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Author Topic: Honey Super  (Read 3967 times)
Pete
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« on: January 17, 2010, 11:22:18 PM »

Only got my first hive in Dec 09. 2 x full sized supers, 1 excluder and then an ideal sized honey super. There has been a lot of activity, loads of bees flying in and out, loads on the front of the hive all the time, going through heaps of water. I opened it around NYE and thought the honey frames were getting filled, opened it again last week and they were definitely heavier, bit none capped.

How often to do you open it and check?

I would love to get down in to the brood and find the queen etc, but doesnt seem sensible to disturb them that much until they have filled the honey super?

The replacement frames/super i have is full sized 10 frames. Once the current frames are filled I need to work out whether there is enough time left to get these frames filled before winter? I was told by the person I got it from i should remove the honey super before winter.

Should i replace the super with my new full sized and hope they get it filled before winter?

Any one got any thoughts?

Also do any of you put any kind of shelter to protect the front of the hive from the melbourne rain in winter?

Lastly, i think i need a beekeeping book or guide to follow. I have been trying to use the web, but the disconnect of reading articles out of order if different formats and sometimes with different lingo is getting too difficult - what book do you recommend for starting out managing the hive?
« Last Edit: January 17, 2010, 11:42:26 PM by Pete » Logged
mick
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« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2010, 02:05:45 AM »

Only got my first hive in Dec 09. 2 x full sized supers, 1 excluder and then an ideal sized honey super. There has been a lot of activity, loads of bees flying in and out, loads on the front of the hive all the time, going through heaps of water. I opened it around NYE and thought the honey frames were getting filled, opened it again last week and they were definitely heavier, bit none capped.

DITCH THE EXCLUDER, DITCH THE TEN FRAME, USE IT AS A LURE.

How often to do you open it and check?

DEPENDS, IN WINTER ALMOST NEVER, WHEN I FEEL LIKE IT ONCE A WEEK, TRY NOT TO GO MORE THAN A MONTH IN THE OFF SEASON OR TWOO WEEKS IF THERE IS A FLOW ON.

I would love to get down in to the brood and find the queen etc, but doesnt seem sensible to disturb them that much until they have filled the honey super?

GET IN THERE AND HAVE A LOOK

The replacement frames/super i have is full sized 10 frames. Once the current frames are filled I need to work out whether there is enough time left to get these frames filled before winter? I was told by the person I got it from i should remove the honey super before winter.

8 FRAMES IS IDEAL. STICK YOUR THIRD SUPER ON NOW, THE MANNAS ARE ABOUT TO FLOWER

Should i replace the super with my new full sized and hope they get it filled before winter?

NO USE AN 8 FRAME

Any one got any thoughts?

Also do any of you put any kind of shelter to protect the front of the hive from the melbourne rain in winter?

NO JUST POINT IT NORTH EAST

Lastly, i think i need a beekeeping book or guide to follow. I have been trying to use the web, but the disconnect of reading articles out of order if different formats and sometimes with different lingo is getting too difficult - what book do you recommend for starting out managing the hive?

USE THE FORUMS AND BEESMATERS ONLINE BEEKEEPING 101.


Youll find all you need on here, I did, try ventrillo for from the horses mouth. Lunchtimes melb time is best for that. There are not many good books around really.Its a fairly simple hobby for us down here. No snow, no bears, no varroa etc. So the books on bee keeping that you can find cheaply on ebay are really a basic guide, You will see the same 3 or 4, thats all there is.

There are bee fact sheets from the DPI you can download too. Youtube is fantastic for showing you what to do.

Your bees down the road will be like mine and make honey all year round. Come end of march you should be able to take off whats in the top super and knock then down to two boxes again. If for some strange reason the third super is mostly empty, take it off anyway as it will just be a cold trap in winter. If its half full or more you can leave it on if you want to, it will only get bigger, but you have to watch for wax month more closely.

You could also make a split now and use the 10 frame for it. Piece of piss really. Just take two frames of brood, two of honey, 1 or 2 of pollen and the rest foundation and stick em in the box. Doesnt matter what hive hasnt got the queen. Instant hive in three weeks tops.

