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Author Topic: Straight Combs!  (Read 6833 times)
itsme
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« on: June 19, 2013, 08:40:47 AM »

I introduced myself on the "intro" section.

But a little background seems appropriate in a different section of the conversation board.  

I have wanted bees for years and never got around to taking the steps to do it.  A swarm showed up on our road about twelve days ago and we managed to get them into a deep brood box (after an all day trip to go and get one).

I think the bees are doing okay.  I'm not sure yet whether they have a queen.  I am feeding them some sugar water and they are making comb on some plastic foundation I bought for them.

I have been reading about them and want to raise them in the best possible way.  In my mind this absolutely means without any chemicals.  I'm not really sure about the sugar water.  

So I inserted an open frame with a paint stick as a starter between two other frames that had plastic foundation two days ago and checked it today.  They are building brand new comb and it all looks straight!  Yipee!

I will check them again in two more days and see how things look.  I have been trying to disturb them as little as possible and so I have not brushed aside any bees when I look in the hive.  I think I need to do this to check for brood cells.  I have found some pictures of brood cells on the internet and think there may be some beneath the bees.  They are always so calm when I open the hive and take out some frames.  I wonder how they will do if I start brushing them off to have a closer look?

Anyway, I appreciate the advise of those who have responded to my original post and I can see there is much to learn.  Any additional advise is always appreciated.

Thank you and please wish us all good luck.
Bill
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Steel Tiger
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« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2013, 12:10:14 PM »

If you're just looking to see if there is brood and they bees are too thick to see, there are a few ways to move them with disrupting them. You can blow on them to scatter them, poke a finger at them slowly, use a puff of smoke. Any of those should give you enough clear comb to be able to see brood.
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itsme
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2013, 01:13:30 PM »

I've been reading that newbees often look in the hive too often.  So I waited an extra day to check on them.

The new foundationless comb they are building between the two plastic ones they were working is coming along nicely and I was able to locate a bunch of cells with little white bees to be!

It's good to be sure they have a queen.  When I called local beek to see whether he would help me collect them, he said no, as the queen was obviously already damaged since they had been in the road so long and I had driven over the edge of the swarm before I knew they were there.

They seem to be doing everything they are supposed to be doing.  What do I do now?  Smiley

Thanks for all the good advise!
Bill
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Jim 134
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2013, 01:39:19 PM »

You do realize that the hive has to be level when you are doing foundationless comb.



          BEE HAPPY Jim 134 Smiley
 
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itsme
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2013, 02:43:16 PM »

Roger that!  I know the hive needs to be level for foundationless comb.  And it is.  I have been reading a fair bit about bees since they showed up and really appreciate Mr. Bush's website.  He said something like, "One good comb follows another and one bad comb follows another".  I may purchase his book to show my appreciation for getting the timely information from his website.

We raise everything around here organically.  Eventually I would like to be completely without any foundations.  If everything goes well I might give the top bar hive a try too.  I'm sort of fascinated by an observation hive and since it's a management all to it's own, and I have so many other projects right now it'll have to wait.

It's so cool to see the bees doing what they do!
Thanks
Bill

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Better.to.Bee.than.not
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« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2013, 01:45:20 AM »

sounds like you are well on your way to 'bee'. Keep on keeping on, and congrats. If you have provided your little guys with a good safe home, and you wish to allow them to just bee as they will 'bee' then, just let them do as they will, and they will do it, surely. the way I typically think of beekeeping on a personal level sometimes is, thinking about how they live when they are a nuisance.... It seems to me that hives do excellent inside the walls of a house.....why? well, it is the right heat....it is designed also with airflow, and it handles condensation and moisture. the bees typically have a fairly small entrance which allows them to protect the hive, and they have lots of room to expand. They do not necessarily need varroa mite control, chemicals, bottom screens for shb's and so forth, and they often just BOOM in population without sugar water being fed to them. that is why btw your bees are so nice probably. well fed bees (as well as bees that are busy building a new home.) are happy and nice bees, in fact a lot of people use smoke, but a lot also simply use sugar water in a spray bottle. It makes the bees want to clean themselves, they eat and are happy, and they do not fly wet and sticky so much. smoke sort of scares them into thinking there is a fire in the woods and they gorge themselves on food, and huddle in protection mode. not that I don't use smoke, though, I do, as well as sugar water spray.
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JPinMO
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« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2013, 03:59:53 AM »

When I called local beek to see whether he would help me collect them, he said no....

