My first hive started as a feral colony in a rustic hive (old crate). I noticed it when it swarmed, but I missed catching the swarm by minutes. So I put a deep on top of a hole in the rustic to entice the remaining colony. They ignored it for almost a year, so the rustic became a cutout and I tossed some comb into the deep (upside down, of course). Could only fit 9 foundation frames. Somehow I managed not to kill the queen, but I did manage to get stung every time I worked the hive (mosquito net instead of veil, work gloves instead of bee gloves, not enough smoke, working from the front, etc).
Moved the hive to a better spot and two weeks ago transferred the frames into a new deep box so I could clean up. Could only fit 8 frames because of the buildup of new comb and I didn’t want to crush ‘em. I put a 10-frame deep on top including the old 9th frame, which was half filled with uncapped honey.
I built a screened bottom board with a sticky board made from tile board (it’s coated with melamine and has a squares pattern that helps counting). Daily mite drop is about 35. Moth poop is diminishing (the rustic had many places for moths to hide). I’m also seeing a few black, 2.5 mm beetles, like bark beetles not SHB; wassupwiddat? The sticky board handle has a hole for a crack pipe oxalic acid smoker. I also made a hive-top feeder, not yet installed.
The bees appear normal and there are plenty of them in the lower deep. The brood comb seems well filled, but the lower deep has lots of new “wild” comb in the wider spaces, plus old upside down comb, so my hive is part frame, part top board, part mess. The top deep is seeing a little drawing out of comb, but no capped honey. Still haven’t seen the queen, but the bees keep on coming. I saw one new queen cell.
Please help me avoid screwing up this colony even more than I already have. Should I cut up the “wild” comb and wire any brood comb into empty frames (right side up this time) and dump the “wild” honey comb in the top deep to be scavenged? Should I also try to hack out comb with moth larvae (which I haven’t been able to see, partly because I hate hassling the bees and they hate me for doing it). Maybe I could finally succeed in killing the queen, but then I could fit 10 frames. Or should I just leave the lower deep in its messy state for now? Should I vaporize some oxalic acid on them, or maybe just powdered sugar now and oxalic if the mite drop increases later in the summer? Or Thymomite? Should I feed them, since the hive is light (I have no idea what they’re foraging, late July in urban Southern California, but they are finding some pollen)? Should I medicate them? Should I requeen (maybe out of social responsibility)? I’m in an African bee area, but with better technique and plenty of smoke, only about a half dozen or so of these girls really go off on me when I take out several brood frames; they infrequently nail my gloves. When I’m not working them I can stand 6 feet away in T-shirt and shorts, which is my attire when I collect the sticky board. So maybe I have a fecund, mite-resistant and relatively gentle African queen, and I should split the hive?
Inquiring bees desperately want to know.