Hope thats of some help. I was like you when I started, its fun trusting your judgement, I reckon you learn more if you havent spent time with a bee keeper. Youre more likely to ask "why?" instead of just doing. I made it, you will too. Around here you can get frames weighing 15 kilos on the scales. We are very lucky here to have so much for the bees to work on despite the drought. We have house gardens and exotics to help us. The pro keepers in the forests rely on one source and are doing it hard, same deal for many crops.
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Lone
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« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2010, 06:58:34 AM »

Hello Pete,

Make sure the hive is tilted forward so rain water drains out.  We put hives under shelter here because of the heat, but I'd probably put shelters up in Melbourne because of the rain.  I wonder if anyone does? The old piece of tin on top of the hive wouldn't hurt.

I use 10 frame supers because that's what I was given, but if you only have one hive, you can easily go to 8 framers and cut the 10 frame boxes back if you like.  If you remove honey before Winter or extract, make sure there are enough supplies for the bees.  It is a good idea to reduce their space when it gets cold. 

I usually check every week or second week, and inspect the brood too.  Just refrain from checking if it is too cold or wet.  Train up an off-sider if you can. 

Sounds like you are doing fine there and have your hive in a good spot.  Have fun!

Lone
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Pete
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« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2010, 07:04:15 AM »

Hey Mick, thanks for that. Its just what i wanted to hear actually Smiley

I dont want to split it now since its a split hive this time last year. When is the very best time to split them?

Thanks for the tips on the super i will think about that as i keep an eye on them over the next few weeks. Is it ok to open the hive weekly, or better each fortnight while i wait for the honey to get capped? Once they start to cap how long does it usually take?

When you say stick in my box. You mean go and buy a bottom board etc and start building a new hive?
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Pete
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2010, 07:08:24 AM »

Hi Lone, I was given 10 frame too...so i will just press on with it.

I think by this time next year i will have 3 hives at least. I plan on catching a few next spring and splitting the one have when its the right time.

When you say inspect the brood. Take the entire honey super off, take the excluder off and inspect each frame of brood in the top brood super?

I cant imagine pulling that middle super off and opening the bottom super too - the whole hive would be flying?

Do i need to consider only have 1 super for brood, the excluder and 1 super for honey or is my current 2 + 1 setup good to continue with?
« Last Edit: January 18, 2010, 07:37:59 AM by Pete » Logged
Lone
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« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2010, 07:51:20 AM »

Hello Pete,

You could find an experienced beek to help you inspect your hive the first time.  Whenever I see the beeks in town, they always show me something new with my hive there. 

What you do is smoke around the entrance and under the lid as you remove it.  Lift off the top super and place it on a stand.  Use your hive tool between the frames to push them aside gently, which will break propolis and help prevent joined up comb from tearing.  You can take one frame out to give yourself more space to work in, and place that frame upright against the super. There is less chance of squashing bees as you replace each frame that way.   Look at each frame, how much honey there is, how much is capped, and whitening which occurs in a good honey flow.  You would want 90% of the frame to be capped before extracting.

Then you can take off the excluder after smoking the next super.  You can get into the habit of putting the excluder the same way up each time...just in case the queen is on it!  I don't know how common it is to have 2 brood supers.  I've only seen one, then the excluder, then any number of honey supers.  Management is a bit simpler if you only have a double story and not a city high-rise.  You might like to put the excluder on the bottom super, making sure the queen is in there first.  Anyway, if the height is right, you can either lift each frame out individually (breaking the propolis first), or take the super and set it beside the other one on the stand. As before, lean one frame against the super. Make sure you have the sun behind you..mid morning is usually a good time.  See if the frames are honey, pollen, or brood, or a mixture.  There is often some insulating honey around the brood.  Is the brood capped and in a good solid pattern?  Look at larvae..are they white and moist looking?  Get into the habit of observing a healthy hive so you can recognise diseases quicker.  And look for eggs..you will need the sun for this.  They are quite small. 

Repeat this process with the last super.  You apparently have a strong hive and might need to keep the smoke up.  Pump the smoker sometimes as you inspect, but if it goes out you can just walk back and relight it.  The smoke will subdue the bees, but some colonies just are a little testy.  This is where a mate can be helpful (to dial 000 Smiley  If there are only a small number of bees, they don't like to sting as much because that reduces the numbers further.

Now you have honey coming in, if all the combs are drawn, you might want to put some plain foundation, perhaps one frame, in the middle of the bottom super and start to rotate older comb.  It is nice to have spare drawn comb you can keep in the freezer, too.  You will get used to shifting frames around the more you do it.  If you want them drawn, put to the middle, the fuller ones can go to the outsides.  If you do put frames onto that stand, just give them an inspection to make sure the queen isn't on them and possibly fall down.  I've seen people use tarps under the hives during requeening, just in case.   If you don't feel too scared, one time you might want to look for the queen, but this isn't necessary.  Just be slow when you slide the frames back in, and the bees will move out of the way.  Eggs are a good indication there is a queen.

