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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Cambridge, ON, Canada
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    6

    Default what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    Hello. i am new to beekeeping and am setting up in an old (12+ years) abandoned yard. i am cleaning up the old rotten hives and one has a colony in it. i tried to see if there was a queen but the frames were falling apart when i tried to pull them out. Everything is really stuck together and the full combs are all distorted in shape so breaking when i try to move the frames. any sugestions? i would love to give these bees a new home but am not sure how to do that and am not finding any information the process.

    Thank you for any help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Kingsville, OH
    Posts
    959

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    I would do all I could to rescue the hive. First put a new box with drawn frames in it on the hive. If the boxes are not stable brace it so you can at least get some of the bees into the better equipment. Good Luck.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Australia
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    218

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    Cut out what comb you can and rubber band it into new frames. Then slowly as you work move things over to a new box. As its summer don't worry too much about lost honey, but be careful in regards to brood. Once you reach the brood nest slow down and try not to break things too much, when you find the queen cage her and relocate her to the new hive and the workers should begin to migrate over as they begin to smell her smell over there. Then as you get easier access to the brood frames you can work a bit faster.

    Yes it will be messy, but it's about the only way when things get too old and broken.....

  4. #4
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    Jun 2013
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    Cambridge, ON, Canada
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    6

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    I am not sure what you mean by "rubber band "the old comb to new frames?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    3,822

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    A cutout is the quick way but I would want to try to save that bloodline if they have survived untreated for a long time. If you can lift this mass, I would try putting a new bottom board with a box or better two of drawn comb if you have it, down and putting the mess on top. The queen will probably move down into the new combs sooner than later. Then it is a matter of putting a queen excluder over the new digs and waiting for the brood to emerge out of the mess above. It would be the slow way to go, but I would really want to save that queen and genetics.

  6. #6
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    Dec 2012
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    Australia
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    218

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    Quote Originally Posted by M & L View Post
    I am not sure what you mean by "rubber band "the old comb to new frames?
    As you remove the old comb from the broken frames hold it in place in the new frames (no foundation), to keep it in place long enough for the bees to fix up just put some big rubber bands around the frame top to bottom trapping the comb in place.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Bunker Hill, IL
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    493

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    My goal would be get the old super on top of new equipment and not even worry about trying to open it up or deal with it.

    Monitor the lower super for queen activity. once the queen has moved down into the lower box, place an excluder below the old super, and let them backfill it with honey.

    then just remove the old rotten super full of honey and crush and strain.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    longton, kansas USA
    Posts
    596

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    Quote Originally Posted by M & L View Post
    I am not sure what you mean by "rubber band "the old comb to new frames?
    youtube search jpthebeeman and watch a 'cutout' video. itll show ya

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Bayboro,NC,USA
    Posts
    230

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    I would put the old above new. I just recently had a situation like this. As I was trying to find the queen and slowly cutting the comb out, it was hot as blue blazes, some of the comb collapsed and you guessed it, fell on the bottom of the box and killed the queen and about a 1/2 pound of bees. So from now on I will be placing old above new in situations like this. The bad part about this time, this old delapidated hive was for a friend, some one said he could have it if he got it out of their yard. It had been there for years with no one looking after it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,673

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    I'm curious on what basis people conclude that the colony referenced is an original colony and thereby containing genetics to save. There is no evidence presented that the colony is "a survivor" or a recent swarm that chose the hive to take up residence. I'm not trying to be argumentative here - I'm trying to understand. This seems similar to the notion that all swarms are survivors and don't pay attention to the fact that my yard is 1/4 mile down the road and throws a couple of swarms every year.

    Are we to conclude that there has been no active beekeeping in this immediate area for the last decade - so even if the hive is the product of a swarm, it is (at least) a swarm from a wild colony that has managed to stay alive at least since beekeeping was last done in this area?

    1/2 full or 1/2 empty? Should there be presumptive bias?

    I like the suggestions made earlier in the thread for getting the bees into new wooden ware. Based on what I'm reading here I would observe and evaluate the bees and not assume they were special.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Cambridge, ON, Canada
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    6

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    A cutout is the quick way but I would want to try to save that bloodline if they have survived untreated for a long time. If you can lift this mass, I would try putting a new bottom board with a box or better two of drawn comb if you have it, down and putting the mess on top. The queen will probably move down into the new combs sooner than later. Then it is a matter of putting a queen excluder over the new digs and waiting for the brood to emerge out of the mess above. It would be the slow way to go, but I would really want to save that queen and genetics.
    yes i do want to preserve the genetics. i did see some uncapped larvae in the one frame i was able to get out of the top box . i am ok with the slow method...this is a hobby and my scientific mind is willing to experiment! when i go to the yard in a couple of days i will take what i need to try and lift the two existing boxes and try your suggestion.

  12. #12
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    Jun 2013
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    Cambridge, ON, Canada
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    6

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    thank you

  13. #13
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    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,329

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    If you can't get frames out because combs go between frames, flip the box upside down on something flat and push the frames out all together in one piece. Lift the box off of them. Now you have access to remove frames from the outside. If they are all crooked, I would do a cutout.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Cambridge, ON, Canada
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    6

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Dewey View Post
    I'm curious on what basis people conclude that the colony referenced is an original colony and thereby containing genetics to save. There is no evidence presented that the colony is "a survivor" or a recent swarm that chose the hive to take up residence. I'm not trying to be argumentative here - I'm trying to understand. This seems similar to the notion that all swarms are survivors and don't pay attention to the fact that my yard is 1/4 mile down the road and throws a couple of swarms every year.

    Are we to conclude that there has been no active beekeeping in this immediate area for the last decade - so even if the hive is the product of a swarm, it is (at least) a swarm from a wild colony that has managed to stay alive at least since beekeeping was last done in this area?

    1/2 full or 1/2 empty? Should there be presumptive bias?

    I like the suggestions made earlier in the thread for getting the bees into new wooden ware. Based on what I'm reading here I would observe and evaluate the bees and not assume they were special.
    The other 9 hives in the yard are empty.--excluding the mouse debris and old moth cocoons. The farmer said he has some bees there every year but he does nothing about or with them. The visible wax is very dark brown. The farm is a small apple and fruit tree farm with several acres wild and there are other apple farms around. So who knows, eh? (yes Canadian) I was there yesterday at 4 pm on a nice warm day. as to 1/2 empty or 1/2 full---i have too little experience to know.....there were lots (but nothing to compare) of bees
    i am not making any assumptions. i feel a strong desire to give the girls a better home! My plan is to do what i can for these bees and still proceed with the two nucs i have ordered.

    i so appreciate all the feedback i have gotten from people on this site!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Issaquah,WA,USA
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    2,333

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    put on another box. Let them move up into it a bit before I start messing with the lower box. when she is up in the upper box flip them so the new box is below use beego do drive them out then start working on the old box as a cutout.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Menard County, IL
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    I am not sure that the genetics of the hive really matters. What jumps out a me is the opportunity for the OP to score an obvioulsy productive hive for free. Whether it is a swarm that found the hive or survivor bees that have lived there for years is not really relevant. Rather, the hive being a population of survivors with great genetics would be a bonus.

    Keep us posted on your progress.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Weeki Wachee, Florida,USA
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    1,906

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    Do you have any interest is saving the equipment?
    If you can get a queen excluder under the boxes maybe you can run them all out with bee-go.
    Cage the queen and place her in a box next to the old one.
    Then you can burn the old equipment.
    I'm not sure other than a hive for those bees I'd add any new equipment or hives to that yard until I burned everything. Maybe I'm paranoid.

    I've never had to deal with old "rotten" hives but I wouldn't cut out comb from them to put in my new equipment. Free can be an awful lot of work and aggravation.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    1,372

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    I did a removal on an abandoned hive that had bees in it for 20 years. Thay were mean as the dickens and the hive was basically a huge mass of dried propolis. After 4 stings and only one frame removed, I ran them out with bee-go and used an excluder on top to find the queen. I scooped the resulting mass of bees into a new hive box and gave them a new queen. I turned the old hive on its side in a new location with the bottom and top covers removed so it could be robbed out, and placed the new hive where the old one was at. Worked for me.

    Those were some mean, mean bees too. Scary mean. They straightened right up in the new box.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    8,984

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    The easy way, go with post #2. Next spring when the bottom box is empty follow post #13 to strip out the box if it is any good and burn the rest.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Neodesha, Ks
    Posts
    617

    Default Re: what to do with an old rotten hive with bees in it

    If you do cut Comb out and rubber band it into Frames, be sure that you get the comb oriented into the new Frames the same as it was in to old hive. Be sure to get the TOP of the comb in the TOP OF new frame. The comb will have a slight upward angle that points to the top of the comb. Good Luck and I hope you can save the Bee's

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