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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri
    Posts
    10

    Default Found old boxes.

    So I am moving onto a old family farm that hasn't been touched in 10 years. On the property are two "bee boxes", and I have been doing a little reading to see if it is something I would like to take up. Before I buy anything, I would like to see if there is anything to salvage from the old hive.
    What is the safest and most economical way to take a look and see what I have? When I looked at them the other day, there was a live bee that crawled into the top. I am near St. Louis Mo if weather is a factor.

    When I go back, I am going to try to see if I can ID the type, and take a more educated look.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by george314; 02-06-2013 at 07:53 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,025

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    If you suspect there may actually be bees in these hives, I'd recommend having at least a veil protecting yoru face before opening them up on a warm spring day. The boxes, tops and bottom boards may be salvageable depending on condition.

    Consider contacting a local bee club. Perhaps they could connect you with a nearby beekeeper who would be willing to come over and take a look:
    http://mostatebeekeepers.org/local-associations/

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Pickens County, South Carolina, US
    Posts
    823

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    Very interesting to find old boxes that are occupied. And everyone says bee keeping takes a lot of effort. :-)
    I'm interested in what advice you get from the pros. Sounds like a good find.

    Welcome to the site from another newbee.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Franklin Co, PA, USA
    Posts
    170

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    George --
    First, congratulations and good luck with your move. Strongest recommendation would be to seek a local beekeeping organization for their help. If you have live bees and enter the hive this early in the year, you will stress the bees and may get stung. Best to wait for warm and calm weather when the bees have some food available for foraging. It is likely that older boxes will be sealed with propolis (a thick resin collected by the bees) and the boxes may disintegrate when you open them. Again, best to have an exerienced beekeeper at your side with a smoker, hive tool, and extra boxes and frames to transfer the bees to a new home if necessary. If the boxes are empty, you should consider taking a beekeeping class and starting hives - it's an interesting and challenging hobby that will integrate well with your rural life. Again, good luck and let us know how you fare.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Southbury, CT
    Posts
    84

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    Sounds to me like a family member may have allowed a beek to use the property as an outyard and you don't know about it. I would check with who ever has legal deed to the property before I start messing with somebodies hives.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
    Posts
    1,096

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    How warm was it when you saw one bee?
    When it gets in the 50s and sunny there should be a bunch flying.
    If that's the case I would feed them, you don’t know how much they have left on the hive until you can inspect. Mix a quart of syrup 2 to 1 white sugar and pour some on a scrap piece of plywood 20 ft from the hive on a warm day when they are flying. I would also put dry sugar above the inner cover, not too much the lid won’t close. Don’t open the hive if it cold.

    If you’re not ready to commit to buying anything yet, you can use a mesh laundry bag and a brimmed hat as a veil, gloves and duct tape, almost any jacket and jeans, a flat screw driver can be used like a hive tool. I've also made a smoker from a metal watering can. I would wait until mar to inspect the hive.

    Take pictures and post them here.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Crenshaw County, Alabama
    Posts
    1,900

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    Quote Originally Posted by keeper View Post
    Sounds to me like a family member may have allowed a beek to use the property as an outyard and you don't know about it. I would check with who ever has legal deed to the property before I start messing with somebodies hives.
    As keeper mentioned, these may belong to a local beekeeper. Do the hives look to be in fairly good condition or like they've been sitting there a long time? Signs of excess wood deterioration/condition of paint? Weeds and grass shorter around them than elsewhere? Etc., etc.,.

    See if you can see any numbers or letters (or even a name) on any of the woodenware. If the numbers are to be found they are normally found on the boxes and frames, though they may very well be elsewhere (top cover, bottom board). Numbers and letters could be the beekeeper's registration number or brand. Checking this number with your state apiarist could reveal the owner.

    Best wishes,
    Ed

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    Thanks for the replies! I think I am going to try and find someone locally to help out, or just leave them alone and set up a couple more in the same spot. The prices seam low enough that it would be the best route. The day I saw the bee it was in the low 40s, but sunny. It was a warm up from the week before.

