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  1. #1
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    Sep 2001
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    Post

    Dee, We watched Discovery last night about the Killer Bees (AHB) and was wondering how you handle them in Arizona. Interesting show but just wondering how they affect your operation. Thanks in advance for your response. Dale in S. E. Ks.

  2. #2
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    Oct 2000
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    Tucson, Arizona, United States
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    Post

    Dale wrote:
    Dee, We watched Discovery last night about the Killer Bees (AHB) and was wondering how you handle them in Arizona. Interesting show but just wondering how they affect your operation. Thanks in advance for your response.

    Reply:
    Well, this should be an interesting response, especially since I've never seen our bees act any differently then when they weren't here.

    No one has ever been able to identify AHB in any domestic managed colonies by beekeepers in Arizona, so I guess they are just bees of the feral population. We have asked for DNA analysis, but no test has been able to identify AHB in our bees either!

    FABIS when first set up we helped to blind test for accuracy and initially in the blind test we had bees identified as AHB, but not after they supposedly fixed the test.

    So what is AHB?

    Well, us beekeepers keep looking for the bone in the nose and shield they supposedly rattle, but so far none has been found!

    Now on the other side, pesticide applicators can find AHB and are paid great money to remove them from houses and private property, while us poor beekeepers do it for practically free for agriculture purposes.

    Also on the other side, scientists can find AHB in the feral, but not in the managed colonies in Arizona. In the feral they are found though only in certain spots and then proclaimed to be throughout the entire state, though no full state surverys have ever been done.

    So how do we handle them. Well, every swarm call we get to rescue bees we go and get the bees and then put them into our equipment and put them to work same as always.

    I think they are good bees. They've never changed in all the years I have worked them.Many others in S. Arizona think so too.

    Don't know if this answers your question or not. When it comes down to real actual work, bees is bees.

    Sincerely,

    Dee A. Lusby

  3. #3
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    Sep 2002
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    West Harrison, NY, USA
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    Hi,

    What is the effect of Varroa on the killer bees? Shouldn't they have been wiped out just like most feral bees supposedly have been?

    Jorge

  4. #4
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    Oct 2000
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    Tucson, Arizona, United States
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    Post

    Jorge wrote:
    What is the effect of Varroa on the killer bees? Shouldn't they have been wiped out just like most feral bees supposedly have been?

    Reply:
    Well to hear beekeepers talk in other states they certainly have been if you beliefe in such bees as killers.

    But over 10 years prior to the so-called invasion we got beekeepers in S. Arizona to start sizing down their broodcombs here in first regression with Dadant 900 even though we had it pulled off of the market because of bad quality control and batches after the first being made up to .2mm bigger for some reason.

    But with many in our immediate S. Arizona going to 4.9mm and holding our areas (not all for those on bigger combs are having a hell of a time with big bees and dopes) we have managed to size our bees down for the most part and run-a-ways to the feral also.

    Also the bees in the area do fine in general. Many swarms for the pesticide people to get now, plenty for the beekeepers to get and we take the so-called killers from the towns to the hills and them let them abscond back in for job security for the pesiticde people. In turn they give us surplus jobs they cannot handle. We do trees and bushes and they do the structures (our division of labor, so each gets their cut).

    Effect of Varroa on killer bees? No bees hurting on small cell foundation!!! but then more division of labor for working problems and getting products. By the way the small cell at 4.9mm is still bigger then what grandpa was using in 1927 when he moved the family beekeeping operation from the mid-west of Oklahoma to S. Arizona. OUr country was founded on 4.83 range you know.

    Effect of varroa on killers? Never seen it happen with any bees since sizing down to old pre-1900 sizing. Hurting ferals? Never seen that either. The swarms have always been there, but then we planned ahead to keep our bees and not buy into the politics.

    Maybe answer lies in not being politically correct since the bees don't seem to know. But it has been hell though sizing back changing all the combs when little sold on the market and have to make it yourself. But we did it with locals (workshops working together)who wanted to stay in business.LIke I said though, those that stayed bigger and are using dopes aren't doing so well and fading away. Varroa no problem. Politics is another story!!!

