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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Auckland, New Zealand
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    Default Spring is coming

    Hi guys, here in New Zealand spring is round the corner, and I am thinking about what to do with my two hives this coming season.
    I have them in single deep boxes at the moment, and they have hardly touched the stores I have left them. Its been a fairly mild winter here and we usually only get a couple of frosts a year in Auckland. I have two boxes of drawn frames and I was thinking of putting them on soon, but not too sure when. The first thing to blossom in our neighborhood is a plum tree next door, last year that was the 5th of September. My first swarm issued on the 14th of Sept, after a few days of storms. I dont have any frames of honey, except for what is in the single brood boxes (maybe 3-4 full frames each). It is the first year I have drawn comb (I just bought an extractor) and I am loath to use it all up for swarm prevention and not maximise the first spring flow. But I guess you cant have your cake...Maybe if I put 4 frames of drawn comb directly above the brood (they are only on 3-4 frames at the moment) and fill the rest with foundation, that will suffice? I can always swap out foundation for comb if they fill up the comb I give them and ignore the foundation....I plan to have them in 2 deeps for spring/summer then split in autumn, requeen and sell 2 of them...., back to one deep for winter
    I also plan to nail up a box in the tree they always swarm to with a single old frame in it, and some frames with started strips. Is a nuc or full box better(nuc would be easier for me) for a swarm trap...
    Also, what is the best way/time to encourage bees to draw comb? Feed em some sugar now or wait till spring proper? I was amazed how quickly the swarm I caught last year drew out a box full of comb on just starter strips, maybe I could let one hive swarm and hopefully catch it, then use that to draw out all the comb I need?
    Final question, I have plastic queen excluders and am interested to leave these out this year. I understand queens will not lay above capped honey? If I managed to get them to fill a couple of shallows with honey I could use this as a QE in the future? Also will be useful for checkerboarding next winter/spring.
    To summarise...
    Q1 Best time to add drawn comb above brood given above dates.
    Q2 Is adding drawn comb only directly above existing brood (3-4 frames) sufficient to prevent swarming
    Q3 Full size or nuc box best as swarm lure/trap
    Q4 Best way to get bees to draw comb? Maximizing honey production is not a big priority for me
    Q5 Can I use a shallow full of honey as a reasonably effective QE? Or not really necessary if I have a top entrance also....
    Sorry for all the questions, feel free to tell me off if I have missed some obvious threads on these subjects, and thanks in advance...

    Matt

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Palm Bay, FL, USA
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    2,297

    Default Re: Spring is coming

    Try getting in touch with Oldtimer on this forum; he's also from Auckland and, like his screen name, is an oldtimer beekeeper. I just have one question for you though. Do you guys Down Under have to turn your supers upside down when putting them on the hive?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,481

    Default Re: Spring is coming

    Wow! You have one deep, you bought an extractor and you are thinking about splits! You might want to talk to somebody down there because I don't think turning the supers upside down is going to do it for ya.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Hawkesville, Ontario, Canada
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    12

    Default Re: Spring is coming

    You guys have it all wrong: http://flourish.org/upsidedownmap/
    Cheers.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Posts
    35

    Default Re: Spring is coming

    Hiya Acebird yeah Ive got two hives that are one deep. Was down to one last year after I had to burn my other two cos they had AFB. The remaining one was in two deeps so I simply separated them and added a queen to the eggless one a week later. I got ~50kgs of honey off them last season. I will PM Oldtimer thanks for the tip fish_stix. Tell you what its **** hard to light a smoker when its upside down..... Oh yeah my varroa count was ZERO for both hives so am happy with that....

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Palm Bay, FL, USA
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    2,297

    Default Re: Spring is coming

    Yeah; I hear that Varroa and SHB can't live upside down for very long! Kinda like fish out of water! As for the smoker, where you live I think you have to light the top of the fuel instead of the bottom like we do here. Then it burns down!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Auckland, New Zealand
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    35

    Default Re: Spring is coming

    I just read http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...entrance/page2 and I reckon Im gonna put 4 or so drawn frames above the current brood surrounded by wired frames with foundation starter strips. Then give em a big feed of sugar (how much, 50/50?) and see how it goes. I can work my way in from the outside as often as I deem fit and stop once I get to brood. Will check out brood once every ten days to look for queen cells/drones/AFB etc... Once plum tree blossoms on goes first super above queen excluder with a top entrance, with remaining drawn come and starter striped frames. Time to spend some honey money.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    5,993

    Default Re: Spring is coming

    Hi Matt, thanks for the pm.

    Before your other questions, have you heard of the Auckland beekeepers Club? It can be googled and will be a good source of local knowledge for you. Secondly, the two hives with AFB, who identified the AFB and do you know where your bees got it from? As to where I live, I'm on the North Shore and my bees are around that area.

    The answer to some of your questions depends just where your bees are, if they are in an urban area they will get a lot more nectar and be fairly active all winter, if they are out of town they will be dependant on whatever flowering plants are within their range but will likely not do as well as they would in town.

    To your questions

    Q1 there is no best time in terms of date, you add room when the bees are ready for it. Once the box is full of bees, ie, bees on outside of outside combs and working them, you can add another box.

    Q2 just adding more boxes, on it's own, is not always enough to prevent swarming. Spreading brood also helps, read up on "checkerboarding". However if your hive currently only has 3 or 4 frames of brood there is a while to go before they'll think about swarming. If they do well they will build up in time to possibly swarm around end of September, so if you add another box, spread the brood also to keep the queen busy.

    Q3 I don't know.

    Q4 bees will draw comb if there is nectar coming in, and they have enough bees. If either of those are absent, they will not draw comb, or hardly any.

    Q5 A shallow of honey will not guarantee the queen will not lay eggs above it. A shallow of honey also weighs a whole lot more and is harder to lift than an excluder. However plastic excluders are restrictive to the bees, they will do better with a wire one. Wether or not to use an excluder is simply a management choice. It is thought that allowing the queen unrestricted access to the whole hive can reduce swarming. But this is dependant on many other factors and while sometimes true, is not always true. The main reason for using an excluder, in NZ conditions, is simply to keep your honey combs from going black and tainting the honey, and to ensure you cannot accidentally remove the queen when harvesting a box of honey.

    EDIT - I've just been thinking about your Q3, some swarms won't fit into a nuc so you'd probably need to go with a full box. For that matter, some swarms won't even fit into one full box, but that's just a very few big ones.
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 07-30-2011 at 12:03 AM. Reason: more info
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Auckland, New Zealand
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    35

    Default Re: Spring is coming

    Thanks for taking the time to A my Qs OT. =)
    Kim from the ABC kindly identified the AFB for me. I have only been to two meetings in as many years, I usually work Saturdays so have let my subs wane this year.....I dont know where it came from, all my gear was new the previous year when I got my two hives, except for the frames the bees came on. Maybe from the guy I got them off, or maybe from a local hive that they found and robbed, was mighty pissed was a lot of $$ up in flames....Luckily one of them swarmed just prior to me discovering AFB (was only in a handful of cells at that stage) and the caught swarm I split so Im back to two, all virgin gear again. They are urban bees right next door to my house with lots of willow around also the council has planted most of Massey in crab apple alongside the road which blossoms prodigiously end of sept there is pohutukawa, citrus , gorse as well as god knows what else. Lots of clover too, I think they have potential to make a lot of honey if I get it right.
    There were lots of bees on the end frame furthest from the brood, both hives. Will add drawn comb next time I have weather and time, and will spread brood if theres more than a few frames of it.They swarmed mid September last year so will get in early. I will use a full box for the swarm lure, have to nail it all together first and get up that tree.... I will use an excluder with top entrances this year I think...
    Thanks again for your advice, local advice is very valuable I think....

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Default Re: Spring is coming

    Yes AFB is really heartbreaking, especially after all the time put into making the gear and working with the bees.

    It sounds like you are in a good area, if you are wanting to get more combs built the best way will be to put a frame right in the middle of the brood nest. The bees in many locations right now are beginning their natural spring buildup. So they start moving stores away from the outer edges of the brood nest to make room for the queen to lay. You can assist the process by moving the combs apart for them, and putting a frame in the middle of the brood. However this must be done with CAUTION. The main thing is to only do it if there are enough bees, that if we have a cold snap and they have to go into a smaller cluster, they can still cover and keep all the brood warm. Over spreading brood can mean some will die if there is a cold snap. Also, you should look for signs that nectar is coming in and being stored, which means they will be happy to build the new combs. Just keep spreading the brood as and when the bees can handle it, then when the whole box is full of bees add another box.

    Re using the top entrances, there are just a few things to be cautious about that. Top entrances main advantage is better ventilation of excess heat, and they are used by some experienced beekeepers with success. But they also have drawbacks. To work with the way bees naturally like to do things, the bees like to put the brood nest close to the entrance, and the honey far away from the entrance. This is what you will find in nearly all wild hives. As there has to be dense bee numbers in the broodnest, this behaviour may have come about as a means to ensure the entrance is well guarded and the honey protected. Bees also naturally like to store honey above the brood. So an entrance at the bottom of the hive works with the bees natural instincts, the way they are most comfortable with. If the entrance is at the top, the bees will still store honey at the top of the hive. But if not much honey is coming in they will try to gradually move the brood nest towards the entrance. But if honey does come in and is stored at the top, when the flow stops, if bee population drops the hive is much more likely to get robbed than if the entrance is at the bottom.

    However I'm not telling you what to do, we only learn by experimenting.

    BTW if you feel the bottom entrance does not give enough ventilation, it's because the bottom boards from Ceracel have entrances that are too narrow, in my opinion. I use bottom boards with an entrance height of 19 mm's (approx. 3/4 inch to you US citizens!) On a big hive when summer is in full swing I'll also make a second entrance by putting chocs on the top two front corners of the second box.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Auckland, New Zealand
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    35

    Default Re: Spring is coming

    Hi and thanks again OT =)
    I made my own SBBs on stands as it gets quite boggy through winter so got them off the ground. They have 20ml high entrances as that was the only size close enough they sold at Mitre10. In the article I linked to above it seems that bottom entrances with top entrances above the excluder as well had the most successful crop/brood size as it negates the need for returning foragers to squeeze through the QE, am keen to try this. I like the idea of not having a QE at all but will try top entrances first. I guess I will just frill holes in the super that I can cork up as/when needed.... They were clustered the other day when the country got dumped on down south. I will do a full inspection next time I can to see exactly what the brood is doing and if there is any nectar coming in, but I think it will be a bit early yet....Not keen to split the brood yet with comb/foundation due to the fact they were clustered up last week, thanks for your advice there. I will keep a close eye on them over the next couple of weeks and once expansion is under way and there is drone brood I will start breaking up the cluster and adding frames above it to expand the brood chamber. This will be my third summer with them and both previous summers all my hives swarmed so am keen to avoid this if at all possible this year, but will hang a lure box anyway just in case. Fortunately I know which tree they go to. I have lived all over the shore except for the Bays so know the area well.... I will do a 3 day mite drop again next week as my 24 hr count was zero a couple days back but have had DWV quite a few times so might put some strips in anyway to keep it low before the supers go on. I love the first honey of spring, its such a beautiful buttery flavour/texture. I used apiguard at the end of last season have you heard of resistance to apistan in Auckland yet? What treatment methods do you use?

  12. #12
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    Jul 2010
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    Default Re: Spring is coming

    Treatment? Hmmm... Well there's a heap of debate about that on this forum, I have my own ideas but not wanting to start a war!
    Yes there is resistance to apistan in Auckland now. As to my own methods it's way too big a subject for one post but basically I have some bees that are chemical treatment free because of the way I manage them ( drone culling, etc...), and some hives I treat chemically. I'll use formic acid sometimes. Just put bayvarol into some hives last sunday as those hives have not been treated with any sp formulation for more than 2 years so ought to have mites with little/no resistance. (Hopefully)

    Just realised it kinda sounds like you have been running your hives in one brood box with an excluder on it? If so, it is virtually gauranteed the hive will swarm you just can't stop them. In this case, running two brood boxes, or no excluder at all as you are planning, will help.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
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    9,481

    Default Re: Spring is coming

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Little View Post
    ....Luckily one of them swarmed just prior to me discovering AFB (was only in a handful of cells at that stage) and the caught swarm I split so Im back to two, all virgin gear again.
    You think it is a good thing to have a swarm from a hive that was infected with AFB?

    I think I would have torched them too if I still wanted to keep bees in the same area.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Posts
    35

    Default Re: Spring is coming

    Acebird - No it was risky but I was out of bees by that stage, and didnt want to spring for a new nuc. There are no signs of AFB in my hives yet, but will keep a close watch. Swarms can rid themselves of AFB by crapping it all out before the arrival of new brood to reinfect, similar to shook swarming which is illegal in NZ. Also the parent hive only had a couple of infected cells so very early infection, I can only hope. If the new hives get it again I will give it all up I think, is too expensive for me to keep buring hives for a hobby.
    OT Yep Ive had them in single deeps through winter only because I split my sole remaining hive early autumn as I didnt want to risk having olny one hive through winter. I will add an extra brood box to each hive with 50/50 drawn comb/foundation starter strips, and put some drawn comb in the brood area tomorrow if weather permits hopefully early enough to prevent swarms. Thanks for your advice re varroa, I am interested in IPM with sugar shakes/drone brood culling etc but will stick with chemical treatments this year, I used bayvarol in my first year but had DWV and high drop counts shortly after remiving the strips so wont use that again. The armitraz worked very well but used it in autumn so am looking for an alternative for spring tx. Maybe the thymol foam pads, aplilife var I think they are called? Used them last year as well but it was very hot and stank out my wee apairy the bees didint like it much....

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Spring is coming

    Apilifevar can work, if conditions are ideal. Something else that can help is to put an unwired frame in the brood nest when drone rearing is about to start. If there is not already much drone cells in the hive the bees will fill this frame with solid drone comb. Allow the queen to lay in it and this comb will act like a magnet for varroa mites. Just before the first drone larvae hatch take the frame out, cut out the drone brood and discard, and put the frame back in the hive. Repeating this three times at the beginning of the season can make a major dent in the varroa population.
    As an ex queen breeder it goes a bit against the grain for me to recommend drone culling. However hives loaded with varroa mites, or chemicals, don't do much for drone fertility either. It is one of the less talked about effects of varroa, that since varroa, it's anecdotal but I'm hearing about MUCH more failure of young queens, and I'm pretty sure it's down to bad mating. In the US, whole complete lines of bees have been wiped out, almost unnoticed, due to varroa.
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 07-30-2011 at 05:10 PM.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Posts
    35

    Default Re: Spring is coming

    Thanks for the tip OT. I will do as you suggest but instead of cutting out the drone brood I think I can just put it in the freezer for a day or so then back in the hive?, the bees will remove the dead drones/mites and then theres more comb for more drones. I will try that if I get them to draw out a whole frame of drone brood....SBBs make it real easy to monitor drop counts so will be keeping a beady wee eye on that....

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Auckland, New Zealand
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    Default Re: Spring is coming

    Well I put an extra brood box on each hive on the 1st with five frames of drawn comb in each with 5 empty frames/starter strips....They have drawn out quite a wee bit already and are moving honey to the top of the new box already, in three days so there must be nectar available, wont bother feeding. Nothing quite like the beauty of freshly drawn comb with the sun shining through it crawling with bees.....All goes well. Spent 180 or so at Ecroyds on frames/boxes so I will have two honey supers/hive plus a spare for my swarm trap.....With the extractor if they fill one I can just spin it out and put em straight back on while the flow is still on, man Im happy Ive finally got one! Must be about 60 years old, pender bros, but still works well =)

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