland near the PA line.

I am set up with a sbb, a slotted rack parallel to the frames, two deep hive bodies, a queen excluder, an "Imrie" shim made up of 1/2" thick wood with an entrance, and then my supers.  I have an inverted jar on top of the inner cover, with another empty super, followed by another inner cover then outer cover.  This set up has worked well all spring and summer. 

I have a few different questions to ask regarding this:


I have been faithfully following some of George Imrie's techniques listed in his pink pages.  One of these is to continuosly feed the new hive sugar syrup 24/7 until labor day in order to get as much drawn comb in the supers as possible.  After the hive bodies were drawn out, I added the queen excluder and began supering.  Again, per Imrie's instructions, I added only one super at a time until each is mostly drawn out.  I'm using medium Illinois for supers.  About 3 weeks ago the first super had about 8 frames drawn out (90% each) so I added the second super.  Since then not one bit of comb has been drawn on the second super.  It appears the bees are still storing nectar and sugar syrup in the first super only and none of that has been capped yet.  It also appears that frames 1,2, 9, and 10 in the hive bodies are heavy solid with capped honey and that the bees continue to fill these lower frames with nectar.  I have 2 questions on this.  Is it normal to only get the first super of a medium Illinois drawn out the first year or is this more typical?  The second question is around labor day I will be removing the supers...so what do I do with them and the  uncapped honey in them over the fall and winter so that it does not get moldy?  Even if it ends up getting capped I am not going to extract the honey as it is likely from the sugar syrup.   I have read you can freeze the frames and use it as food in the spring if the hive runs low on honey.  The problem with that is I have 2 deep hive bodies.  I do not yet have an extractor.  Any suggestions?

I am also curious about upper hive entrances.  As suggested by Imrie's pink pages, it can help to have an upper entrance to reduce travel for the foragers and for ventilation.  As previously noted, I made an imrie shim which is just above the queen excluder.  I have had this on since I have been supering.  So far I have yet to see one bee use the entrance.  There will be 5-10 bees which hang out around the entrance, I guess some may be guards.  By having the shim above the queen excluder, every so often I will get burr comb coming down from the frames above due to the gap in the hive.  I was just curious if this is normal or if others have better recommendations.  Also, Imrie recommends an upper entrance all year round.  So where does the shim go after I remove the supers and queen excluder?  Just beneath the inner cover?  I prefer not to drill holes in my supers or hive bodies.

Lastly, I have found out how unbelievably heavy a deep hive body can weigh when it has quite a bit of capped honey.  I am going to be getting several more packages of bees next spring and will be using 3 mediums for the hive bodies.  The deeps can get just way too heavy.  Any suggestions on how and when to convert an exisitng hive from 2 deeps to 3 mediums?  Remember, I have only one existing hive and will be starting 3 new hives next spring.

Thanks

Tom
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kathyp
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« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2008, 04:00:41 PM »

Quote
Is it normal to only get the first super of a medium Illinois drawn out the first year


no.  it is normal to get none and to get no honey the first year.  consider yourself lucky!!  smiley

i have tried upper entrances with mixed results.  some hives seem to like them, some don't.  this year none of my hives seemed to use them.  they seemed to like them better when we had hotter summers.  this summer is rather cool.  maybe someone else has an explanation?

methods:  i hate them.  i have horses and friends with horses.  some use 'a method' of training.  sometimes the method works well, but when it doesn't, they don't know what to do. 

learn all methods.  that way, when something isn't working, you have a vast well of  knowledge to draw from.  don't be afraid to improvise and experiment.  the more you learn, the more informed your experiments will be.  check here and elsewhere for info.  chances are one of us has already messed up and posed it.  other peoples posted mistakes can save you time and money   grin
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2008, 09:57:17 PM »

I'm a first year beek.  Starting out this year with just one hive of italians.  I live in northern Maryland near the PA line.

