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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    WNC
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    Default Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    Hello! This is my first post and I am in the crunch time preparing for three packages of bees arriving tomorrow. We were gifted two Warre hives from Beethinking last year, but too late to really get them started. We also have an old abandoned top bar hive, not sure who made it. We are trying to populate all three with packages, which we are scheduled to pick up tomorrow. I am reading the David Heaf "Natural Beekeeping" book, which I have found to be deceptively straight-forward and more often descending into a labyrinthine trap of options and vagueness. So, I turned to the Internet, but have been almost equally as perplexed in the lack of clear explanations. And so here I am, appealing as a total n00b, clearly in way over my head..

    1) The underside of the bars on both types of hives are beveled. Does this mean I can just put in the bees, put the bars on and they will figure it out? Or do I need to futz around with starter wax or something?

    2) The section in the Warre book on fixing or not fixing the bars and the implications for introducing the package bees was utterly confusing to me. The Warre hives did not come with any nails or spacer. Their customer service also has left something to be desired. Can someone explain what I should do tomorrow? We only have two boxes for each hive and I am feeling like we should space out the bars using nails of some kind that can be acquired easily from a hardware store.

    3) The Warre book also says to oil the tops of the bars. We haven't done this and probably don't have time for it to cure before the bees arrive. The hive manufacturers said not to oil anything inside the hive, only the roof. In this situation the book suggests liberally smearing the bars with Vaseline. Is this necessary?

    4) It is also supposed to get really cold this weekend, dipping down into the 20s overnight. The bee package folks suggested being ready with ~75lbs of pure cane sugar, made into syrup in 5gal buckets. The Warre book recommends using "candy" instead and warns not to make more than a day's worth of syrup ahead of time. Thoughts on this? He also says beet and organic sugar are fine, while the package bee folks warned against anything but pure cane sugar. They said it sounds like the book is outdated. Is there a better book with more straight forward and current advice?

    I appreciate that there are a multitude of opinions and options out there, but it isn't helpful when I am just trying to visualize how it all works and what I need to be doing to make sure I get off to a decent enough start. If anyone can just take sympathy on me and straighten me out with some basic "what you need to do" kind of advice, I am happy to just follow some step by step directions at this point. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Baden Wurtemburg Germany
    Posts
    399

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    Quote Originally Posted by sinthome View Post

    1) The underside of the bars on both types of hives are beveled. Does this mean I can just put in the bees, put the bars on and they will figure it out? Or do I need to futz around with starter wax or something?!
    As is will work fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by sinthome View Post
    2) The section in the Warre book on fixing or not fixing the bars and the implications for introducing the package bees was utterly confusing to me. The Warre hives did not come with any nails or spacer. Their customer service also has left something to be desired. Can someone explain what I should do tomorrow? We only have two boxes for each hive and I am feeling like we should space out the bars using nails of some kind that can be acquired easily from a hardware store.!
    It will help a lot latter on in you fix them with nails now. Do it and you will not regret it.

    Quote Originally Posted by sinthome View Post
    3) The Warre book also says to oil the tops of the bars. We haven't done this and probably don't have time for it to cure before the bees arrive. The hive manufacturers said not to oil anything inside the hive, only the roof. In this situation the book suggests liberally smearing the bars with Vaseline. Is this necessary?!
    Do not worry this is a minor detail. I never have oiled them or used vaseline on top bars.

    Quote Originally Posted by sinthome View Post
    4) It is also supposed to get really cold this weekend, dipping down into the 20s overnight. The bee package folks suggested being ready with ~75lbs of pure cane sugar, made into syrup in 5gal buckets. The Warre book recommends using "candy" instead and warns not to make more than a day's worth of syrup ahead of time. Thoughts on this? He also says beet and organic sugar are fine, while the package bee folks warned against anything but pure cane sugar. They said it sounds like the book is outdated. Is there a better book with more straight forward and current advice?!
    Oh my, they will need feeding but not to much, 1 to 1 sugar water, normal sugar , any sugar but brown sugar. Make it as you need it.

