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Author Topic: Minimal intervention hive?  (Read 4277 times)
Meadlover
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« on: July 26, 2010, 09:05:40 PM »

My question is can a hive be setup in a box and left all year to look after themselves?

To elaborate a bit more I am thinking of getting several (4-6?) deeps, fill them with founationless frames, and have the hive in the top box, allowing them to build down as they do in the wild - no foundation, no Queen Excluder.
Will they start with brood in the top box, build down and backfill with honey as they go, as I assume they do in tree trunks etc in the wild.

I am trying to find out if people have tried this yet or not and what the results where.
The reason I ask is I may have access to a 1200acre property to put some hives on, but will only have access to the property maybe twice a year.

ML
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AllenF
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2010, 10:47:51 PM »

Up here, and years ago before mites, yes you could set up a hive and walk away.   When I was young, we robbed the bees in late summer and then put the supers back on and did not touch them until the next year or until swarming season when we tried to catch them as that was the only way we got bees.   But then things changed with mites.
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Meadlover
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2010, 11:13:00 PM »

That's good news then because we don't have mites here!  cool
There is SHB and Wax Moth but thakfully no mites, so maybe this does have some merit.

Do you remember how many boxes you had on the stack?

ML
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AllenF
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2010, 11:40:18 PM »

It seemed like we ran 2 deeps and 3 or 4 shallows.   But if you have SHB, that would be giving them a lot of space to hide.   We did not have those bugs until just a few years ago. 
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CountryBee
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2010, 06:30:06 AM »

No mites due to natural foundation/natural cell or because of continent?  Thanks! Smiley
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Meadlover
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2010, 04:52:58 PM »

At the moment due to the later, but hopefully with using no foundation they will regress back, and if we do get mites it will be due to the former.
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CountryBee
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2010, 05:06:56 PM »

Thanks, I am trying to use foundationless frames with one hive.  I need to keep learning about it.  Right now they are building on two frames.  My dad said that when his dad was alive he told him that bees build north south or something like that so you had to put your supers facing that way when you wanted them to build their own comb.  Not sure how true, this was a long time ago.  I was told to put one frame in with foundation for them to follow and they will make the rest to paralell it on the foundationless frames, that is what I am trying now.  Great job without mites, they are a plague over here!
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specialkayme
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« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2010, 02:38:36 PM »

My dad said that when his dad was alive he told him that bees build north south or something like that so you had to put your supers facing that way when you wanted them to build their own comb.

Interesting. I've never heard this, and my own experiences don't confirm it. My bees will build comb in any direction they want, regardless of how you position the boxes. I also don't use foundation. Not saying it isn't true, I've just never heard it, or encountered it as a problem in the past.

I was told to put one frame in with foundation for them to follow and they will make the rest to paralell it on the foundationless frames

You don't even need the foundation as a guide. As long as you put a popsicle in the groove, or turn the bar that would hold the foundation on it's side so the bees have something hanging to start on, they will keep it going in the same direction. Check out Mr. Bush's website for more information.

I don't use any foundation, at all, and I love it. If you are trying to get them to regress back to natural cell size, you can't really keep putting a frame with foundation in there every ten frames though. That just reinforces what the foundation says they should be building them at.
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CountryBee
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2010, 06:25:51 AM »

Thanks!  Wasn't sure about the North/South, grandfather passed away before I was born so I could not ask him.  All I know is that my dad still has a little of his beekeeping supers that he still uses today and some have horizontal wire in the frames (old,old,old), maybe to hold in plain wax foundation or to reinforce the bees natural comb building, not sure, won't know.  Thanks again, Country Smiley
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Storm
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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2010, 02:57:07 PM »

I am trying one hive as a minimal intervention this year.  We haven't been inside since last fall, but were planning to look in today or tomorrow.  They are from proven mite resistant stock, so that helps.  We only have two honey supers on, and they are definitely crowded now, starting to beard during the day, so 3 sounds good.

