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Author Topic: abandoned hives  (Read 1618 times)

Offline Simian

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abandoned hives
« on: January 12, 2006, 03:59:37 PM »
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.

Offline Finsky

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abandoned hives
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2006, 04:13:19 PM »
I understod that you want to get bees alive from those old boxes and brood?

So you tempt  queen to lay eggs on your own box. When you have queen in sight, you put it under the excluder and of boxes upp. Brood emerge during 3 weeks and you have bees in new boxes. They fill feral combs with honey and you extract them.

Give a box with foundations or combs and put frame of young larvas in the middle of box. I suppose that queen come  soon walk on the frame. Put new box between brood boxes.  Frame of emerging bees is also good because queen use to lay eggs in that kind of combs.

Offline downunder

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abandoned hives
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2006, 05:34:41 PM »
Can you find the help of a local experienced beekeeper. Colonies left alone for long periods can behave wildly. You may find it difficult and painfull.

As for them being a good strain of bees. These colonies may of had good queens originally but they would have all superseded and probably have mated with bush feral drones (depending what island your on). So they can sometimes be wild or what we refer to in research as wild-types.

I have done this numerous times in Australia, and it is basically as finsky describes.

* However as you have to do something quickly, I would do the following.

* Place new base and box of drawn comb next to hive in readiness. If you do it near dusk it works better

* As finding the queens may be difficult, get one or two frames of brood from the hive shake bees off in front of new box and then place it in this prepared box.

*Put an excluder on top of this.

*One by one shake all bees off frames in front of this box the queen will run in and be trapped in this box. She will be much easier to find next time.

*Clean top and bottom bars of excess burr comb.

*Then place other boxes on top (with the honey etc keeping all brood in the centre of boxes).

*Leave them for a week i to really settle down.

*Start removing honey and changing boxes to new ones.

*Check queen is laying down below, find her and mark her.

*I personally would requeen with good stock at this point (but it's not essential)

*From then on it's replacing old decrepid combs from above the excluder as you have them.  Only place new combs in brood boxes and then rotate through the hive. Within a couple a couple of years the hive will have all new combs.

Offline amymcg

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abandoned hives
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2006, 08:46:52 AM »
The other thing you can try - with the boxes that are on their sides, if you tip them upright, the combs may be in the wrong direction.  You could cut the combs out and attach them into empty frames with rubber bands.  Tip the boxes back on their sides and put your frames into a new box on top for a week.

Of course we are suggesting putting boxes on top of existing equipment and assuming it's in good enough shape to even do so.

I bet you should expect to spend at least an hour per hive just getting the first inspection done.

Offline Simian

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abandoned hives
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2006, 12:57:56 AM »
Hi everybody. Thanks for your suggestions.
I have rehoused the bees whose 3 hives were lying on the sides.  It was easier than I thought it would be.
The next morning they seemed to be okay, and finding the entrance in its new position. I will check in a week or so to see how they are getting on.
I found something very interesting inside. They were still using much of the same combs, although it was now horizontal! But they had put the honey on the top facing layers and the brood on the bottom facing layers.
They have been horizontal for many years, I had expected much of the comb to be rebuilt and expected more trouble replacing the outer woodware, but all I had to do in most cases was simply prise away the frames, scrape off the excess propolis and wax, and simply hang them in the new boxes. There was also much crazycomb they had built over the years, which I have collected and will press out the honey some time.

Offline Jack Parr

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Knocked over hive boxes
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2006, 07:03:46 AM »
well so much for comb being in the wrong direction???

Interesting to know about the comb being used lying horizontally?

Offline Michael Bush

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abandoned hives
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2006, 07:38:13 AM »
I've flipped boxes of wild combs upside down


and the queen moved into other areas of the hive (they were in a feeder with brood).  The bees refilled all the comb with honey.  I know people say they can't but I've observed them often filling upside down cells in the observation hive.  


They just use the surface tension of the honey to hold it in.  The queen usually doesn't like the sideways ones, but that doesn't mean she can't lay in them.  After all, the queen cells are facing straight down and they rear a queen in them.
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