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Thread: Disaster

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Richmond, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    227

    Default Re: Disaster

    Spoiled honey is strange. Honey is suppose to be pretty bullet proof. Do wax moths and small hive beetle larva cause honey to spoil? and have you asked your local government inspector dude to take a look?

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Dalkeith, Ont, Canada
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Disaster

    I say spoiled honey because it was uncapped and before it is fully dehydrated it will spoil if let sit for a while, I don't know were they found nectar that late in the season though.

    Sam.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Disaster

    I had a disaster too. I started last year with two hives--my first year. Both are dead. I think it was a ventilation problem. The hives were pretty full of honey, but the comb caps were a nasty grey green color--covered with mold. I have got to figure out how to vent them--it would kill me to have it happen again.

    I got 3 pound packages of Italians last year. I am going for 4 pound Carniolians. I live in the PNW (Seattle) and the guy who is selling me the packages said that that breed fares better in this climate.

    I made some awful mistakes last year--I got off to a bad start. I sure hope I do better this year. This mess was really discouraging.



    Abha

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Dalkeith, Ont, Canada
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Disaster

    Lol yea I know the feeling, I am planning to drill 8 holes in the floor 7/8" large along the length and screen them on the inside, this gives me the ability to cork them if its to many and should generate enough airflow I hope without making the hives drafty.
    I actually have a small puddle in a few of my hives, didn't realise my craftsmanship was so airtight =D

    Sam.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Dalkeith, Ont, Canada
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Disaster

    Well cleaned out all my hives today, one thing they all had in common was they were all soggy, so I'm going to say (untill I find out otherwise) that the main problem is lack of ventilation, It was strange bees would be clumped in small clusters looking starved right beside a big spot of honey on the same side of the same comb. Any Ontario beeks know about finding swarm lists? Unless its no different then anywhere else.


    Sam.

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Hillsboro, NH
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: Disaster

    So as a noob I have a question; How do I go about closing the bottom of my THB? It is wide open now but should I use screen or a solid bottom with screened holes? We get our bees April 26th and I need to finish this up soon.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Totnes, Devon, England
    Posts
    1,019

    Default Re: Disaster

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam-Smith View Post
    I say spoiled honey because it was uncapped and before it is fully dehydrated it will spoil if let sit for a while, I don't know were they found nectar that late in the season though.
    Was it actually honey, or did you feed them late?

    If you feed syrup beyond the time when the temps are high enough for them to reduce the water content below about 20%, it will ferment. You will also have introduced a lot of extra water into the hive.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Totnes, Devon, England
    Posts
    1,019

    Default Re: Disaster

    Quote Originally Posted by b.walden View Post
    So as a noob I have a question; How do I go about closing the bottom of my THB? It is wide open now but should I use screen or a solid bottom with screened holes? We get our bees April 26th and I need to finish this up soon.
    It's your decision. You need to consider other posts here that deal with this issue, and your local conditions.

    IMO adequate, floor level ventilation is one of the most important considerations in hive design.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Chester Co, PA, USA
    Posts
    269

    Default Re: Disaster

    Some thoughts from the classes I have been taking:
    Ventilation is very important, air must circulate throught the hive.
    Wind protection is huge.
    Bees can't move sideways to get food when they are in cluster.

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Chester Co, PA, USA
    Posts
    269

    Default Re: Disaster

    I am putting a screened bottom in my hive and a hinge attached bottom board that I can swing up and close off the bottom during harsh weather.

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Hillsboro, NH
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: Disaster

    This is what I am confused about. If bees can't move sideways then how do they get food durning the winter. In a TBH there is no moving up, and I don't want to open the hive in the winter.

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,036

    Default Re: Disaster

    b. walden,
    From what I understand, that is one of the shortcomings with TBH's, they are all horizontal and not vertical. Their normal configuration makes it more difficult to winter the bees in colder climates.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Hillsboro, NH
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: Disaster

    I guess we will just have to deal with it as it comes, I will have all summer to figure something out.

  14. #34
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Totnes, Devon, England
    Posts
    1,019

    Default Re: Disaster

    Quote Originally Posted by MeriB View Post
    Bees can't move sideways to get food when they are in cluster.
    It's amazing how these myths get started. Do they really think that after 50+ million years of evolution, bees haven't figured out how to move sideways to get food?

