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Thread: old hive

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
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    San Miguel, CA. USA
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    Hi all,
    I have been interested in hobby beekeeping and have a chance to take a colony of bees from an old hive I found on some property I just purchased. I should be recieving in a couple of days a new hive set up w/ 2 deep hive bodies and all other nessecities. The old hive is just one body sitting on the ground, the bottom looks very fragile, the cover is ajar and the bees are coming and going from there. When I get the smoker and the suit I would like to try to get a look inside and am sure that all the frames are probably stuck fast. I have read a lot of books and some of this forum and would like some advise. I was going to try to get some of the old frames out, look for a queen and see what is going on, put most of the frames into the new body with the new second body on top for them to expand to. ( they look crowded hanging all out of the old box).
    Will they take to the new hive or just go back to the old? This time of year, there are not very many flowers, should I feed them? What would some of you guys do? I would like to set them up right. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    If your moving frames over there should be no problem. Set the new hives next to the old hives, move frames and brood with queen. Shake all bees from the old hive out and remove all the old hive parts.

    They will have no place to go except the new hive. This should go rather smoothly.

    If you can't remove the old frames or they are not worth saving, this could present a small problem. But the key is getting brood with the queen to the new box. Where they go the other bees will follow.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
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    San Miguel, CA. USA
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    Thank you for the info, I hope it does go smoothly. I am very excited to give this a try.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    I agree with Bjorn.

    It will help to have a long knife (10" blade or more) to reach down and cut attachments that are a ways down in side to get the comb loose. Getting the first frame out is the hardest. Start at one end and try to cut and pry the first one loose. It will be glued to the rests and glued to the frame next to it. After the first one it will be easier but you need to cut and pry them over into the empty space you've created getting the first one out.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Also, even if the bottom board is rotten, the boxes may be sound. After you get the frames out you can check it. Use a screwdriver or some other blunt semi sharp instrument and poke at the wood and see if it's soft or not.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Round Top, New York - Northern Catskill Mtns.
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    If the old hive is just a single box.
    You may simply want to place this body, even if not in the best shape, on a new bottom board. If the frames and box are in bad shape, this may be the best option as it saves the brood and food stores.
    You can add a new deep super (etc) on top of the old box.
    The bees will move up into the new box as they go.
    When they vacate the old box you can remove the box and inspect it and the frames without the chance of crushing bees and getting them worked up.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    If it were me I would do what Mountaincamp suggested.

    Just set the old box on a new bottom, add a new broodbox, inner and top cover and wait until next spring. Chances are that by next spring they will have moved up and out of the old box. Then you can add another new one on top and move out the old.

    Bill

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    That method takes more time and less work and has the same end results. It just depends on your patience.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Mobile, Alabama
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    Another thought - if the frames are very difficult to move, you could destroy valuable comb at a time when they may not be able to build enough for Winter. If you don't have any extra comb to use as replacements you may be better off waiting until next spring.

    ------------------
    Rob Koss

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    It really does depend, on a lot of things.

    This is one of those "gems" I spoke of not long ago. I don't know what the weather (season) is like in San Miguel. But if there is not enough time for a colony to build back up before winter you risk losing it.

    If the frames are in good shape and very little attachment, great. A simple swaping of the box. If the frames and box are very dilapidated you risk a lot of upheaval. Perhaps to the point of inadvertantly killing the queen. Things happen.

    I would not disturb it if it was here in the land of OZ. I would wait until next spring.

    There is no point in rummaging through the box. It is obvious that it is a thriving colony, it has been fine for years on it's own.

    My concern is for a novice beekeeper to get some experiance with a new colony and take special care with this "find".