I am set up with a sbb, a slotted rack parallel to the frames, two deep hive bodies, a queen excluder, an "Imrie" shim made up of 1/2" thick wood with an entrance, and then my supers.  I have an inverted jar on top of the inner cover, with another empty super, followed by another inner cover then outer cover.  This set up has worked well all spring and summer. 

I have a few different questions to ask regarding this:


I have been faithfully following some of George Imrie's techniques listed in his pink pages.  One of these is to continuosly feed the new hive sugar syrup 24/7 until labor day in order to get as much drawn comb in the supers as possible.  After the hive bodies were drawn out, I added the queen excluder and began supering.  Again, per Imrie's instructions, I added only one super at a time until each is mostly drawn out.  I'm using medium Illinois for supers.  About 3 weeks ago the first super had about 8 frames drawn out (90% each) so I added the second super.  Since then not one bit of comb has been drawn on the second super.  It appears the bees are still storing nectar and sugar syrup in the first super only and none of that has been capped yet.  It also appears that frames 1,2, 9, and 10 in the hive bodies are heavy solid with capped honey and that the bees continue to fill these lower frames with nectar.  I have 2 questions on this.  Is it normal to only get the first super of a medium Illinois drawn out the first year or is this more typical?  The second question is around labor day I will be removing the supers...so what do I do with them and the  uncapped honey in them over the fall and winter so that it does not get moldy?  Even if it ends up getting capped I am not going to extract the honey as it is likely from the sugar syrup.   I have read you can freeze the frames and use it as food in the spring if the hive runs low on honey.  The problem with that is I have 2 deep hive bodies.  I do not yet have an extractor.  Any suggestions?

In your senerio you do not have honey but a honey/+ product due to the continuous feeding.  If you want harvestable, sellable honey you can't feed syrup after you put the super on.  I think if you reread Imirie you'll see that he is talking only of getting a hive to build out to 2 deep hive bodies for overwintering not feeding continuopusly per se.  In many places it is necessary to feed that much to get a 1st year colony built up enough to overwinter in 2 deeps, in other areas it isn't and then a lot depends on the weather, work force, and available forage.

I would recommend ffreezing the "honey" in the super to feed back in the spring (February or March) to give the resourses for a big buildup early in the season.  You'll be able to split and go into the main flow with 2 good sized hives.

Any harvest the 1st year of any colony is serendipity and not a norm, getting there by feeding continuously shows that.

Quote
I am also curious about upper hive entrances.  As suggested by Imrie's pink pages, it can help to have an upper entrance to reduce travel for the foragers and for ventilation.  As previously noted, I made an imrie shim which is just above the queen excluder.  I have had this on since I have been supering.  So far I have yet to see one bee use the entrance.  There will be 5-10 bees which hang out around the entrance, I guess some may be guards.  By having the shim above the queen excluder, every so often I will get burr comb coming down from the frames above due to the gap in the hive.  I was just curious if this is normal or if others have better recommendations.  Also, Imrie recommends an upper entrance all year round.  So where does the shim go after I remove the supers and queen excluder?  Just beneath the inner cover?  I prefer not to drill holes in my supers or hive bodies.

If you want the bees to use the upper entrance remove the excluder and reduce the size of the lower entrance.  Bees are creatures of habit and once used to using a given entrance a bee will always use that one.  The excluder acts as a gate, in this case a closed one.  The shim allows ventilationmore than as a 2nd entrance.  The shim has a small entrance, I went to using inverted solid bottom boards for top entrances, the bees then used them almost exclusively. 

Everyone I've ever known who drilled holes in their hives and supers came to regret it later.

Quote
Lastly, I have found out how unbelievably heavy a deep hive body can weigh when it has quite a bit of capped honey.  I am going to be getting several more packages of bees next spring and will be using 3 mediums for the hive bodies.  The deeps can get just way too heavy.  Any suggestions on how and when to convert an exisitng hive from 2 deeps to 3 mediums?  Remember, I have only one existing hive and will be starting 3 new hives next spring.

