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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Montpelier, VT
    Posts
    22

    Default Newbie questions

    Hello,
    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!
    Laur

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Montpelier, VT
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Newbie questions

    Wait, I do have more questions!

    I put a sticky board on the bottom and no mites were noted after 3 days. How often do you check with the screened bottom board?
    When should I add drone foundation? Do you add them to the bottom or top super? I would rather not treat and if I do would rather use essential oils.

    Switching frames? I have read that switching the order of frames helps the bees - adding empty frames between newly drawn out ones. But it is only mentioned rarely. What do you do? When? How?

    Again, thank you for any advice,
    Laur

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,487

    Default Re: Newbie questions

    Too much space and the bees will "chimney" up the center of the hive and not use the outside frames. Not a horrible problem, but I suspect your bearding is due to the collapsing comb.

    I never use plain foundation, always crimped wire, and have been crosswiring this year. Nothing worse than warped frames, they are a huge pain.

    I would buy some wire, some good frames, and some wired foundation and put that in place of any frames not fully drawn. Plastic is fine if the bees use it for you, although not all like it very much. Wired foundation, properly installed and cross wired, will not sag significantly and makes for a much nicer hive. I'd leave the rest as is, try not to tip the frames sideways until the firm up, and plan to replace that comb next year when the bees are up in the top box after winter. The comb will get much tougher as the bees use it repeatedly for brood, but it won't get any flatter.

    Wooden frames need to be properly nailed and glued together, else they come apart easily, usually at a very inconvenient time.

    Peter

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,767

    Default Re: Newbie questions

    Welcome to beekeeping! Montpelier is a beautiful place and I hope (expect) your bees to be very happy there.

    It sounds like your wax frames are not properly assembled and/or have the wax foundation improperly installed. I would pull any frames that the bees haven't started drawing out and replace them with plastic.

    I agree with Peter that you have probably added your 2nd deep too soon - I would remove it and keep it off until the bees have drawn and are using 80% of the frames in the brood chamber. I know nothing about propolis traps and so won't offer any advice with them.

    I don't think you should be overly concerned with Varroa until August. First year nucs (You don't say anything about them being over wintered) have generally had a brood break while the introduced queen got established. While there are conflicting thoughts about the effectiveness of a brood break as a treatment for Varroa, most of the time nucs such as yours don't have serious Varroa issues until later their first summer.

    Pay close attention to local conditions and expect to feed the bees during your mid summer dearth.

    As for switching frame positions, When it is time to add your second box I'd move the two outside frames (positions 1 & 10) in a bit (say to 3 & 8). You don't want to break up the area where the queen is laying - rather provide them with foundation so that once drawn they can expand the brood nest. I wouldn't do anything with the drone foundation until all the frames in the bottom deep are drawn. Then insert them about position 3 or 8 and once they are drawn move them to the outside. I will say that I've never been able to get the bees to draw the green plastic drone foundation available commercially and I'm probably going give up on them. Great idea but in practice they didn't work for me.

    One last thought - take the beginner's short course at EAS this summer. It is serendipitous for you that it will be held in Burlington this year and you will have tons of opportunity to learn from lots of different beekeepers. Hope this helps.
    Last edited by Andrew Dewey; 05-20-2012 at 10:03 AM.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Asheville, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    552

    Default Re: Newbie questions

    What kind of frames are you using for the wax foundation? There are specific frames for the different kinds of foundation.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Montpelier, VT
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Newbie questions

    Quote Originally Posted by jadell View Post
    What kind of frames are you using for the wax foundation? There are specific frames for the different kinds of foundation.
    What they came with. It looks pine to us. They came premade - poorly that is. We were told they would be ready to use and no other beefing up was needed. No glue, barely any nails, only minimal horizontal wiring. As this is our first try at beekeeping we thought it would be ok, until we tried to pick one up when we hived the nucs and it literally fell apart in our hands. Thank goodness we had extra. What kind of wood do you recommend? My husband has been putting them back together and we have to get some wire asap to help with the support.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Montpelier, VT
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Newbie questions

    [QUOTE=Andrew Dewey;800377]Welcome to beekeeping! Montpelier is a beautiful place and I hope (expect) your bees to be very happy there.

    It sounds like your wax frames are not properly assembled and/or have the wax foundation improperly installed. I would pull any frames that the bees haven't started drawing out and replace them with plastic.

    Doing that. Thanks!

    I don't think you should be overly concerned with Varroa until August. First year nucs (You don't say anything about them being over wintered) have generally had a brood break while the introduced queen got established. While there are conflicting thoughts about the effectiveness of a brood break as a treatment for Varroa, most of the time nucs such as yours don't have serious Varroa issues until later their first summer.

    They were overwintered so I'll wait.

    Pay close attention to local conditions and expect to feed the bees during your mid summer dearth.

    OK, this might seem like a silly question, but what is a mid summer dearth?



    One last thought - take the beginner's short course at EAS this summer. It is serendipitous for you that it will be held in Burlington this year and you will have tons of opportunity to learn from lots of different beekeepers. Hope this helps.

    I was planning to. Now I definitely will! Thanks!!![/QUOTE]

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,767

    Default Re: Newbie questions

    Quote Originally Posted by mochilaur View Post
    OK, this might seem like a silly question, but what is a mid summer dearth?
    The mid summer dearth is a time when there is no or little natural nectar and pollen available for the bees. Around here it is pretty much the last half of July and the first half of August. For those that use chemical mite treatments it is a time to treat before the fall flow.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Asheville, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    552

    Default Re: Newbie questions

    Look at one of the bee supply websites at the different kinds of frames. I was wanting to know what kind, not what they are made of.

    Wedge top/grooved bottom, Grooved top and bottom, Wedge top/split bottom to name a few.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,764

    Default Re: Newbie questions

    Check this link on frames and foundation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnzAxZDICLc

    I wouldn't worry about making nucs at this point. Your hives are still young. If they start booming though and you have a good flow (nectar/pollen) feel free, especially if they make some queencells. If you wanted too, you could keep one of your hives confined to 1 broodbox (the weaker one at this point) and you could probably get queencells going to split if they get going, especially if your other hive (the stronger one) starts booming and you add brood boxes, you could pull some brood/nurse bees from it to help build a nuc or two.

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