Results 1 to 19 of 19
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Brainerd, MN
    Posts
    533

    Default Lack of a harvest

    So I have had my tbhs now for two years and it seems that I always lack a harvest and even have to feed in the fall. My second year warre had a small harvest and my first year foundationless langs had a harvest. So what's the deal? I can't get my bees to build comb past about two thirds from the entrance. Maybe next year will be different, but after watching my warre and Lang outperform both of my tbhs...I am about to give up. I really love working my tbhs. The bees seem to be calmer and I squish much less bees, but maybe it's time to transfer bees over and convert the wooden ware.
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,172

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    Dan, I don't regret starting with a TBH. In fact, if I hadn't, I don't think I would have started beekeeping because the start up costs of a Lang. are so high. I started with a TBH Year one (Michael Bush design) and then switched to Langs in year 2 with equipment that I was given from a contact on Beesource, and Mann Lake PF frames.
    If your goal is to make honey I think that perhaps a Lang would suit you better. Is your location an issue? Is there much bee forage in Brainerd?
    I think that if I were to dust off my TBH and put it into production it would be for queen raising as queen cells built in a TBH under the swarm urge are about as natural as can be.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Brainerd, MN
    Posts
    533

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    Where I am at we get a very intense flow. At this point I don't have enough comb to hold the nectar that the bees bring in. My bees don't build comb fast enough and swarm. And this holds true with all my hives. So I am hoping that I can get passed this soon, but my tbh bees don't move to far from the entrance before they swarm.

    Honey harvest isn't a huge goal, but I would be crazy to say that I didn't want honey. Using my tbhs as a queen raising system would be fine with me I suppose. I am just beginning to think that my tbhs will never produce honey. At some point you have to ask yourself why do I have to keep pumping sugar into these hives?
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Denison, Texas
    Posts
    510

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    What type of bees do you have? I don't think it's your hive, it's the bees.
    Are they swarm happy? Do you have Langs to compare it to?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,438

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    Great question Steve. I was going to ask the same thing!
    I have found that a little more aggressive the bee, the faster they build comb.
    The swarm for the TBH was in the beginning of June and they have filled 28 of the 29 bars as of Aug 30th. I had harvested one bar completely filled with capped honey back in July.
    They do get a little pissy (head butting) but that's about it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,887

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    Brother Adam once said That the American Honey bee is the lousiest example of a honeybee he had ever worked with. They were bred to pollinate and produced very poor honey crops. Sounds like your TBH bees are related to the stock he had acquired

    This statement is true. In the USA the bulk of the revenue earned by beekeepers is from Pollination. So over time we have bred bees that are better at pollinating and not very good at putting up reserves. They get fed every year when they are in a commercial operation so why should they put away stores? When they are sold as a split or package out of a commercial operation (or swarm out) and we hive them we expect them to produce honey.... But that is not what they are used to doing. This is why we have to work on stock improvement constantly. Selecting from the strongest most productive hives...
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Denison, Texas
    Posts
    510

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    Well, my bees aren't really agressive IMO, but I wouldn't work them without a veil and gloves.
    I do know that if there's an open bar, or an area of the hive without comb they're working on
    putting comb in it. That's why I asked about what type of bee Dan has. I've only kept one
    type of bee, so I don't have experiance to guage if they might be a swarmy type or what.
    For example, I've heard where russians are swarmy and AHB will swarm or abscond easily.
    Trying to find some clues as to why he'd have bees that swarm easily, just in his top bar.
    Dan, do you have pictures and or dimensions of your hives? Also, when and how much
    do you feed them? I would like to keep this thread going to see if we can come up
    with a plan to help. Changing stock was my first idea but,I think it might be a little late to
    do any requeening in MN this season.
    Last edited by Steven Ogborn; 09-09-2012 at 03:16 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,428

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    I was going to ask the same question about the dimensions of hive. There doesn't seem to be a universal truth when it comes to the size of top bars hives, but you can have one that is too small. But I have noticed a bunch of folks with "golden mean" hives produces lots of swarms. What is the inside width, wall angle and inside depth of you hive?

    The funny thing is that on a cutout I have seen a hive an a roof were the distance between top and bottom was about 4 inches and the width was 16 inches. Thing was packed full of honey and even had honey in reserve from previous a year(s). Then again, no one was giving them sugar water!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Brainerd, MN
    Posts
    533

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    Sorry for my lack of response. Spotty Internet is getting to be a big hassle.

    Anyways...I have tbhs, warres, and langs. My langs are 8 frame deeps with medium supers. My tbhs are larger than the chandler and three feet and another four feet. All of my bees came from the same source. Carniolan bees. Nucs with queens from Hawaii I believe.