I'll let you know what I find.
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CountryBee
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2010, 04:48:15 PM »

Two deeps and two med honeys? or two total?  Great job and good luck, you have much more patients than me! grin  Patients will pay off with honey! Smiley
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Storm
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« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2010, 05:01:56 PM »

2 deep + 2 honey.  And as for the north-south myth, the first time I tried foundationless on one of my hives, I ran the bars N/S, and they started building on the diagonal!  (I didn't know about starter strips then)  So much for them building by the compass.
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CountryBee
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« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2010, 05:05:28 PM »

Amazing!  I am trying foundationless but not there yet.  Lots of honey!  Not that much here for me in NY, I am on my first med honey super.
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Storm
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« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2010, 06:00:31 PM »

We tried to take some honey off yesterday, but they were just too hot.  Had two guards actually follow me all the way back to the house, then kamikaze on my glove anyway.  As I suspected, though, they are probably honey bound and definitely overcrowded.  The top honey super was fully packed, and what we saw below before being run off looked about the same.  We left the lid vented to help with airflow & hopefully put them in a better mood, and will try again today or tomorrow.

We did snag one piece of broken comb.  Excellent honey, and really deep comb.  We wanted to do a mite check, but never got down to the brood nest.  They seemed healthy and active, though.

Will let you know more when inspection & harvest are completed, but after what we saw yesterday I'd definitely go with the extra super for next year.  If I had it to do over, I'd probably check them a little closer to mid-flow, then I would have known to add it.
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CountryBee
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« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2010, 06:30:25 PM »

Storm, how do you do your mite check?  By IPM bottom board?  I usually make all of my own stuff except frames, so not sure.  Thanks. Smiley
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Storm
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« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2010, 07:27:54 PM »

I start by checking drone comb, then if I don't like what I see I do a sugar shake.  I haven't made the transition to IPM yet, but I probably will next year.  I build most of my own woodenware, so I was waiting until I found plans for an IPM bottom board.

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CountryBee
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« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2010, 08:42:49 PM »

What does a sugar shake do?  I am still learning, when my friend told me one of the hives had vorroa mites you have to treat with a bag on top all winter long he said and it was like $35 to treat the one hive.  I have to learn so much.  With trachea mites I have seen them crawl on the bees backs and I put strips of menthol from the top down thru the fall for them to cough them up and out I guess.  Sorry so stupid, I am still learning, I have a long way to go! Cry
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Storm
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« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2010, 10:58:24 PM »

Sugar shake just makes it easier to get an accurate count of the mites.  So far I've been pretty lucky, so perhaps someone with more experience could chime in on treatment methods/timing?  I do know that the best time to treat is after the queen has stopped laying in the fall, since mites incubate in brood comb, especially drone comb.  If you treat with capped brood in the hive, you'll miss a lot of the mites.

We took about 25 pounds of honey from our test hive today.  There was a lot more, but we got a late start, and the going was slow.  We had one broken comb that mashed a few of the girls, but other than a brief warning buzz when that happened, they were very sweet today.  My husband got a graze on one hand, but it appeared to be an accident.

The comb was almost 2 inches in many places, and we got 3 varieties of honey: clover, clover/honeysuckle mix, and a dark floral blend that had hints of alfalfa and honey locust.  We didn't put an excluder in this hive, and that would have helped greatly.  There was a lot of brace comb and cross-comb, hence the broken pieces.  I guess this is just one of those hives that can't /won't build straight no matter what we do.  Oh well.  Other than that we seemed to have no problems.  The rest will come off tomorrow, and we'll see how the brood nest looks.

My conclusions so far?  We should have checked them sooner, to know that they needed another super, and also by leaving them alone after the initial set-up, they went back to their crazy comb building, something I would have caught in another hive.  Other than that, all seems well with these girls.
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CountryBee
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« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2010, 07:39:04 AM »

Thanks so much! Smiley  Good luck with all the honey!  In NY I'm not sure how much I'll get, they are all still working on first med super. Sad 
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Meadlover
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« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2010, 10:22:05 PM »

I am also currently playing around with completely foundationless hives. I have found it a little bit different, but equipped with a trusty bread knife I have found it relatively easy to cut out brace comb, and level off frame thicknesses where required.

I figure since bees build down, foundationless frames with starter strips/wedges/V shaped bars is the way to go, as I have also heard of problems supering with all 10 empty frames with starter strips (need 1 frame with foundation/drawn out), so I figure I might try and setup a 'minimal intervention hive' with a 10 frame hive in the top box, followed by 4 more full depth boxes with empty frames with starter strips underneath, possibly with a SHB trap? (SBB?).

ML
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