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Thread: Bee-O-Pac

  1. #1
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    Michael,

    I just got a 1 super Bee-O-Pac kit and was wondering if you had used this before. It seems like a good idea but my concern is will the bees draw it?

    Should I try to coat the frames with wax...if so can you walk me through that.

  2. #2
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    If you crowd them into the supers, as you have to with any comb honey cassette system, yes. If you don't, then probably not. You don't need to coat them with wax.

    We are talking about Bee-O-Pac right? Comb honey cassetes? Not PermaComb, fully drawn plastic comb?

    The thing to find out is when the flow is in your area. Two weeks before, do a cut down split. If you miss it and see that the flow is there already and you haven't, then do a cut down split. The cut down part is where you reduce the hive to just one box of capped brood and a the supers. The open brood and all the honey go to the split. The field bees go back to the old hive and it is overflowing with the same number of bees in much less space. If you want to leave the old hive queenless, then leave them one frame with some eggs to raise a queen. If you want to requeen one of the splits, then requeen the old hive (the cut down).
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
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    Right the Bee-O-Pac cassettes. The reason I asked was because I have experienced a problem with the bees and drawing comb on plain plastic foundation. The bee-O-Pac people say and show on their web site these really nice symetrical drawn cassettes. Just wondered if they had tricks to get that.

  4. #4
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    Yes. The trick is lots of bees and not much space and a good nectar flow.

    It's the same for Ross Rounds, Hogg half combs, or plain old section honey.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
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    I am planing to use Bee-O-Pac for the first time this year, here is what I am planing to do.

    - Select a very strong double broad boxes hive.
    - Two weeks before the main flow I will make a Demaree with the Bee-O-Pac super in the middle of the two broad boxes.
    - Just before the flow I will put an escape under the top broad box then will take it (should be almost empty anyway) and put it on top of another hive.
    - Check for queen cells once a week.

    Few things to keep in mind:
    - Never use queen excluder.
    - Never use upper entrance.

    Regards,

  6. #6
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    What about the Miller method except revising it to use 2 deep brood boxes and no excluder?

    I know this is not "exactley" how Miller is perfomed with 2 deeps. I think the just of it is to keep the honey on top to keep them moving up?

    What do you all think?

  7. #7
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    Usually when I hear the "Miller method" it's in regard to queen rearing. What do you mean by the Miller method here?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
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    This was in a book I read. It refers to a method that does 1.) hive reversal, 2.) taking all bees and brood out of deep #2 putting it into deep #1, and the honey in deep #2, 3.) putting your meduim super with sectioned comb i.e. ross rounds, cassettes, 4.) when super #1 is 3/4 full add super #2 under super #1, 5.) etc... until flow runs out.

  9. #9
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    Compressing the bees is a basic requirement when
    trying to get comb honey from any hive.

    Under-supering (putting new supers under existing
    supers) has been shown to be no different from
    over-supering (putting new supers atop existing
    supers) in terms of harvested crop amount or
    time to cap off the crop.

    Adding new supers of foundation for comb honey
    only when prior supers have been partly drawn
    is a practice that simply does not "scale up"
    well to a larger operation, but may or may not
    provide a tangible advantage. (Lloyd? Any personal
    views on this?) Offhand, I'd guess it is yet
    another way to waste time without gaining
    any tangible advantage, but I don't recall ever
    hearing of any analysis of this.

  10. #10
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    Usually a cut-down is when you remove all the open brood and all the honey and one of the deep boxes (mabye I should say IN one of the deep boxes) and move them to another place. This crowds all the returning foragers up into the supers. I'm with Jim, I don't see the advantage to just juggling them around. The point is to crowd them up.

    Of course this assumes you have deeps for your brood, which I don't. But the concept is the same regardless. You crowd the bees up into the supers.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
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    The Killions of Illinois ran a very successful comb honey business, and when you read the book by Carl Killion, it isn't long before you realize how labor-intensive their methods were, particularly to reduce swarming. I don't know how they had enough time in the day to do all they had to do.

