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Author Topic: I am all ears, give us a rundown please  (Read 6834 times)
Acebird
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« on: December 31, 2010, 08:46:40 AM »

From another topic:

As for the ambient temps and all the comments of years past from 50 year old guru's and local bee experts, I heard much that we now know to be wrong. Prophylactic treatments, cutting out queen cells to stop swarming,.....the list is endless.

http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php?topic=30936.new;topicseen#new

Topic:  BEE'S FROZEN?!

BjornBee, I am all ears.  So could you give us new beeks a rundown of where the old experts are wrong in your opinion.

a discussion of why would be helpful for me because I am a hard guy to convince when theory contradicts experience.

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« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2010, 09:03:04 AM »

No problem....

I'll pick out the reference to cutting out queen cells.

I have heard for years, and even today, beekeepers being told that once you find queen cells in the hive, you should rip them all out to prevent swarming. Cutting out swarm cells is also mentioned in some books.

Reality is, ripping out queen cells many times leaves the hive queenless, as the old queen is already programmed to leave the hive. So what happens is the beekeeper rips out the queen cells, the old queen still swarms, and the beekeeper is left with a hive that is now raising emergency queens from old larvae, or a situation where they have nothing to build from at all.

This old advice of ripping out queens cells to stop swarming does not work, and fails to fully understand what is happening in the hive.

And believe me, I sell many queens every year to beekeeper who have queenless hives, after being told to rip out queen cells.

The better advice, and one that takes into account what is actually happening in the hive would be to remove the old queen along with a few frames of brood. This simulates that a swarm has already issued by having the bee acknowledge the older queen has left, there are fewer bees in the colony, and this all suppresses the continued swarming urge for any afterswarms.

This allows the beekeeper a couple management options....

If the new queen fails or gets killed, you still have a mated backup queen to put back in the hive.

Honey production is not lessened from the removal of the queen or a couple frames, as all field bees are still with the original hive.

You can also lessen further swarming urges, by placing additional supers on the hive at the same time as removing the old queen.

You can also harvest additional queen cells for nuc building, requeening weak queens in other hives, etc. Or at least limit afterswarms by cutting out all but a few queen cells. (Which I don't really suggest doing)

a beekeeper has many options. And one should understand swarm prevention, and swarm control.

Too many beekeepers fail at adequate swarm prevention (timely supering, young queens, etc.), then fail again with swarm control by archaic advice based on ripping out queen cells after the hive has already decided to swarm.

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« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2010, 09:23:18 AM »

BJ that was truly a great explanation and just the way I think about ripping out queen cells, thanks!
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« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2010, 09:28:38 AM »

Swarm cells usually end up producing the best queens...why destroy that resource?

Scott
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« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2010, 09:30:33 AM »

Hey thanks, that is great information but I am not there yet.  I wouldn't think of ripping out queen cells.

What I am also interest in is this part of the statement: "the list is endless."

You touched on moisture in the other topic.  What else are the old timers doing wrong?

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« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2010, 09:55:53 AM »

Dang, BJ, as much as it irks me not to be able to harass you on a post, I have to say that is one of your better ones of all time. It should be posted as a banner on the top of the front page throughout the swarm season. It would likely save thousands of hives.
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« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2010, 10:10:20 AM »

bjorn, that is an excellent example.

i'd add to what you wrote that it is often a first year beekeeper that finds queen cells (supercedure or swarming), and doesn't feel confident about finding the queen (and may not be able to do so).  this also is likely someone with one (hopefully two) brand new hives who has spent a bunch of money already, and doesn't want to hear that they now need to buy a nuc box with a bottom board, inner cover, and telescoping cover (and perhaps some more frames...i know when we started we had the exact amount of frames to fit our boxes).

i now keep cheap nuc boxes on hand (both the waxed cardboard and plastic folding boxes) so that there is something available for new beeks who are facing this situation without placing a rush mail order, without me lending out equipment, and with minimal expense on their part.

if you are unable to find the queen (and you have cells on more than on frame..preferably capped so they don't have to be fed), setup a small nuc with each frame.

as a new beek (and even as an experienced one) it isn't always obvious if you are dealing with swarming or supercedure (with a brand new hive with a brand new queen, if there is plenty of room, it is likely a supercedure).  also, there is no guarantee that any queen will return from a mating flight.  setting up 2 or 3 "mating nucs" will increase mating odds (more queens going out to mate), and it _may_ reduce the swarming urge (again, assuming you can't find the queen, she is now in one of the mating nucs, the parent hive, or perhaps she has already swarmed or died).

this interrupts the normal "first year of beekeeping" that most books (and bee schools) teach you to expect...but as bjorn says, new beeks follow the conventional advice and end up queenless ALL THE TIME.

this is another one that i think is covered better in our book than in most: (again, we hold the copyright to all this, so there is no issue with me posting it.  there may be some small differences between this and what is in the book, i've pased the copy we submitted)  Please note that the following is from a beekeeping book designed for beginners:

"If you find queen cells (not cups, but see eggs or larvae in the cups or see capped queen cells): You should try to determine if they are swarm cells or supersedure cells. If the bees have plenty of room, and they start to make queen cells within several weeks of starting the hive, they are probably supersedure cells, and it means that the bees, for one reason or another, think that the current queen is unsuitable and needs replacing. We always recommend letting the bees supersede when they want to.

If there are several frames of brood and the hive is strong, you can split off the laying queen to form a nuc. Minimally, you’ll need a frame of mostly capped brood (and its adhering bees) and a frame of honey. The queen will continue to lay and be in reserve while the new queens in the parent hive fight to the death, and the survivor successfully completes her mating flights.

Many things can go wrong before the new queen starts to lay, and it’s nice to have the old queen in reserve. If the new queen doesn’t make it or proves to be a poor layer, you can recombine the nuc with the old queen into the hive. You can make a similar kind of split if you find several frames with queen cells on them. Place each frame into a separate nuc, let each of the queens mate, and you’ll have established several new[md]though small[md]colonies.

If the queen cells are found in a very populous hive with little room for the queen to lay, and especially when they are found on the outside of the broodnest and on the bottoms of frames, they are more likely swarm cells. At this point, the hive has already decided to swarm.

***BEGIN SIDEBAR***
Bee Smart
Many beekeeping resources instruct you to destroy queen cells if you find them. Don’t listen to them.
All too often the queen has either already left with a swarm, or is about to do so. Cutting queen cells out of such hives leaves them hopelessly queenless, meaning that they have  no resources from which to raise a new queen. If you find queen cells, and you think the hive will swarm, put the old queen (and no queen cells) with a few frames of bees and stores in a nuc or 10-frame box. Leave the queen cells in the original hive and open up the broodnest. The old queen is unlikely to swarm from a small nuc with limited population, and the new queens get a chance to mate. This gives you insurance against mating problems because you can always recombine the nuc with the parent hive.
***END SIDEBAR***

It won’t often be clear if queen cells are for swarming or for supercedure. You will have to use your judgment. If you see 20 queen cells in the hive, they are probably swarm cells[md]anything less is more ambiguous."
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Acebird
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« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2010, 12:24:34 PM »

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It won’t often be clear if queen cells are for swarming or for supercedure. You will have to use your judgment. If you see 20 queen cells in the hive, they are probably swarm cells[md]anything less is more ambiguous."