    Sincerely,

    Dee A. Lusby

  5. #5
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    Sep 2002
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    Question

    HI Dee,

    Thanks for your long answer. Here is another question:
    I don't understand the art of regressing to small size cells (I am new to this and started with the standard big size foundation). However, from what I've read, you claim that there is a more natural cell size that depends on geographical distribution of the bees. If 4.9mmm is the natural cell size in (most of) the USA, wouldn't feral bees build that type of comb only if left in the wild? Alternatively, if you start frames with a thin starter strip of foundation that is, say, 5.2mm cell size, would you see a gradually smaller cell size down and away from the starter strip?

    Jorge

  6. #6
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    Dec 2000
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    crown point, NY, USA
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    Post

    Hello Jorge,

    Where is West Harrison,NY located?

    I don't understand the art of regressing to small size cells (I am new to this and started with the standard big size foundation).

    reply:

    What type of foundation, duraguilt, wired wax, plastic(what type)? From there I can tell you more.

    If 4.9mmm is the natural cell size in (most of) the USA, wouldn't feral bees build that type of comb only if left in the wild?

    reply:

    Not only the 4.9 size. Natural colonies will also build a honey/ drones cell size also but it will not dominate the colony. It will often occur to the outsides of the hive where the bees store these. As the season progresses they are plugged up, with the bees mostly on the smaller cells for brooding. But the beekeeper should shoot for the small cells throughout managed colonies to maintain flexibility so they don't have to keep separate stacks of combs and the nightmare of keeping them separate.

    Alternatively, if you start frames with a thin starter strip of foundation that is, say, 5.2mm cell size, would you see a gradually smaller cell size down and away from the starter strip?

    reply:

    Tricky question! Depends. In the spring when building up the bees MAY go down in sizing and many do just that. Some never go down even with full sheets of foundation. The only thing to do with these is to either put them on drawn 4.9 or they simply just don't survive. Now when a heavy flow hits I find the bees 9 out of 10 times will Not go smaller here in NY. From talking with others I get the feeling that here in the north we have a more distinct window for drawing combs to 4.9 then many of those down south. I believe it is due to the difference on how our honey flows come on. So timing of the season makes a difference. Yet each year of regression the window seems to get bigger and the bees draw better and better. I'll be honest here too. It isn't really an easy process. You can only work with what the bees allow. So lots of comb culling and much attention to detail and measuring. I don't want to discourage you but I want you to be aware there is WORK involved. You will need lots of foundation at least enough to fill the hive twice if not more not counting supers. Also a way to process combs to render them to reuse the frames. While were talking foundation, it is best to use full sheets of foundation for regression rather than starter strips. You will end up much farther ahead and time is everything here. By the time you get the first box drawn with strips the window of comb drawing will be closed. Yet if you use foundations you will get 2 or three times the combs drawn. Save your clean wax up I may buy it from you as I mill 4.9 foundation (for myself, maybe I'd do a wax working thing in the future or teach others how) or you can trade it in for 4.9 foundation.

    regards,

    Clay


  7. #7
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    Sep 2002
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    West Harrison, NY, USA
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    Post

    Hi Clay,

    West Harrison is next to White Plains, about 40 miles N of NY city.

    The good thing for me is that I have but 1 hive. Assuming it survives the winter, I don't have much in the way of foundation to deal with. I have 2 boxes of fully drawn comb stored after harvest and some 5.4 foundation (all wired wax). So, the question then is, how to start regressing? I imagine you start replacing frames with new 5.2 foundation early in the spring and then check carefully the old one a remove it as soon as new brood starts showing up in the new frames. Do you then simply discard the brood growing in the old frames?
    Also, I wanted to split the hive to see it produce new queens, etc (I don't really care about large amounts of honey production ... yet). How would you do that while trying to regress at the same time? I suspect I am asking questions already answered here many times. Can you direct me to the right place in this discussion list or to some other source?

    Thanks

    jorge

  8. #8
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    crown point, NY, USA
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    Hi Jorge,

    West Harrison is next to White Plains, about 40 miles N of NY city.

    reply:

    How far from Albany? I'm about an hour and a half N. of there give or take.

