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Author Topic: On the importance of the level  (Read 4270 times)
winginit
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« on: June 05, 2010, 07:04:25 PM »

I'm a new beekeeper and after a fairly disastrous first installation that is doing much better but is still struggling, I started my second hive on May 26th. This Hive #2 is foundationless. I had it all leveled the day before the bees arrived, and popsickle sticks glued into the frames. After installing the package and sugar syrup, I noticed the syrup draining out the bottom board. This turned out to be a good thing as it alerted me to the fact that my hive was no longer level. But I didn't think it would be this much of a problem.

I replaced the sugar syrup but couldn't get the hive truly leveled until today (and I'll check it with a level again tomorrow and probably quite frequently for a while). I set up a new bench to move the hive to, leveled the bench, then looked inside the hive and found a mess. The cone stretches from one frame to the other. HELP! What do I do now?  

Pictures and more explanation are on a blog I just started today for just this purpose.

http://hilltopbee.blogspot.com/
« Last Edit: June 05, 2010, 09:19:41 PM by Robo » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2010, 09:24:22 PM »

This is the downside to going foundationless, things like this does happen and you are the unfortunate one this time.  Best you can do is try to cut it out and rubber band the comb into the frames.   The sooner you can address it, the better.  It will only become a bigger mess and more of a disaster the longer you let it go.
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kathyp
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« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2010, 09:42:33 PM »

and be aware that it's not from the hive not being level.  it's from the bees just doing their thing.  if you can swipe a frame of drawn comb from the other hive or do a frame with one sheet of foundation, it will give them a guide.  
it happens....but fortunately, not often!

looked more closely at that pic.  that won't be to hard to fix.  be gentle with the comb.  make sure when you are done the frames are pushed tightly together.
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« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2010, 09:52:09 PM »

If you hive is not level, and most of mine are not perfect, keep in mind that it needs to be stable.   When it weighs 200 pounds, it  will be very hard to re-level.
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winginit
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« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2010, 10:00:09 PM »

Thank you for the quick replies! A few questions:

1. Wouldn't you know it, I don't have rubber bands. Can I use twine? I could always buy some rubber bands tomorrow, but that is a trip into town. On the other hand, I could do the twine tonight and then just put the comb in tomorrow. Might I put one piece of twine/rubberband lengthwise (horizontal) to hold the comb at the top of the frame, or would it be better to hold it at the bottom of the frame? Or is all this just hilarious because I'll be lucky to get the comb to stay in the frame at all?

2. I can certainly put in foundation. I was just trying to avoid that as it's a new package and I wanted the bees to choose their comb size. But it may be too late for that...If I do foundation, should I just do one frame of it or should I do every other frame?

3. I thought it was very interesting that the angle of the comb matched the angle of the sugar water flowing out the bottom board (when my bottle leaked). But you don't think the level is the problem? That is both welcome news (YAH, it's not my fault) and unwelcome (so I have no control over this in the future, eh...maybe I'd rather it be my fault!). Ah well, the trials and tribulations are what make this interesting. tongue
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« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2010, 10:26:15 PM »

No it is not your fault. As the others have mentioned the girls do not always do what we would like them to do. Go figure.  evil You could separate the foundationless frames with a few to get them to build straight. Something like         fl fl f fl fl f fl fl f fl
                                               1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Then when they have most all of the frames full you can pull frames built up to the next added box and replace them with more foundationless. Good luck.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2010, 10:14:06 PM by Sparky » Logged
iddee
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« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2010, 10:40:58 PM »

As Allen said, the strength is important, not the levelness. The hive can go 5 boxes deep and 300 or more lb. It isn't fun when the stand collapses and the hive flies apart. I eyeball the levelness across the hive, and tilt it toward the front so the water runs off the porch. I have never put a level on one.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2010, 10:58:08 PM »

Cut it loose at the bottom and push it over into the frame it started on at the top...
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winginit
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« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2010, 07:53:30 AM »

Ok, I'll not worry so much about the level. But from your posts, I'm getting the hint that my bench may need shoring up. That will be easy as I have two more bricks sitting next to it, and had intended to add a third 2X6 deck board anyway. We have a local skunk and the meadow can get boggy in Spring, so I thought it needed to be somewhat elevated.

Michael, I will do as you suggest, though some combs will have to be cut off completely (I think) as they will overlap each other. Cut from the bottom AND rubber band, right?

Just wanted to thank you all and let you know that your other comments on this site have heavily influenced my approach. I've read much of Michael's blog and will strive for his approach, while also remaining flexible (per Kathy) while I try to get a few colonies established. I plan to use integrated pest management, e.g. screened bottom boards, requeening from local bees, limited-to-no added chemicals (and only organic, though after making Honey-B-Healthy from scratch and stinking up my house, I have a new appreciation of the strength and potential misuse of essential oils), good location, etc. I may now need to tilt my hive forward a bit for water drainage, but I think I'll wait a bit on that!

