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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Louisville, Kentucky, USA
    Posts
    137

    Default Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    Hello all,

    Last year was my first year, got my packages last spring. The year went well, lots of trial and error, but they were strong going into the winter.
    When it was time to leave them be until spring, I couldn't find a definitive answer as to why leave the super on over winter, or remove it.
    On one of my hives, I left it on. In the top deep, it didn't look like they would have enough storage to survive. My thinking was to give them the nutrition they need and deal with the consequences, if any, later.

    In January, I went to my local association's meeting and we broke into discussion groups. It was there that I discovered the wrath I have bestowed upon myself. A very seasoned beekeeper explained to me the reason why supers are removed, and that I'm going to have to move the super down, because the queen's most likely laying in it because over the course of the cold months, they move up. Now I get it!

    Now what do I do? Simply leave the super in tact and put it on the bottom, with a deep on top and wait until later in the season to remove it?

    I thought about doing the above-mentioned and doing weekly inspections and removing the frames that have the least brood in them, to make the process quicker, but then realized that bee-space would be compromised, and they'll just want to build burr comb and remain there.
    What is certain is that I don't want to kill the developing colony.

    I would love any feedback and tips to guide me through this. I have an 8-frame setup. At the moment it has 2 mediums (maybe that was wrong too) and a (shallow?) super on it.


    This year is all about becoming the best I can at this. Even though I became a member of our local beekeepers association, my job made it impossible for me to take advantage of any of the meetings and field trips last year. This year, I've changed it so I will be able to go to all of them.

    I went back quite a few pages to see if there was a similar thread and didn't find one, so please forgive me if there is one like mine out there.

    Thanks,

    Jamie D
    Last edited by Jamie D; 03-13-2013 at 09:28 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    724

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    Have the same problem. Left third super on because bees were not capping the honey and did not have a refractometer(since purchased one).

    In a nutshell, put the honey above an inner cover and get bees to pull it down.

    My plan is find the queen and ensure she is in bottom two deep broods.
    Install a queen excluder.
    Install a upper entrance at mid height.
    Install a honey super with empty drawn comb and put a couple of frames of brood(so bees will work above the excluder)
    Install an inner cover with center open.
    Install a 3 inch rim with screened vent holes.
    Install super with honey frames and partially crystalized honey frames. Remove cappings so bees will easily access honey.

    Think above is better than below because it is warmer. Honey is more viscous and bees like the warmth.

    Hope it works!
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Posts
    313

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    Quote Originally Posted by mgolden View Post
    In a nutshell, put the honey above an inner cover and get bees to pull it down.

    My plan is find the queen and ensure she is in bottom two deep broods.
    Install a queen excluder.
    I'm curious - what happens to the excluded queen when the bees go up into the super for food and the queen is below the excluder? I'm assuming you're talking about overwintering here.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but I see two scenarios - 1) The bees stay down with the queen and starve. 2) The bees go above the excluder to feed and leave the queen down there all by her lonesome.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Laurens, SC, USA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    Move the super to the bottom, and maybe put a queen excluder on it after making sure the queen is in one of the deeps. Give them time for the brood and resources to hatch and be used up.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Pinal, AZ, USA
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    Probly the best advice I could give you is to remember that with bee's there is not one specific way to manage bee's. Bee's are vary adaptible and can usually fix mistakes made by thier keeper, though some mistakes make them grumpy.

    If I was in your position.... I would have left the super on. When its warm enough shake bee's down into the medium's, put an excluder under the super, when brood in super hatches out remove super and excluder then add another medium.

    Three mediums gives you about the same comb area as two deeps. Double deeps seem to be the standard for brood nest.

    As always just my humble opinion.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Louisville, Kentucky, USA
    Posts
    137

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeSmart View Post
    Move the super to the bottom, and maybe put a queen excluder on it after making sure the queen is in one of the deeps. Give them time for the brood and resources to hatch and be used up.
    This makes sense! I was racking my brain trying to figure out how they'd move out of that space!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Louisville, Kentucky, USA
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    137

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    Thanks to you all for the insight.

    I thought I had bought all the backup equipment I possibly could have needed, but now I'm off to buy a queen excluder!

    There are so many opinions related to the negative aspects of that device, but this seems like the greatest use.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Louisville, Kentucky, USA
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    137

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    Quote Originally Posted by sergie View Post
    If I was in your position.... I would have left the super on.

    Thanks Sergie, that makes me feel better. I should learn to trust them more, that is also true. Their lives are important to me, and sometimes panic sets in.
    Last edited by Jamie D; 03-13-2013 at 04:10 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Coatesville, Pa, USA
    Posts
    839

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    >move the box to the bottom. . .

    JMHO this isn't a good idea unless there's NO brood in the super. If there's brood in the super you DEFINITELY don't want to separate it to the bottom of the series where there is an empty deep inbetween. You'll set your bees back seriously. They'll be unable to keep all of the brood warm enough (because it's now on the top (upper deep) and in the super that yo've moved to the bottom.
    My advice if you want to get the super off (only used for honey) is to make sure the queen is in the deep below as long as there's brood down there also, then put the excluder on and wait until everything hatches out and remove. That's the best way to still enable them to build up and allowing them to keep their brood / cluster space intact.
    Last edited by delber; 03-13-2013 at 02:22 PM. Reason: wrong quote for it to make sense

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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    724

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    Quote Originally Posted by rniles View Post
    I'm curious - what happens to the excluded queen when the bees go up into the super for food and the queen is below the excluder? I'm assuming you're talking about overwintering here.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but I see two scenarios - 1) The bees stay down with the queen and starve. 2) The bees go above the excluder to feed and leave the queen down there all by her lonesome.
    I will be waiting until days get quite warm, a 60F high and will be leaving 2 inch styrofoam around the outside. The bulk of the brood will be in the bottom two deeps and bulk of bees will stay down to look after the brood and queen should be well looked after. But you do need a couple of frames of brood above the excluder to get nurse bees to go above the excluder. They will stay above the excluder to tend to the brood. You can do this through swarm season to provide open space in the brood nest(wait until bees emerge and exchange/rotate open comb with brood. Once you have bees working well above the excluder, you can move surplus brood and egg frames and pollen and honey to start Nucs.

