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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    This one and one other look home made. From my uneducated guess, it looks like there are four deep boxes setup as individual setups. (stacked two high) and then the one I took the first pictures of. There are a lot of fruit trees, berry bushes, and use to be a corn field. He may not have had them set up jusy for honey.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,762

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    Looks like you have found a survivor bee colony. It is hard to know how long that they have been living there. The hive bodies are a bit worn out from the outside.
    If diseases are a concern then invest in new equipments after you have a better look to evaluate. Then transfer the bees into the new hive if you want to keep them. If beekeeping is your new hobby then at the minimum you have to protect your face with a veil. Then protect your hands with a pairs of nitride plastic gloves. These are not expensive to buy. Use a flat head screw driver or something flat to pry the frames because they are sticky by now. Buy a LED miner's light with both white and red color bulb. The red light is what you want to turn on at night time for inspection because the bees cannot see the red color. But you can at night time with the Red led light on. You can use the bright light on the farm too with rechargeable batteries. Very handy to free up both hands when working at night time. Is it safe to check at night time where you live without any snakes or critters under the hive or inside the bushes? Better check around first before it gets dark outside just before sundown that you cannot see anymore. Safety first, o.k. A 5 minutes quick check to open up and lift out a frame to inspect is enough time I think.
    Then you can play all you want with your new found bees. Keep us posted on your first hive check, o.k. Look for how many frames of bees, what color they are, general health conditions, and pests, etc.
    Next is to identify the bees you have. Might be Carniolan though. And moved them out of the bushes if you decide to keep them later on. How fun like finding candy again or is it honey?

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,492

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    Looks like someone's foundationless home-made frame experiment using standard boxes.

    They look fine, although I would have repainted them before they peeled so badly.

    If you know they don't belong to a family member, put a note on them with your cell phone number, quite likely somone set them up there in the last couple years and will be back to check on them (or not) later when it warms up more. At that point you will have to discuss ownership. The tops were weighted for winter, so the owner may still be interested.

    If you get no response and no one comes around by April, I'd not worry too much, just enjoy them.

    I do recommend standard sized frames though.

    Peter

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    I found a little store that was more than happy to talk for a while. I picked her brain and picked up a veil, gloves, and hive tool. Hopefully that will get me a look without stings.

    Wish me luck!

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,762

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    You can reduce the chance of sting by gently smoking them too. I would be very careful if not using a smoker. Then when they
    get mad there is nothing to calm them down. If you check them in the day time they will certainly be all over you if they are not
    the gentle type bees. With aggressive bees even smoking they will still try to sting and chase you. But if you can check on them just before sundown then they will be much calmer compare at noon time. I usually check on my hive around 5pm after they had settled down after a
    day of hard work. I don't use smoker anymore but a red LED miner's light to see them. Keep us update on how it goes.

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    I didn't have any problems with the bees, but the boxes are full of comb going every witch way. They were defiantly there but not overflowing the top super like I was expecting. The one frame I tried to pull out, pulled apart and this is what was inside. I didn't want to dig any deeper without feedback. Thanks!







  7. #27
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,762

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    Hopefully you will have many feedback on this issue. Looks like not enough bees to keep the combs moist. I think the bees are good since they are gentle bees, for now. The aggressive bees will chase you once opened the hive.
    It is all up to you now whether or not to save them. Since I don't see any reserved honey, the hive is just start building up by now. If were me, I would transfer the bees home in a safe location that I can manage them better. I would also put in a new hive at the bottom of these hives. Maybe then the queen bee (if there is one) will start laying on the bottom hive. Also, to take out some of these old combs and replace them with the new standard type frames. The focus is to get rid of these bad combs and save the good straight ones. Don't have to buy the expensive frames just the one that the bees can accept on this first season.
    Any future expansion is to get rid off these old combs (little at a time) and build new ones into your new hive with straighter, better combs. So maybe going into the Fall with a good honey crop. Feed them if not enough population for a quick expansion. Now is the time to find out if there is a queen bee inside and how many frames of worker bees still left or any new brood or larvae.

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,492

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    Looks like a home-made equipment experiment gone wrong. Empty bars with inadequate space between them in standard Langstroth boxes, perhaps an attempt at a Warre hive, but the bees didn't make straight comb and the beekeeper (or more likely "bee haver" since they didn't fix it) didn't correct the problem. If that is the case, you have not a Langstroth hive but a box hive, and getting comb out isn't possible, really.

    Probably no point in trying to fix that comb, the whole box is going to be a tangle of comb with honey and brood intermixed.

