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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Beaverton, MI
    Posts
    2

    Embarrassed Renegade Bees Ignore Foundation, Prefer Garden Hive "Attic"

    We are new (as in one-week) beekeepers. We have absolutely no hands-on experience other than our own; what we know we've gleaned from books and a two-day seminar at Michigan State. And we are in a pickle.

    Last weekend we installed our package bees in two English garden hives -- they're smaller than average, 8-frames, with a little peaked roof. We dumped them over the frames (the queen had already somehow gotten out of her cage in the one box, and we kind of fumbled the other one out into the other bees as we were trying to open the box -- no fondant inside). I then, because I didn't know any better, put the inner cover over the bees, then put a two-chambered top feeder over that...I'd seen someone on the Internet do it that way...and then I put the top over the feeder.

    When we opened the hives after a couple of days, we found chaos...no bees in the wax foundations; all the bees up in the roof of the hives, making comb. Apparently they found the upper entrance made by the notched inner cover more to their liking, and "moved in" up there.

    We've tried to ask local beekeepers what to do, but since they all use the standard flat-topped telescoping covers they don't seem to understand what we're saying...and we've just been getting utterly contradictory advise about everything else from them anyway.

    I've pretty much gotten to the point of calling this our "learning year," letting the bees do their own thing and enjoying their pollination services without actually working them. But -- we really do want to learn how to manage hives, and we really do want to harvest honey. And I'm concerned about the bees' welfare, especially in the colder months.

    Can anyone, especially anyone with some experience with the hobby-sized English garden hives, help us? What do we do next? Is there any way at all of persuading them to move into the foundation, short of completely destroying their home now and making them start all over? (Something I'm loathe to do since we've majorly disrupted them twice now, and we've only had them for 9 days.) I'm really feeling like a failure right now.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Brandenburg, KY
    Posts
    332

    Default Re: Renegade Bees Ignore Foundation, Prefer Garden Hive "Attic"

    I assume these are 8 frame Langstroth hives with a peaked copper roof? Cut the comb out of the "attic", use string or rubberbands to hold it in an empy frame without the foundation. If there are brood in the comb, the bees should stay put now. Plug up the notchs in the inner cover for now until they settle down in the frames. You can open the notch up later on after they are established in the hive bodies. If the copper roof has an integrated inner cover, you are going to have to remove it to get them out. They can't stay up there, so the sooner the better. Good luck!!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Renegade Bees Ignore Foundation, Prefer Garden Hive "Attic"

    I am a new beek, but I also have an English hive top so I know exactly what you are talking about. I really like it, but the flat tops I think are better as you can set them down and use them to stack supers on. I have since purchased telescoping tops simply for the practicality sake although English tops look better IMO.

    Anyway, I installed a package in my English top hive with 3 8 frame medium supers (too big for just a package I know, two would have been fine for now). I used an entrance feeder from Brushy Mountain: http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com...ductinfo/422L/ and also installed the inner cover between the top super and the English top. I wonder if it could be that your feeder is above the inner cover that they migrated up there?
    Jim Andersen
    Desert Viking Ranch

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Keno, OR
    Posts
    734

    Default Re: Renegade Bees Ignore Foundation, Prefer Garden Hive "Attic"

    I also use an 8 frame garden hive. Mine came from Dadant and the coper top has a flat board nailed inside of it eliminating extra space. I did watch a lot of videos online, read a lot, and attended online seminars. I also took the class at the local club. It's amazing how many little details you can pick and not one source has them all and all sources do something different. The biggest thing I heard is to spray your foundation with sugar water down. That keeps the bees on those frames for 24 hours leaving their scent all over them. This in return helps them to start to draw wax cells in the same spot. Another thing I've learned it to keep the bottom opening as small as possible and to close off the top opening by simply sliding the coper top back. I would suggest to cut a piece for plywood to cover the top feeder and get rid of the extra space until you've got them settled where they are supposed to be.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Butler County, PA, USA
    Posts
    79

    Default Re: Renegade Bees Ignore Foundation, Prefer Garden Hive "Attic"

    I started last year with 2 of the English copper top hives (bought a third this year). The covers sure are heavy so there's no need to put a brick on the top.

    One of my newly installed packages was stubborn too, lots of bees stayed between the top and the inner cover. I have plastic frames, so I took a few and slopped melted wax and sprayed sugar water on them. Wasted a lot of wax but the bees didn't seem to mind, they 'put things right' even where I had filled the holes completely.

    Between the extra wax and sugar water on the frames, they consulted each other and decided the frames were a better place to live. I did notice they worked the frames first with the most wax... So my waste and sloppiness actually benefited me this one time

    I would also move the inner cover to above the feeder, Brushy Mountain says it should be placed there... But I don't honestly know why it would make a big difference.
    http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com...oductinfo/262/


    Good luck,

    Larry

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,144

    Default Re: Renegade Bees Ignore Foundation, Prefer Garden Hive "Attic"

    Your problem is very simple to explain- bees do prefer to build wild comb rather than to draw foundation. The whole point of a lanstroth hive and bee space is that they don't have any choice other than to draw out the foundation.

    As mentioned you coul do a cut out and tie in, but if you don't want to do that you could just leave the attic comb alone for now and remove the inner cover so that once the attic is full they will draw the foundation. At some point the attic comb will either be full of honey or empty as the brood nest naturally moves down- and you can correct it then. In the mean time you need to put a shim or some strips of styrofoam beteen the hive body and the outer cover or it will be very hard to get off.

    The cut out/tie in is probably better if you are up to it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,593

    Default Re: Renegade Bees Ignore Foundation, Prefer Garden Hive "Attic"

    Bees are not attracted to foundation at all. They always prefer to build their own comb and you left them a place to do it. A screen over the hole they used to get to the attic will be necessary after you cut them out and tie them in frames...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Franklin, NC USA
    Posts
    118

    Default Re: Renegade Bees Ignore Foundation, Prefer Garden Hive "Attic"

    2 of my 4 hives are these exact same hives and I use the Brushy Mtn wooden top feeders. When i have the feeders on, I just put them on top of the super, and no inner cover at all. Just put the copper top right on top of the feeder. I have had no problems this way.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Pinehurst, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    226

    Default Re: Renegade Bees Ignore Foundation, Prefer Garden Hive "Attic"

    mmm.. so this must be why they say not to use inner covers with top feeders. i've always wondered.
    ...This, and my heart, and all the Bees
    Which in the Clover dwell.

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