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Author Topic: I am brand new to bees and need help!  (Read 1437 times)
jaycee
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« on: May 01, 2012, 11:32:43 PM »

Hello everyone!  Thank you for reading my message I have been reading this forum for a few months off and on trying to learn all I can, but I just have joined tonight.  My name is Jaycee and I live in southern Illinois not far from St.Louis.  I raise registered Nubian dairy goats on a small farm here.  I bought two hives last fall and have package bees coming in a week and a half from Rossman Apiary in Georgia.  Well I have been of course very excited about the arrival of the bees and have read countless articles and watched youtube videos on installing packages and getting started.  I thought I was very prepared.  Then here is what happened tonight...

My wife saw a huge swarm of bees on a high branch of an ash tree in our pasture.  I figured... what the hell!  So I put on the gear and I went out and set up a hive in the garden.  Put the extension ladder up and cut down the branch nearly at dusk... caught the swarm in a cardboard box with alot of adrenaline pumping as this was my first real experience trying to manage bees.  Well I put them in the hive with 2 deep boxes on it and I put an entrance reducer to the smallest setting on the front to keep them from all leaving.  So now I need to get a 3rd hive but my questions are these... I have no idea if I captured the queen as it was almost dark and being completely new I doubt I would have known anyway.  I did get nearly all the swarm.  Should I order a queen now just in case so she will arrive in time in case they don't have one, or do I have time to monitor the situation for a few days first and if so how will I tell as a complete newb that they for sure have a queen?  Secondly how long should I leave on the reducer, we are already having 55-60 degree nights.  And finally, I have some entrance feeders that take a mason jar... should I start feeding this hive?  It doesnt seem possible to do that and keep the entrance reduced...

Thanks for any suggestions.  I am very excited to have started beekeeping a week and a half early!

Jaycee
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beekeeperookie
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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2012, 11:40:39 PM »

I would only use one deep at this time, if the bees are still there in the morning you should be fine.  I would start feeding them help them build up. 
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jaycee
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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2012, 11:51:22 PM »

Thank You... if they stay does that mean they probably have a queen?
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David McLeod
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« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2012, 01:31:45 AM »

If they stay then odds are in your favor. I have, though, had more than one queenless swarm stay put and try to set up housekeeping. The other bad thing to watch for is they may try to bail on you if for whatever reason they don't like the box you put them in. You will usually know in the first 24 hours if that going to happen. If your lucky they will just all spill out and lay in a wad next to the box if not they go full swarm and head for the trees. If you catch them trying that stunt just catch them again and throw them back in but this time set your queen excluder under the brood box to hem up her majesty.
I, too, would feed at this time. They are burning carbs to make wax and will quickly burn through their on board stores. By feeding you are saving them flight time to gather nectar and comb gets pulled faster and mama has more places to lay in a shorter time.
This is what you should expect. Day 1, very little activity at the entrance, maybe a guard or three with a few exploratory flights. Just check enough to be sure the bees are in there. Day 2 will see a little more activity and by days end you might even see some pollen coming in. Day 3 should see regular flights getting established and pollen. Of course all this is contingent on the weather. The main thing I look for is pollen as they do not bring pollen when they swarm, it must be gathered at their new site. If I got pollen I'm comfortable calling them definitely caught.
Now let them be until the end of the week, other than topping off the Boardman feeder as needed, at which time you'll take a quick peek inside. Slide everything to one side then go straight to the frame at the very center of the cluster, push the neighboring frames away and withdraw the center frame. The it should be welled pulled over most if not all of it. You need to see eggs down in the bottoms of those cells. Don't worry about the queen, if you have eggs you have a queen. Slide the frame back in and shove everything back to the center and close her up.
You'll check again in a week's time and begin your manipulations then such as rotating frames to the center, checking brood patterns and the like.
Hope this helps.
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rober
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« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2012, 02:02:43 AM »

the 1st swarm i caught this year was gone the next morning. i've caught 3 more since then that have stayed. i followed the advixe given on this forum & put some lemon grass oil, a frame of honey, & a frame of brood in their new home. i just brought the 3rd swarm in tonight so we'll see what happens with it. so far i've not seen a queen. if you ever get to st louis cheryl's herbs is on manchester rd in maplewood near the st louis city border. she sells lemon grass oil & a boatload of other essential oils.
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« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2012, 06:22:27 AM »

As for the feeder,
I would get all the bees into one deep and put the inner cover on. Place the feeder over the hole in the inner cover surrounded by your second deep and then the outer cover.
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kathyp
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« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2012, 11:34:48 AM »

HUGE swarm is an indication that it's a primary swarm and the queen was in there.  if you got the whole bunch into the box, you (99.9999%) got the queen also.

as for box size, you'll have to play that by ear.  i have picked up swarms that took two deeps.  unless have problems with things like massive wax moth attacks, you are ok if you gave them a little to much space.  after all, we put smallish swarms in one deep and they don't fill it.

do not order a queen!!!!  give the swarm a week without disturbing it other than to feed.  after a week, look for eggs.  if there are none, wait another week.  by then, you should see eggs and larvae.  at your first check, evaluate your stores.  see how much syrup they have saved and how much pollen.  i am with david, pollen is a good indicator for me that the queen is there BUT at this time of the year there is an abundance of pollen, so it is only an indicator. 

