I have my topbar hive done. It has 31 top bars. The bee package that is coming is a three pounds. How many bars back should I put my dividing board. In other words , how much room do three pounds of bees need. Also when I put the package of bees in should I close the entrance hole for short time? Where should the queen be placed so I can remove her box later? Thanks
How many bars back should I put my dividing board. In other words , how much room do three pounds of bees need.
I don't know exactly on your hive how much volume bar leaves. I didn't use a divider at all in my. I'd probably put it so you have about as much volume as a deep nuc.
>Also when I put the package of bees in should I close the entrance hole for short time?
You can. I hardly ever do.
>Where should the queen be placed so I can remove her box later? Thanks
In the middle of the front I'd suspend her from the bars. Or, just mark her (if she's not) and release her directly into the hive. Just cup your hands to make sure she runs down in and doesn't fly. That's what I did.
What I would do, because I just installed 4 packages a 12 days ago, is put the division board as tightly up front as you can without cramping the bees enough to make them want to leave. Assuming your top bar hive is like mine (which means 15-16" at top, 9-10" deep, 6" across bottom), I would give them 6 or 7 bars to start with. I think it will help with the initial comb building pattern, if they have too much room to start with, I think it gives them the opportunity to build sloppy comb (which can happen anyway).
Hang the queen cage from between the 3rd-4th bar in the center of the hive, suspend her a few inches down so the cage isn't cemented to the top bars in the comb before you get a chance to remove the cage. Placing her in the center also gets them to cluster in the center and helps them start the combs at the center of the bars, also helping keep the comb straight. Rub some beeswax (you can get it at health food stores for about $2 per Lb. and you only need one brick), to the center rib of each top bar in the "NUC" you just made with the division board (this helps show them where to start). Feed syrup with ziplock bag on bottom board at the back of this NUC. And finally, I use some grass clippings to loosely plug up the entrance, but only providing a tiny entrance. I think it also helps keep them from pouring out too soon. Remove it after a day if they haven't done so by themselves.
This ain't concrete scientifically proven advice, but it is what I would do.
Oh yeah, you can install the bees themselves (I mean just he bees, remove the feed can and queen before doing this). Is keep the package covered. Lay the package inside the hive in any way so that you can cover the hive back up, and just remove the package cover and replace all top bars and cover up as quick as you can. This will help keep the bees from flying around and bothering you while you are installing them and its less stress on teh bees I think.
THEN the next day the bees will be all out of the package, remove the package and THEN install the division board. The bees will all be at the front, and this will also help you determine where to place it. Place the division board so that you aren't disturbing the cluster to install it, and you'll have a nice size hive for them to start the first 2 weeks with. Remove the board completely after they have filled it 60%-70% with comb ,because they'll have covered all teh top bars with comb, they just need to draw it down now and it will be nice and striaght. Remove the division board and you can feed 2 bags of syrup at a time, making less work for you and less disturbance for the bees when you don't have to go near their cluster to get in the hive. Its also neat to poke your head inside and see what they are doing in the front.
I put my division board feeder in the middle of the hive. This left them plenty of room. as cold and windy as it has been, i think i could / should have maybe left them only 10 top bars.
I am going to keep that division board feeder there until they build out comb on at least half of the top bars, then gradually move it back. kind of doing it seat of the pants.
other advice from a newbee, like Scot said, make sure to get your queen hanging in the middle of the hive. AND make sure you take a nail or something and make a hole in the candy with the candy UP so she can get out quick, then get that cage out of there so they don't comb it in. i understand they only need about 3 days with the queen, so if they have already been together for a while, or after a day or so, maybe even direct release the queen (knock out the cork without the candy interface).
All of my comb is pretty straight except where they combed in the queen cage. Not sure if it is because I put so much wax on the top bar splines or what. My first hive I sort of panicked when I checked it the first time the queen candy hadn't been touched so then i knocked out the other cork, put the cage in the bottom of the hive, and closed it up. That is now my best hive with the most eggs!
So maybe consider the direct release which Michael is encourageing, especially if they have been with the queen for more than a day. ask your dealer when the packages were shaken out.
<Also when I put the package of bees in should I close the entrance hole for short time?>
I didn't close up the entrance holes... but then again it was so cold & windy that they would have been real stupid to go out there on the prairie!
I didn't close the entrance and I direct relased the queen. I didn't want them building comb around the cage.
Michael, it sounds like a better way when you remove the queen from her cage and then put her in the the hive without the cage. I would not have to worry with removing the cage later. Can you advise on the best way to do this minimizing the escape of the queen and being lost.
The scary thing is it takes some practice.
I install the package first.
I get my packages locally and they come with a cage with no candy and the queen isn't marked. So I pull the cork and catch her in a queen marking tube. I mark her and after the paint is dry I pull the plunger (while she's at the other end while holding it close to a gap in the bars, (on in my case the gap at the front bar is my entrance) and put the mouth of the tube to the gap. I also try to watch to make sure she runs down into the hive. Usually she runs right down. Sometimes she flails about in the tube a bit first but a lot of workers come into the tube looking for her, so you have to watch to keep trakc of her. 1 out of about 10 times she tries to fly. If she does then just close up the hive (or leave the gap for a while) and wait. She will probably land close by and will likely go back into the hive, attracted by the Nasonove pheromone. But if you watch the whole time you'll probably find a little clump of bees near the hive before she flies back and she will be in the center. I use a hair clip queen catcher to pick her up and put her in the hive.
To do it directly from the cage. I often pull the staples on the screen so that it can be peeled back, but wait until I'm right over the gap again, and peel it back and put the opening down at the gap and let her run down. If she doesn't run right down I will cup my hands over her so she won't fly up.
It goes pretty well. But I have had a couple of them fly on occasion because I wasn't paying enough attention. Be sure to watch where she goes.
With a top bar hive, you could even release her at the back with you hands up in the box and I think she'll run right to the where the cluster is.