You might like to keep a diary record of what manipulations you do to your hive.  Some people number or date frames.

I hope this is some use.  You will learn more each time you do it, and also nip problems in the bud (sorry, Bud.)  You will soon develop techniques that are easiest for you.Let us in on your progress, please.

Lone
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Geoff
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« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2010, 03:46:46 PM »

      Crikey Lone, I think Mick and yourself should get together and publish  the " Aussie Guide to Beekeeping" and do a publicity blurb on YouTube something like " You call that a hive, this is a hive".
       Well done my friend.
      It is about 4 years now and I can honestly say I have never seen the queen in any of my hives. The closest relationship has been when boxing swarms and watching the bees go where the queen obviously is or when they about turn and leave because she is not there.
       Just a note on the size of supers watch your back Pete if you are using 10 frame full size supers for honey. I gave that away very quickly as when you are are working over a hive that is full of honey they are back breakers especially if you are trying to do things carefully. So the setup these days is 8 frame ful size brood boxes and 8 frame medium honey supers, even so get one of them choc a block with honey and by the time you carry it to the barrow or the ute you really know your working.
        We will probably have to get together at Micks one day Pete for a workshop with the Port Phillip ferals.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2010, 04:02:09 PM by Geoff » Logged

Local Area Network in Australia - the LAN down under.
Pete
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« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2010, 08:47:55 PM »

Thanks. I hear what you are saying about the 10 framed hives. I have one now, so instead of replacing it completely i will just keep using it. But when i build a new hive in winter i will make them 8 frame.

Mick you say ditch the exlcuder? Dont worry about keeping the honey seperate, just take the honey frames from the hive at careful intervals?

Thanks Lone, the wife is into it so...so not only do i have a labourer, we also have yelling and domestics in bee suits with thousands of bees flying around us - pretty novel actually Smiley

I have had a day of 'training' with an experienced beek. We did; handling frames, a split, swapping drawn frames for honey and finding the queen on a small hive of small bees.

Thanks for the advice on inspecting the brood and changing the supers around - i will ask the lady i bought it from too and see what she says, since she split it originally. I thought it was only 12minths old and therefore too young, but it also seems really big with the 2 brood supers.

My bees are not testy, they are pretty cool actually. I would think these would be easy to wrangle without a full suit, but i am not quite that confident yet  grin

thanks so much! for the detailed replie folks i really appreciate it.


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Lone
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« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2010, 11:08:03 PM »

Geoff, I should leave it up to you, Mick and the rest of the Kelly Gang to give advice on lush, verdant, fertile, green Victorian beekeeping.  I just close my eyes and imagine my hives are booming and what I'd do with all the honey if I had it.  Mick could point to my hives with their 3 bees in them when the voice-over comes on, "call that a hive?" and could go straight to the shot of him running round his house with his trained bees squabbling behind him for a prime position: "This is a hive!"  

Pete, good that you have a decoy.  Ask her to wear lots of perfume Smiley  No, really, you'll both be in your singlets, shorts and thongs before too long.  One of the blokes here would always argue when we worked in the hives, but he's given up now and just welds hive stands or makes supers.  His brother is my faithful offsider.  It might be like that recent post about beekeeping being easier years ago.  When they used to bring bees home in a sugar bag in the sulky, it seems the bees did a lot better with less work, and the brothers are not used to the new ways.  

You should use all the same size supers, because you'll be mixing and matching.
I didn't know about 8 frame supers when I started, and it's too late to change now after all the work we've done, but they would probably suit this area better.  It is a struggle here for bees to fill 10 frames.  I don't get too many full supers, but when I have, I get help lifting them. I am just a weak girl. You can always shift a few frames at a time, using a spare super.  We put lifting handles on all our supers, a stick of wood along each side that juts out front and back you can hold with your hands.  Our first lifting handle was two long sticks with wire holding them together near one end.  There was a nail in each side of the hive and the lifter would go under the nail.  It was always a two person job though, but made lifting very easy.  

I'm not sure what you mean about changing supers around, but that lady will set you straight I'm sure. Maybe you mean making the second super into a honey super by relocating the excluder.  You'll probably find that the queen has only got brood in a certain section of the hive anyway.