    In the latest American Bee Journal, February 2005, John Hogg has revised an earlier idea. It's excellent. His method, while not the only way to produce comb honey, reduces the labor requirements, prevents swarming, and establishes a strong hive with two queens that will really pack in the honey.

    And in good beekeeping fashion, where there is always more than one correct opinion on several matters, John offers three variations from which to choose the one that suits you best.

    gfcg731
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  12. #12
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    > His method, while not the only way to produce
    > comb honey, reduces the labor requirements,
    > prevents swarming, and establishes a strong hive
    > with two queens that will really pack in the
    > honey.

    Aggggh!!!! Two-queen hives?
    They REDUCE labor?
    Howso, exactly? [img]smile.gif[/img]

    And "prevents swarming"? Come on, admit it.
    Swarming is the bees' REPRODUCTIVE impulse, and
    cannot be "prevented". One can make life
    easier on a comb-honey colony by adding a
    group of comb supers at once rather than adding
    them one at a time, so that one's crowding
    exercise does not drive them to swarm,
    but I always set up a bait hive or two near
    my comb honey colonies "just in case".

    Nothing will "prevent" swarming except splitting
    every colony every year, and even that is not
    a 100% certain solution.

    Anyone who wants to claim to have "prevented"
    swarming needs to wear a tin-foil hat, so the
    rest of us will know who they are! [img]smile.gif[/img]

  13. #13
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    I've run a few two queen hives. It's easier to run three or four regular hives. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    And one thing a two queen hive does NOT do is cut down on swarming.

    Maybe it's a modified version of the Snelgrove method which gives sort of a two queen hive and is supposed to cut down on swarming.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
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    Hey Jim, I'm a 7 and 3/8 but the foil is somewhat flexible so I'll wear my hat without too much problem. We've finally had some sunny days here in MO so wear your sun glasses because I'm going to be reflecting the light!

    But on a more serious note, I don't do spring splits any more. Queen quality was too variable. Delivery dates were unreliable. Weather is always a fickle factor. And I still had a few hives swarm.

    Recently I've used Walt Wright's "Nectar Management" system, what was once what he called "checkerboarding," with exceptional success in preventing swarms. It's what works for me.

    As for the two queen system, I've not tried it as John Hogg outlines it specifically for comb honey. I've used it otherwise without any increase in swarming, and when I consolidate the brood nest, one of the queens will prevail. John Hogg also wrote about this in ABJ many years ago.

    With respect to comb honey, I just passed along John's advice on two queens. My hunch is that when the hive is combined to form the two queen hive, the honey flow is going full force and the bees have directed their energies to gathering nectar rather than focusing on swarming. Walt Wright also has an angle on getting the bees past their natural urge to swarm.

    At least, that's the theory. But go ahead and read John's latest article and respond to it. I'd love to hear what you think, as I always do. You bring a unique perspective to keeping bees which I deeply respect--and I mean that statement with great sincerity.

    And as for saving labor, go back and read Killion's book. He advocates cutting out queen cells after making the colony queenless. I find that laborious, especially when you have to be so careful not to miss any during the break in the brood cycle. IMHO John Hogg offers a better method.

    Grant
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  15. #15
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    > Recently I've used Walt Wright's "Nectar
    > Management" system, what was once what he
    > called "checkerboarding," with exceptional
    > success in preventing swarms. It's what works
    > for me.

    I've not tried it myself, but I have yet to hear
    anyone contradict Walt. Moving some frames
    around is MUCH less work than other approaches,
    so even if it is no more successful than other
    approaches, it "scales" better, and to me,
    "scalable" is where most of this stuff tends
    to be lacking.

    I guess I should take a dozen hives and give it
    a shot.

  16. #16
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    Up until now, I have refrained from comment on Bee-O-Pac. However, since I was specifically invited in, I am going to break my silence.