    I have been keeping bees for two years now. Last year I started with a warre and a tbh. Both wintered well. My tbh swarmed in its first year and second year. The nectar flow hits and they backfill the brood nest. This year I tried to keep ahead of them, but was only able to split them when I found the queen cells.

    My second year warre gave me some harvest this year. I don't believe they have swarmed yet.

    My first year langs have also given me some harvest. My stronger Lang swarmed in their first year as well. The flow hits and the queen cells go up. I suspect that part of the issue is lack of available comb. Once I have some extra comb maybe things will get better, but right now they don't build fast enough.

    As far as feeding. This year I haven't fed them until fall now. I left them alone in the spring. My tbhs seem to put almost no honey away. One doesn't even seem that interested in their feed. Still some goldenrod and aster around. So maybe that will change when things fully dry up.
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,222

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    In the USA the bulk of the revenue earned by beekeepers is from Pollination. So over time we have bred bees that are better at pollinating and not very good at putting up reserves. They get fed every year when they are in a commercial operation so why should they put away stores? When they are sold as a split or package out of a commercial operation (or swarm out) and we hive them we expect them to produce honey.... But that is not what they are used to doing. This is why we have to work on stock improvement constantly. Selecting from the strongest most productive hives...
    Well yes......and no. While its true that the bulk of beekeepers income currently comes from pollination that has only been the case in about the past 5 years not in the decades and decades before. Very few large Midwestern honey producers even attempted to go west into California until the interstate highway system made it feasible to haul truckloads through the mountains long after WW2.
    Speaking for ourselves honey production is still the primary criteria we select for when choosing breeders and pollination is still not even close to being our main income source. Commercial beekeepers that also plan on almond pollination want large hives early in the season for honey production and they don't want the clusters to shrink much in the fall and winter. Yes, that takes supplemental feeding, quite a bit of it but that has nothing to do with their ability to make honey and lots of it when the nectar is available. There is no such conditioning response that I have ever observed that would back up the theory that bees that are fed during nectar deaths are unable to produce honey when the conditions change.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Postville, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    380

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    Quote Originally Posted by Bush_84 View Post
    ...The nectar flow hits and they backfill the brood nest. This year I tried to keep ahead of them, but was only able to split them when I found the queen cells....
    I think I'd explore management techniques first before I get into blaming the bees. In fact, I think this statement may be the key reason why you are having trouble with your TBHs.

    Have you tried inserting an empty bar or two inside the brood nest a couple-three weeks ~before~ your big nectar flow? Or tried adding several empty bars in the "front" of the hive -- in other words, move the whole colony back away from the entrance?

    Michael Bush discusses the former and Delta Bay has talked about the latter as being really helpful. From what I could tell this year, my two colonies took these empty bars as an invitation to build comb and expand the brood nest in advance of the big June flow in my region. I've had a nice harvest so far this year, even allowing for the drought we've had.

    This is only my second year, however, so take my suggestions with a grain of salt -- next year could be a whole different deal!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,428

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    I'm wondering if maybe you should re-queen in the early spring. Not saying that there is anything wrong with the Carnies you have, but all of them are from the same location. Get a little bio-diversity. It didn't sound like you had a whole lot of production from any of your hives. You may want to stick with Carnies since they will probably fair better off up there in your climate.

    You could potentially do a split with your Lang, and put in the queen from the TBH in a nuc with some brood/stores from your lang. Put the new queen in the TBH. This way you can keep the old queen as an insurance policy. If things work out you end up with another hive that you can either keep or sell to someone.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Winhall, VT
    Posts
    1,066

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    You mention swarming quite a bit. I have never heard of a hive that swarmed pulling in a ton of excess honey. Perhaps next year you need to step up your inspection schedule, be proactive when signs of swarming show, and find a way to keep most of the bees for honey production.
    Raising Vermont Bees one mistake at a time.
    USDA Zone 5A

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    145

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    I wonder if you start adding bars up front in the hive...right in the middle of the brood area and keep sliding things towards the back, if they'll draw this comb out and help keep things from swarming? I dont know if it will help your honey harvest, if they have a place to put it instead of lack of comb it might fix the issue.

    I built a moveable frame feeder...started with a partial hive and moved it towards the back as they drew out comb. Early on I moved it straight to the back with some partial bars drawn which for some reason really slowed things down.....I dont know if it helped them with temp control....or getting them to move to the rear of the hive, regardless it worked.

    My hives are small though, (golden mean plans) and I'm running russians, or mix russian carni's...not exactly sure anymore.