Thanks

Tom


A 10 frame deep can wiegh close to 100 lbs, an 8 frame deep about 80-85.  Even an 8 frame medium can run 45 lbs and after day of wrestling hives they get heavy.  I'm disabled from back, head, and nerve injuries so an 8 frame medium is the max for me and would be even if I only had one hive.  Since I'm working up to 6 weight becomes more critical.

I would convert to mediums in the spring and make it part of the overall management plan by splitting the hives with 2 deeps so each split has a single deep, then supering with mediums.  If you revese the hives at t he same time the deeps can then be moved up and off the hive during the course of the year as harvest.  Once they've bee removed from the hive and extracted, cut them down to medium depth.  The extraced frames can be cut and a new bottom strip attached without too much damage to the drawn comb...just run the frame (comb and all) through the saw to cut it down.
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SgtMaj
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« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2008, 10:00:22 PM »

Tom, since you're not planning on harvesting any honey this year, I think you'd be better off removing the queen excluder.  Removing it may make using that upper entrance more enticing to the bees.

As for the honey they have stored, if it were me, I'd go ahead and extract it, then give the frames back to the bees to clean up, once clean I'd freeze the frames then store them in a sealed container 'til next year... and with the honey that was extracted, I'd just feed that back to the bees all through the winter.  That's just what I would do, others may have better suggestions.

As for making the switch to mediums, I'll let someone with more experience than I make some recommendations.
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SgtMaj
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« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2008, 10:08:34 PM »

The extraced frames can be cut and a new bottom strip attached without too much damage to the drawn comb...just run the frame (comb and all) through the saw to cut it down.

To me, that would seem difficult to do without damaging the comb... would you freeze it first to kinda solidify the comb a bit before trying to saw on it?
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2008, 10:33:44 PM »

The extraced frames can be cut and a new bottom strip attached without too much damage to the drawn comb...just run the frame (comb and all) through the saw to cut it down.

To me, that would seem difficult to do without damaging the comb... would you freeze it first to kinda solidify the comb a bit before trying to saw on it?

Using a veneer blade will cut the wood and wax of the comb fairly easily, there may be some chipping of the comb but the bees will repair it.
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« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2008, 10:40:42 PM »

Using a veneer blade will cut the wood and wax of the comb fairly easily, there may be some chipping of the comb but the bees will repair it.

Ooohhhh, I think I understand now.  Yeah now that I think about it like that, that wouldn't be bad.
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thegolfpsycho
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« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2008, 10:50:19 PM »

Loose the excluder and leave 1 medium of capped syrup/honey on.  Pull the rest and store, and quit feeding.  Let them backfill the deeps with honey.   In late winter, early spring,(when you can work them) they will most likely be brood rearing in the medium.  Put the stored medium on a bottom board, and move the medium they have moved up to on top of it.  The deeps should be relatively free of syrup or nectar so cycle them out, or let them rob them out.  If it's a mild winter, or a frugal colony, you may have to make adjustments.  But Italians are brood rearing machines, and burn up alot of sugar to get through winter.  Then you can start the process of building them up to production strength.
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kathyp
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« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2008, 10:54:52 PM »

if you have room in the freezer, you can freeze the whole frame.  just take it out the night before to thaw, then put it in the hive the next day.  put wax paper between the frames when you freeze them.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
Rogan
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« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2008, 11:25:20 AM »


In your senerio you do not have honey but a honey/+ product due to the continuous feeding.  If you want harvestable, sellable honey you can't feed syrup after you put the super on.  I think if you reread Imirie you'll see that he is talking only of getting a hive to build out to 2 deep hive bodies for overwintering not feeding continuopusly per se.  In many places it is necessary to feed that much to get a 1st year colony built up enough to overwinter in 2 deeps, in other areas it isn't and then a lot depends on the weather, work force, and available forage.