    So, the question then is, how to start regressing? I imagine you start replacing frames with new 5.2 foundation early in the spring and then check carefully the old one a remove it as soon as new brood starts showing up in the new frames. Do you then simply discard the brood growing in the old frames?

    reply:

    Jorge, I will explain the normal shakedown method. Have a box of 4.9 ready to go (actually a few)but one just for starters. You then need a queen excluder too. Ok, now remove the hive off from the bottom board. Place a queen excluder (includer) on the bottom board then the new box of 4.9 foundations. This will keep the bees from absconding, don't skip this part. There are many including myself who learned the hard way. Now use only 4.9 don't bother with the 5.2 and such. Now take the frames of bees and shake them all into the new hive body use a brush too. You can remove a few frames to make a spot to shake them into the put them back in. Don't shake the bees to the front entrance or the queen won't be able to get in. Now you should have boxes of frames minus the bees with brood, pollen and honey. Sort them if no brood in them have them rendered down. He is your dilema here the brood is given to another colony. You couls try putting above another excluder above the hive only until the brood emerges then remove it. After the bees draw out the 4.9 foundation and there is capped brood then remove the bottom excluder.

    You could try doing a progressive method by removing all non- brood frames and add 4.9 foundation every other frame manner then move them to the center allow 2 cycles of brood to emerge. Repeat. Working the large cell combs to the outside then out.

    Also, I wanted to split the hive to see it produce new queens, etc (I don't really care about large amounts of honey production ... yet). How would you do that while trying to regress at the same time?

    reply:

    To be honest I would do one or the other. Regression can be taxing on the bees. You will need the strength of the whole hive. You would be better trying to make a fall nuc and winter it over. I wouldn't tackle both. Regression may take 2 to 3 years to complete, not so bad figuring it took 100 to get where were at.

    regards,

    Clay



  9. #9
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    Sep 2002
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    West Harrison, NY, USA
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    Post

    Hi Clay,

    thanks again. White Plains is exactly 249.7 miles from Crown Point NY.

    I will try the shake down method this spring. I really want to minimize chemicals and other treatments and go to the closest to natural (i.e. self-sustaining) method of beekeeping, not because I'm lazy but because I think the bees will be better of.
    One other question, when would you start this? What are the signs to find the best moment? I imagine soon after the queen begins laying eggs in earnest again. The rest (feeding, etc) follows the standard procedures for Spring management?
    Can I get the foundation from you? I will have some wax to trade of, but I'll be happy to pay if the rates are reasonable.

    Jorge

  10. #10
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    Post

    One other question, when would you start this? What are the signs to find the best moment?

    reply:

    Around the first of april this year we had some abnormal 90 degree weather. I shook down (year 2) the bees using 2-3 4.9 bait combs so the queens had a place to start right laying in. Then it turned off down right cold. The bees were fine and progressed anyways. But I'd wait a little later in the season without the bait combs. Lets say around mid to last week of april. Try to get it a week before the dandelions bloom. There is probably quite a difference between us, week or two. Remember to feed the bees, I give them a gallon of honey. If the weather turns terrible give a bit more if it is good then stop feeding.

    The rest (feeding, etc) follows the standard procedures for Spring management?

    reply:

    Yes. However don't feed to much. To much feed will trigger the bees into drawing honey/ drone cells. Just enough to get them going.

    Can I get the foundation from you? I will have some wax to trade of, but I'll be happy to pay if the rates are reasonable

    reply:

    I wish I had extra to sell. I will make several hundred sheets this year. But I will still need to buy the other half that I need. I buy it from brushy mountain in bulk. I am short on wax for my own needs. I would rather buy your wax for $$$ and you could use the money to purchase 4.9 foundation. I don't have any rates as of yet only been considering it. But if 4.9 were pulled from the market I would come up with something. As long as Dadant is making 4.9 use it as they make the best foundation. Mine is very good but there's is excellent. Not to mention it gives me one more season under my belt making foundation. This will only be my third season milling. Jorge once my bees take off without the need for dopes shall try to get up to around 200 colonies. If you have any more questions on regressing just ask.

    Clay



  11. #11
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    Apr 2000
    Location
    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
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    Post

    If you're shaking down be careful about giving the brood back to the same colony. I did this with two colonies this year; in the one case I got away with it, but the other abandoned the queen below the excluder and went back to the brood, where it raised queen cells. I'm sorry not to have replied to this one earlier; I've been building a new computer, and was off line for a few days as a result.