    I'm going back out this weekend, and will take a better look. I would doubt they are still being used, but may not be as old as I think. Either way, it has opened me up to something I never gave a thought to. Plus, I'm not able to set up my coral reef tank at this house. I'll have to fill in the gap with something.
    Last edited by george314; 02-06-2013 at 08:03 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Kingsport, Sullivan, Tennessee
    Posts
    780

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    When you go back, try to take some pics to post here. That will help a lot. -js

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    So I decided to go sooner. It's 60 here today, and there are hundreds in and out of the one box.. I was getting buzzed 15' away. The other one doesn't show any life. I talked to my mom, and she said that no one comes out here and from the looks of it, she is correct. Don't judge the setup to hard. Hopefully I can get a healthy hive out of it.


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Kingsport, Sullivan, Tennessee
    Posts
    780

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    They look serviceable enough. Can you get close enough to observe the bees coming and going? If so, are any bringing in pollen? that would be a sure sign of a living colony. Otherwise, it could be robbing behavior. You may have a great find here.

    Find a local mentor to go through them with you as soon as it is warm enough. If the one is indeed a viable colony and the other is a deadout, you may be able to make a split of the living colony using the woodenware from the deadout. Starting with 2 colonies is far better than starting with one. In the meantime, you could take the woodenware from the deadout and clean it up/repaint. Get new frames for it.

    Any idea how long these bees have been here undisturbed?

    -js

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    I can see them coming and going but don't feel comfortable getting much closer. What exactly would I be looking for, behavior wise?
    My grandpa passed away in 02, and my mom is sure no one has messed with them since.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Wayne City, Illinois
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    Anywhere near St Louis there should be plenty of local folks to help you out.
    If you have trouble finding someone let me know, I might be able to give you a couple contacts depending on where you are.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
    Posts
    1,096

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    Nice hive

    Buy some bees stuff, stay away from kits and combos buy just what you need. go to "Forum: How to Start Beekeeping" lots of good info.

    I usually get really close to the hive if I go to the side, buzzed by is fine if I get head butted then it's time to stay away. It will take some time to learn your bees manner. I would still feed them. This time of the year is when hives starve.

    You might want to split your hive in end of Mar (you already have a spare hive) they will most likely swarm in mid Apr, a new beek should start with at least two hives.

    Also learn about and how to monitor your mites.

    Where in St Louis are you?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
    Posts
    2,367

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    CONGRATULATIONS!! Looks like you most likely already a beekeeper. A local beekeepers organization or mentor would be invaluable. You can also read a lot, and Beekeeping For Dummies is a good place to start (12 bucks on Amazon). Mr. Bush has a great website full of info which is excellent. http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm
    As stated before, the easiest thing for a newbie to tell if the hive is vital is to see if they are bringing in pollen (without opening it up). That doesn't guarantee all is well, but it will tell you there is a living colony in the hive.
    Good luck and welcome to a wonderfully addictive hobby.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Vermontville, Michigan
    Posts
    88

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    I would definitely get in touch with a local beek club, do some reading (I'll second the Beekeeping for Dummies book. I use it still, and love it.) I wouldn't worry too much about getting in and feeding them, inspecting them, etc. until you decide if you want to take the plunge. They've survived on their own for the last 10 years or so, why mess with them now, before you're ready?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    It was raining so I took a look in the other two. (I didn't notice the one was two stacks.) They were totally empty except for little bits or comb in the corners and some beetles. I know they are a pest, but should I just burn these ones, or will they be an ongoing problem?



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    longton, kansas USA
    Posts
    596

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    !!! SCORE !!!!!!!!!!!! u just scored some great Ferrel bees my friend. dont worrie about a great honey flow this first year...just get them under control, split them if you can and look to next year. check for SHB if u found them in that one hive.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
    Posts
    2,367

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    Quote Originally Posted by george314 View Post
    It was raining so I took a look in the other two. (I didn't notice the one was two stacks.) They were totally empty except for little bits or comb in the corners and some beetles. I know they are a pest, but should I just burn these ones, or will they be an ongoing problem?
    There is always a risk when using old equipment that it will have a disease that can infect a new colony. The one of major concern is AFB (American Foul Brood), as the spores can be viable for decades. Once the colony has AFB your choice is pretty much continuous antibiotic treatment or to burn the whole thing. Pest (such as beetles, mites or mice) are not really a problem from old hive bodies.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OKC, OK USA
    Posts
    2,869

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    Interesting, a seven frame box with very wide top bars....maybe homemade??
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

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