    Bill

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Neodesha, Ks
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    If the hive body is in bad shape you could use some Duct Tape to close up the bad places or even tape over the area between the old and new hive body. Sounds llike the best option would be to let the bees build in the new boxes and then next spring remove the old hive body. As MM says IT ALL DEPENDS.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
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    I have been transferring some of my hives into new boxes.Some of them were getting pretty ratty .So I just move the old hive to one side,set the new box in its place,and start transferring one comb at a time in the exact order it comes out of the old box.I check each comb for disease and judge the brood pattern of the queen as it is transferred.I use a capping fork to uncap drone brood to see how much varroa is in the hive.It is a routine operation that only takes a few minutes.As long as the frames are standard and in in good shape there should be no problem.The bees wont care what you do,but it is nice to have them in solid equipment.
    ---Mike

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Kansas
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    I'm with Bill, wait till next spring.

    Go buy your wood, build and paint it. Start collecting your other equipment you'll need and plan your beeyard.

    Plan your methods and other such as that there.

    Get enough wooden ware for two colonies and order a package for spring.

    Read what you can, find a beekeeper in your area, call and ask if you can visit on days when they're working with the bees, ask questions, help with the work, and by the time you get those bees, you'll know more about what to expect and do. You may even decide that beekeeping isn't really what you thought it would be and decide not to get involved.

    But either way, I don't think you'll regret waiting till spring........

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
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    I grew up in SLO County and first started keeping bees there when I was a teenager.I am 50 now.The climate there is so mild that you dont have to wait for spring if you dont want to.But because everything dries up in Ca. dont expect to get any foundation drawn unless you do lots of feeding.But since this IS Ca. you could probably pull it off.They will be ok in 1 box if they have enough honey to hold them till spring.If they are light they should be fed.I realize all this takes judgement that only comes with lots of experience.the best thing to do is find someone who sells local honey and make their acquaintance.This is much better than going it alone.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    San Miguel, CA. USA
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    14

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    I am thrilled at all the great advice that you guys on this board have, and the replys are so quick! It has given me a lot to think about I'm hoping to get the new hive bodies today. I am leaning toward putting a new body on top of the old and waiting till spring but the I will have to get the old hive on a new bottom board because the one that was there is now non-existant and they are coming in and out of the lid. I know by reading that a full hive can be pretty heavy so I'm hoping I don't end up with pieces of an old box and a ruined colony. Then again if the frames comeout rather easily I should just swap them to the new box. I have a lot to think about and as soon as I take a look in there for the first time it may become obvious what I should do. The duct tape is a great idea, that just added to its uses around my place! Duct tape and baling wire are great tools!
    Thanks a lot you guys are great!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Neodesha, Ks
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    619

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    Heidi, Look around your area, you might find an experienced Beekeeper or someone that has been keeping bees a while to help you in the transiio to better hive parts. Most Beekeepers are more than willing to help as we all had to start somewhere. Usually if you just think about the problem you can come up with a solution or someone elses help. Just my thoughts. Good Luck.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    San Miguel, CA. USA
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    14

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    Yes, I have looked around for someone in my area but have come up with nothing but bee removal people that don't really want to talk to me unless I want them to come take the bees away. The people that do have hives on their property don't own them. Someone comes from a long distance only certain times a year. I was told that "they were very busy and would not have time for you". So I have books and this message board and have learned a lot.
    By the way, my area is inland from the central coast of Calif. Very mild winters, not a lot of rain, it is in the 100's now through Sept. Absolutly dry as a bone.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Kansas
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    Yes, I'm learning to make the connection regarding location. (embarassed).

    Just be prepared. Knowing the weight of the hive contents and the condition of the equipment will help you to avoid mistakes and that 20 20 hindsight issue. ;0)

    I'm turning into a real advocate for the welfare of bees. I like to err on the side of caution. And us ladies are more emotionally involved as a rule so we have a tendancy to kick ourselves in the pants for ignorant mistakes. IMO

    Not trying to be biased here. Take no offense anyone.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    I feel very responsible to the bees. After all we are partners. If I take too much honey and they starve I feel like I've let them down terribly. If I leave too much, that's a good thing.

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