    Quote Originally Posted by sinthome View Post
    I appreciate that there are a multitude of opinions and options out there, but it isn't helpful when I am just trying to visualize how it all works and what I need to be doing to make sure I get off to a decent enough start. If anyone can just take sympathy on me and straighten me out with some basic "what you need to do" kind of advice, I am happy to just follow some step by step directions at this point. Thanks!
    I think I know what you need to do, relax and enjoy your bees, it sounds like you are well prepared
    Stephen 26 hives. 4th year. Treat. Germany.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Landing, NJ, USA
    Posts
    533

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    Fortunately the bees know how to do it. Provide a box, some food, and the bees will take it from there, at least for now.
    Bill

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    WNC
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    Yay! Thanks for the quick replies. In addition to the above concerns, I am trying to find a simple diy feeder design that does not require an extra empty box, since I only have two boxes per Warre hive. Does this exist?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    50,911

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    >1) The underside of the bars on both types of hives are beveled. Does this mean I can just put in the bees, put the bars on and they will figure it out? Or do I need to futz around with starter wax or something?

    They will figure it out.

    >2) The section in the Warre book on fixing or not fixing the bars and the implications for introducing the package bees was utterly confusing to me. The Warre hives did not come with any nails or spacer. Their customer service also has left something to be desired. Can someone explain what I should do tomorrow? We only have two boxes for each hive and I am feeling like we should space out the bars using nails of some kind that can be acquired easily from a hardware store.

    You could space them many ways. Push pin tacks work pretty well as spacers between the bars. Some people put a finish nail in them but not all the way so they can pull them back out. I would space them 1 1/4" on center.

    >3) The Warre book also says to oil the tops of the bars. We haven't done this and probably don't have time for it to cure before the bees arrive. The hive manufacturers said not to oil anything inside the hive, only the roof. In this situation the book suggests liberally smearing the bars with Vaseline. Is this necessary?

    It keeps the combs above from being attached very well. It is helpful. I've not really dealt with multi story top bar hives (Warre') but I have used mineral oil on top bars back when i was searching for a Varroa solution and it works pretty well at preventing attachments.

    >4) It is also supposed to get really cold this weekend, dipping down into the 20s overnight. The bee package folks suggested being ready with ~75lbs of pure cane sugar, made into syrup in 5gal buckets. The Warre book recommends using "candy" instead and warns not to make more than a day's worth of syrup ahead of time. Thoughts on this?

    If you make 1:1 syrup, it does not keep very well. If you make 5:3 syrup it keeps for a week or more if the weather is not hot.

    > He also says beet and organic sugar are fine, while the package bee folks warned against anything but pure cane sugar.

    Recently sugar beet seeds started being coated with neonics and the beets are now GMO. I've used beet sugar for years, but I haven't since these changes.

    > They said it sounds like the book is outdated. Is there a better book with more straight forward and current advice?

    Anything published yesterday is outdated...

    If everything was cut and dried there would only be one opinion on everything...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 41y 200h 38yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Grand Junction, CO, USA
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    Get David Heafs books on Warre beekeeping, He is the one who translated the old book and has kept Warre's for many years.
    Good book, good read, lots of help to keep bees in a Warre, read what ever you can on Skep bee keeping too, just about the same
    management during the build up.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Vernon, AZ. USA
    Posts
    522

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    Re nails: go to a hardware store and get the smallest Arrow type stapler. #j-22 or eqivalent.1/4"staples, 1leg in box, 1 in bar. Super easy & quik. If Abbot Warre had these he would have used them. Nail problem, solved.

    Use a Langstroth type inner cover, sized for your Warre. No cloth. No Vaseline, forget it.


    Your extra box will fit a quart jar feeder, over the inner cover hole. No robbing, no ants. Feeder problem, solved.


    I have done these modifications for years, they are more effective than the original specs.

    I make for my hives, a quilt box, with a solid feeder deck area, and hole. About 2/3 is just screened.Internal roof ventilation, permanent foam moisture wicking insulation. Not wood chips or shavings, thats So 1850's, Lol! With the inner cover space built in.