    I didnt get any harvest this year and I had to feed both hives to fill them up. In one hive I believe that was my fault, I removed a couple full bars to create room when I could have been making honey afraid they would swarm. The other hive got off slow, took a hit when I lost the queen, another slow start...basically spent the main flow making comb. Eventually they caught up and plugged it with capped honey along with some sugar syrup. I am hoping I didnt over feed them! I decided to leave them with everything though i think I could have pulled a couple bars out of one hive and been ok being I had bars of empty comb to replace them with. The other hive is finally getting to a point I think its ready for winter....better hurry we are running out of time quick! about 0 flying right now!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Moyock, NC, USA
    Posts
    207

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    Hey Dan,
    Do you have entrances on both ends? My TBH s do and they seem to build comb almost the whole way. You can always close it (the extra entrance) back up.
    You can build a hive or two and have them empty, ready with attractant, and waiting for when they do swarm. The bees are going to find the nicest, closest spot to make their new hive anyway. I intend to do just that to prepare for spring. They say the TBH is a swarm machine...Maybe its true.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Brainerd, MN
    Posts
    533

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    Last year being my first year I didn't do much. I used my fb and kept space at the end and occasionally added an empty. Note that I have entrances on the far side to try to mimic the warre cold way. I do have a single entrance on the other side, but it is always closed.

    This year I have been more agggressive. Just before the dandelions I added about four empties between the entrance and the brood nest. As the dandelions started I added a few empties in the brood nest. I wasn't enough and I found that they built out literally dozens and dozens of queen cups. I decided to split instead of wait and see. As it turns out they were nearly all empty. I took the queen away with four combs of sealed brood and adhering bees. I also made another smaller split with queen cells. The mother hive made a queen just fine and the smaller split made a runt queen that never mated well and eventually went queen less. So they got put in with the other split.

    Looking back, maybe I should have waited to split, but then again at the time looking ahead my work schedule and weather forecast made me act instead of watching. Next year I will be more aggressive. Maybe double the bars between the entrance and brood nest. Maybe I will have to add more empty bars in the brood nest. I always hear about over stressing the bees by doing so, but maybe I need to kick that thought out. Maybe I need to start think of adding space to the point of stressing them.

    Do you think that by opening the back entrance would help? I have considered it, but got concerned about another entrance to guard. However if you guys think it will encourage comb building and expansion I am down.

    I am going to buy Mann lake packages next year, which will be Italians, but then again most of my hives are mutts now. When my tbh swarmed last year I got a yellow queen and she even made golden drones. So I suspect that they have a fair amount of Italian in them now. So both of my tbhs are mutts, my warre is still carni, one of my Lang is mutt, and the other is still full cari.

    So...very much open to further suggestions.

    Edit-this year I tried setting up a couple of bait hves, but no dice. I set up two warre boxes smothered in propolis and wax. I even set it on the roof for some elevation. Had a good view. Saw a few scouts, but that's it. I do have empty equipment laying all over as well. Got a bunch of used eight frame deeps from a guy that I am looking to expand into. I am starting to think that I will never see a swarm unless I find one of mine.
    Last edited by Bush_84; 09-10-2012 at 08:38 PM.
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Canada BC Delta
    Posts
    419

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    Having spare worker brood combs to add to the front of the brood nest would be helpful in giving the queen more room to lay. Without this you could try, about 10 days before swarm season splitting the queen off with the brood comb she is on and a couple of pounds of bees from the back of the main TBH where the comb builders are. Feeding the split to help in brood comb production. Take some of the combs of brood from her to add to the front of the main TBH when available. The main hive will produce queen’s cells which all but one should be removed 7 to 10 days after the split. Don't give the main hive any open space in front of or in the brood nest until the new queen is lying. Just brood combs with brood or the bees will most likely build storage comb on the empty bars. You can work the old queen split back into the main TBH less the old queen.

    You could also take empty brood combs from the main hive for the old queen to lay in when the main hives brood combs are empty of brood waiting for the new queen to begin laying.

    This will help to push combs to the back end of the hive keep a good population plus help avoid swarming and losing your honey harvest.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    145

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    keefis, I do not...but I didnt have issues with them drawing comb either....I had to pull comb from the strong hive was afraid they'd swarm..the weak hive was slow due to loosing a queen. I think I have enough gaps I dont need the 2nd entrance for moisture issues anyways and plan on overwintering indoors.....

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    145

    Default Re: Lack of a harvest

    Honestly I dont know if a rear entrance would help or not...especially if you're feeding. Feeding itself might be a good way to get them to finish drawing it out...it worked in both of mine anyways....I was in the hive every few days once they started drawing things out to see where they were at....maybe too much being a new beek. But I did move the feeder back as needed....when I moved it back thinking they were good to go adding the rest of the bars they really slowed down.....our temps have been cool...I think the cooler temp inside and the distance they had to go for the syrup being much greater slowed things way down. Feeding will get them to draw before the main flow happens...remove the feeder if you see fit when the flow goes off...in the mean time it'll get them building comb. They may just not have the resources to do it..than wam a good flow comes, no comb to store, they plug up fast and swarm?....sounds good in theory

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads