Hi everyone. Happy New Year.
I am a new member from New Zealand, South island. I have built up from 1 hive 3 years ago, and by splitting I now have 3 good hives, so I am not very experienced.
I need some intelligent help.
I have just taken over an abandoned apiary in a remote location. The old beekeeper died 10 years ago, and the bees have been on their own ever since.
Of the 15 colonies, all are still alive and thriving. There is no disease, plenty of really good manuka honey. The woodware is, at best, past its use by date.
4 hives are lying on their sides due to cows getting into the apiary, but even these are still extremely strong, in spite of gaps between the boxes.
The combs have been rebuilt in the bees own beautiful way, but they are, for my purposes, unmanageable. They are effectively feral colonies.
I need to get the tipped over ones upright, into new frames and boxes, and I need to repackage all the other colonies. I do not want to destroy any of the colonies inside because the bees are obviously of a superb strain, but I cannot work out how to do this without losing brood or fatally mismanaging the workings of the hives.
Any ideas or comments? Anyone had this problem before?
Beekeeping is tightly controlled in New Zealand, and if I dont do something fast I will be forced to destroy these hives.