We are totally new to beekeeping and our mentor has moved far away. Please help!
Yesterday I checked our 2 new hives - we picked up the nucs last week. Both nucs have plastic foundation but we have the first hive set up with beeswax foundation, the second on plastic with beeswax painted on. We have 10 frame langstroth. We have setups for both plastic and beeswax. We are trying different things so we can experiment and decide for ourself what we like. We had bought our beeswax frames from a local supplier and they were so shoddy my husband added support to the frame itself as just touching them they fell apart. We did not have extra wire to add horizontal support. (We will not buy from them again!) When hiving them both nucs had some swarm cells at the bottom of 1 frame. I cut them off and was curious and a bit worried but hopeful we had a good queen and all was well. I never found her on either (they were supposed to be marked but the beekeeper we bought them from said he couldn't do it because the weather had been so poor the week before). They looked great as far as we can tell with brood and larvae easily found.
I fed both hives - the first with the jar feeders, the second with the plastic bags. The second hive ate alot - had to refill the bags, the first hardly any. I removed both feeders this week. SO many different opinions on when to feed and I just wanted to give them a start in their new home. I did notice that the second hive had less activity than the first. I wondered if it was because they were eating more of my feed. I fed a 1:1 sugar syrup. We live in Vermont and so much is blooming and we can see pollen on the bees legs.
I checked the hives yesterday (week 1) and could hardly check the first hive the beeswax was bowing and one actually fell out of the frame. That did not make for happy bees! I was as careful as could be but with the heat of the day and weightt of the drawn out combs it was difficult. I decided to stop checking our frames. As far as I can see the 5 frames we picked up are fully drawn out, and 1 or 2 more maybe. I know 2 are empty as I pulled them first. I was able to see eggs and larvae.
The second hive looked ok as far as I could tell. It looked different from the first but hard to say how. Less bees maybe? Beautiful colourful patterns. I did not see eggs, but did see larvae. Only 2 new frames were being drawn out, the other 5 original seemed full.
I put propolis traps on hive one because I want to try to get that going and everything I read suggested starting it at any time was ok. I took the innercover off and plopped it on and then added the telescoping cover.
That night, there was a ton of bees on the front of the entrance of hive one. We took the propolis trap off and then added a second deep super full of the plastic frames (sorry but I am so very unimpressed with the pure beeswax at this point and plastic was all we had that we trusted - we will strengthen them and use them but last night was not possible). I know they were probably trying to just cool off the hive as the ventilation was lacking - but since I had cut off swarm cells when I hived them I was concerned. I also did not know exactly how much was drawn off - it may have been 70% or more). My concern is maybe it was way too early. In my panic I overreacted for sure, but now am hoping I did not create a situation that is not good for the bees. I wanted to add ventilation and extra space in case they were swarming. Will they continue to fill up the bottom super? The weather is lovely and should be from here on out - though one or two light frosts are always possible.
This morning there were bees in the top hive and as I couldn't find the queen for certain I am leaving it on. Nothing is drawn out yet.
Hive one seems to have alot more bees than hive two -but it is hard to say for sure.
Another question, I am interested in starting my own nucs. When is the best time? This year? Next? There is a workshop in July I plan to go to but cannot decide whether to have equipment ready to start my own or just attend this year and listen. After last nights experience I wonder if it isn't a good idea to split this year.
Thoughts, suggestions, advice? Thank you in advance!