Re: Gypsi's bee story - in one place
So reading through the epitaph, I saw a litany of errors.
1. Feed only when it is necessary, and you have to know some things about the inside of the colony to decide it is necessary.
2. Buy your equipment including suit before you get a colony of bees.
3. $300 for a colony of bees is IMO a bit excessive, note that what you got was a nuc in a box.
4. Get a queen from a known mite tolerant strain, it will save you boat loads of worry over varroa mites.
5. Pick a better mentor. The person described does not sound knowledgeable enough to truly help a beginner get started.
6. Starting a colony of bees from a nuc in a record breaking drought is not likely to succeed. C'est la vie.
7. Know from the beginning that when you open a colony, robbers will be ready.
7.a. Learn a bit about controlling and preventing robbing.
8. Contrary to presumption, in the shade was the correct place for the colony in your climate.
9. When bees start stinging without provocation, there is a major problem. Either they are africanized? or they are being robbed?
10. Supers should only be added when the bees need the room. Your description does not sound like they needed it.
11. HBH has a place, but it does not prevent mites. The mites should have been addressed one way or another in the 2nd colony.
12. Swarms are normally easy to handle without a suit. Caveat if they are africanized, there can be problems.
13. Prepare some spare equipment before hand so it will be available when you have a swarm.
14. Better yet, set out bait boxes for swarms.
15. Your description sounds like the colony swarmed, then went queenless from failure to raise a replacement queen. This is just a guess.
16. Ants indicate a problem inside the colony, it was in serious decline at that point.
17. The only sure way to stop ants is setting the colony on top of oil pots. I've rarely had to do this, but some ant species you gotta.
18. A boardman feeder is a piece of trash that should NEVER be used on a colony of bees.
19. You can buy a chicken waterer that works fairly well as a feeder inside the hive. You need a spare box to put over the feeder.
20. IRS is definitely worse than varroa. You can do something about varroa.
I'm going to stop there even though there are more.
I gave a guy a 3 frame nuc this past spring from my best colony. That colony produced 200 pounds of honey sitting on my front porch. He built a hive to hold them, I gave him 10 frames, 3 full of brood and with a new laying queen, and the rest full of small cell foundation. About all he had to do was carry them home and transfer the frames into his equipment. He had to add a super a month later to hold the honey they were gathering. His colony is strong and so far healthy going into winter. He is expecting to split it into 3 this spring.
Just pointing out that some beekeepers will go out of their way to help a beginner get started at relatively low cost.
NW Alabama, 47 years, 22 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest