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Author Topic: Should I renovate bee hive?  (Read 1567 times)
uglyfrozenfish
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« on: April 08, 2011, 03:52:16 PM »



This is a bee hive that has been around for around 15 years.  My wife's grandfather was a beekeeper and stopped around 10 years ago.  I am now taking over his equipment and starting new.  This is the only hive he has that is inhabited and has been so for the last several years.  I hunt at his property and this hive has always had activity.  This colony might be considered a feral? since it has not been tended to in 10+ years.  This colony has started flying again this spring with good numbers a week ago (especially for how hard a winter we have had) and apparently has a good queen.

 As you can see from the pic,  the bottom deep and bottom board are completely rotted out.   The bees are using this offset corner as their entrance.


What I would like to do is unstack the boxes and restack on new bottom board and new deep.  I don't want to take apart or rearrange any of the existing frames first because they are propolised together and I am afraid they will be destroyed and I will ruin the brood nest.  Secondly with such a long lasting colony I don't really want to mess up a good thing.  What do you guys think?  Suggestions?
THanks,
Lee


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skatesailor
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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2011, 08:00:30 PM »

My opinion is go for it. You have a gem here considering that its been a survivor in a tough enviroment with no care. I'd definitely make splits from this hive too.
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uglyfrozenfish
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« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2011, 08:34:44 PM »

Thanks.  The help and knowledge dispensed here is a priceless resource. 

Do you think I should try splits with the condition of the frames? (they will fall apart if removed from box.  We tried one last fall) 
I was thinnking about putting out swarm traps in the area to catch swarms from this hive. 
Could I do a split by just removing a deep and replacing it with empty comb?

Thanks again,
Lee
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ccar2000
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« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2011, 10:31:33 PM »

I do not have a lot of experience so I am interested in your process.

I do not know if this is a good plan but I was wondering..... if you could break the hive down setting the new equipment on top of the old. If the brood nest were in both deep boxes, if you set them each on top of new deeps with new bottom boards, one would have the queen and the other would be able to make a queen. Right? Then next winter when they move down into the new deeps you could replace the old equipment with new.
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CapnChkn
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2011, 12:38:14 AM »

UFF, Lee, Buddy!

If you've got the stuff to put them in, do so!  I had an old hive setting in the hay barn, I thought so full of bees I would have to split it up.  I decided to plan my actions carefully, and the plague of SHB we had last summer caused them to abscond.  I never went any further with this page, because a week into getting them in the KTBH, I realized there were no eggs, larvae, or new comb for that matter.

http://www.captainchicken.com/swarm/index.html


You can see I had the same situation, the leetle bees chewed their way through the corner of the hive body.  I tore the hive open, wondering why the bees would swarm in August, and there was nothing in there.  Maybe 300 bees left.  They had occupied the deep on top, and ignored the rest of the empty space.

The frames were in good shape, I'm still using them.  They were kind of protected by a covering of wax.  The boxes were a different story.  Wax moths had chewed some of them so badly they look like the walls of the Alien occupied areas of Duke Nukem 3d.  I'm still using the boxes that are "good enough."  I baked them in a solar oven for one or two days, my way of killing disease.  Of course these boxes were under cover for three years.

I say, "Open 'er up and see what's inside.  You might just need to put them in a single deep."  Do a cut out.  Get some new frames, to be sure.  Get that kind of equipment together so you can get it done and avoid stressing them.  If I had just looked inside, I might still have those bees.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2011, 12:53:41 AM »

I agree with CapnChkn, luckily I haven’t seen SHB in my area yet.  Here in Michigan I would wait for spring (is it coming this year?) and let them build up strong before tearing into them.  Then if you have to do major hive re-working or splitting, you’ll have lots of eggs in there in case something goes wrong (like you squish the queen).  They could then re-queen from the eggs and succesfully mate if you wait until drones are flying.   I would be in no rush right now, just get your wooden ware ready for now.  
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Pink Cow
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« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2011, 01:20:28 AM »

My daughter and I went through something similar last year after we were given an old neglected hive. You can read the advice we were given at this thread. We took our time and replaced the old frames one or two at a time over a period of months until all were new.

After going through it myself I'd say it is definitely worth it. Those bees are survivors and certainly would be a good addition. After recovering and becoming strong, ours swarmed and we were able to recover them and start a second hive. Both are very strong and filling supers for us now. If you can't get the frames out to inspect, I'd probably suggest not trying to split because you don't know what you'd be starting with. Maybe you can remove the supers and put a box of new frames (hopefully already drawn) on top of the deeps in the hope they'll move up for you. If so, and you can spot the queen there you could add an excluder and then dump the old stuff in a few weeks after all brood has hatched. If you get brave you could try to pull a couple or few frames with brood and put them in the new box to help lure them up.

Good luck if you decide to do it. Should be fun.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2011, 01:32:22 AM by Pink Cow » Logged
T Beek
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« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2011, 04:26:26 PM »

Hey, thanks for the thread 're' post.  I've inherited a colony thats in two 'old' deeps  (I only use mediums)  I plan on luring them upstairs into a medium before digging in.  This thread has some very timely valuable tips and ideas.

thomas
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skatesailor
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« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2011, 06:48:21 PM »

I would tend to agree with Bluebee about waiting a bit to get some brood in there. Its probably a little too early in your neck of the woods to start fooling around now. This will give you time to get supplies available to  do cutouts where needed and  replace hive bodies. If you find the queen go for the splits when the weather and brood is right. I wouldn't advise overthinking this but it is still good to have a plan and equipment available.
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uglyfrozenfish
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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2011, 06:47:16 PM »

 


I looked into the hive this past weekend and boy is it a chore.  The bees were really calm (even though it was cloudy and breezy) so they are a sweet hive.  Anyway I opened the top super and tried to pull out a frame to see what was going on.  The top bar popped off.  There is so much propolis built up over the past decade that I popped the nails and everything.  So I put the top bar back on and unstacked the hive.  Gave them new brick base, new bottom board.  Put on the two old deeps, then a new deep(foundationless) and then the old supers with a new inner cover and then the lid.

I am planning on phasing out the old frames so that I can work with them a little easier.  Michael Bush suggested turning the box upside down on a support and pushing the frames out at the same time and then separating which sounds like a good plan.  Scadsobees suggested using a queen excluder to keep the queen out of the boxes I want to work on and after a couple of weeks I could monkey with the boxes without damaging brood. 

I have a dilema in that I would really like honey from these bees, but I also want to start splitting them; a) to increase the amount of hives with these genetics and environmental adaptability. b) to try and prevent these girls from swarming.  I am wondering if I should wait so split until I get a little bit of honey for myself/family for the year and then split.  Or if I should do so now.  Can I have all I want or do I need to choose honey over split?

Thanks all for you input.
Lee
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joebrown
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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2011, 08:11:53 PM »

I am thinking you could also cut the comb out of the old frames and put it into new ones, like JP and some of the others do when they perform cut-outs! Just rubber band or tie the comb good and the bees should fix it back themself. Just my two cents!
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T Beek
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« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2011, 01:25:11 PM »

Finally got the chance to dig into my 'inherited' hive.  Boy, what a mess.  

It hasn't been worked in at least three years.  It was in two deeps and two mediums with a (smallest) bottom entrance and a 3/4 inch hole in the top medium super ( been trying to go to all mediums for three years now Wink.  There were FRAME SPACERS throughout!!! I hate those darn things, especially if used improperly.  Lots of condensation evidence and a fairly large mass of dead bees near the bottom, they appear to have been there a while, AND Smiley about 10,000 live bees, lots of drones (too many), about 4 frames of baseball size CAPPED brood, about a full frame of mostly uncapped drone brood BUT NO EGGS OR LARVA Undecided.  I did NOT see a queen and suspect she must have passed on fairly recent???

All things considered these bees were also very calm??

There was a mix of mismatched frames w/ PLASTIC and regular foundation, and in the bottom box more than half of it wasn't even touched by bees!?!

I was able to reduce them down to one deep and two mediums along w/ their own winter stored (five plus frames) honey/pollen, but assume they are doomed w/out a queen and will have to act soon.  I may just dump them in front of one of my weaker colonies and start over.  

Will this colony survive?  What about the capped brood still remaining??  Are they dead? (guess I should look) There were no queen cells.  Any advise here would be appreciated, thanks.

On a positive, I 'was' able to clean up the old supers and will use them eventually, after ripping out all those stupid grin nine frame spacers.  Just not too sure about the bees.

thomas  
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joebrown
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« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2011, 10:09:53 PM »

You could always place the hive on top of a weaker hive just separate the two with alittle newspaper and they should combine within a day or two!
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iddee
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« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2011, 10:16:38 PM »

I had the same situation 2 weeks ago. Today I have eggs and tiny larva. I would wait 2weeks and look again. You may have opened them just after the new queen emerged. It will take her "up to" 2 weeks to begin laying.
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T Beek
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« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2011, 07:26:05 AM »

iddee;  Thanks for your input.  Would this still be the case since I saw no queen cells (empty or closed)?  The hive was a real mess, full of comb going every which way, so I suppose there 'could' have been cells that were obscured from view.

In any case, I will take your advise (you gave me some new hope with this colony, I hope you're right) and wait a bit to see if any eggs emerge.  With roughly 10,000 bees they should be OK for another week or two even w/out a queen.

This is a 'new' experience for me and my bees, gotta love it.

thomas
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