Captain Starlight.....errr......Lone
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mick
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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2010, 02:54:28 AM »

I bought two queen excluders, bees wouldnt move above them. In the backyard, it doesnt matter if you have to work around brood in the second, third or dare I say it 4th super. The commercial types just want to be able to lift a super off, blow the bees off and stick it on the truck. They have no time to inspect frames for brood and reshuffle things, we do and besides you learn more.

I reckon the best way to inspect each frame is to always have a spare super. You inspect and place frames from top super into this empty one on the ground. Its now the top box, place all of the second frames into the one you took off that is now empty stick it on top, this is second from the top super etc etc. When you are finished your top box is the bottom box etc etc. So easy, beats leaning frames against hives.

The bees mostly stay on the frames they are not in the open for very long, just long enough to look at the frame. They think that the sun came out for a minute, they dont know they are being moved around. I find you dont have to remove bees from fraames to see whats going on. You just have to look beyond the bees.

Everything you want to see you will. Looking for the queen, eggs, larvae, capped, uncapped partially capped, drone cells you name it, its all like finding gold: You just know it when you see it. After a while you dont need the sun and all that, you just know what to sexpect and what you are looking for and where it should be.

Sitting outside the hive for 10 minutes is good too. Look at whats coming in and how much, tells you a lot about what they are feeding on. Get an easel or a chair and photograph the frames. They blow up on the screen so well you can see a bees nuts. Saves time too. I used to do it all the time. Much netter than staring at a frame in the sun for 5 minutes.

I tried storing drawn frames, didnt really achieve much. Were a pain in the arse in the freezer and attracted moths out of it. Anyways, ive had bees draw out both sides of a frame in just over a week. They would spend half that time making an old frame frozen and stored up to their standards, well mine did.

We are blessed on the coast of Vic. Even Joffas coastal. We always have regular flows throughout the year. Most of the world relies on summer and spring. We have been in drought for well over a decade, but you wouldnt know it down here. You can run as many hives as you can fit on your land. If you own your own house, Id aim for 10 hives. That would bring in, lets be misearable and say 100kg a hive a year, cal it a mean 5 bucks a kilo, thats 5 grand a year for not much effort. Cost 2 grand in hives and parts, payback 100% in second year of each hive. Then theres the farmers market value added option, charge 10 bucks a kilo in a hand painted jar with a bit of comb inside etc. Honey is one thing you can really value add to. Its not unlike water that we pay $1.60 a thousand litres for, yet if its bottled, the same amount costs 4000 buckeroos.

I tell ya, theres money to be made in honey. Its becoming so hard for commercial keepers, the market is there for the taking by backyarders.

Theres a bloke on here that started with a coupla hives a few years ago, now hes got more hives than you can poke a smoker at, raises queens , moves hives to crops, you name it.

When you look at cost/returns, bees have it on toast. Animals cost money in food and vets and fencing etc. Crops take megalitres of water and herbicide and pestacide and tilling and weeding etc. Bees, you just need supers and frames that can be made for dollars not cents if so inclined. Bees can come for free, you dont need to water em or feed em or weed em, you dont even have to milk em! Just empty the bottles!
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philinacoma
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« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2010, 06:58:18 AM »

Hey Mick, I heard that there were some dodgey excluders doing the rounds made somewhere in Asia. The problem being they are sized for Asian bees...

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mick
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« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2010, 03:42:31 AM »

Thars interesting, I will measure and get back to you.
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Lone
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« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2010, 06:17:57 AM »

I like them Victorian equations, Mick.  Here, you spend money keeping bees then have to buy honey and wait two years for all your hives to draw out one frame  Smiley  I am exaggerating slightly because I have had enough honey to live on, but no more.  I think every type of farming or grazing has its gains and losses, good and bad years.  You could argue there is more money in cattle, sell a "free" bullock you bred for $1000 and fed on free grass, but you might also lose them in a drought or a patch of lantana, just like you might lose or gain bees.  The difference is...bees are fun!

Excluders are a personal preference.  I'm sure you can make a decision Pete from reading about them on the forums or elsewhere.  They make finding the queen easier if you requeen, or make combining colonies easier.  It's not going to matter where you pull the honey from, so long as you leave enough around the brood and don't pull frames with pollen in them (I heard it don't taste so good).  I don't think the excluders in my hives have stopped the bees going up; it seems to be the lower numbers of bees that reduce activity in the top super.  Maybe the Victorians can answer the question about whether you remove the excluder in Winter there?  That would be another interesting topic..winter management down south.

