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Author Topic: Start-up in the Middle  (Read 1073 times)
Koopa
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« on: July 16, 2013, 01:44:47 PM »

Greetings from Eastern Kentucky.  I'm suddenly a wannabe beekeeper in an unusual situation.  I've just moved on to a piece of land with an active hive - but next to no information.  From what I can gather, the hive has been established for 2 years with a colony of bees that were collected from a hollow tree in the area.  It only has a cinder-block foundation, bottom board, lower deep chamber, shallow honey super and outer cover.  There are a couple of hundred healthy-looking bees near the entrance.  Now what?  How do I start in the middle?  I've read every line of Beekeeping for Dummies, and loved it, but gray areas are tripping me up because I'm not starting this hive from scratch.  I know I need to get a look inside, so I have a basic toolkit (veil, smoker, hive tool) on the way, but what additional equipment should I purchase at this time?  I think the bees need an upper deep (their food chamber) too?  Right?  Even if the existing shallow super is packed with honey, that doesn't sound like it'll be enough to get the bees through winter according to my reading.  I suppose they might be overcrowded as well.  If they do need an upper deep, would I place it between the lower deep and shallow super (like standard illustrations) or would I set it on top in this case?  When I get in there, and while I have the chance, should I place other seemingly missing components such as a hive stand, slatted rack, or feeder?  I'd sure appreciate the help, Christy Browning
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iddee
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2013, 02:36:50 PM »

Sounds like you are in much better shape than you think. The biggest thing you need right now is a bit of self confidence. Get your bottom deep assembled and place it between the deep and medium if you get it on in July or Aug. You wouldn't want to split the hive boxes like that in cooler months, but it will work fine now. Then relax and keep reading and asking questions on the forum. Things will fall into place as you go along.
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« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2013, 09:16:46 PM »

As a new beek about the only safe advice I could suggest would be to get a bee suit as well. I have a zip up one with a tie on veil. Sometimes you have company in the veil but most of the times they are looking in the opposite direction.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2013, 03:04:13 AM »

You might also consider making a split or two and trying to winter a couple of nucs.  The reason being, there are no guarantees in bee keeping and your existing big hive could be taken out by varroa mites this winter; especially considering the fact it is a couple years old.  If the original hive hasn’t been touched in 2 years, it might be a mess in there (propolized and burred up) and starting a couple of nucs would give you an opportunity to cycle out old combs and clean things up a bit.  Finally smaller colonies (nucs) are easier to deal with and learn from because they are generally less defensive.

If you make some nucs and everything survived the winter, then you have more options.  You could expand your bee operation, or sell the nucs to pay for your bee suit, equip, and book.  If a colony or two doesn’t survive winter, you could rebuild next year from surviving nucs.

I’m like iddee in the sense that I like the larger comb (deeps or jumbos) for brood, but I don’t lift deeps; too heavy.  I will use the large combs on the bottom, but use lighter stuff above.  Hence you might want to consider keeping your deep on the bottom and then stacking mediums above that for brood and honey.
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Joe D
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« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2013, 02:36:32 PM »

When you do get into the hive they may have brood in the shallow also.  The three hives I started with from an estate hadn't been messed with in a long time.  Two had 1 deep and 2 shallows and the other had 1 deep and a shallow super box only.  That shallow box was full of comb.  It was full of brood and honey also.  I would add a deep.  Good luck to you and your bees.



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sterling
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« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2013, 06:12:22 PM »

I see you are a woman so you may want to consider using mediums above the bottom deep because of the weight. The deep brood chamber on the bottom will not have to be lifted regularly but the next box will and a medium is somewhat lighter and will work just fine.
Another thing you may want to do is find beekeepers club near you there are several in Ky.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2013, 06:28:37 PM by sterling » Logged
capt44
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« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2013, 11:45:45 PM »

I agree you need to join a local beekeepers club.
As far as equipment, I wouldn't go with a complete suit.
I bought one year before last and didn't use it last year or this year so far.
I went to a goodwill type store and bought a heavy white long sleeved shirt.
I use a veil with strings a bunge cord around my waist and a pair of bee gloves.
A bee suit is alright the first of the season but now they are too hot.
Get a seasoned bee keeper to help make an inspection on the hive.
Add brood boxes, shallow or deep, your preference.
Good Luck.
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Richard Vardaman (capt44)
hiram.ga.bee.man
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« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2013, 12:54:53 AM »

My suggestion, get an experienced beekeeper to take a look at it with you. Sounds like you have a great hive.
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Sour Kraut
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« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2013, 08:23:33 AM »

First off:  WELCOME ABOARD !!

I see you are in eastern KY.

Why not take a day off and drive over to Kelly's in Clarkson and pick up:

Suit or Jacket-veil
Hive tool
Smoker

some 6-5/8 supers ('mediums') and maybe a couple deep hive bodies, frames, foundation

Don't hesitate to ask questions of the folks at Clarkson, they are talkative types and won't try to talk down to you or BS a beginner

See if there's somebody nearby who can help you with a first-look and help you either put another deep between the two boxes, or maybe just load it up with a couple more mediums for this year.

And keep telling yourself: Whatever works for me, is 'best'.

Gary in IL



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Dunkel
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« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2013, 09:55:59 AM »

Where she's at, it would take a day and a half to get to Kelley's and back. She may pull Dadant in Frankfort though.

 What I would do is call your county extentsion agent and he will be able to put you in touch with a beekeeping club or someone who would help out.

I know your dying to take a peek.  Make sure you have a veil and gloves at least, smoke will be easier on you and the bees.  A one peice jacket and veil along with gloves will run about 70 bucks but well worth it, throw in a cheap hive tool and a smoker and you will have a Mann Lake order with free shipping. 


You really need to get in contact with someone experienced though on a hive that has been left on their own for sometime. Chances are they would have all the extra equipment also.
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Dunkel
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« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2013, 12:22:30 PM »

Christy I sent you a PM with some contact info.
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Sour Kraut
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« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2013, 12:33:12 PM »

a day and a half to drive 9 hours plus a couple hours at Kelly's ?

unless someone has a medical problem that curtails a long trip, that's no day and a half



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Dunkel
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« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2013, 01:55:45 PM »

Moving on.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2013, 08:47:24 AM by Dunkel » Logged
JPinMO
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« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2013, 11:45:36 PM »

Welcome, Koopa. You'll find lots of help here (along with a bit of bickering, and lots of good-natured teasing, just like any family!)

But I definitely second the motion "find your local Bee Club(s), and ask if someone will inspect your hive and give you advice on what to do next." Don't be afraid to ask for more than one person -- there are strong opinions on both sides of the fence (and plenty in the middle) about such things as chemical treatment vs. non-medicating, foundation vs. foundationless, wax vs. plastic, etc. 

I just checked the KY State Beekeepers Assoc page, my goodness, there are lots of Clubs in KY!
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Koopa
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2013, 11:47:23 AM »

My day finally arrived!  With new equipment in hand, and plenty of good advice from each of you in my head, I opened the hive.  First up, there was no inner cover and there were SO many bees boiling and dripping from everything.  I took a deep breath and just went for it frame by frame.  The brood comb looked good - I could see eggs and multi-sized larva.  The capped brood looked nice as well - not sunken or perforated.  My big problem was that none of the frames contained any sort of foundation.  The bees had free styled the entire hive.  The frames were so tough to maneuver, and though I tried my best to be super careful, an entire sheet of brood comb flopped out and hit the ground.  My heart sank.  I didn't know what to do and couldn't think of any way to reattach the comb to the frame.  I gently swept the bees from the comb at the hive entrance and moved on.  I pray the queen was not on that frame - I was never able to identify her.  The rest of the inspection/repair was uneventful.  I placed a new deep of 10 frames with wired beeswax foundation above the original and replaced the shallow super on top.  It was nearly filled with lovely capped honey - 8 of 10 frames.  I also added a hive top feeder with hopes to help the bees build comb in the empty middle body before winter.  I'll now be able to medicate in autumn too.  By the way, I did not notice any signs/symptoms of disease during the inspection.  The hive interior was clean and the bees were robust.  Thanks again to each of you for the info and advice.  I hope you'll help me out again.  Specifically, what should I have done when the brood comb fell out and what should I do with it now?  It spent last evening on the kitchen counter beneath my magnifying glass and camera.  I have studied it thoroughly.  I was even able to witness a few baby bees emerge from their cells.  I took them to the hive.  Will the rest of the capped cells hatch?  I thought of placing it on the ground in front of the hive, but I was afraid of a robbing situation as the comb contains pollen and nectar as well.  Also, how and when does one go about replacing that tangled brood chamber with new frames and foundation?  Eager to learn, Christy
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« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2013, 02:28:16 PM »

When I do cutouts I use file rubber bands to place the cut out comb into frames that fit the hive I am moving the bees into. The frame that flopped out might be replaced this way. Probably too late at this time but for the future, keep a few in your pocket.
When you rotate the frames do not hold it horizontal. Always keep them in a vertical orientation as close as you can to the way they were in the hive, that will help reduce frames falling out like that.
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10framer
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« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2013, 03:34:19 PM »

yeah, the rubber band trick would have worked.  i've got bees that started on foundation this year and didn't connect any of the deep combs to the bottom board.  they chewed it away on every comb.so aside from the wires the combs are only attached to the top bars.  i'll be phasing those combs out next year and the queen is out of the gene pool.
congratulations and good for you for having the courage to just start going through a hive.  check with your extension service, the county agent can get you in touch with a local beekeeper and local experience is always better than general experience.
what will you be treating for this fall?  if there isn't a problem i wouldn't just treat to be treating.
sounds like the bees have made it without treatment for at least a few years.  treating what isn't there won't prevent it from showing up later
remember in the case of mites and beetles you're putting stuff in an insect nest that's designed to kill insects.  don't do it if you don't need to.
i'll get off my soapbox now.   
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