Bill, have you found your local Bee Club yet? Surely there are more beeks in your area than this guy; surely we can find you a mentor!
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itsme
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« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2013, 08:37:46 AM »

I have not found any other beekeepers that have any interest in helping yet.  You're in west central Missouri.  Do you know where Viburnum is?

Right now I'm reading about regression of bees back to natural comb size.  I'm wondering whether the ones I got are feral or from some distant hive someone else has been keeping.  I started them out with commercial plastic foundations and then introduced the frame with a paint stick in it that they are working.

It occurred to me that I may be taking them the wrong way with the plastic foundation - creating larger, one sized bees.  I didn't seem to have too many other options though.  And I'm doing the best I know.  I plan to introduce more foundationless frames as the others get filled in the middle.  I may do this as early as today or tomorrow.

I would like to find someone nearby who is like-minded about bees and has more experience than I do.

Thanks!
Bill
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Steel Tiger
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« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2013, 05:31:47 PM »

You can rotate the foundation frames out. Remove the end frames and slide the frames in the middle outward, leave a built frame in the middle and insert an empty frame on each side. Then put the rest of the frames as they were. When the two empty frames get filled, remove the outer frames, which should be honey, and slide the inside frames out and place two new empty frames. The frames you remove could either be placed in the middle of the box above with an empty frame between them, or harvested.

 This page might explain it better

 Good Luck
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JPinMO
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« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2013, 03:48:26 AM »

Bill, it looks likes the Clubs in Farmington and Bourbon are each about an hour from you. If you're willing to drive a little further, there are  a couple more in that radius. (We're an hour and a half from either Springfield or KC)

http://mostatebeekeepers.org/local-associations/
« Last Edit: June 26, 2013, 04:23:43 AM by JPinMO » Logged

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itsme
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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2013, 10:06:24 PM »

I seem to have found a mentor for my beekeeping now.  He lives maybe an hour plus away and has only been doing bees for about three years.  He has over twenty hives and is pretty well involved.  He's also making his own queens! 

Most importantly to me, he shares my way of thinking about natural, chemical free stuff with regard to bees.  He's not doing everything the way I would but he's doing his best.  (He still uses purchased wax foundations.)

I think I can learn from him about what I'm seeing when I look in my hive.

My hive is still too weak, I think.  He advised me to continue feeding sugar water one to one, even though it's late July.  He says they need to build more comb and more stores.

I'm still reading.  Any thoughts you all may have would be greatly appreciated.

I really am impressed with this forum and the wide array of subjects covered smiley

Thanks to you all,
Bill
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Tightwad
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« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2013, 05:42:29 AM »

Welcome Bill I also just stared this spring with a swarm and now I have two hives. Good luck and keep reading and studying your doing it right. I'm in North County of St Louis Ferguson MO.
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JPinMO
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« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2013, 04:57:42 AM »

I seem to have found a mentor for my beekeeping now. 

YAY!  pink elephant I've been a little worried about you over in that corner of the state.

I love to read, and I learn well by reading. However, reading every book out there won't substitute for tagging along with a mentor on hive inspections (or even being at a beekeeper's "field day" for new-bees & wanna-bees) -- where you get actually pull out frames and let the bees crawl on your hands, find the Queen, learn how hard it really is (!) to see eggs through a veil, smash a hive beetle, etc!

 
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Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters
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itsme
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« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2013, 04:51:04 PM »

I was standing next to the hive watching them yesterday morning when I saw a bee come out of the hive with a white larval looking thing.  The bee seemed to be "mad" at it.  smiley  I retrieved it and looked on the internet.  I think it was a small hive beetle larvae but I'm not sure.

So I looked in the hive today.  I have read that bees should not have any more room than they need or else it is harder for them to maintain things.  So I took out four of the ten deep frames that were in the hive and still have not been worked at all by the bees.  Then I installed a divider board I made to fit the deep box and snugged it up against the last frame.

I didn't see any signs of moths or beetles in the hive.  There is a little debris on the bottom board at the back of the hive.

They seem to be making very little brood and I'm concerned about that.  I'm still feeding them sugar water and they are putting up honey and pollen, just very little brood.  There are many dead bees in front of the hive and the number of bees in the hive seems a little higher than when I started (June 6), but not as much as I would have expected.  I'm thinking they are going to go into the winter in not very good condition.

Any thoughts or advise is appreciated.
Thanks,
Bill in Missouri

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Better.to.Bee.than.not
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« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2013, 03:15:31 AM »

bees only live so long, about 6 weeks in the summer, so those that were laid awhile ago are going to be dying now. often when they die they get weak, and other bees sense this, and drag them and beat the snot out of them and harass them out the front door and drop them on the ground. if you watch them, you will see they actually often drag them out, and then even go after them after they fall and drag them away a bit on the ground also. and sometimes the bees will then go through the long walk of death themselves. and walk and climb along the ground away from the hive.
  But this can also be done for other reasons also. bees will kick them out from sickness, or mite problems, and the bees may actually just die on the ground (or just have their dead bodies dragged out, which is better imo than them being coated in propolis in the hive, which is what they will do if they cannot drag them out.)
  as for the larva, bees do house cleaning, it is common...but when you start seeing them dragging larva out, I personally would check the hive thoroughly. not just the base board, but the frames as well. a healthy hive will clean them out fine, and be able to keep up. but doesn't hurt to make sure they are not being outpaced. this is the time of year that it can get out of hand in areas.
It is true you do not want extra room in the hive. you want the frames as full of activity as possible with still giving them room to expand. but removing frames can lead to problems also, if there is dead empty space. the divider board may look good to you, but it can be a thing SHB can use to hide from the bees and evade them also. same with ants, bug eggs/etc.
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itsme
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« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2013, 08:30:06 AM »

Thank you for your response.  I understand everybody is busy.

With all the posts on this list, and on so many topics, this one was directly related to beekeeping so I thought it unusual that nobody had anything to say about my situation. 

Does it seem unusual that these bees have not produced more bees?  I mean should the number of bees not have really expanded during these months?  I would have thought I would need an extra box for them by now.

Thanks!
Bill
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T Beek
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« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2013, 08:24:21 AM »

As said in reply#14, a swarm of bees (a package of bees too) has a considerable die off for the first month as they only live 35-45 days.  This is normal.  As long as there are eggs and varies stages of developing larva you should be OK.  After a month of settling in, cleaning up, making comb, the Queen laying a healthy egg supply, workers bringing in pollen....frames filling with capped brood, about to explode the population...well, you get the idea.  It takes about a month to notice an increase from the outside with a swarm/package 'if' all is well on the inside.

I just found your thread but that is no excuse for others around here who visit every day not to assist you. 

WELCOME to this forum!!!!

Based on your stated beekeeping philosophy I applaud and encourage you to buy MB's book although I must admit that before I bought my copy 'fresh off the presses' I had already printed most of it from his site  shocked

Anyhow I for one would like to know more about your swarm catch.  It started out pretty cool. 

So, How/r they doing?
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itsme
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« Reply #17 on: September 01, 2013, 08:39:01 AM »

I have bad news.

I looked in the hive and saw a sad, sickening sight.  There were webs and large larvae attached to the lid and all of the combs.  All the nice white straight comb that the bees had made was covered with webs and falling apart.

Just made me sick.  I am thinking these bees will not be able to recover now.  I guess this is the work of the wax moth?  Is there any advise about how to save the situation?  Or should I just assume these were "naturally selected" to die off? 

Any advise about how to do anything differently in the future?  It seems that they never have been a strong hive and didn't seem to build much even with being fed sugar water.  Bad queen?Huh

Any advise is appreciated.  Thank you.
Bill
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« Reply #18 on: September 03, 2013, 10:21:42 AM »

Anytime wax moths are taking over (hence the webs) it's because the density of bees is too low to guard the combs.  If you freeze all of the combs that don't have brood (shake or brush the bees off first) and reduce the number of drawn combs down to what they can cover, and freeze all the honey they aren't currently using, you can kill all of those moths. and keep them a size they can take care of.  Then you can give them back some of the honey (after letting it thaw) for winter after some hard freezes have killed off the wax moths.
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itsme
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« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2013, 10:03:38 PM »

When I first saw all the webs I was just sick.  I killed all the wax moth larvae I could and decided to look again the next day.  When I checked closer I found that there was no brood and no queen and no queen cells were made. 

I don't understand this.  Does this make sense to anyone?  I know there is a reason for everything.  I don't see how this could have happened.  I thought if something happened to the queen or if she was failing, the bees would begin making another queen.

Anyway, the number of bees is really down now and I don't see how they can rebound no matter what I do.  I think it's far too late in the season to try to introduce another queen.

I have asked my mentor to reserve a couple of starter hives for me for next Spring. 

I keep wondering what I can learn from this.

I am very appreciative of all the responses.  Lots more to learn, it seems....
Bill
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