    ------------------
    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Birmingham UK

  12. #12
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    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
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    Post

    Hi Jorge, Clay and Robert

    Robert you wrote to Jorge:f you're shaking down be careful about giving the brood back to the same colony. I did this with two colonies this year; in the one case I got away with it, but the other abandoned the queen below the excluder and went back to the brood, where it raised queen cells. I'm sorry not to have replied to this one earlier; I've been building a new computer, and was off line for a few days as a result.


    Reply:
    This above circumstance happening is one good reason to give the shaken down brood to another weaker colony to beef it up. Then what you have to start with is basically a shook down package without the shipping costs associated, and you merely just pour the feed to the queen and bees and let them draw wax back out, now 4.9mm and queen start laying brood, bees gathering stores and work them back up.

    Time consuming yes, but effective.

    Robert gave you good odds on the brod stored above the excluder on same hive. A large percentage do as he described. It can be maddening and people with lots of bees just don't practice that style due to the high loss. Still the regular shakedown has it's problems also. i.e. they won't regress all the way and you have to do it over again at a later date! But at least you still got the bees to work with.

    REgards,

    Dee A. Lusby

  13. #13
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    Dec 2000
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    Post

    Hi Robert and Dee,

    >>This above circumstance happening is one >>good reason to give the shaken down brood >>to another weaker colony to beef it up.

    Jorge has only but one colony. I was trying to find away to save the brood. I must admit haven't had to work with only one colony.

    Jorge I guess it will be up to you save the brood with the possible problems Robert says. Or don't save the brood. Its your choice.

    Clay

  14. #14
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    Aug 2002
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    Post

    Personally, if I only had the one hive, I'd shake it down and put the brood with some nurse bees in another hive and let them raise a queen if they want. About the time she starts to lay you can shake that one down and combine this split with the first regressed hive if you want, or you can steal honey filled frames from your first shake down you can extract them and give them to this shake down, causing the first shakedown to regress some more. If you keep shaking it down before the new queen gets going there won't be much more brood to worry about beacuse it will all have hatched. I've also had the shook down hive absconding back to the hive with drawn comb and brood even if it's been moved from the orignal place. It's probably a good idea to move them more than a couple of miles.

  15. #15
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    Sep 2002
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    West Harrison, NY, USA
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    Post

    I was thinking of trying what Michael is suggesting: shake down the queen I got into a 4.9 foundation box and save a couple of frames and nurse bees to have them start a new hive with its own new queen.
    Am I understanding you correctly whan you suggest that stealing the honey from the first shook down hive will prompt it regress more because they have to start building new comb right away? I thought that the key thing is to have new bees be born in smaller size cells. This will only happen if you get rid of the brood comb instead (by further shake downs). Alternatively, you are suggesting that it is the building of new comb that does the trick of regressing. I suppose it is a combination of both, but wonder, what is more effective.Finally, this whole thing about regressing seems to be quite tricky, since you have to be careful not to weaken your hives too much by repetitive shake downs (or removing of honey comb), but at the same time force the new bees to work on small size cells even if they want to follow their inertia. So, here is a final question: do you shake down once per season, or more than once? If more than once, what rule of thumb would you use to decide when to do the 2nd?
    Thanks again. I wish I could visit you all and learn by watching.

    Jorge

  16. #16
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    >Am I understanding you correctly whan you suggest that stealing the honey from the first shook down hive will prompt it regress more because they have to start building new comb right away?

    The problem with regressing is that a bee doesn't want to build a cell too small to get inside and clean it and get inside to make it.

    The first time you shake them into a hive even with 4.9mm foundation they will build about 5.1mm or so. So when a generation has been hatched in that size, it is smaller and is probably willing to build something close to 4.9mm. If the 5.1mm comb is there the queen will keep laying in it. I'm guessing, though, that as it hatches and they build more comb they may fill it with honey. If you take the 5.1mm comb filled with honey and extract it you can use it for the next time you want to do a first regression. Meanwhile, yes, they will build more comb and it will be smaller than the last comb because of a generation of smaller bees.

    >I thought that the key thing is to have new bees be born in smaller size cells. This will only happen if you get rid of the brood comb instead (by further shake downs).

    True.

    >Alternatively, you are suggesting that it is the building of new comb that does the trick of regressing. I suppose it is a combination of both, but wonder, what is more effective.

    It is the combination of them building smaller comb and then the brood raised in it is willing to build still smaller comb.

    >Finally, this whole thing about regressing seems to be quite tricky, since you have to be careful not to weaken your hives too much by repetitive shake downs (or removing of honey comb), but at the same time force the new bees to work on small size cells

    It is tricky and quite traumatic. I've noticed though, the up side is that tramatized bees are actually calmer after a point.

    > even if they want to follow their inertia.

    Actually the small cells are what they naturally would build if they had not been raised on large cells and therefore they are bigger. So it's not so hard as you think. I did my first regression on just starter strips of 4.9mm and bees that were rasied and living on 5.4mm built with only a pattern to start the first rows, built 5.15mm cells.


    > So, here is a final question: do you shake down once per season, or more than once? If more than once, what rule of thumb would you use to decide when to do the 2nd?

    I haven't done this nearly on the scale that Dee and others have. They could best address this, but I think you do have to play this by ear. Every hive is different and you want to do it when it will be most effective. But you do understand that once you have them building 4.9mm foundation and you have bees that were raised on that, you are done shaking down. The bees will happily live on that.


  17. #17
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    Dec 2000
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    crown point, NY, USA
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    Post

    Hi Jorge,

    I was thinking of trying what Michael is suggesting: shake down the queen I got into a 4.9 foundation box and save a couple of frames and nurse bees to have them start a new hive with its own new queen.


    reply:

    You could do this. Just don't weaken the shake down to much as this is comb drawing force you need to regress. You also now have to deal with new colony on large cell too. But with 2 hives it is much easier. Winter the new hive and shake it down. Place the brood over the parent colony seperated by excluder and remove when the brood emerges.

    Am I understanding you correctly whan you suggest that stealing the honey from the first shook down hive will prompt it regress more because they have to start building new comb right away?

    reply:

    The shake down should have no combs, only foundation. You want it to be like a swarm or package of bees which must draw comb and quickly. By leaving combs in the shakedown you may end up with ruined foundations as the bees may try to mimic the large cells with tons of transition combs that will need culling. You will need to cull anyways but you won't be able to give these frames to the new colony to help speed through the transittion phase.

    ? I thought that the key thing is to have new bees be born in smaller size cells. This will only happen if you get rid of the brood comb instead (by further shake downs)

    reply:

    Yes you want the bees born in smaller cells. But you need to get the bees to draw those smaller cells too. There is a point that you don't need to shake down anymore and can work progressively. To work progressively lets say around 5.05 you just add foundations to the centers of the brood boxes (not the supers). The bees should be able to hit 4.9 from here. Then you take the mid size cells and work them to the outsides and up, then out. So you want the center six combs to be 4.9. The two outermost can be 5.05 or so. Then when you have 6, 4.9 in the upper chamber move 4 down to complete the bottom box. Putting the 5.05's in the honey supers to be filled with honey and add more 4.9 to the brood chamber. Do this as long as the bees will do it. If the bees stop drawing the 4.9 properly you stop adding. The key to doing this is to keep the non-4.9 combs out of the brooding area and keep them in the spots where pollen and honey plug them in the broodnest. This is much less stressfull on the bees. Keep going until the bees are tuned in to 4.9. Each year they get better and better locking in to the sizing and you get more combs per colony drawn.

    Alternatively, you are suggesting that it is the building of new comb that does the trick of regressing. I suppose it is a combination of both, but wonder, what is more effective

    reply:

    Yes both. Assuming the bees go smaller each time. Measure alot! You want two brood cycles at least between shakedowns. Once you get them less then 5.1 go progressive.