    I would put a box on TOP with standard deep frames in standard box (or narrow frames, either will work). Check regularly, and when you find the queen up in there, as I suspect you will, put an excluduer underneath. In three weeks, all the brood down below will have emerged and you can remove the bottom boxes, add another deep or whatever box you want on top, then rip the bottom boxes apart and shake out the bees in front of the hive. They will go back into the new hive.

    Later this spring you could also "drum" them up into a new box of foundation -- you don't want to do this until there is a good flow on since they won't have stores or brood for a while, at least until you can get some comb out of the bottom and rubber-banded into frames.

    I would definitely get rid of those frames, though. The boxes are fine. The factory ones are standard Lang, and I assume the home-made mediums are standard size and configuration. Get some standard frames and foundation to move them onto -- I suggest foundation because they have already made a mess, and are likely to do the same thing if you try foundationless frames.

    As you can see, bees are VERY adaptable!

    Later this spring, on a nice 65 or 70 degree day, you need to get those boxes apart and see what's in the rest of the hive. If the lower boxes are empty, as I suspect they are since there are bees and empty comb in the top, you can turn them upside down and cut the frames free from the sides and lift the box off the combs, then do whatever you want with them. Given the overly wide frames, I would NOT expect proper comb, they would be too far apart, most likely a tangled, solid blob. If the boxes won't pry apart, use some fine wire to saw between them and cut the propolis and comb between them.

    If you can tilt the hive with one hand, you should also feed them, you want to keep those bees!

    Peter
    Last edited by psfred; 02-17-2013 at 07:44 AM.

  9. #29
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Gloucester County, New Jersey
    Posts
    213

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    How can everyone tell that these are "survivor" bees and not a swarm that moved in last year?. How do we know this hive hasn't "died" every year and a new swarm hasn't moved in to replace them?

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Kingsport, Sullivan, Tennessee
    Posts
    786

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    I second what Peter said. It doesn't look as if there is much comb that is salvageable. After the process is done, you can render out the wax. -james

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,492

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    You cannot tell if they were there for years or just moved in. However, they made it through the winter in either case without beekeeper intervention, and they cost only the effort of getting them into a decent hive. Much cheaper (and at this point, much more available) than a package.

    Peter

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    Peter: Thanks for the detailed reply, sounds like a plan. After getting in there, I knew the frames and probably supers are done. I'm going to buy a smoker and a deep with frames for the next step. Hopefully they except the nice new addition!

    Eddie: That crossed my mind a few times. They have an empty hive 4' away. I assume they may have moved around a few times over the years.


    I'm going to start a new thread once the new stuff is in place..

    Thanks again!!

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
    Posts
    1,188

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Honey View Post
    How can everyone tell that these are "survivor" bees and not a swarm that moved in last year?. How do we know this hive hasn't "died" every year and a new swarm hasn't moved in to replace them?
    You can't tell for sure, there is a good chance that wax moths and beetles would make the hive box inhabitable.

  14. #34
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,492

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    Wax moths will eat all the brood comb, but the bees will clean out the mess and re-occupy the space with no problems. The hive beetles will vanish once the food is gone, and the bees will move right back in.

    Even if the hive was not occupied continuously, the bees were from a good hive that swarmed, so they are still desirable bees to my mind.

    And they didn't cost much, eh?

    At least until you start making or buying hives, anyway.

    Peter

  15. #35
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    So it has been a while. I added a deep on top of the old hive hopeing they would move up. I left them alone and got busy with the garden until today. To my surprise the new frames are +60% drawn and they were busy building.

    They built a little on the bottom of the frames. Should i scrape that off or leave it alone. I also thought i had shb but between lids were some roach sized ones. Any input is appreciated.

    Thanks!

    Edit: I talk to the neighbor and he told me a lot of info. The property is registered with some bee group, and showed me a photo from the 20s of a guy with a hive in the same spot.

  16. #36
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Lee\'s Summit, MO
    Posts
    1,300

    Default Re: Found old boxes.

    Quote Originally Posted by george314 View Post
    SoThey built a little on the bottom of the frames. Should i scrape that off or leave it alone.
    I scrape it to help them focus their energies drawing comb elsewhere. Others don't, it's your call.

    Quote Originally Posted by george314 View Post
    I also thought i had shb but between lids were some roach sized ones.
    I get roaches (I call them tree roaches) in hives that space their population can't defend. No biggie but make sure the hive is on the growth upswing not downswing. As the hive increases in population they'll give those roaches the boot. You may want to move the hive to full sun to lessen the attractiveness for SHB's. SHB's seem to love hives in full shade.
    Ninja, is not in the dictionary. Well played Ninja's, well played...

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