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Author Topic: Hello from 8500 ft. We made it through our first winter! Questions...  (Read 1001 times)

Offline Violales

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 Hello everyone! My husband and I are so glad to find this website, as it is pretty lonely up in the Colorado Rockies. We live in Georgetown, CO- a cold, windy and climate wise harsh town (which I don't know if there ever has been a beehive to grace the town limits).  In spite of the climate, we decided to purchase a top bar hive and small 3 pound swarm, mid-summer 2011. Not too smart, but somehow it worked! We took no honey last summer and were lucky that the bees filled the hive with comb and honey. We did feed the bees a little in early Spring, and finally harvested one bar. Still, we are afraid to upset the balance.

So many questions! The bees were unusually noisy and active today. Several were almost bearding the entrance. It is not hot, but warm finally. In the 60-65F range. Bees are coming home with full pollen sacks too, even though we barely have any dandelions, only a few pasque flowers, and the grass is just starting to green up. Should we split the hive already if we find queen cells? Is it better to let them go naturally? Have a second empty top bar waiting for bees, but  wanted to make sure out first hive made it though the winter. Planning on inspecting the combs tomorrow if weather permits. Also, if we do split the hive, I'm concerned about genetic diversity as there are no bees around to mate with other than the drones in our hive. Do you think we are better of getting another swarm for the second hive? Our goals are to pollinate our garden, enjoy bees, and maybe get a little honey. We want what is best for bee survival in this terrible climate, so maybe that will help if anyone choses to respond to these varied questions and comments. Thanks in advance! I look forward to browsing much of the discussions here!

Offline Joe D

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Re: Hello from 8500 ft. We made it through our first winter! Questions...
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2012, 03:14:54 AM »

Welcome to the forum.  I will let someone with more knowledge answer your questions.  I got my bees in dec.  After you do your inspection you may know more on what you need to do.  Good luck and I am sure someone here can give you a better answer.

Joe

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Hello from 8500 ft. We made it through our first winter! Questions...
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2012, 04:46:37 AM »
>Should we split the hive already if we find queen cells?

Yes.  But you probably won't.

>Is it better to let them go naturally?

No.  You'll lose half your bees.

>Have a second empty top bar waiting for bees, but  wanted to make sure out first hive made it though the winter. Planning on inspecting the combs tomorrow if weather permits. Also, if we do split the hive, I'm concerned about genetic diversity as there are no bees around to mate with other than the drones in our hive.

That is your belief.  It is a questionable one.  There are often bees you don't know of.

> Do you think we are better of getting another swarm for the second hive?

Splitting is a normal part of beekeeping.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm
http://www.bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm
Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
-------------------
"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen

Offline specialkayme

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Re: Hello from 8500 ft. We made it through our first winter! Questions...
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2012, 08:14:43 AM »
Welcome to the site!

Offline Violales

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Re: Hello from 8500 ft. We made it through our first winter! Questions...
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2012, 12:03:32 PM »
Thanks for the welcome! I have already liked reading other posts, this is great.

Michael, I guess I cannot be certain that there are no bees, but I've never seen any. Our neighbors have been really great and were happy to report that they had honeybees in their gardens for the first time that they knew. I have seen bumblebees, and I have seen honeybees about 30 miles away, but I am still worried about genetic diversity. The climate here is very tough, we live very close to Loveland ski area, which still is covered in in snow and can operate into July some years. This winter was particularly "breezy". Our car windows and some house windows blew our 4 time from November thru March (did I mention it is beautiful where I live because otherwise we would not stay!). My empty hive was half in the frozen lake- no good. We had 129 mph winds in November at our house. Many trees uprooted, roofs blew off in my neighborhood and garage doors were all over the place. I feel amazinly luck that our little hive survived. We reduced the entrance, wrapped in old sleeping bags, and covered it in a tarp. Then we just left it alone. I was too afraid of opening it and cooling it too much, as it is cold.

Waiting for it to warm up now so we can inspect! We have a window, but we need to look at the combs.

Still amazed the hive made it!

Stacy

Offline Violales

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Re: Hello from 8500 ft. We made it through our first winter! Questions...
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2012, 12:13:21 PM »
BTW, I read a great book by Jurgen Tautz on bees. Biology fascinates me (my first degree), so sorry for the genetic diversity questions. I'm really am afraid of lack thereof in my hives. Was thinking about buying some old mining claim and setting up more hives in the forest. We have bear, mountain lions, skunks, foxes...probably a dumb idea to expand but I really want to do so much more. My little soalr electric fence has proven successful in my backyard, but I'm not so sure it'll be enough in the forest. Was thinking about installing beehives in a shed for protection. Does anyone know if that would work at all? Just a thought, I need to do more research.

Thanks!!!
Stacy

Offline AllenF

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Re: Hello from 8500 ft. We made it through our first winter! Questions...
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2012, 04:10:28 PM »
Welcome to the forum and yes solar electric fences do work on the bears.   

Offline Wonga

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Hi, I am a new bee, and I keep bees in Australia, in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney - our climate here is much milder than yours. Good on you for starting off with bees, and for trying the top bar hive. Have you read, or got a copy of, 'The Bee-friendly Beekeeper ' by David Heaf? I got a copy online from ABE. Cheers.

Offline Violales

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Hi Wonga,

I have not read Heaf's book yet but thanks for the recommendation, I'll look for it. Nice to hear form other mountain bee keepers, I hope to learn so much more.

Best-

 

anything