Brian,

I realize the honey in these frames is unharvestable and recognized this in my original email.  It was never my intent my first year to sell or harvest any honey.  I disagree with your position that Imrie suggests this feeding method just to draw out 2 deep hive bodies.  I will quote from Imrie's March/April 2004 pink page titled Drawing Foundation and Proper Supering:  "...Now hear this! Feed 1:1 sugar syrup continuosly, with no stops from April to September.  This is the only way that you can force bees to build 20-30 frames of foundation into drawn comb.  After, but not before, about 6-7 of these frames of foundation are well drawn into comb, move the undrawn frames into the center.  Repeat this procedure for a third or fourth super."

Thank you for your wisdom and advice.  I will freeze the frames and use as food for late winter and it will also work well as part of my conversion to mediums.
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indypartridge
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« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2008, 06:25:00 AM »

Quote from: Rogan
...  I will quote from Imrie's March/April 2004 pink page titled Drawing Foundation and Proper Supering ....
While I have the greatest respect for Imrie, I think Kathyp is spot-on with her comment about "methods". There are far too many variables to lock into one "method" and believe it will work in all situations. If Imrie got a new colony to draw 2 deeps and 3 or 4 supers the first year, he had some awesome bees. As Kathy noted, "normal" is getting 2 deeps drawn and enough stores for winter; anything more is a bonus. Just as you need a variety of tools in your toolbox, you need a variety of beekeeping methods at your disposal as you encounter different situations.
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« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2008, 10:01:28 AM »

I pick and choose from G Imrie . . . I donno if I could have enjoyed working with him on a daily basis, but I use some of his methods with great success.  I have two or three upper entrances when supers are on and I don't care if the bees use them or not.  they are for ventilation and moisture removal.  I uses only Plasticell foundation save be for one super I set up with thin foundation for cut comb.  I use excluders with no reduction in production.  He is a bit of a cremudgen   but I use his advice a lot
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« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2008, 11:32:27 PM »


In your senerio you do not have honey but a honey/+ product due to the continuous feeding.  If you want harvestable, sellable honey you can't feed syrup after you put the super on.  I think if you reread Imirie you'll see that he is talking only of getting a hive to build out to 2 deep hive bodies for overwintering not feeding continuopusly per se.  In many places it is necessary to feed that much to get a 1st year colony built up enough to overwinter in 2 deeps, in other areas it isn't and then a lot depends on the weather, work force, and available forage.


Brian,

I realize the honey in these frames is unharvestable and recognized this in my original email.  It was never my intent my first year to sell or harvest any honey.  I disagree with your position that Imrie suggests this feeding method just to draw out 2 deep hive bodies.  I will quote from Imrie's March/April 2004 pink page titled Drawing Foundation and Proper Supering:  "...Now hear this! Feed 1:1 sugar syrup continuosly, with no stops from April to September.  This is the only way that you can force bees to build 20-30 frames of foundation into drawn comb.  After, but not before, about 6-7 of these frames of foundation are well drawn into comb, move the undrawn frames into the center.  Repeat this procedure for a third or fourth super."

Thank you for your wisdom and advice.  I will freeze the frames and use as food for late winter and it will also work well as part of my conversion to mediums.


There are a lot of "methods" for keeping bees and just about every bee book touts its own.  George had a lot of good ideas and a lot of experience, but I'll guarantee you that he did a lot of things he didn't write about and some of the things he did arite about he changed his mind about later.  I've done the same thing, evolved my beekeeping practices over the last 50 years.  Nothing's ever cut in stone when it comes to bees and what works once might not again or some other approach will work even better.  Then, again, different problems or situations require different solutions.

The only thing I'm absolutely sure of, after 50 years, is that copying nature as close as we can with removeable frame hives is necessary if we want to still have bees to keep in another 50 years.  Read & Glean, repeat.
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« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2008, 12:58:30 AM »

Rogan said: "...around labor day I will be removing the supers...so what do I do with them and the  uncapped honey in them over the fall and winter..."