    The fact that TBHs work at all should be enough evidence that this is baloney, but if you examin the combs in a typical TBH, you will see that bees often make tunnels through combs - usually just under the bars - to enable them to go the short way from comb to comb, rather than going around the outside edge.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  15. #35
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,127

    Default Re: Disaster

    Quote Originally Posted by buckbee View Post
    It's amazing how these myths get started. Do they really think that after 50+ million years of evolution, bees haven't figured out how to move sideways to get food?
    I don't think it's a myth at all. Of course they will move to the side if they are able. But, if it's cold enough they can't. Wintess a colony with a cluster stuck on one side of the hive and with honey 2 combs away...to the side. I and just about every beekeeper with any experience has seen these colonies starve. If they are so able to move sideways, then why didn't they? It's all about the temperature....and cluster size.

    And tell me...whatever happened to the K...

    It was dropped from the name of the hive. The full name is KTBH...Kenya Top Bar Hive. Perfect hive for keeping bees in Kenya, hanging in trees. Maybe not so good in a cold climate like northern North America.

    I winter hundreds of nucleus colonies. Most are double 4 frame nucs. But, some bet expanded to 8 combs. The cluster is usually on the entrance side of the box. I've seen too many of these nucs not move over, so I decided to start nucs this past summer that expanded up with the addition of 4 frame supers. Right now I have beautiful clusters in both top and bottom...the clusters are able to move up onto the honey above. So, while they certainly will move sideways if it's warm enough, they can't always. They can always move up.

  16. #36
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Totnes, Devon, England
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    1,019

    Default Re: Disaster

    I agree that cluster size - and therefore their control over temperature - is important. This goes alongside emphasizing the need to keep strong colonies, and to provide adequate insulation so they have max control over their environment.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  17. #37
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,143

    Default Re: Disaster

    I ran one TBH, my first hive, in Wisconsin in 2008. It survived the winter. I used a Michael Bush type design where the bars are the roof, and then for good measure I put a one inch styrofoam lid which was encased in scrap plywood on top of that.
    It only had one entrance, a top one, which was just the first bar held back 3/8 inch. The lid overlapped it by an inch to keep the rain out. I reduced this entrance from full width to about 2 inches by putting in little blocks of wood.
    The hive entered the winter with comb and honey on all bars almost all the way to the back of it's 4 feet length. The bars were 16 inches long.
    The hive was located on a south facing slope with woods north of it. Additionally the bee population was large. The queen was a MH offspring, the original MH queen swarmed in June.
    Clearly I was lucky, this is only observational data, but I post it to illustrate that a TBH can survive in bitterly cold northern climes. Don't give up.
    Adrian.

  18. #38
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Dalkeith, Ont, Canada
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Disaster

    I didn't feed them but they might have found some other source of food, I have read about several people that have a lot of success with this hive design, its only called Kenyan top bar hive because it was made popular relatively recently and only for the sloped sides, its a very old design though, also bees themselves are not native to north America. I'm sure the tbh is usable in winter climates, the presence of uncaped honey and honey on the floor would create a larger humidity issue, humidity becomes condensation, then becomes ice, this could prevent the bees from moving to honey or just chill the colony faster then they could heat.

    Sam.

  19. #39
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Delaware County, New York, USA
    Posts
    178

    Default Re: Disaster

    Sorry to hear about what happened, Sam. I had a similar horror - but thankfully not as bad.

    I started with two nucs last spring and the colonies grew well, considering the awful wet weather here in NY State. I didn't take a drop of honey figuring they'd need it for the winter. I had one of Sam Comfort's 36 inch hives and another like Phil Chandlers 48 inch with a screened bottom and wood floor. I sealed up this hive too tight and when I opened it, at least half the colony lay dead on the floor. Lots of black and green mold all over the place - even on the outer combs. It was terrible but at least I have some bees. It's back to the size of a nuc colony so it's beginning all over. Sam Comfort's very rustic design with a solid floor did much better. Not as many dead bees and I think this colony will bounce back faster.

    I think I'm going to drill a couple of 1 inch holes on the top of each side to allow for convection flow, to cut down on the condensation that surely killed them.

    Any comments regarding this?

  20. #40
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Richmond, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    227

    Default Re: Disaster

    I've decided (without any real experience or data) that dry is more important than warm for the bees in winter (conduction v convection), so I'm creating a vented attic space over the bees. I'm going to set it up so that air gets drawn up through the hive and out the roof all summer, then I'll add absorbent insulation in the fall (newspaper) below the attic vents so that the newspaper will dry to the attic side and keep the bees dry.

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