when you do your first check take pictures of the frames.  if you don't see eggs with your naked eye, you may be able to spot them on the computer.  at the least, you can upload them and we can help you with any questions.
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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
jaycee
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« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2012, 02:34:03 PM »

Thanks everyone for the great advice, it is very much appreciated.  This morning I checked the hive and they had not left they were all over inside.  I placed the feeder on the entrance with 1:1 sugar water in a mason jar and left it closed as much as I could with the reducer and the feeder on the front.  Seems theres some contradictory opinions on how much I should mess with them right away.  Is it worth it to try and brush them into the bottom hive body and put the feeder on top as someone suggested?  Or better to leave them alone for now until they start to get established?  I see now that I should have known better than to start with the 2 deeps, but as I said I wasnt planning on starting for another 2 weeks haha and planned to review the things I had read last fall and winter... experience is the best teacher I suppose.  I'm waiting until tonight to see if my swarm stuck around at least 24 hours before I call the guy who built my hives and tell him I need one more.  I am definately alot less apprehensive about installing the package bees in the hive next week now that I have this initial experience with the swarm:)
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David McLeod
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« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2012, 03:02:21 PM »

Good deal, it sounds like your well on your way to insanity, oops I meant a fool who plays with bugs that sting. Wink Beekeeping is crazy insane addicting, I love it and welcome to the club!
If the double deep is to much just let them bee until the second check. By then they should have a good bit of comb drawn. It will mainly be in the main core area of the cluster and unless they are extremely productive shouldn't be much more than ten of the twenty frames. It may all be in one box or more than likely vertically stacked between the boxes. Again if there is more space than bees you can pull these core best pulled frames, and all the ones with eggs and brood, and set them in a deep of their own and place that deep right back on the bottom board. This is also a good time to look for the queen and make every effort to ensure she is on the frames you are putting in the deep. The remainder of the frames set in the other deep and set it in front of the hive turned up on it's side. As long as there is no open brood in it the bees in that box will abandon the comb and re enter the hive. Go collect the empty deep after dark or early the next day. If you can't find the queen then shake each frame into the box you are going to put on the bottom board. Odds are you'll be okay with the queen in the right box.
Only do this though if you are sure they have to much space as a little to much is better than to little. You want to keep your box size more or less matched to the total number of bees that can cover all of the brood and up to around eighty percent of the frames.
Once you start passing the eighty percent mark be ready to add space in the form of another deep or supers. It will amaze you just how fast a good new swarm can fill up a box.I have one here that I hived not quite a month ago that I put the second medium super on yesterday (single deep). She's filled the deep with brood and half of the first medium (no excluder).
Past that point it will be a judgement call on adding or taking away but that will come with time, just let the bees teach you what they need.
 
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Georgia Wildlife Services,Inc
Georgia's Full Service Wildlife Solution
Atlanta (678) 572-8269 Macon (478) 227-4497
www.atlantawildliferemoval.net
georgiawildlifeservices@gmail.com
kathyp
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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2012, 03:01:33 PM »

i leave them alone for a week.  skip the hive top feeder.  they are a PIA and a jar will do as well.  in a week, you can go it and rearrange things and see what they are up to.  what they are doing will be the answer to the rest of your questions.
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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
David McLeod
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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2012, 04:00:04 PM »

I just got in from working mine and have another tip.

It's not uncommon for a swarm to requeen itself not long after getting established. The build to swarm, the swarm flight and establishment can take it's toll on a queen, especially if she's older. One of mine is doing that now. Another one of mine ended up queenless but kept right on making honey nearly filling a deep. I did a newspaper combine with a cutout colony.
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Georgia Wildlife Services,Inc
Georgia's Full Service Wildlife Solution
Atlanta (678) 572-8269 Macon (478) 227-4497
www.atlantawildliferemoval.net
georgiawildlifeservices@gmail.com
jaycee
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« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2012, 09:36:20 AM »

Thanks everyone who replied for the great info.  I checked the hive after a week and saw the queen busy at work on the 2nd frame I pulled out!  I was amazed it was so easy for me to see her but she really stood out.  The bees had started building on the center frames of both deep boxes I started with but I was able to pull one of the boxes to the side and get all those center frames with bees side by side in the bottom box.  So now they are in a single box as I should have started them originally.  How full should I allow the frames to get before I add the 2nd deep back on the top?  I was so amped up to check the hive the first time that I forgot to even bring out my smoker or smoke it at all, but the bees were still pretty well behaved thankfully..

The practice with the swarm really was useful when I got my packages in the mail on Monday and installed them I was a lot less nervous even though there were a lot more bees in the air.
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David McLeod
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« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2012, 10:19:51 AM »

When they get eight of the ten drawn it's time to add. If I were adding the second deep I would under super, put it on the bottom, on the principle that they build down. Of course it really doesn't matter as they will build in empty space whether it is above or below. Just don't add space both top and bottom if you want them to go in a certain direction. Also by adding space at the bottom the bees will start storing honey at the top of the upper box as the brood emerges creating the honey dome that will keep the queen out of the supers if you were to opt not to use honey (queen) excluders.
 
 
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Georgia Wildlife Services,Inc
Georgia's Full Service Wildlife Solution
Atlanta (678) 572-8269 Macon (478) 227-4497
www.atlantawildliferemoval.net
georgiawildlifeservices@gmail.com
jaycee
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« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2012, 11:07:43 AM »

Thanks David, your answers are always very helpful.  I will add the 2nd deep box on the bottom when they are ready!
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