Lone
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philinacoma
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« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2010, 06:51:45 AM »

I haven't kept through a winter yet, but I have been told "If you do use an excluder, take it off over winter" -- in a Yorkshire acent.
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Pete
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« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2010, 06:50:11 AM »

Had a look today and i finally have capped honey. 5 frames capped...hopefully the week after next all 10 will be capped. Planning to pull the ideal super off and replace with a full super and hope that i can grab that before winter...see how we go. When i pull the honey super off i will pull the brood apart and see if i can find and mark the queen.

My bee mentor says dont reduce the 2 brood supers to 1, leave them to stay strong over winter and split in spring.

My bees are so nice, none have even thought about being aggressive, next time i might even have a go without gloves...see how brave i feel on the day Smiley
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westmar
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« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2010, 12:12:58 AM »

hi
    last season i left my queen exclude rs on .i just come back from my hives had to feed poll an Patty's .i lifted my exclude rs and put them up top under lid. so i no were they are and they go back on same hive.just wondering what the rest of you do.i don't expect a flow till the end march now and that be molly box.molly box is a nectar tree no poll an so I'm feeding now,build them up for it.i have noticed with couple of my exclude rs the wire ones have left queen through.so they have to be looked at.i have alot older ones and they are punched out ones .i put 10ml rises around them so i could put poll an Patty's under them if need be.
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cidersabuzzin
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vroom... vroom... but more like phut** phut**!


« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2010, 06:46:33 PM »

Hello Pete,

You could find an experienced beek to help you inspect your hive the first time.  Whenever I see the beeks in town, they always show me something new with my hive there. 

What you do is smoke around the entrance and under the lid as you remove it.  Lift off the top super and place it on a stand.  Use your hive tool between the frames to push them aside gently, which will break propolis and help prevent joined up comb from tearing.  You can take one frame out to give yourself more space to work in, and place that frame upright against the super. There is less chance of squashing bees as you replace each frame that way.   Look at each frame, how much honey there is, how much is capped, and whitening which occurs in a good honey flow.  You would want 90% of the frame to be capped before extracting.

Then you can take off the excluder after smoking the next super.  You can get into the habit of putting the excluder the same way up each time...just in case the queen is on it!  I don't know how common it is to have 2 brood supers.  I've only seen one, then the excluder, then any number of honey supers.  Management is a bit simpler if you only have a double story and not a city high-rise.  You might like to put the excluder on the bottom super, making sure the queen is in there first.  Anyway, if the height is right, you can either lift each frame out individually (breaking the propolis first), or take the super and set it beside the other one on the stand. As before, lean one frame against the super. Make sure you have the sun behind you..mid morning is usually a good time.  See if the frames are honey, pollen, or brood, or a mixture.  There is often some insulating honey around the brood.  Is the brood capped and in a good solid pattern?  Look at larvae..are they white and moist looking?  Get into the habit of observing a healthy hive so you can recognise diseases quicker.  And look for eggs..you will need the sun for this.  They are quite small. 

Repeat this process with the last super.  You apparently have a strong hive and might need to keep the smoke up.  Pump the smoker sometimes as you inspect, but if it goes out you can just walk back and relight it.  The smoke will subdue the bees, but some colonies just are a little testy.  This is where a mate can be helpful (to dial 000 Smiley  If there are only a small number of bees, they don't like to sting as much because that reduces the numbers further.

Now you have honey coming in, if all the combs are drawn, you might want to put some plain foundation, perhaps one frame, in the middle of the bottom super and start to rotate older comb.  It is nice to have spare drawn comb you can keep in the freezer, too.  You will get used to shifting frames around the more you do it.  If you want them drawn, put to the middle, the fuller ones can go to the outsides.  If you do put frames onto that stand, just give them an inspection to make sure the queen isn't on them and possibly fall down.  I've seen people use tarps under the hives during requeening, just in case.   If you don't feel too scared, one time you might want to look for the queen, but this isn't necessary.  Just be slow when you slide the frames back in, and the bees will move out of the way.  Eggs are a good indication there is a queen.

You might like to keep a diary record of what manipulations you do to your hive.  Some people number or date frames.

I hope this is some use.  You will learn more each time you do it, and also nip problems in the bud (sorry, Bud.)  You will soon develop techniques that are easiest for you.Let us in on your progress, please.

Lone

What a great post!
cider
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Whats good for bees is usually good for mankind. Doesn't that mean sharing?
The Ladies could still teach the Borg a thing or two!....and maybe us too, so long as we don't go too far to the left or right and fall off the edge...
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