Uh oh, I'm feeling out of the loop here guys.  Fall responsibilities seem daunting. I'm scared...

Why do we want to reduce the hive size?

What if, as in my case, the hive has moved upward...she is now laying in the 3rd box up (which is a deep that was put over a small open super,) and the lowest deep is, I swear to you, 75% full of nothing but pollen & pollen cake! I thought I would let them go into winter with all 3 boxes..now do I need to consider trying to squeeze them into just 2? What about all that pollen?

Additionally there is a significant flow on right now where I am in N. California, with all the gardens and creeks nearby. Herbs like lemon balm, mint, and penny royal are gathering a lot of bee attention. And they also love the abundant squash, sunflowers; and the California poppy and white clover that are blooming in the moist areas around people's homes - both which they adore.

What if they end up with a surplus of honey in September? Must it be removed from the hive to then feed back to them? Can't one manage a surplus on the hive?

Anyway I sure hope all our bees do OK.... in spite of our "methods" or "non-methods"... as the case may be... cool

PS WHY do they even include 2 deeps (back pain anyone?) with the starter kits Huh That is messed up. Some of us are not carpentry savvy enough to "cut 'em down to mediums.." sigh.
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« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2008, 09:04:14 AM »

2 deeps is still the "traditional" way to keep bees . . . 2 boxes and 20 frames cost less than 3 mediums and 30 frames.  I am 63 and don't want to lift anything but a full meduim super for sure, but my deeps don't get that heavy as they have brood, pollen and honey mixed.

Knowing when to super for the last time in order to allow the bees to finish and cap every frame is the trick then, isn't it.  Every clime is different.  I want my hives to become honey bound in October when the rabbit brush is blooming.  I extracted Saturday Aug 8th and put back 2 of the supers on each hive for a late September final harvest.  They fill em up fast when its empty comb.  If you have a flow on, don't reduce, collect it!
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« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2008, 09:24:48 AM »

Quote
Additionally there is a significant flow on right now where I am in N. California, with all the gardens and creeks nearby. Herbs like lemon balm, mint, and penny royal are gathering a lot of bee attention. And they also love the abundant squash, sunflowers; and the California poppy and white clover that are blooming in the moist areas around people's homes - both which they adore.


is you town listing in your profile, actually your town?  smiley  i was going to look it up and see exactly where in N Ca you are.  that helps answer questions.  well just do it by weather....


if you live in a place that gets below freezing, gets snow, or has otherwise nasty winters, you'll want to get them into as small a space as you can.  i think i was told to have them no smaller than 8 frames of bees per box.  seems like that has worked.  you can do this end of octoberish, after this flow is over.  if you are going to treat for mites, remember that some of the treatments are temp sensitive. 

if you have more box than bees, just freeze the excess and feed back later.  freeze the whole frame and thaw the night before giving back.

deeps as hive bodies are easy to manage, but yes, heavy.  we use them because we  have always used them....until we get older and realize we can do something different.  i use them because i have lots of them, but i think if i ever have to go buy new stuff, it will not be deeps. smiley
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2008, 04:30:19 PM »

Great info. I am still pretty mystified though...poor little bees that get stuck with the amateurs like me!

The first frost usually happens around here (near Garberville CA) in mid November. I am at 2200' so we will get frost, cold temps (sometimes low 20*) and may get a few snows each year, but it never lasts longer than a week.

But, I live off the grid and only have a small propane fridge, with something that only resembles a freezer. It is not enough space to store frames of honey long term. Can't the honey be frozen and then stored in an air tight container? (we are freezing it why? moths? mites?) It seems counterintuitive to remove it from the hive....are we removing the honey supers just so that the hive has less space to keep warm? 

as always, a pic...
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