    But for you, I'd advise to stop overthinking it. If you follow Warre"s instructions to the letter, it works too. Just not as conveniently.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    WNC
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    Hey thanks so much for all the advice and replies. Things went pretty well yesterday. In the Warre hives, I put each package of bees in a single box with top bars and 4 quart jars per hive of 1:1 syrup (pure cane sugar dissolved in chamomile tea and a little sea salt) resting on the top bars in an empty box above. I arranged the jars in a square pattern around where the queen cage is hanging. At the bee supply store they said the bees could drain this much down in a matter of hours. Well, 24 hours later they have hardly made a dent in it. Should I be concerned? I am trying to just let them "bee".. but it is supposed to get into the 20s tonight and I'm worried they aren't prepared.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Vernon, AZ. USA
    Posts
    522

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    If you allow them to build in that box, with jars, without a cover, they will make a mess. Watch that, and make a proper inner cover ASAP. Get the feed jar over the cover. Feed 1 pint, to 1 quart at a time. Take a day off between refills.They have nowhere to store it, so syrup can ferment or grow bacteria. The bees need 100, to 200 ml. a day, so 4 quarts is too much. The bees will store the extra. Your bee supply store folks were full of it. A new package, with no combs cannot use up syrup that weighs twice as much as they do." In a matter of hours".

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    7,269

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    Quote Originally Posted by sinthome View Post
    Well, 24 hours later they have hardly made a dent in it. Should I be concerned?
    Yes.

    From your description it sounds like you have put the jars upright and filled with syrup. If the bees go in they will drown.

    You have 2 options. The first but less good is stuff some straw into the jars so the bees have something to stand on and will not drown. But there is still the problem that it may be too cold for them to go up the jar and into it.

    The second and best option is to put lids on the jars that you have punched small holes in and put the jars upside down (lid side down) on the top bars. That way the bees can suck the syrup out through the holes and access to those holes is right where the bees are so cold temperatures are not an issue.

    You need to do this urgently, one cold night without feed and your bees could be finished.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    WNC
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    The jars are inverted on their lids, nail punched holes in lids, typical top feeder setup. Yesterday they started venturing out to forage, so that seems like a good sign. But the bees inside are still just hanging clustered around the queen cage. Today is supposed to be warmer, in the 60s. If they still aren't drinking the syrup this afternoon I will replace it with fresh stuff. Thanks for the help!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    7,269

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    Maybe the nail holes are too small? Can happen. They should be drinking it pretty quick.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    WNC
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    A little update- finally the feeder situation seems resolved. The horizontal top-bar hive looks pretty strong, with good comb development. The two Warre hives seem OK in terms of entrance activity, but looking in the windows, there doesn't seem to be any comb construction happening and in both they are all still clustered around the central bar that has the queen cage hanging from it. I am going to check that the queens were successfully released tomorrow and revive the cages. Any advice on this? Also I have no idea how to manage the horizontal top-bar hive. Should I read a book? Is there a recommended online tutorial on how to do it? Thanks!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Grand Junction, CO, USA
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    Yes read read read. I really got a lot from "top bar beekeeping" Les Crowder and Heather Harrell. They even have diagrams of seasonal management

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Grand Junction, CO, USA
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    Michael Bushes web sight has great info. Or get his book if you like the info in your lap. I have the pages on top bar dog eared. The whole book if super informative. Well with the Bucks.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Grand Junction, CO, USA
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    The top bar forum is a great resource too. I read it every day. Lots of questions just like yours and lots of good advice. I have both Warre and HTBH I personally have decided I like the management of the horizontal top bar have better. If I stay with Warre I'll do some modifying so the bars can be removed. This is the first spring to have both come through the winter I'll be excited to see how they compare. Sorry I digress David Heaf has great Warre books

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    WNC
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    Good advice, thanks. Does the lack of comb and the clustering behavior in the Warre hives sound bad? They are foraging and I have a standard top feeder jar setup going. But through the window I don't see any comb and they are clustering around the queen cage still. I will be investigating and removing the queen cage this evening, but any advice or speculation would be helpful. It has been one week since populating the hive.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Grand Junction, CO, USA
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    If your queen is released remove the cage. Let the bees do wha t they do. The cage has been in there a week right? Time to get it out of the way. They did have candy plugs I hope. If they did not release her then do so. Don't worry about the comb they will get to it

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    7,269

    Default Re: Packages Coming Tomorrow.. Still confused

    If they have a viable queen and are getting enough feed they would have built comb by now.

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