Cheers,
Christy
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2010, 04:36:27 AM »

Assuming the hive is now level, usually you can cut it loose and push it over without any rubber bands, but if it won't stay, rubber bands will work fine.
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Michael Bush
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winginit
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« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2010, 08:55:58 AM »

Ok, so I got back into the hive yesterday and was shocked at how much comb was in there. I had installed a 4# package in a medium hive on May 26th. Twelve days later, frames 2-8 were full, albeit at an angle. Frame 9 was about 1/3 full, with a straight comb. Must have drawn that in one day after I leveled the hive. Frame 1 also had a lot of comb, though it wasn't full.

But what a mess! I dropped comb as I pulled out frames, on the ground of course and covered with bees. I accidentally killed lots of larvae, never found the queen, and had honey all over myself and the camera. I killed a bunch of bees. My smoker went out--twice--and I had no veil or gloves on. So I had to stop and relight in the middle of the process, with the hive completely exposed.

I did a little bit of everything you all advised. I pushed comb over and pinched it here and there. I put in some frames with foundation. I moved some full frames up to a new medium super. I rubber banded the combs that were now laying on the ground, and added more foundationless and foundation frames to the top. Also added feed.

Finally, I had to turn the hive to face south, as we have a minor construction project due east being considered by an ex-beekeeper who became allergic to bees. Releveled the hive and moved on. Now if only my other hive would do half as well.
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kathyp
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« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2010, 10:07:12 AM »


Quote
and I had no veil or gloves on

what possessed you to go in for a major repair unprotected??   evil

hope it all works out ok.  they will probably figure it out.  if not, you can work on replacing some of those messy frames as you go along.
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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
winginit
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« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2010, 11:14:25 AM »

What possessed me to go in for a major repair unprotected?? I'm in my late forties. Sweat is dripping off me just from the smoker, even on a decent 80 degree day with (only) 60% humidity. Plus, I wouldn't have been able to work the comb with gloves on; I could barely work it barehanded! I WAS nervous about it, so I stopped and relit the smoker when it went out.

I thought it was okay as long as I smoked them?? I did get my first sting, but it was after I was mostly done and just turning the hive. I think I pressed my arm against a bee as I gripped the whole hive to turn it (doesn't weigh much yet). At least I know I'm not allergic. Barely even turned pink and didn't swell at all, but it's my bicept, not a sensitive spot. Of course, now it is a bit hot to the touch. Par for the course in my life  Wink

A couple of weeks ago, I wasn't even smoking the bees when I was just adding feed on top of frames, but after reading comments on this site, I now have my smoker handy.
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winginit
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« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2010, 12:22:16 PM »

By the by, the 70-something ex-beekeeper that had to quit due to developing an allergy (a sting would drop him to the ground) said he used to have foundationless. He just put 2-3 inch tacks in the sides of his frames. Later, he would remove the tacks and use them on other frames, for convenience sake when he was out of tacks. I'm not wiring, so it sounds like a decent idea.

On the other hive, a deep with foundation and package installed April 22, the bees only have four frames drawn out. They have requeened and she is laying really well, but they aren't drawing out new comb. I'm thinking of removing some foundation, but it seems like I might need to reinforce the larger frames. I really don't want to wire as I don't have the tools, but tacks seem insufficient for a deep. Thoughts?

Picture of the queen's laying pattern for the conservative hive (with foundation) is on the blog (link at top of this string). I guess I have now have to ask about those bird feeders next to the hive, too...

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« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2010, 05:50:39 PM »

I've gone natural comb on all my hives...bot brood chambers (deeps) and supers (3/4 or mediums) and haven't wired or strung anything on the frames including tacks. They draw them just fine. It takes a while for them to attach to the bottom bar but that's not a problem for the brood frames.

As for the bird feeders, did you know if you lower them to 4' or less from the ground they become not only bird feeders, but cat feeders as well? grin

Scott
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winginit
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« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2010, 12:53:07 PM »

lol, yes I'm all too familiar with the law of unintended consequences.

Will start replacing deep frames with foundationless. Think I'll make sure it's level first this time.
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winginit
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« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2010, 12:38:02 PM »

Just wanted to thank you all for your helpful suggestions and let you know that the hive is doing well. It took a couple of tries, but I had been forewarned about that to. It looks much better now, still needs some work every time I inspect (about every 2 weeks), but the rubberbanded comb is beautiful and there are new frames being drawn out as well.

Here's a picture of a drawn-out frame that started as a wobbly rubber-banded thing. I can't say that I have any nice brood patterns in this hive, but it would be hard to tell given all the cutting and straightening I've been doing.

Cracks me up when I find disgarded rubber bands at the entrance.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_bY1j68HjGho/TC3vcoXDaHI/AAAAAAAAAII/Jl8atTzXpiI/s1600/Formerly+rubber+banded+foundationless+comb.jpg


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« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2010, 10:07:33 PM »

By the picture , it looks like they are doing well. Have to laugh with you about the rubber bands outside on the ground.  grin Wait until you do a newspaper combine and see the paper all the way around, sticking outside, between boxes and when you pop open the boxes to see the newspaper completely gone, flush with the inside of the box. They know it does not belong and they get rid of it.
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AllenF
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« Reply #18 on: July 06, 2010, 10:27:05 AM »

That's a great pic.
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