    Simply, Bee-O-Pac was not introduced to ‘help’ you produce comb honey. It was introduced to take your money, pure and simple. Compared to other methods, including our own, there is no advantage to producing comb honey with Bee-O-Pac. If you want to try it, fine. But it will not be less expensive than alternatives (including, but not limited to our method), less messy, or even more appealing to consumers.

    As you might expect, I know a fair number of commercial producers of comb honey in the US and Canada. None use Bee-O-Pac (or Hogg Halfcomb). In itself, that is astounding. NONE, in this context, is a very big number. But there is a reason; it is because one cannot expect to consistently make a crop at a reasonable cost. ‘Consistently’ means year in and year out, good flows and not-so-good flows. ‘Reasonable cost’ means number of SALEABLE sections divided by the total cost.

    And I have tried both products.

    But enough of that. Some observations and answers to questions:

    1. Jim is correct. Put all your supers on at once. I put three on each hive, then move supers from those that do not do well to those who need them. In any given year in any given yard, some will finish five supers, some none or only one. I seem to always average between 2 and 3 supers per hive.

    2. If a commercial beekeeper wanted to produce comb honey for the first time, she would ask someone who has been successful at producing on a commercial level. (Among other things, that means ‘making money at it’.) Hobbyists should do the same. Has John Hogg ever produced 100 supers in a year? I don’t think so. Is there anything making him an expert other than the fact that he writes articles? (I know John, and he is a fine person. But I don’t think he is an expert at the production of comb honey.)

    Eugene Killion, author of the existing edition of Honey in the Comb is also a fine person. He is the son of Carl Killion, but unlike his father he did not choose to make his living producing comb honey. Persons interested in learning how Carl produced comb honey should buy his book of the same title. I’ve never seen it on eBay, but as of this morning there are five copies available by going to www.abebooks.com. Search for books by Carl Killion.

    As described by Gene Killion, production of comb honey is so labor intensive as to be prohibitive. This is because each hive is subjected to several manipulations. But his father’s book limits many of the manipulations to ‘troublesome’ hives that show signs of preparing to swarm. This is a huge difference. But decide for yourselves, compare the two books.

    3. To successfully produce comb honey a beekeeper must make it desirable for the bees to draw comb while not inducing them to swarm. This requires a queen that has not been overwintered, a restriction on the number of drawn frames, plenty of room for the bees to draw comb and foundation. I’ll comment on each.

    4. It has been demonstrated time and again that bees with an over wintered queen are much more likely to swarm than those with a current year queen. One three year controlled experiment demonstrated that 60% of hives with an overwintered queen would swarm, compared to only 10% of those with a current year queen. 100% OF COMMERCIAL PRODUCERS OF COMB HONEY USE ONLY CURRENT YEAR QUEENS IN THEIR HIVES.

    5. Drawing comb takes a lot of energy. Energy that could, instead, be used for gathering nectar and pollen. All animals, including bees, are programmed to accomplish their tasks using as little energy as possible. If a beekeeper gives bees drawn comb in excess of that needed for brood (about 5-6 deep frames), the bees will fill that with nectar before drawing more comb. If a beekeeper tries to put comb honey supers above two deeps that means that the bees will store 60-70 pounds of honey before starting to draw the comb honey foundation. In many parts of the US, the flow will not support more than 60-70 pounds of honey so the comb honey supers will be poorly drawn or not drawn at all.

    6. As said above, put all your comb honey supers on at once. Time and again studies have shown that bees will collect and store more total honey if they sense empty space beyond where they are working. If you give them three supers at once, they will produce more than if you give them only one super and add more ‘as needed’.

    Commercial producers of comb honey will always say ‘it is not very difficult’. What they mean is ‘I have a set of procedures that will almost always result in success, almost regardless of the strength of the flow’. Assuming you don’t have a commercial producer in your area that you can hang around with, start out with one of the two ‘proven’ methods (cut comb or Ross Rounds), use the procedures described above for at least three years. Once you are satisfied that you have some expertise, try one of the other methods if you are so inclined.

