Being very green at beekeeping I have only 2 questions... 1st is how would I approach a couple hives that may be several years old and essentially abandoned on my new property... (there are some bees going in and out but I have not been close enough to inspect fully...) and 2nd, anybody listening able to recommend a good (patient?) mentor in the Bellingham / North Whatcom county area of Washington State?
Thanks much and I will stay tuned in to ee what I can learn...
A similar hive was given to me last Fall, and I went home, got my gear, and had a look. The hive was rotten and falling apart, and ant-infested. I basically ordered new wooden ware, got a hive ready, and went out and transferred the salvagable combs, adding some new ones to fill the rest of the hive up. Fortunately, as bad as the hive looked, the bees were very healthy and are what I consider my strongest hive now. As a side note, they are also my Rambo hive. Be prepared in case they are super defensive. From what I have heard, that is fairly common in "field bees".
>1st is how would I approach a couple hives that may be several years old and essentially abandoned on my new property...
With a veil and a smoker from the back and reach around a smoke them. Well, maybe you really didn't mean how to approach them, but what to do with them?
It's hard to say how crosscombed everything is. Probably if they've been there a long time they are mostly regressed back to natural size, so if you add any foundation I'd use the 4.9mm.
I'd start by trying to pry out a frame and see how cross combed it is. If it's tearing up a lot of comb built every which way, then I'd consider running them into a new hive. The trick is to get the queen to move into a new box and keep her there while still letting the bees hatch all the brood in the old hive. The two techniques for this are:
Drumming. This entails putting the box you want the bees in on top and tapping (not hammering) on the hive and smoking from the bottom entrance until they move up into the top box. When they are spilling over the top nicely slip a queen excluder under that box and put the lid on it. Come back in a few days and see if the queen is in the top. This works MUCH better if you have drawn comb in the top box.
Fume board. This method uses "BEE GO" and a fume board. It's the same principle except you move the bees DOWN instead of up. You put your new box on it's own bottom board. Pry the boxes off of the old hive one at a time and stack them on top of the new box. Put a fume pad with "BEE GO" on top and wait for the bees to move down. Remove one box at a time and keep looking to see that the bees have pretty well cleared the next box, until you get to the new box. Put a queen excluder on and put the boxes back on and a lid on top. The advantage to this is it works well. The disadvantage is you get to sleep outside for the rest of the month.
With both methods I'd wait until a month after you're sure you have the queen in the other box and then rob all of the honey out. You can use the fume pad again or you can use a triangular escape board to clear the bees out and then you have to just tear apart all the combs to get them out.
Drumming a hive....I might try that to get that swarm in the cold frame up into a hive!Heh, heh, heh!
I'll have to think about that for a week or two......!
If I get the queen up into the new hive, will the workers go to the new hive, or go back to the OLD hive? I have noticed how the bees dislike me changing the entrance to the hive inside the wall of the cold frame, half the bees TRY to get in the old entrance before going into the new one! Will I have to move the hive 3 miles to make the bees stay in the new hive???
[This message has been edited by Terri (edited May 03, 2003).]
[This message has been edited by Terri (edited May 03, 2003).]
If you use a smoker and lots of smoke you can move bees a bit, but drumming works even better and works well in conjunction with smoke. You just take something like a pocket knife or a small stick and tap on the side. Not like hammering, but like playing a nice medium loud drumm beat. If the queen moves up into the top and you put an excluder in some will probably stay with the queen. No guarantees though. They may want to be with the brood nest and go back down to that. If you have some drawn comb in the box on top, or better yet, some brood they are more likely to stay up top. If drum them up to the top, put in a queen excluder and a triangular bee escape so the bees can come up but not back down, and seal up all the other ways to the old hive (in this case your cold frame) then I think they will stay with the queen, the nurse bees will finish hatching the brood in the cold frame and eventualy when they leave they will be in the new hive. If you don't want to tear everything up, that would be a good plan.
Of course, brute force, as in cutting out all the brood comb and mounting it in frames, always works.
Thanks much for your suggestions. Sounds like an adventure... I... think... I'll read a book or two while waiting for my equipment and my mentor...
I have noticed that the bees going in and out look diferent that "typical" honey bees - They have almost a yellow jacket look - small abdomens w/ more distinct yellow / black bands rather than the golden "furry" look... Is this the look of the "wild" bee?
Thanks again for your suggestions.. Oh BTW, how long does this drumming technique take?
Honey bees are a bit furry. Yellow jackets are not. Yellow jackets are shiny. Most wild bees run from a brownish and black color to a more grey and black color and sometimes all black. I would be suspicious of a yellow wild bee. The cordovan's are yellow, but I've never seen a wild hive that was cordovan.
I'd find a beekeeper to look at them and tell you what you have. Have you peeked inside and seen honey comb?
Drumming would be a BAD idea if they are hornets or wasps.
Hmmm guess I better go take a closer look BUT w/o smoke I am leery of doing much. I am looking for a local beekeeper who could offer some advice... Do wasps / YJ's take up in a hive?
I did take the top off but there was nothing to see...
Look at pictures of honey bees. Black ones (carniolans and caucasians) and Yellow/brown ones (Italians) and look at how shiny and fuzzy they look. Not as fuzzy as a bumble bee, but especially on their head and thorax there's fur. On a hornet there is no hair.
OK sat and watched these guys awhile this weekend... These are 3/8" or so very little if any fur, bright yellow and black w/ a definite yellow face. Haven't as yet found a lot of good pictures but these guys just don't look muck like any honeybees I have seen (though my observations are limited to what generally buzzes around my garden). They don't seem aggressive, at least not when I drove by on the tractor and stopped 10 feet away to watch. I did find a local beekeeper who said he would stop by in the next few days and take a look... Will keep you posted.