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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Salisbury N.H.
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    15

    Default First hive opening-observations and questions

    THIS IS MY FIRST TIME WITH BEES!!!
    I installed my packages and direct released my queens last tuesday into our 2 home made Michel bush desinged top bar hives,When I put the bees in I also put inside each hive a inverted 1 qt mason jar filled with sugar-water 50-50,, ,I have been wacthing the hives sevral times a day and the seem to be very very active,,thursday and friday I noticed a few bees flying into each hive carring pollen,,,I attended my first bee club meeting friday night and was told if the bees are carring in pollen the queens are alive and laying,,,,yesterday I opened each hive to re fill the feeders and was hopeing to see if the ladies are building straight comb,,,in both hives the bees were clusterd in the middel of the hive body and kinda on the sunny side wall and on about 4 bars in a big ball,,,,I left them alone in fear of damaging alot of bees,,,,BUT,,,I dont know what they are doing in that ball and if they are making comb glued to the hive wall,,,, looking for suggestions:
    1-Should I just start pulling up the bars the bees are on and having a look?
    2-should I leave them alone till they have had more time to spread onto more bars then take a look?
    I was going to stop feeding them as soon as I saw sealed brood BUT I cant see the sealed brood unless I get into the ball
    I have sevral bee books that I have read and read ALOT on this forum but I have not seen a top-bar book that would cover this and my mentor dosent do in top bars so any intput would be greatly appricated, Thanks,Parker

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

    Default Re: First hive opening-observations and questions

    Don't disturb them at this point, keep feeding until they have capped honey stores, they look like a clump until you can see the comb poking out of the cluster of bees, if its still cold in your area or the bees start building comb the wrong direction cut out some cardboard forms that match your hive inside and use them to limit the space the bees have to about 4 or 5 bars depending on the size of your colony.
    Welcome to top bar beekeeping! Don't get discouraged by "traditional beekeepers" looks of disbelief and horror, it come with the territory.
    My blog @ Bee Crazy

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Salisbury N.H.
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: First hive opening-observations and questions

    Are these card board forms what are called "follower boards? I was thinking it must be hard for them to keep that whole area warm,,,it is cold here overnight still,(30's),DEFINATLY get some funny looks and scoffs when you say you have topbars!!!! I will be starting a langsforth hive with a local nuc next week,,,looking forward to compare and contrast! Thanks for the reply! Parker

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

    Default Re: First hive opening-observations and questions

    Yea you can use follower boards if you have them, its just if you don't and need a quick fix cardboard works to Will you be going foundation-less with the lang?
    My blog @ Bee Crazy

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Salisbury N.H.
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: First hive opening-observations and questions

    Not in the first lang...I am going to use all standerd equipment and peirco plastic foundation with wooden frames (have it allmost all put together),,I want to do some comparing and contrasting and see the end results of each system,,(I will also be medicating this hive per mentors instructions),I had a lot of fun with my mentor going thru his hives (4) and splitting 2 of them,,the lang hives seemed ALOT easier to work with-manipulate and see what was happening in than the top bar ALTHOUGH the lang hives were well established and very well populated,,,and he knew what he was doing,,(I also like the idea of being able to easily move the lang hive-think moving the top bar would be more difficult),,,I am looking into purchasing enough frames from Humbel Abode to put together a 4 hive (2nd lang) and that would be foundationless..(and non medicated)....at the moment I am really trying to find a system that works for the bees in this area,,,it gets COLD here in the winter,,Thanks for your response! Parker

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Englewood, CO
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: First hive opening-observations and questions

    If the bees are bringing in pollen that is a really good sign. As others have said, don't disturb them as the are propably building comb in that ball you see. Until there is enough comb for the bees to spread out on it can seem like they are just huddled in a ball. In the middle of that ball they are busy building out the comb. Give it a few weeks and you should see comb peeking out from the mass of bees. Also check during the middle of the day when more bees are out foraging as that might make it easier to spot the comb.
    Above all be patient and let the girls do their work and you will be supprised at how busy they have been.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Dalkeith, Ont, Canada
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: First hive opening-observations and questions