    Queen excluders, used this way work well to keep the queen from laying eggs throughout the honey frames.
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Portland, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    246

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    Jamie,

    Have you checked to see where the cluster is? You may not have a problem after all, but if they are in top box just put it on the bottom like everyone has said and us an excluder to clear it of brood later. Unless of course that setup works good for you. I run all 8 frame mediums, 3 for brood, 4 if they want it.
    Beeman
    All things may be lawful; but not all things are advantagous.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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    724

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    Fully realize we are all entitled to our opinion but think at least 50% are saying leave it on top.
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Louisville, Kentucky, USA
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    137

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    Beeman,

    I want to check in on them, and we have had a few milder days here and there, but was afraid to pop the top off before now. Even still, today is in the 30s. 10 day forecast highest temp is 60.

  14. #14
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    May 2012
    Location
    Louisville, Kentucky, USA
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    137

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    UPDATE: EPIC FAIL.

    DEAD. All dead. I feel like a fool! Here I was worried about the super, That hive starved, it seems. I feel so terrible. If only I had gone in there earlier. I thought it was too cold to mess with them.








    Now I don't have the slightest clue as to what happened to the other hive, they had a full box of stores they didn't go up to!

    Here are pics of the other one:








  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Stafford, VA
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    74

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    ARGH! What a bummer. I lost two hives this year similarly (but I kinda figured I was going to lose them anyway.) Would you mind giving me a breakdown of what your full hive setup looked like? Where the starve-out cluster was found, and where the available stores were? I'm working on a theory, and need more info.

    Edit: Also, what time of year / what temperature did you put the super with honey on top?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Louisville, Kentucky, USA
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    137

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    Ok, so in trying to look beyond my ineptitude, I'll post a new thread on what to do with the frames.

    I'm not giving up. Ordered 2 new packages, but can't get them until 11 May.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Stafford, VA
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    74

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie D View Post
    Ok, so in trying to look beyond my ineptitude, I'll post a new thread on what to do with the frames.

    I'm not giving up. Ordered 2 new packages, but can't get them until 11 May.
    Don't look at it like that. It's a learning experience. Despite bees being one of the single most studied creatures on the planet, the only truly domesticated insect, and literally thousands of years of raising them, there's still a vast amount we don't know about them. Even in a forum like this, surrounded by experienced apiarists, you received two polar opposite, and fully split 50/50 recommendations. This just shows how little we fully understand them. It's the sharing of the info like this that can help us ALL learn from each others' experiences!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Coatesville, Pa, USA
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    839

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    Honestly both of those clusters seem small to me. It also seems that you have some sort of damage to the comb from wax moths or something like that. My guess at this time of year is wax moths. I don't know that SHB would be active yet. If you have a freezer, put the frames in there (you can put them in a garbage bag or something if you'd like, or you can leave them as is) for 2-3 days and it'll kill everything that's on the frames. What does the bottom board look like? I only see one bee there with "K" wings saying that mites could have been an issue, but with dead bees that doesn't bear as much weight to me. Once you freeze the frames seal them up in something so wax moths and SHB can't get in them and use them when you get your packages. It'll give them a serious boost!!! If you have started another thread please post the link here so we can follow that also.

    Trying to figure out why they died is important. I don't see much mold on the frames, however in the one picture the bees were moldy telling me that they died some time ago. Perhaps even back in December, but there's no way to know that at this point. If your bottom board has a lot of bees on it then it could have been a moisture problem also. (I had this happen to two hives myself this year. Major bummer) If there aren't a lot of bees but perhaps only 20-50 or so, then I'd consider another reason why the cluster was small. Look through the frames (especially on the one with stores still in the hive) for pollen. If there's no pollen then that could be a reason why it failed. If there's any capped brood still in the hive look to see if there are holes in them. This will tell you that it could be mites that took the hive down because the bee will die in the cell and the worker bees that are still alive will try to clean it out and won't be able to do it so you'll see their work "started" but they die before they can finish. You also should see a good ammt. of mites on your bottom board if this is the case. If you need a picture I'm sure someone on here has one available, but basically look for little red dots. A little less than 1/16" in diameter. I hope this helps.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Coatesville, Pa, USA
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    839

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    Two more things. . . Look into robbing. That may be what caused your hives to go down. Also if you do have wax moths in the hive look for the webbing in the bottom of the cells. They love brood comb, but I've had them in white wax before. It seems from your first picture that there's something going on there due to the wax flakes.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Stafford, VA
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    74

    Default Re: Wisdom needed: Newbie mistake: Super still on

    I don't see anything indicating wax moths. The little bee butts sticking out of the comb are a clear tell-tale sign of a starve-out. Still, totally agree about freezing out the frames so he can store them for his new packages without letting the SHB have a feast on all the untouched honey.

    Moisture problems will usually leave a white streak running down the comb where the drip caused the problem. I strongly suspect this is a pretty standard starve-out. The weather got cold enough that the bees didn't approach the honey stores that were too close to the outside of the hive where they wouldn't have been able to remain insulated. Without knowing how much honey they actually started with, there could have been some secondary factors that caused them to eat the honey more rapidly, but the long and the short of it is those girls starved.

    I lost two the same way this year. :/ Gambled with a late fall split and lost.

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