I don't know about the rest of the new beeks but this makes me laugh.  What judgment does a new beek have?  As far as I am concerned none.  Five years down the road we might have some judgement but right now we are in a state of who to believe.  New beeks have their hands full just guessing if they did the right thing for keeping their bees alive through the winter.  Queen rearing is another hurdle for the future.
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« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2010, 12:25:37 PM »

also worth noting that some hives like to make queen cells.  real queen cells.  i have one hive that's been going for over 4 years and any time i need queen cells in spring or early summer, i can count on that hive to have a few.  i have no idea how many times that hive has replaced it's queen.  to my knowledge, it has not swarmed....just as likely i missed it smiley

because i have the evil swallow problem, getting mated queens back to the hive can be a crap shoot.  this hive has save more than one with it's donations.

if i had to pick one thing that makes me crazy, it's the idea of top ventilation over winter.  anyone who lives in snow country knows that there is heat at the top of the hive.  why the heck would you make a hole up there to let that heat out?  the bees might survive it, but how much more  work do they have to do to replace what you have let out?  even worse, an upper and lower entrance.
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« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2010, 01:04:01 PM »

What judgment does a new beek have?  As far as I am concerned none.  Five years down the road we might have some judgement but right now we are in a state of who to believe.
well, if you can afford a full time "beekeeping tutor" or hire someone to manage bees for you, you don't need to use any judgment at all (except in who you hire and what you are hiring them to do).  if you don't have that luxury, then every time you open your hive you have to use some judgment.

you will note that the steps we suggest work whether they are supercedure cells or swarm cells...which is why they are given the way they are.

Quote
New beeks have their hands full just guessing if they did the right thing for keeping their bees alive through the winter.  Queen rearing is another hurdle for the future.

what i've written about here is far from "queen rearing"....it is hedging your bets when you have a set of circumstances that you are not prepared to deal with otherwise.

the Barnstable County Beekeepers (on Cape Cod) did a survey a few years ago with package bees.  10% were drone layers, and only 50% produced full brood patterns in 6 weeks.  the survey did not include supercedure, but supercedure of package queens is very, very common (i'd guess around 50% in many cases).

in order to get _to_ winter (nevermind _through_ winter), one must first clear all of these hurdles of the first season....which includes a situation where you see queen cells.  so, what are you (the first year beekeeper) supposed to do when you see queen cells?

1.  let the bees work it out:  this isn't a bad option, but the bees might swarm, or the new queen might not make it back from mating, or be poorly mated.

2.  mash the queen cells (this is what is recommended by most books)....which often (as bjorn says) results in buying a new queen (the old one has left or is for one reason or another, not suitable for the bees).

3.  split the queen and/or queen cells off into nucs.  this way, if they have swarmed you have a good chance of having a laying queen, if they are superceding you increase your odds at still having a laying queen when it is over, if you are a newbee and can't tell drone cells or queen cups from queen cells you haven't done any permanent damage.

ask around at your local club...you will find many who have destroyed queen cells only to purchase a queen (and some still might not understand why, and repeat the advice to destroy queen cells)....bjorn nailed this one as one of the most common and harmful pieces of advice that is commonly given.

i'm not sure what you want...you say you are "all ears", yet you seem to want a "recipe" for keeping bees.  there is no such thing.  life is full of judgments that must be made when we don't feel up to the task...and bees are full of life!

you can believe whomever you wish, but in the end, you will have to trust your own judgment, no matter how little you think you know.  ....or, you can trust someone else and blame them for their poor judgment.

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« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2010, 02:06:00 PM »

also accept the fact that you will fail sometimes.  you may make no mistakes that you know of and lose everything.  it can be a little distressing, but it is life....not only in beekeeping.

eventually you find the thing that works best for you.  it will come from a combination of your own experiments and trying different things that others teach you.  one of the great things about this hobby is that there is no one way to do things.  that's why you get so many opinions on every question you ask.  it's up to you to pick the things that work for you.
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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.....

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« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2010, 02:24:38 PM »

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ask around at your local club...you will find many who have destroyed queen cells only to purchase a queen (and some still might not understand why, and repeat the advice to destroy queen cells)....bjorn nailed this one as one of the most common and harmful pieces of advice that is commonly given.
OK you win, you got me listening … maybe a few others are too.

You have to agree that the new beek is like myself (or maybe not) reads a whole bunch of information from all kinds of beeks who don’t agree so it makes us totally confused.  However we have determination so we plow ahead and get one hive kit, get it all together and then we are rip roaring ready for our fist nuc.  We seek out the oldest and wisest individual that has years of success and buy a nuc from him.  He sets it all up for us so we know we got at least a starting chance.

Lets say the season starts in March/April.  We wait until June to see how the bees are doing (we are probably not the average new beek here) and they have the two deeps pretty full so we load on the supers (2).  This is the only time we have seen inside the hive and we did not pull any brood frame out.  In the Fall we find the two top supers full of honey and take the frame of honey out one at a time.  We are down to the two deeps now which appears to be full to the brim (bees everywhere).  We now screw on the black roofing material on three sides, put the mouse guard on along with both covers.  At the advice of another very close by beek we turn the hive 90 degrees so the side and the back are more exposed to the sun (when it appears).  Yesterday is the first day we went near the hive and today I pulled the tray and popped the lid for a peek.  I did not open the inner cover.

Have at me, flame away!

"i'm not sure what you want..."

a recipe would be nice but a consensus among the elite beeks would be appreciated as to what is right and what is definitely wrong.  And as what has already been stated in many posts, I am asking for the world.

It is probably obvious to most readers now that we have decided to do the absolute least intervention to the hive that you could possibly do and then see what happens.  In the mean time I can burn up my fingertips on the keyboard asking questions and reading more opinions.  What for?  So we can exercise judgment that makes sense to us.

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« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2010, 02:44:50 PM »

...the only thing i would recommend against in your account is rotating the hive.  with a little experience you will see that the bees structure the inside of the hive in part based on the location of the sun.  changing this after they have made winter preparations doesn't seem wise to me.  perhaps there are circumstances where this helps (perhaps it has to do with wind, and not the sun), but it isn't something i'd do without more information.

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« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2010, 02:53:07 PM »

The only recommendation i would make for turning a hive this time of year would be to turn the opening away from the north-northwest winds.Other than that,let it sit.
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« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2010, 02:56:06 PM »

You really do need to inspect your hive. I'm not saying that you should be on the lookout for disease issues or pest problems...it takes a bit of experience to diagnose many diseases.

You can't gain the needed experience without first understanding what a normal hive should look like. Can you identify the basics of the hive? Queen cells or cups vs drone brood, capped brood vs capped honey? The best way to learn is to actually lay eyes on each.

I usually recommend that new beeks inspect every two weeks or so (only with good weather...warm-sunny-low wind) until they feel comfortable with inspections. Maybe start by taking just an outer frame (which is usually a storage frame) and putting it back in. This will give you a feel for how not to roll bees. When comfortable with this take an outer frame and lean it against the hive or hive stand. Slide the second frame to the wall of the hive to reduce squishing bees and remove it as well. Repeat this until you've reached brood.

Once you've gotten to brood take some time to identify eggs, open larvae and capped worker brood as well as drone brood. Put it all back in the same orientation and walk away 'til the next time. This will give you a feel for working the hive.

Each subsequent inspection delve further into the hive and you understand more in no time. Don't bother searching out the queen at first...eggs and young larvae are enough for now. With time you'll be comfortable with it all and develop your own system.

You can then slow down your inspections a bit...you don't want them overly stressed. During flows and with the absence of problems all you need to do is pop the cover to see if they need room or crack the boxes and look on the bottom frame bars for swarm indications.

And pose any questions here or at your bee club.

Scott
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« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2010, 03:03:49 PM »

Well said Scott Smiley
Just not this time of year way up North!! grin
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« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2010, 03:16:18 PM »

Hey thanks, that is great information but I am not there yet.  I wouldn't think of ripping out queen cells.

What I am also interest in is this part of the statement: "the list is endless."

You touched on moisture in the other topic.  What else are the old timers doing wrong?



Acebird,
I really do not want to write a book. Although this thread has encouraged me to add a new page to my website.  grin

What I find most, and this is no indication of all old beekeepers. It's just I have found many have been doing the same thing for many years. Two things in particular I'll mention....

1) A few years back, a young lady came to an association meeting I was attending. This was her first meeting. She made a request for someone to possibly come out and look at her hive. She felt there were problems with the bees. The president commented that he would see what he could do. She then stated "I guess I should let you know that my bees are in a top bar hive". And I kid you not.....the reply was "Well heck! That's your problem. That ain't beekeeping. Anybody keeping bees in those things deserve to lose their bees!"

2) In 2009 I attended HAS. One of the speakers, and one I will not mention, but would probably be known by 99% of all beekeepers, asked in a bee talk "Who here is using screened bottom boards"?. He then proceeded to comment that "there seems to a a good amount of beekeepers using SBB, and it might be something worth looking into". What? Something to consider? Whether you agree with the use of SBB or not, I find this about 10 years late in the bee world.

I find new beekeepers, younger beekeepers, and those hanging out on forums such as this, more in tune to newer ideas, more educated, and way ahead of the curve in knowledge of what is happening in the bee industry today. I'm not saying oldtimers don't have a wealth of knowledge. But if they continue to live in the same shell with nothing different for the past 30 years, they are no better than an outdated book.

I continue to hear about prophylactic treatments, some are completely ignorant to things like SBB, not using different genetics, not considering breeding program advances, and a host of other things. Many times, it is with the older established crowd. And if I had a quarter for every beekeeper I ever heard "We been doing it this way for 40 years", I would have at least a few dollars in my pocket. To even hear that suggests that some have not updated or advanced in their beekeeping for 40 years. A real shame. The pool of knowledge today is certainly greater than it has been 40 years ago.

Whether it's prophylactic treatments, the removal of "unneeded" pollen frames in the fall since bees don't need such things, the attitude of propolis in the hive, lack of understanding heat benefits in the hive, ignorance to such items as SBB, 8 frame equipment, foundationless systems, TBH, or just the lack of keeping up with the latest management, the list is very long. The old advice of ripping out queen cells to stop swarming is just one of many things that have changed over the years in regards to better ways of managing bees. I've mentioned a few. But there are many more.

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« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2010, 03:28:30 PM »

i would rather have options than consensus.

there is nothing wrong with plunking a hive down and pulling honey once a year.  i can't say that your hives odds of survival are better or worse than an inspected hive.  you won't be able to catch and correct things like a missing queen, but sometimes queens die in winter and you  miss it anyway.

my question to you is what are you learning?  if you expect to be handed knowledge here or by others, it won't happen. here you get ideas that will help you develop knowledge.  hands on is the real teacher.  you can buy a new package every time you lose a hive, and that will be fine.  if that's as far as you want to take your hobby, it's your decision.

by now, you have been here long enough to know that we don't flame people for asking questions.  asking questions and getting answers is what this site is about.  there are plenty of folks here willing to walk you through any problem you have, and yes, you will get multiple opinions.  for myself, i would only ask that if you are not interested in the answers, don't waste our time with the questions. fair enough?
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« Reply #18 on: December 31, 2010, 03:40:15 PM »

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Acebird,
I really do not want to write a book.


You know I am going to worm it out of you one way or another. grin

I'll check your site.  That make you happy?
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« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2010, 03:53:32 PM »

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for myself, i would only ask that if you are not interested in the answers, don't waste our time with the questions. fair enough?

By now you should know that I ask a lot of question, many times it works out for the benefit for others.  If you feel that your time will be wasted by answering any one of my questions then don't.  I have never asked a question on a forum like this that wasn't answered or at least commented on.  The odds are in my favor.

I appreciate all answers but I warn you I don't take any of them as gospel.  That will take some time especially when strong feelings are expressed for opposing views.
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Beemaster's Beekeeping Ring
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