    Lang frames are easier to work with, I personally love tbh, one because they are horizontal you can get into the broodnest without moving all the honey supers, another one is they have more room for brood comb without frames, frames are also harder to build At the very least I would go foundationless if you let the bees build their own cell sizes you can stabilise your verroa populations.
    My blog @ Bee Crazy

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Salisbury N.H.
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: First hive opening-observations and questions

    What is the best way you have found to get the bees building in the correct direction in a foundationless hive? I talked to one fellow that said he had starter strips in the top of the frame and they still built comb perpendicularly to the strips across all 8 frames, affectivly making that medium unopenable,,,said it was a while befor he checked on them..........
    I am getting a 5 frame nuc today! that will go in the traditional lang,,,building swarm traps and lang style deep boxes in the sugarhouse turned bee woodenware facilty,,,what fun! Will be checking into the 2 topbars tommrow (not getting into the ball just opening above the feeder and checking if they want more sugarwater) Thank you all so much for the responses you advice and experiance is greatly appricated! Parker

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Dalkeith, Ont, Canada
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: First hive opening-observations and questions

    I use triangles attached to my top bars, I find the best way to get em building the right way is to limit the number of bars so the longest way to build is along the bars, might not be possible with a really big swarm and you need to check them very soon after to make sure they have room. Only hive that went 90deg off course was a small swarm I installed, when I limited the space they went the right way (had to basically shake them out of the small hive they had built). This year I built some cut-out frames that I could use to change the comb direction.
    My blog @ Bee Crazy

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    carrollton mississippi
    Posts
    113

    Default Re: First hive opening-observations and questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Parker Rowe View Post
    What is the best way you have found to get the bees building in the correct direction in a foundationless hive?


    I cut 1/16 grove down the center of the bar 1/4 inch deep(saw blade width) then cut 1/16 inch strips 1/2 inch wide and glued them in..then melted a thin layer of bees wax down the strip...hope that makes them build right when I install them.(saw the wax thing on the internet, except he used string as a guide). I hope the strips stickin down 1/4 inch keeps them working straight

    I'm also thinking about making some bars with wires looping down in case I have some comb to help start them building right...like in the case of a cutout...I thing I'll just cut the bars in half, and use some thicker, stiff wire that'll hold the comb. maybe I should make it and add pics...

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Dexter, Maine
    Posts
    1,037

    Default Re: First hive opening-observations and questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Parker Rowe View Post
    I attended my first bee club meeting friday night and was told if the bees are carring in pollen the queens are alive and laying
    If only it was that easy, I have seen lots of queenless hives bringing in pollen. I don't do top bar hives, but I can't see there being a difference in that respect. Anybody else ever heard that?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Salisbury N.H.
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: First hive opening-observations and questions

    BIG FUN IN THE BEE YARD!!!!
    OOHHH THOSE ITALIAN GIRLS!!! Man, they have been busy!! opened both hives today to get feeders out and just could not help myself,,the first hive had 2 fully built combs of honey,,2 pretty full combs of brood and one partial of pollen,,LOTS of bees,,saw the queen,,,,second hive had one and a half (kinda stuck together) full combs built containing honey, 2 of brood and 1 of pollen,,,and LOTS OF BEES!!! they are hammering,,butiful white comb,,be back in there next sat or sun,,,,
    Got a nuc from my mentor from a split we did last week,,got it home and took the bottom board off and put the medium 10 frame body on a deep super of perico coated foundation and a new HUMBEL ABODES screened bottom board,,looked at the old bottom board had a hand full of bees on it and,,,THE QUEEN,,,,as this was regestering in my mind she flew off,,,after some time she returned,,she is very loud when she flys and twice the size of the other bees,,,she came out agine later in the day and was on tour,,saw her go in agine,,,mentour speculates this is a virgin queen on a mating flight,,any speculation? the nuc is from a overwintered (from a VERY STRONG hive) carolinian......
    Built 3 swarm traps,,have lemongrass oil and drawn comb inside,,will deploy tommrow,,,,Mentor thinks I should leave one near my bee yard incase one of my hives swarms,,,think they have plenty of room in there hives though,,,,any thpoughts greatly appricated,,,
    having my idea of a good time in Salisbury,,,Parker

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Dalkeith, Ont, Canada
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: First hive opening-observations and questions

    only 2 combs of brood with 2 full combs of honey sounds off this time of year to me, you should probably stop feeding them. Are you using top bar hives? I only ask because you mentioned foundation.
    My blog @ Bee Crazy

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Salisbury N.H.
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: First hive opening-observations and questions

    The first 2 hives are top bars and the 3rd that the nuc went in is a lang.....I did not refill their feeders as it looks like they had plenty of stores,,,,,what are your thoughts on the queen flying around? That has me pretty nervous,,not too many bees going in and out of the lang with the nuc in it (but it is their 2nd day here,,Thanks,Parker

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Salisbury N.H.
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: First hive opening-observations and questions

    The temp almost hit 90 here today,,had alot of bees on the outside of the top bar hives and alot fanning,,,I built my top bar hives with no ventalation,,and will be anxious to see if the comb fell off the bars (looked a littel weak-jiggley last sunday-temps in the upper 70's) I dont plan on doing any ventalation modifacations,,,BUT,,might this help? I could drill holes, ect....but trees hives dont have a bunch of holes drilled in them,,,,,,theTBH hives are really thriving,,,
    THe lang nuc on the other hand seems to be falling on its face,,I have seen bees with deformed-no wings comming out of it,,very littel foraging activites,,and the italians INVADE it if I open the entrance reducer at all,,,this will be a great test to see if the tbh-italian-small-natural cell thing pans out cause I am sure the robbers brought back plenty of mites....got my fingers crossed that the lang will come into it and the italians will scofff at the mites,,,but I am a dreamer!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Salisbury N.H.
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: First hive opening-observations and questions

    Dissaster!! Was working in one of my TBH yesterday (70's) and one entire comb and part of another fell right off the bars,(boggels the mind-combs seem pretty wimpy),many bees killed and damaged,,I left the combs in there,,,I have built 3 top bars with thin frames around them and wire to wrap the comb inside,,will check here first befor I appempt to put comb back inside these holders,,,2 questions,,,how can I tell if I killed the queen,,,,any thoughts about putting comb back vertical (in holders) after its been on hive body overnight,,,,What a rotten felling,,,,,any toughts appricated...

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Dalkeith, Ont, Canada
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: First hive opening-observations and questions

    the bees can keep their hive cool usually without any trouble, you have to be careful with new comb it tends to be fragile, what kind of top bars are you using? triangle, popsicle stick, wax kreff? As long as the queen wasn't killed they will repair everything 21c (70f) is no ware near hot enough to cause heat related comb failure, are they hives steady in the wind, not wobbly? You can not tilt a tbh comb like you can a lang frame, also you have to cut the wall attachments before pulling the comb out, I made a cutter with a bent wire looks like an L with the bottom flattened and sharpened so I can pull it along the wall to cut attachments. The only problem I have had with no ventilation is in the winter from condensation.
    My blog @ Bee Crazy

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Salisbury N.H.
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: First hive opening-observations and questions

    I am useing wooden triangels (like corner moulding) under the bars,,I think my failure was in not removing the side attachments first-I was trying to simply slid the bars on the hive body(Want to put bars between all the comb they are building in the center of the hive to spread them out-reduce swarming?) I was not trying to not lift up of tilt the bars-how long befor comb gets stronger?...I will try to put the combs in the holders today (rained yeaterday)....Thank you so much for the response.....I learn from my mistakes,,,,but this was a rotten mistake on my part!

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