    If you start with one of the ‘other’ methods, you are LIKELY to fail or not do well and get discouraged. That is not good for you, for beekeeping, or for our precious honey bees that are in your care.

    For those of you who got this far, I hope I have helped.
    Lloyd Spear, Owner of Ross Rounds, Inc. Manufacturers of round section comb equipment and Sundance Pollen Traps.

  17. #17
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    Give 'em heck, Lloyd! [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Just to clarify, here's the deal with Hogg, Bee-O-Pac,
    et al from my point of view.

    They are "cheaper" in terms of up-front cost,
    but one has to look at 2nd year costs, 3rd
    year costs, and so on. One INVESTS in Lloyd's
    gear, and can reuse it year after year, buying
    only the rings and foundation to "load" the
    supers, and only using the plastic covers for
    rounds that are "saleable".

    With the others, you have a very high "waste"
    cost, as they force you to buy a "complete"
    package every year that allows no re-use of
    components. When you look at actual completed
    saleable sections, and subtract what you paid
    for Hogg or Bee-O-Pac, you find that you have
    a "business partner", taking a serious chunk
    of your profits.

    Lloyd is happy to sell starter kits at massive
    discounts, and to sell you only what you need.

    He also provides "tech support" to even random
    bozos like me, so he'll help anyone. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    (I got a bunch of Ross Round gear when I bought
    out a retiring beekeeper, and Lloyd spent several
    hours writing e-mails to help me to realize that
    what I had inherited was a bogus set-up, doomed
    to be propolized to death (this fellow had mounted
    each Ross Round frame in a wooden frame and was
    trying to use them in a standard medium super...)

    So, the moral of the story is to work out your
    LIFE-CYCLE cost, not just your first-year's costs.
    The lifespan of Ross-Round plastic is at least
    a decade, if not more, and has a decent resale
    value regardless of age. The other stuff is
    "disposable", in that it either gets filled up,
    or becomes instant trash, by design.

    You see, comb honey is a bit of a gamble in my
    view. There is no way to predict a flow, so
    I have several floor-to-ceiling stacks of
    Ross-Round supers all loaded up and ready to go.
    The only way I can be sure to maximize the
    harvest of comb honey is to stack a goodly number
    of supers per hive (like 4 or 5), knowing full
    well that not all the sections will be filled
    every spring.

    So I like the re-use aspect, which means that I
    am really only risking some foundation and a
    few rings on sections that are partly drawn or
    unfilled. Rings from untouched sections can
    be easily re-used.

  18. #18
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    What would the 1st year cost, and ongoing annual cost, for converting shallows to Ross Rounds? I find myself with about 200 shallows I don't have a use for when I bought out a 100 hive operation this week. I only use mediums for producing extracted honey so far, and since I have these shallows anyway...it's either trash them, sell them, or try ross rounds.

    BubbaBob

  19. #19
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    Lloyd,

    First thanks for your expert insight. I really didn't expect to get response from someone of your caliber. I do appreciate it.

    I am a novice...that's evident, and I was doing this for the sake of expanding my beekeeping education, and I think I have a small market for it here. I did buy both the cassettes (Bee-O-Pac) and your product Ross rounds, I wanted to see which worked the best.

    What I didn't expect was to have to "force" my bees to use it. I just wanted to go on my merry way as I do with frames of wax foundation and after all this discussion I think I made this a lot simpler than it really is.

    I don't mean to imply I shutter at having to work, or be a beekeeper vs a beehaver but, cut comb/chunk appears to be more natural for my bees. As you said "they will use more energy drawing sectioned comb". Also, with cut comb
    1.) I don't have any special handling of the bees to "force" them to use the equipment
    2.)I don't make my living doing this so I have no problem taking the time to cut the comb
    3.) last but not least...cut comb is considerably less expensive.

    Although you make it sound a bit simpler than all the "near swarming" methods, I think you all have talked me out of the sectioned comb honey production??? On a small scale I'm not sure its worth it.

  20. #20
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    Cut comb is far simpler and tastes just as good. [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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