    Finally, this whole thing about regressing seems to be quite tricky, since you have to be careful not to weaken your hives too much by repetitive shake downs (or removing of honey comb), but at the same time force the new bees to work on small size cells even if they want to follow their inertia. So, here is a final question: do you shake down once per season, or more than once?

    reply:

    Yes, it can be tricky. Shakedown no more than twice per season. I found that if using starter strips only just the once. As I could never get them built up enough for winter as I don't feed sugar syrup but only honey. With every thing use your judgement. better to error on the safe side than lose the bees. So for a second shakedown ask yourself, Can the bees handle it? Are they strong enough? Can I get them ready for winter in time?

    Clay


  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
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    Tucson, Arizona, United States
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    Post

    Hi all

    Clayton just replied:
    You could do this. Just don't weaken the shake down to much as this is comb drawing force you need to regress. You also now have to deal with new colony on large cell too. But with 2 hives it is much easier. Winter the new hive and shake it down. Place the brood over the parent colony seperated by excluder and remove when the brood emerges.

    Reply:
    Now I have been reading this whole series and letting all freely talk but I must put a word in here, due to the fact that Robert had problems over in UK and others have problems also when using excluders and putting brood above for warmth and shakedown below. Then bees leave queen and go back to brood and she dies!

    Question: Clay in particular. Do you have any double screens for this is what they were originally designed to do and you do not have the problem of bees then leaving the queen below, unless they swarm out, but then the excluder is on the bottom board and double screen is over the top for warmth for the new divide which can be on NO NURSE bees at all for warmth alone will keep them alive as new bees emerge. Top entrance is the size of a pencil width and a flat tray with sponge and water inside for liquid. When enough new bees emerge as eggs are hatching, normally there is still enough time for queen raising or simply let brood emerge to save it and merely combine with something else later and get rid of combs.

    Saves brood for bees, is a good way to introduce expensive queens (old way) and doesn't mix comb size.

    Just some thoughts.

    REgards to you all

    Dee A. Lusby


  19. #19
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    My experience is they will not only move up into the chamber with the brood and abondon the queen (had this happen also) but they will abondon the hive and move into one that has drawn comb and brood to get away from the empty one.

    I don't think leaving the brood on the shaken down hive works.

  20. #20
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    Post

    Michael Bush wrote:
    My experience is they will not only move up into the chamber with the brood and abondon the queen (had this happen also) but they will abondon the hive and move into one that has drawn comb and brood to get away from the empty one.
    I don't think leaving the brood on the shaken down hive works.

    reply:
    It doesn't, but beekeepers with few bees have few options and many tear hair out rather then see brood needlessly killed and abondoned when they hve no place else to stick it.

    I think here Jorge has but one hive! Hence the problem.

    That's why I recommended to get around the problem the double screen over the shakedown with a queen excluder acting like a queen includer and swarm holder being on the bottom underneath.

    Actually no bees (nurse) are needed when placing brood above the double screens, just a sponge and water and then let them be.

    Now JOrge if doing with double screen, what I mean here is a 3/8 or 1/4 inch plywood with minimum 12-14 inch hole cut in and 8 mesh window screen stapled tight and no gaps on each side. This is placed between the two supers in place of excluder. If you want entrace with the double screen, just rim with 3/8 lip and leave 3/8 hole (cut opening in rim) to let bees emerging when old enough go in and out and orientate to the back facing opposite from entrance below.

    This is only way I can see working with your one hive since you are waiting for brooding up to shake down. Now shakedown can be done prior to brooding up in spring and it is the easiest but the hardest on beekeepers with no experience. You merely put the bees onto foundation with a queen excluder on the bottom board and put either an inhouse feeder in or feeder jar on front. They you let the bees draw out wax and queen start laying all at same time. But I don't recommend this in your case.

    Also, you have no place to take shakedown brood and put onto another colony to beef them up for a secondary shakedown, Also no seed combs for queen to start laying in.

    Clay has been giving good advise along with others. ONly you can weight all facts presented and then do what seem right to you.

    But the problem of bees going back up to brood above thru excluder is real and leaving queen below to starve and then nothing accomplished and no comb drawn, etc.

    So go back thru what Clay, Robert, Michael and others have written and read close and then decide. Then go for it.

    At least you know up front all things that can happen for the most part and how others see it.

    You will find, many will read back through and then do fine.Just take your time, think and then do it.

    Let us know how things go.

    REgards,

    Dee A. Lusby

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